There is a problem with how we look at traffic generation.
We have things backwards.
We get so focused on how we need to drive traffic to our blog that we miss out something that hinders our future success.
But, when we switch our focus to this crucial step which we have been missing, we can accomplish much more with exactly the same amount of traffic.
In this post, I will show you what your number 1 priority should be and what you can do to start getting more email subscribers, product sales enquiries for your services and more.
Your step-by-step guide to doing more with less traffic
Step 1 – Identify your conversion goals
Before you do anything you need to think about the desired action you want your visitors to take when they are on your blog.
I like to do this slightly different depending on which pages/posts my readers are checking out, but I always have a top level conversion goal.
Your top level conversion goals
First you need to decide on your top level conversion goal, this may be encouraging readers to subscribe to your email list or enquire about services (if you offer them).
In most situations, focusing on building your email list is the best thing you can do (this post will help you but we will talk about this in more detail later on).
Individual conversion goals
When you create a new page or you start writing a new blog post, think about what you want your readers to do after reading it.
I do this differently for each blog post and I’ve had better results because of that.
On some blog posts I encourage visitors to subscribe to my list (if you have something exclusive to give away) while on others I encourage comments or social shares for example.
The bottom line
If you don’t make it clear what you want your visitors to do, they will most likely do nothing.
It’s a little bit like when you go into a restaurant, look at the menu and find so many choices that you have no idea what to order.
By focusing each page/post on a particular desired action you will achieve far more with the same amount of traffic.
Step 2 – Remove unnecessary distractions
I’ve talked about this before, but it’s important to mention.
Take a good look at your blog and ask yourself: exactly what each element on your blog is doing for you and your readers.
And remember that less is more.
If an element isn’t benefiting the user experience or helping you to nudge your readers towards a desired action – it may be time to get rid of it.
What should you consider removing?
Below are a number of things to consider:
- Links to blog directories and article directories – This benefits the directories more than you and when was the last time you visited one?
- Ads that aren’t performing – Google Adsense and similar ads are common place, but is it really worth sending a visitor away from your site for a few cents in return?
- Twitter streams – Social networks should be used to generate traffic, not send traffic away when they might not return.
- Search boxes – Check your analytics and see if anyone is using your search box, if they aren’t consider removing it or moving it to your blogs footer.
- Blog rolls – It’s a nice thought but when you consider that 75% of your visitors may never return, it may be worth removing your blog roll.
- Badges that don’t mean a thing – If you are displaying a badge on your blog, consider how difficult they are to get. The only reason to keep them is if they convey a significant amount of social proof and help to build trust (more on social proof in a moment).
- Your sidebar – In some situations, when it’s imperative that 100% focus is on your content, removing your sidebar can do a good job at minimizing distractions. Play this one by ear though.
The bottom line
If an element on your blog doesn’t have any immediate benefit or hinders experience for your readers – consider getting rid of it.
Step 3 – Build trust with your readers
Getting ahead on the web is about trust.
When people trust you, they take you seriously and listen to what you have to say.
They are also more likely to subscribe to your email list and share your content.
So, how do you go about building that trust with your readers?
One of the key ways to do this is to consistently publish honest content in your own voice, you’ll be doing this already but there is something else you can leverage…
What is social proof?
Social proof is all about how we look to other people in order to make decisions – assuming that the actions of others indicative of the correct course of action.
A good example of this in blogging would be the display of social share counts. The important thing to note is that this effect can be positive or negative.
While large share counts show popularity and perceived authority of a blog, displaying low share counts can have the opposite effect.
Just compare this:
There’s a big difference there, right?
Testimonials are another way of leveraging social proof and increasing trust, these are usually in the form of testimonials from relevant market influencers which can be very powerful.
A great example of this is a testimonial that Martin Shervington displays on his website:
Sure, we can’t all get a testimonial from Guy Kawasaki, but you can still make this work for you.
Sure-fire ways to leverage social proof on your blog
There are plenty of ways you can leverage social proof but one thing remains true – if you don’t have the numbers to show off (e.g. social shares or 1,000s of email subscribers), leave the number out so you can avoid any negative social proof.
Here are a few ways you can get started:
- Hide low social share counts – If you aren’t getting many social shares, use a social sharing plugin that allows you to hide share counts. This will help you to avoid any negative social proof. On the flip side, if you get lots of shares, use a plugin that allows you to display your share counts.
- Invite an established blogger to contribute to your blog – While this can have a positive impact on how people perceive your blogs authority, it can also help you grow your audience.
- Add “as seen on” logo’s – If you’ve contributed to a popular blog in your niche or been featured in a popular publication, let your readers know. You could choose to add these to your sidebar, home page or both.
- Display a testimonial from a relevant influencer – Have a testimonial from an influencer in your niche? Let your readers know about it. Again, your sidebar and/or homepage are a good place for these (see this post for WordPress plugins to help you collect, and display testimonials).
- Display how many followers you have – If you have a large following, you can include this on your about page, in your sidebar or in your footer.
- Encourage your readers to comment – Comments are a huge sign of an engaged following, you can take steps to ensure that more of your readers comment. Just including a direct question at the end of your blog posts can make a huge difference.
The bottom line
You only have a small amount of time to make a first impression, take steps to leverage positive proof while avoiding any negative social proof.
