Do you monetize your content intelligently? Are you tracking your content’s ROI and optimizing your blog for real-world conversions? Are you generating blog subscribers as leads and nurturing those leads to a final sale? Could you be doing it better?
This article will give you five strategies and best practices that will optimize your blog and marketing strategy to generate email subscribers.
1. Create Email-Gated Content
For many businesses, creating email-gated content (reports, ebooks, case studies, white papers, etc.) is the best and most affordable way to generate blog subscribers. The ROI is awesome, as you can generate subscribers with content that you’ve already written for your own blog – thereby reusing energy and resources.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Write 4-5 blog articles based on the same theme or subject
- Compile those individual articles into a single pdf, visually appealing and valuable
- Use a WordPress plugin on 3rd party software provider to create a simple “email-gate” on your website landing page requiring visitors to submit their information in order to download your valuable content
- Promote your email-gated content through your blog, social and Facebook Ads (see below for more on those)
Another reason email-gated content is awesome is because it gives you info that is seriously useful for segmenting your email marketing efforts. For instance, a subscriber who chose to download your “how to optimize your landing page” ebook should be placed in a different subscriber segment than someone who downloaded your guide to creating a Facebook Page.
It’s very simple to segment email subscribers based on traffic source in most CRM’s. Call one list “people interested in landing pages” and another “people interested in social media marketing”. Boom: optimized and segmented sales funnel.
2. Advertise on Facebook
Content creators and bloggers should be using Facebook Ads just as e-commerce does. Facebook Ads give you unparalleled access to possible readers and possible blog subscribers.
Here’s what I recommend for bloggers and content creators when utilizing Facebook Ads:
- Throw your existing blog subscriber’s list (or merchant list) into Facebook Power Editor or a 3rd Party Ad provider. This generates a “Custom audience”
- This custom audience is made up of your existing blog subscriber list, so you don’t need to pay to promote content to them
- Instead, use this list to generate a “lookalike audience” – an audience of Facebook users similar to your existing subscribers (similarity is accessed by Facebook based on demographic details, stated interests and Likes, and broad category specifications like job title, income, etc)
- Target this lookalike audience with a Facebook Ad promoting email-gated content, like this one:
Lookalike audiences have a far higher click-through-rate than standard-targeted ad audiences, and you know you’re generating qualified readers and leads as they’re guaranteed to be similar to people who have already subscribed to your content or bought from you.
Let’s say you have an existing blog subscriber list of 10,000. Your lookalike audience ads generate 150 clicks (.15% CTR) and cost you $7.50 (with a 50 cent CPC). Even if only a couple of those 15 convert on your lead-generating landing page (see strategy four below), you’re still paying only $3.75/lead
3. Integrate Pop-ups
My rule with pop-ups is this: until your A/B tests prove otherwise, pop-up as much as you like.
There are a hundred free and paid pop-up plugins around the web (for WordPress or whatever platform you’re using). A quick Google search will uncover anything you need.
They work, but everybody hates them. The increase of subscription opt-ins is undeniable, but they can generate animosity. It’s up to your own business, and your own opt-in results, as to if it’s worth it.
Here are a few strategies that will decrease the chance of one of your blog readers sending you hate mail:
- Show value: Lessen the inherent pushiness of your blog subscription pop-ups with clear and obvious value. Make it bullet-pointed and clear (like the example below):
- Keep it to the side: The act of your pop-up “popping-up” will be enough to grab the eye and attention of a reader; I don’t recommend also showing the pop-up in the middle of the page and forcing visitors to either engage or close it. The chance of them closing it and then finishing your article or piece of content decreases exponentially after you throw a pop-up in their face.
- Incentivize with something concrete: Not only can you give a list of the benefits of subscribing, but it’s also worth offering one of your valuable white-papers or ebooks. This is basically email-gating your content in a different format.
- Use peer-pressure: Stating the number of subscribers in your list is a great way to convince readers it’s worth doing, as it answers the ever-present question “Am I the only idiot?”
