How to Optimize Your Highest-Ranking Blog Posts for Conversion
We recently looked at how to optimize your blog content to attract more organic traffic. Increased web traffic is clearly an important metric and forms the basis for many other website initiatives. After all, you can’t really focus your efforts on conversion if there are no users to convert. But in most cases, web traffic is not the end goal. Unless your site is purely advertiser-supported, what you really want is more leads, or conversions.
I see a lot of websites that approach conversion the wrong way, either by making the wrong ask or not making one at all. The No. 1 rule in website development, according to usability expert Steve Krug, is don’t make the user think. Tell them exactly what you want them to do next and make it easy for them to act.
However, not every user is ready to decide. In fact, 50 percent of your web traffic may be qualified leads who aren’t yet at the decision stage. You don’t want to lose these people, so you need to give them a way to further engage with you so that you remain top of mind as they progress further along the buyer’s journey.
This means all your content should have a call-to-action, or CTA. But not all your content should have the same CTA. The right CTA for each piece of content depends on where that content falls in the buyer’s journey.
What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
In order to understand conversion rate optimization, you have to first understand the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is the process that each prospective customer or lead goes through on the way to deciding if your products or services are right for them. The buyer’s journey consists of three stages:
These can also be referred to as top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel.
Awareness means the user is aware they have a problem, and they’re looking for a solution. Awareness does NOT mean the user is aware of who you are or what you have to offer – but don’t make the mistake of thinking you should tell them. At this point, they may be in the very beginning stages of their research. Not to sound too harsh, but they don’t care about you. Not yet. So don’t be pushy. But do provide ways for them to continue to engage and learn more. That may mean asking them to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media. It may also mean offering a free lead magnet so that you can enter them into a lead-nurturing workflow. (More on this below.)
If you’re blogging regularly, it’s likely that most of the content on your blog is awareness-stage, or top-of-funnel, content. For example, if your business is a hormone replacement therapy clinic, your website may attract traffic from people who are looking for ways to alleviate early symptoms of menopause. These would be top-of-funnel leads because they are in the awareness stage, meaning they are aware they have a problem and they are seeking answers or solutions.
Consideration means the user has gathered information about possible solutions to their problem and is considering options. Consideration-stage content will look different from awareness-stage content, but it still shouldn’t be pushy. Using the above example, consideration-stage content could be a blog that compares the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy with other treatment options. Give your readers the pros and cons and let them know what to expect from the products and services you offer. Remember, though, to keep the focus on the needs of the user. It’s still not about you – not yet.
The decision stage is where you can talk about yourself and your unique differentiators. Let’s say your lead has decided to try hormone replacement therapy, but they don’t know where to go for treatment. Provide some information about what makes you or your practice unique. How long have you been practicing? What sort of HRT do you offer? Do you offer home visits? Maybe you provide medication so that patients can administer their own treatment at home and avoid the inconvenience and added expense of a weekly office visit. Here’s where you can let your leads know why they should choose you over your competitor. Very little of your web content will fall into this stage. Don’t make the common mistake of talking about yourself all the time.
If the only CTA on your website is to schedule an appointment to have hormone levels checked, top-of-funnel users are likely to leave your website and you’ll never hear from them again, even though they could have eventually turned into patients with the right lead-nurturing strategy. You need a top-of-funnel CTA – often in the form of a lead magnet – to capture their information so you can stay in contact with them.
What Are Lead Magnets?
Chances are, you’ve responded to a lead magnet at some point. Lead magnets are special offers that entice website visitors to provide their contact information in order to learn more about potential solutions to their problems. It could be a free e-book, checklist, webinar, or some other opportunity to collect contact information in exchange for something your web visitors find valuable to them.
Your top-performing blogs can give you ideas for lead magnets you can offer. Let’s return to the example of the hormone replacement therapy clinic. Their No. 1 blog is about symptoms of menopause, so it would make sense to develop a free e-book about natural ways to treat or prevent these symptoms.
But don’t stop there. When leads respond to your offer, enter them into a lead-nurturing workflow. This is usually a series of emails that build on the topic. You know that these leads are interested in alleviating symptoms of menopause; what other helpful content can you offer them? Remember, these leads are in the research stage – they are still gathering information, so any information you provide will help them decide, and you’ll be at the top of their mind when they reach the decision stage.
Optimizing Your Content for Conversion
For your lead magnets to work, they need to be featured in the right places on your website. This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. When looking at opportunities for CRO, start with the pages on your site that get the most traffic. Look at your Google Analytics to see how people move through your website. Are they spending a lot of time on a particular page? After they reach this page, where do they go next? Are they taking action on your website or are they leaving? If they’re simply leaving, you know you have a CRO opportunity. Here’s how to approach it.
1. Develop your lead magnets.
As you look at your highest-traffic blogs, it may become evident that you don’t have the right lead magnets to offer visitors who are in the awareness or consideration stage. If you don’t already have appropriate lead magnets, make this a priority in your content marketing strategy.
Remember, your lead magnets should be something of value. You’re asking your website visitors to provide you with something of value in return: their contact information. So don’t take this lightly. It’s not enough to take an existing 500-word blog post and turn it into a PDF and call it a lead magnet (although you can, sometimes, take several blog posts that are related and package them together as a single e-book).
2. Align your CTA with the user’s intent.
Once you have your lead magnet and workflow ready to go, create a graphic CTA to go with it. CTAs in the form of images often get more clicks than text CTAs. But you should make a habit of using both, as different users will click on different things.
The language you use on your CTA should, if possible, align with the language that your site visitors are using to find your content. For example, let’s say you’re a holistic physician. You have a popular blog post about intestinal permeability, and you’ve created a lead magnet to go along with it. Your analytics reveal that the keyphrase “leaky gut syndrome” is driving a lot of traffic to your blog post. When you create your CTA, use the words “leaky gut syndrome” instead of “intestinal permeability.” Website visitors will be more likely to recognize this term, and therefore more likely to notice that it relates to their current problem.
Creating custom image CTAs take time, but it isn’t something you necessarily need to do for every blog post you create. So, it’s a good idea to make it a practice for your most popular blogs.
3. Add text CTAs.
As mentioned above, it’s also a good idea to position text CTAs within the content, especially if your post is particularly long. You don’t want to make your users scroll all the way to the bottom of the page before they’re able to take action. Again, try to make your text CTAs align with the users’ language as much as possible.
You may also want to consider offering a slide-in CTA that appears halfway through the post. Again, make it easy for your user to act. And it goes without saying that you should make sure all of these CTAs function as intended on mobile devices. More than half of your site traffic is likely mobile. If you’re using image CTAs, make sure they’re legible on mobile devices. If necessary, create different images just for use on mobile. You don’t want to lose leads because they couldn’t read your CTA or click on it on their phone.
4. Measure your success.
To measure your success, calculate and record the post’s conversion rate before and after your changes. Conversion rate is the number of leads generated from the post divided by the number of views, converted into a percentage. If you don’t see an increase in your conversion rate, try re-optimizing the post.
Just like search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization should never be regarded as “finished.” Changes in your industry, new research, new competitive offerings, and the evolving needs of your customers can all require you to revisit your offerings and your overall content strategy. Keep an eye on changes in your analytics and search trends. Make sure regular analysis is a part of your overall content marketing strategy, and develop new lead magnets as necessary to continue improving your conversion rates.