Step 4 – Modify your blog and put the focus on your conversion goals
Now it’s time to make smart tweaks to your blog.
We’ve already covered finding your conversion goals, removing distractions and tips to help you leverage social proof.
Below we will discuss two specific strategies to help you get closer to your goals and what you need to do in order to move things forward.
Your email list – convert more and reap the rewards
Whether you’re looking to promote your product/service or just get more of your visitors back to your blog, building an email list is one of the smartest things you can do.
First off, you need to get serious.
It’s time to drop RSS based email subscription services. Well, don’t drop RSS entirely; but you will need something more fitting like MailChimp, GetResponse or AWeber.
You need a solution to add opt-in forms easier
The secret to building your list is simple; make it as easy as possible for your readers to subscribe.
If you’re a WordPress user, adding opt-in forms to your blog is easy thanks to the availability of list building plugins.
One of the best on the market right now is called Thrive Leads*.
It supports all major opt-in form types (including 2 step opt-in forms and popovers), has an easy to use form editor and powerful testing/analytics functionality.
Alternatively you can find a more detailed comparison of some of the other top list building plugins in this post.
The single list building strategy that works better than anything else
This is something that I have talked about before, but more bloggers need to start using this.
Other pros are calling it the “content upgrade”, the idea is that you offer an exclusive piece of content (an upgrade) to your readers.
These are post specific and work incredibly well.
I have used a content upgrade in this post to offer an exclusive PDF version, but here is an example from a recent post:
The notification box pictured above offered an exclusive piece of content, when readers clicked on the link they were greeted with a popover notification:
To create this I use a tool called Leadboxes which comes with a LeadPages* account, LeadPages also allow you to create landing pages (we’ll talk about this in a moment).
LeadPages is a monthly/annual payment service; however you can use it with any content management system.
Check out my post on content upgrade plugins for WordPress, you’ll find some great alternatives.
More ways you can build your list faster
There are plenty more tactics you can use to build your list, here are a few more tips:
- Optimize page load times on your blog – Page load times impact conversions in a big way. There are plenty of ways to speed up your website, but your website needs to be built on a solid foundation; a better web host.
- Add opt-in forms to your most popular pages (e.g. your about page).
- Change the colour of your submit button to a colour that isn’t included in your blogs design.
- Offer your subscribers a bribe – this could be anything to a template or a PDF download.
- Focus on conveying how your subscribers will benefit from subscribing.
- Test different button text combinations and go beyond simply using “subscribe”.
- Create a landing page that you can link to from blog posts and in your navigation menu (more on landing pages in a moment).
- Track sign ups properly using Google Analytics – you need to be able to measure your results and identify potential opportunities to increase subscribers.
Landing pages are your new best friend
If you want to convert more readers into subscribers, generate more enquiries for your services or sell more products – landing pages are a must.
But why do they work so well?
They are a single page with a single goal – to convert.
They have no distractions (e.g. navigation); just exactly what your readers need to know in order for them to make a decision.
I have some landing pages converting at around 50% and while I can’t guarantee you will get the same results, the advice below will help you get close.
Forget hiring a developer, you can do this yourself (with the right tools)
Gone are the days when you may have to pay a developer a huge amount of money to build a stunning, hand crafted landing page for you.
The reason behind this is that LeadPages has over 70+ templates that allow me to put together a high converting landing page in minutes.
What I also like about LeadPages is that they can host all of my landing pages, there are no limits on traffic, they integrate well with WordPress and they work with HTML sites too.
It’s a WordPress plugin that comes with some great templates, but the reason why I use it is because of how flexible the drag and drop editor is. I’ve built entire custom websites with this before.
Update: LeadPages now have a drag & drop page builder. It’s still in beta but allows for some great customization flexibility.
Design landing pages that convert
The team from Unbounce (and some other conversion optimization pro’s) have put together a free course where you can learn more about creating high converting landing pages – find it here.
Get more traffic to your landing pages
Once you have created your landing page(s), you need to start driving traffic to them.
Below are some great ways to do that:
- Contribute to popular blogs in your niche and link to your landing page in your author bio.
- Create notification bars using Smart Bar (free tool) and add calls to action to relevant blog posts.
- Create an eye-catching image and use it to add a call to action to your sidebar.
- Link to your landing page in relevant blog posts.
- Consider paying for traffic.
Put together your action plan
You need a plan.
And you need to visualize these changes in your mind.
Break your plan down into sizable chunks:
- Your primary conversion goals.
- Elements on your blog that aren’t helping you or your users (these are to be removed).
- Specific steps you need to take in order to leverage social proof and avoid negative social proof.
- How you can use the list building advice mentioned above to grow your own list.
- Decide on how you can use landing pages to help you achieve your goals.
- What else can you do to help you achieve your goals?
I have discussed building an email list and promoting products/services in detail because they tend to be the most popular goals that we have as bloggers.
If you have a different goal and you aren’t sure how to achieve it, email me and let me know what it is, I might write a post on it at some point in the future.
The bottom line
You need an action plan to move things forward. Start off with identifying your goals then work through the points I have mentioned above. It’s time to take action.
Putting it all together
Phew. This was a pretty big post so thanks for sticking with me.
I’ve talked through a number of ways you can get better results without increasing your traffic. So, now it’s time to work through what we’ve discussed above and start boosting your conversion rates!
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