It’s a nightmare.
Your company has a blog, and you’ve been producing content for some time. You’ve invested no small amount of time, money and effort in content marketing. But despite that, barely a trickle of visitors arrive on your site, and far fewer still (if any) convert from engaged readers to paying customers.
This nightmare may already be a reality for you, or it perhaps it’s a fear that’s holding you back from committing to starting a blog for your business.
Either way, we have the solution.
We’ve broken down the process of creative engaging content that (a) attracts visitors, (b) engages with them, and (c) converts them into customers. In just five logical steps, we’ll show you how to create truly effective content that will provide you with an attractive return on your blogging investment.
Step 1: Hook Them With a Potent (And Relevant) Headline
Your company’s marketing funnel is one of many online, and any potential clients are being flooded by a torrent of information that may or may not be useful to them. Your task is to divert that flow towards your blog. Your chances are hinged primarily on one factor above all the others: having a killer headline.
Statistics might vary a little one way or another, depending on which study you consider, but all seem to agree on the core message: Headlines are vital to catching people’s attention. According to Copyblogger, “On average, eight out of ten people will read headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the rest”.
So, how do you write that one-line masterpiece?
First of all, you need to ask: How does it relate to the actual content? The best headline in the world might draw people to the page, but if the content doesn’t relate directly to the headline and fulfill its promises, people will become annoyed and soon leave, never to return again.
With that vital point in mind, here are three suggestions to help you create an attractive headline:
- Keep it short. According to a number of studies, including one by The Guardian, if your heading is too long, you’re losing impact. Our brains are wired to ‘grab’ segments of information, whether it be numbers or words in small groups (between seven and nine bits of information is ideal).
- Use numbers. You’ve seen them all over the web. Everyone uses them. For some reason, headlines with numbers are more popular than those without. Odd numbers are better than even – why this is so is a bit of a mystery, but it works.
- Keep it clear. Nobody likes muddled or confusing ideas, and people are less likely to click through to your article if they don’t know what the headline means.
The table below from Conductor is based on comparative studies of similar headlines, and their relative effectiveness in improving conversion rates.
As you can see, headlines with numbers in performed far better than a questioning headline, or even a how to article. A great way of seeing which type of headline performs better on your site is by conducting some A/B Testing with the Nelio AB Testing plugin. With this plugin you can create alternative titles, excerpts, and featured images, and learn which types of posts gets more clicks, and ultimately conversions.
There is far more to the science/art of headlines than we’ve covered above, but use our above three tips as a starting point.
Step 2: Draw Readers Into the Post With a Strong Introduction
A sure way to bore people into giving up on your message is to have a long, rambling introduction. You might be thinking that you want to set the tone, create a little ambience, or show off your skill at penmanship. However, your inner Dickens needs to be put back into the cupboard.
A great outline should introduce two things:
- a problem or desire, and
- a solution.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target reader, and empathize with the issues they face relating to your product or service. Say you sell blue widgets. Consider questions such as the following:
- Why do they want a blue widget?
- What do they want most from a blue widget?
- What are the shortcomings of your competition’s blue widgets?
The answer to any of the above question forms the basis of your introduction. Spell it out for the reader. In doing so, you will connect directly with them.
Next, promise the solution. Bearing the above three questions in mind, your introduction should now:
- Promise that your blue widgets deliver on their desire, and that the reasons why will be revealed in your post.
- Promise that your blue widgets offer the functionality they need, and that you’ll explain how in the post.
- Promise that you’re markedly different from the competition, and that you’ll explain how in the post.
This ‘problem + solution’ format is simple, yet highly effective. It’s not rocket science – just give your prospective customers what they want.
Nelio A/B Testing
I was very impressed by the quality of this plugin, how easy it was to set up, and the outstanding support Nelio provides. I highly recommend Nelio A/B Testing.
Step 3: Provide Valuable Content
You’ve managed to draw your reader right to the honey pot – now it’s time to deliver.
