Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Convert Casual Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Subscribers

You probably know all too well by now that content creation is a very necessary function of successful inbound marketing. And for the inbound marketers who embrace that, a business blog is one of the most reliable and effective platforms for publishing much of the content they create.
But if you’ve been consistently blogging for a while, you probably have all the business blogging basics down pat. So wouldn’t it be great if you could take your blogging to the next level, scaling the impact of your blog so it makes an even bigger, better, and more powerful dent in your marketing results? Enter the concept of 'blog marketing,' which refers to implementing a marketing strategy to grow and scale the impact of your blog.

There are three critical steps to blog marketing: 1) getting your blog discovered by new visitors, 2) converting those visitors into dedicated subscribers, and 3) leveraging evangelists to share your content and attract brand new audiences.

Step 1: Blog Frequently

First things first: frequency matters. How can you expect visitors to subscribe to your content if you rarely or infrequently publish anything for them to come back to. You wouldn’t exactly be making the strongest case for subscription, would you? If you really want to scale your blog, you need to make a commitment to boosting your blogging frequency.

Yes, frequency matters -- so work your way up. If you’re currently blogging once a month, work your way up to once a week. If you blog once a week, work your way up to a few times a week. Truthfully, the most successful blogs publish content daily -- or multiple times a day.

Step 2: Create a Blog Subscription Landing Page

Sure, you probably already have a ‘subscribe’ module on your blog’s homepage. It may look something like what you see to the right. But if you start promoting subscription to your blog via other marketing channels like social media, email, and calls-to-action, it will start to get a bit complicated to direct visitors to that module.

That isn’t exactly the optimal way to promote blog subscription, is it? And can you imagine trying to fit that into a 140-character update for Twitter? Furthermore, it also sounds pretty darn unprofessional and confusing. You’re guaranteed to lose out on some valuable subscribers along the way.

So what’s a more effective way to convert blog visitors into subscribers? Think … you know the answer. It’s the same way you convert website visitors into leads. A landing page! Create a blog subscription landing page to convert those blog discoverers into dedicated blog subscribers. This will become the heart and soul of your blog subscriber conversion efforts, allowing you to more easily promote blog subscription through your other marketing assets.

Tip: Optimize Your Landing Page

Optimize your subscription page using the same best practices you would for any other landing page on your website. Include a descriptive headline that captures visitors’ attention and summarizes what they’ll get, demonstrate the value of subscribing in your landing page copy, include a high-quality image, and emphasize email subscription by placing the form above the fold. You can also incorporate other elements -- like social proof -- to help boost conversion rates.

Tip: Encourage Email Subscription

But let’s backtrack a second. Notice how I mentioned that you should emphasize email subscription? Remember, there are two ways your visitors can subscribe to your blog -- via RSS, and via email. Both are valuable, but email subscription can have a much bigger impact than RSS subscription. Email boosts traffic to your blog, since subscribers get emailed whenever new content gets published (compared to RSS, which subscribers have to manually check on their own).

Step 3: Promote Your Blog Subscription Landing Page With CTAs

Now that you’ve built your blog subscription landing page, you need a way to drive traffic to it! It’s easy enough to share a link to your page through social media accounts, but other channels can accommodate more sophisticated and effective methods -- like call-to-action buttons!

Tip: Be More "In Your Face" About Subscribing

Once you’ve designed some CTAs for your landing page, be more “in your face” about converting your blog visitors into subscribers by placing these subscription CTAs directly within each of your blog articles. Don’t worry -- they don’t have to replace your articles’ lead-gen CTAs; just insert your blog subscription CTA directly below the one you’re using for lead generation (like we've done at the bottom of this very post!). And if you’re worried about it impacting the clickthrough rate on your lead-gen CTA, just keep a close eye on your CTA analytics.

Where appropriate, use your blog subscription CTAs on other pages of your website to give visitors a low-commitment conversion alternative, as opposed to an offer for which you require full form completion. For HubSpot customers, also consider adding your blog subscription CTAs to Smart CTA groups, which allow you to automatically customize which CTAs get shown to users in different lifecycle stages or based on specific list criteria.

Step 4: Do Some Email Marketing

In addition to promoting blog subscription through social media and CTAs on your website, email marketing can serve as another effective channel for driving blog subscriptions. Here are two great email marketing methods through which to promote blog subscription:

1) In a Dedicated Send

Promote blog subscription to different segments of contacts in your marketing database. Tailor the messaging and language you use in your dedicated send to the interests and needs of that segment. For example, you could segment your list by people who recently converted on a particular offer, and promote subscription by providing examples of articles related to topic of the offer they downloaded as a way to demonstrate the value of subscribing.

2) Within Lead Nurturing Workflows

Not every email within your lead nurturing workflows needs to promote a lead-gen offer. Switch it up by featuring some of your big hit blog articles targeted at the types of people you’re emailing in your segmented workflows.

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