When to Place Subscriber Pop-ups:
- After a webinar has finished
- After purchasing something
- After a free demo or demo video
- After starting a free trial
- After 45 seconds when reading an article
- When readers try to leave (page’s top pixel)
Even if you decide against utilizing the pop-up, it’s essential you have a side banner option for subscribing.
4. Optimize your Lead Gen Landing Page
Let’s say you’re driving 100 visitors to your website’s lead generating landing page every day. Optimizing that page with a few landing page best practices can mean that 25% of them give you their information instead of 15%.
Let’s say each lead is worth $100 a month to your business. Increasing the conversion rate of your page earns your business 1500 dollars, or $18,000 more per year.
So yeah, it’s worth doing.
Here are a few lead-gen page best practices (with an example):
A: Great value proposition: “How to Make your App Enterprise Ready” is descriptive, accurate, and focused on the target market.
B: Visually appealing banner with standard ‘ebook’ image so we know what we’re looking at.
C: 4-point benefit list: Four is my ideal number of bullet-points describing “what you’re going to get from this ebook”. Less and it sounds like there’s not enough value, much more and it sounds like you’re selling too hard.
D: Social-Share Icons: Standard, but still necessary. Be sure all your email-gated content is easily shareable. There likely won’t be much engagement, but any there is will be worth it to your business. And what do they hurt?
E: Optimized entry form: 5 entry boxes is just about right – getting their business the lead info they need without pushing for too much that a visitor decides engagement isn’t worth it and bounces.
F: The CTA: I’m a big fan of green CTA buttons and white text (especially on a white and blue color-scheme). If this page was more blue than white I would have gone with orange, but this feels better and highly optimized for visibility.
5. Go Pro with Slideshare
Let me pre-empt this section by saying, no, I don’t work for Slideshare. I do like their website and think that the lead-generating abilities are under-appreciated (and mean that they’ll probably increase their price point in the next year or so, so jump on the bandwagon now).
Any content creator or online marketer worth their salt knows that the desire for visual content in bite-sized, palatable pieces is on the rise. We have all read (or, in my case, wrote) the “What’s going to be big in 2014” articles telling us about how visual content was the future of content.
Well, Slideshare is facilitating the hell out of that future.
A hugely popular and ever-growing platform for presentation, video, and webinar sharing, Slideshare has over 60 million monthly viewers and a global Alexa ranking of 120.
But more than simply a great place to have your content viewed and shared, Slideshare is one of the most promising platforms for generating blog subscribers.
For $19/month, you can go Pro with Slideshare. This enables you to include a lead-generating pop-up at the beginning, middle, or end of your presentation. The monthly cost allows you to capture 30 leads, which are sent to Slideshare’s simple but effective lead database. $49 allows you to capture 75 leads per month. Beyond that it’s going to be a phone call.
Going Pro also allows you to personalize your business’ profile and include more links to your website or blog as well as upload videos (something not available with a free account).
Here’s my recommendation for Slideshare:
- When researching a blog article or ebook, keep track of the stats and facts you uncover around the web
- Instead of creating an infographic with these stats, compile them into an appealing 10-20 slide presentation
- Upload it as a PDF onto Slideshare
- Take the embed code (handily provided by Slideshare) and embed your Slideshare directly onto your blog with a brief intro and transcript or, if you’re so inclined, an entire article analyzing and discussing what the statistics mean
Other ideas include a Slideshare of quotes, how-to’s, case studies, best practices, social media or blogging formulas, best-of’s, and anything else your creative mind can come up with.
Export your Slideshare leads into your existing CRM, and (just like subscribers attained through email-gated content) you can separate these subscribers based on their source. For instance, if you’ve created a “step-by-step of finding the right VC”, those leads or subscribers can go in one segment, while your “step-by-step of speaking at a conference” can go in another.
Implementing one or all of these strategies will increase your blog subscriber’s list, though I want to emphasize the need to test the pop-up.
Remember that a blog subscriber is just another word for a lead – someone that (as long as you’re writing to your market) is guaranteed to be interested in your service on some level. Nurture these leads towards a sale with consistent mail-outs of your content, optimized with calls-to-action.