The bulk of your content is really the crux of the matter. A piece of writing that is focused on delivering something of real value is going to be remembered and will act as a catalyst. This is the point at which “conversion” happens in the minds of readers. Write something that is meaningful, full of useful insights, and informative, rather than just filling up space or shameless self-promotion. Your potential customer wants to educate himself and be entertained at the same time.
If possible, make them laugh. This might be the most powerful thing you can do with a blog post. People want to do business with other humans, not textbooks. In the right context, keeping your content light and entertaining will do wonders for their state of mind, and who knows – it might just close the deal!
A great place to use a little humor are the points in your sales chain where users need to interact. It’s a great way to overcome the jitters, or the fear of entering an email address. Here’s a great example from Startup Moon of how to use humor to relax customers:
On the subject of useful content, Forbes advises: “Solving problems, making it easy to access information, showing off how much you know in a way that’s helpful and productive. When your content connects with people in search of the information you provide, sales and leads will happen”.
Consider this practical example:
Let’s say you’re selling vintage watches online. You know that a potential customer has a model or manufacturer in mind, but he’s unsure and doesn’t know all of the ins and outs. This is what he is hunting for. You know that detailed photographs provide the first step, but you also know that he wants more.
In this case, great content would include a few technical highlights about the watch’s movement, features, complications and specifications. So add all of that, in a way that’s easy to digest – a table or infographic connected to the image would be perfect.
The real icing on the cake though, would be a description of how the watch feels on the wrist, how it started a conversation, got you an in with a girl, or what it means to you personally. Give your opinion. Show off your sardonic wit. Adding a little bit of a back story with some popular appeal wouldn’t hurt either.
To create great content, you need to understand the reader first. What is he searching for? How much does he know already? What can you offer in terms of advice, and practical solutions? If the reader leaves your blog satisfied, and enriched, you’re one step closer to nurturing that lead into a sale.
Step 4: Retain Their Interest With Formatting and Media
You might be a walking encyclopedia on your niche subject, but who wants to read pages and pages of dry text, searching for that one bit of information that is needed? The point is this: Make it easy for your readers to find exactly what they are looking for.
It’s always best to use a logical layout that’s easy on the eye, and structure it all so as to make finding specific bits of information a cinch. Imagine if your local grocery store piled everything in a big heap in the middle of the store, and expected customers to search for their bread and eggs – insane, right? Sad to say, a couple of blogs out there are a lot like that.
Try these five tactics instead:
- Use lists when it makes sense.
- Highlight pertinent details using bold text.
- Intersperse text with images and videos.
- Condense big amounts of data into useful structures like charts or, even better, infographics.
- Use block quotes to really highlight gems of information.
Step 5: Entice Readers to Take Action!
Getting someone to actually do something is incredibly powerful; they’ll remember you for it. So make sure your content flows to a logical conclusion that ends in action. You’ve already provided the facts, added credible references, and slipped in the necessary emotional motivation. It’s time to wrap it up and cash in.
The best content will flow naturally to an emotive conclusion with a clear Call To Action (CTA). Here’s a great example of how to do it (from Quicksprout):
Their CTA offers two simple solutions. There is nothing confusing about it, and it combines a reason to act with a guarantee and an exit plan. The choice is so much easier to make.
If you have followed the other steps diligently, then you’ve provided readers with loads of value – at this point they may well be willing to return the favor! Don’t be shy – tell them what you would like them to do to achieve your aims. But don’t forget: Frame it in terms of how it can benefit them. Quicksprout’s approach is a fantastic example of exactly that.
By utilizing the above five steps, you can beat the odds by converting your visitors into customers. Let’s quickly recap the steps you should be taking:
- Hook them with a potent and relevant headline.
- Draw readers into the post with a strong introduction.
- Provide valuable content.
- Retain their interest with formatting and media.
- Entice readers to take action!
Do you have any other techniques for converting visitors into customers through your blog? Let us know in the comments below!