This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.
In the early days of blogging, there were lots of small niche blogs that resembled online journals or diaries. They were nothing more than virtual spaces for storing thoughts, beliefs, and memories. However, as the internet evolved, so did blogging. Hobby bloggers disappeared for the most part and a new wave of bloggers began to shape what has now become a billion-dollar industry.
Instead of blogging simply to have some fun or blow off steam, blogging is what people and businesses do to generate revenue – both directly and indirectly. To use a business term, blogging has become a key source for lead generation. That begs the question, are you maximizing your blog’s lead collection efforts?
Identifying Your Blog’s Purpose and Audience
Before you can maximize your blog’s lead collection efforts, you have to begin by clearly identifying and understanding the two cornerstones that are foundational to each and every blog.
- The first thing you have to figure out is your blog’s purpose. Is your blog designed to collect email leads or are you trying to convert direct sales straight from the blog? Are you merely building a brand or are you hoping to drive traffic to specific landing pages? Are you hoping to generate ad revenue or are you focusing on affiliate marketing? Each purpose necessitates a unique approach and you must identify the goal you’re trying to reach.
- The second foundational cornerstone of a successful blog is target audience identification. You need to know exactly who you’re targeting with your content and what makes them tick. Demographic information is a start but it goes well beyond this. You need to understand what their pain points are, what they’re looking for in a solution, how they shop, and what points of friction exist.
Once you successfully identify a purpose and an audience, you’ll find that you suddenly have much more clarity surrounding your blog. This clarity will ultimately enhance your ability to generate leads.
Give These Six Techniques a Try
Too many bloggers try to jump into lead generation without first tending to the aforementioned cornerstones. Be sure that you deal with your blog’s purpose and audience before focusing on leads. But once you get those elements squared away, you can turn your attention towards developing a lead generation strategy that ultimately yields a significant return.
1. Provide a Reason to Believe
By now, most bloggers have some sort of opt-in form built into their blogs. You’ve been told over and over just how important it is to collect email leads for future marketing and sales pushes. And while it’s good that you’ve done the legwork and integrated opt-in forms into your web pages, are you doing enough to encourage subscriptions.
Reducing the number of fields is one thing you can do, but there’s always more. Another good strategy is to create some sort of incentive or reason to believe. People are much more likely to give you their email address and other personal information if they know they’re getting something tangible in return.
Spend some time brainstorming ideas with your team. What will it take to move blog visitors to action? Depending on your target audience and your blog’s goals, this could range from simple to complex. Here are the three popular ideas:
- Free trial. The simplest incentive is a free trial offer. This usually works best for service or subscription based businesses. Not only does the free trial offer increase your ability to collect leads, but it also naturally pushes those leads further along in the conversion process by giving them a taste of your product.
- A discount is slightly easier but has the same effect. Discounts usually help you collect and drive leads in one fell swoop. Not only are you getting their information, but you’re also incentivizing them to make a purchase.
- Free physical gift. The most effective incentive you can present to visitors is a free physical gift in return for an opt-in. The key here is to give a gift that’s cheap, easy to ship, and points the recipient back towards the brand. Something like a custom calendar with your brand’s logo is a good choice. If you buy in bulk, many companies will sell you calendars for just a couple of dollars per unit.
- Free eBook or eCourse. People love to feel like they’re getting exclusive information that will allow them to improve and grow. That’s why so many users are willing to opt in to an email list in return for a complimentary eBook or eCourse that teaches them something of value. It’s a highly effective – not to mention cheap – method of attracting leads.
Feel free to think even further outside of the box, but if you can find an incentive that fits into one of these three categories, you should see a noticeable bump in your lead collection efforts.
2. Make Use of Sidebar Real Estate
The sidebar is one of the most underutilized areas of the blog. Either the sidebar is overcrowded with superfluous elements or isn’t used much at all. Both extremes are egregious mistakes and you need to make sure you put this valuable real estate to use.
When it comes to generating leads, the sidebar is a gift. Whereas your header and footer are only visible on certain portions of the page, the sidebar is ever present. Not only should you include a concise opt-in form in the sidebar, but you should also incorporate some value-adds that keep the reader engaged. Depending on your objective, this may look like featuring similar posts, incorporating related affiliate links, or throwing in a unique sales offer.
3. Host a Webinar
Today’s internet users want to see more engagement. Consuming a post is great, but engaging with the voice behind that post is even better. One way to collect leads and drive value is by hosting occasional webinars.
“Simply collect visitor contact information in exchange for a reserved spot,” marketing strategist Andy Beohar says. “Webinars can be used to go over a particular topic your audience has a problem with, demonstrate a new product or service, or just to start a discussion.”
While hosting a webinar obviously allows you to garner leads in the days and weeks leading up to the event, it goes far beyond collecting an email address and plugging it into a spreadsheet.
“A huge benefit of a hosting a webinar is the feedback,” Beohar has discovered. “Beforehand, you should ask your audience what topics they’d like to see discussed. During and after the webinar you should also invite as many questions as possible. These questions give you a feel for what your audience really cares about, and should give you plenty of ideas for content to blog about in the future.”
4. Use Social Influencers
You’re certainly sharing blog posts on social media, but how big is your reach? Even if you have a few hundred or thousand followers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you face an uphill battle when it comes to gaining significant traction. What you really need to do is tap into larger networks by connecting with social influencers in your niche.
Groove, a leader in help desk software, has come up with a method that they believe offers the most promising results. You start by identifying influencers in your industry and making a list of people you want to build relationships with. Next, you start engaging them by liking content, commenting on posts, sharing posts, etc. The goal is to get noticed without being annoying. Finally, once you’ve built up some credibility, you need to send them an offer they can’t resist.
“We’ve gotten more than 5,000 subscribers and 535 trial signups through our blog efforts [using this method],” says Alex Turnbull, CEO and founder of Groove. “From a revenue standpoint (since that’s what this blog is all about), we’ve generated about $3,425 in transactional revenue, though the real test of how valuable these new users are over time remains to be seen.”
5. Get Involved in the Comments Section
The comments section of a blog doesn’t usually get the attention it deserves. Sure, you may get a few comments and even reply to some of them, but it’s time that you stop looking at it as an afterthought. By engaging readers in the comments section, you can really drive some impressive results. Just check out what leading blogs are doing to get an idea of what can and should be done.
While you want to avoid being too “salesy” in the comments section, you can generate leads by answering questions with specific calls-to-action. In other words, if someone is having a problem and you have an eBook, webinar, white paper, or case study that speaks to the issue, direct them to the appropriate landing page with an opt-in form.
6. Use Exit Intent Popups
You’ve certainly experienced them at least once or twice in the past. Exit intent popups are the screens that suddenly emerge when you’re getting ready to close out a page or go to another tab on your browser. While these popups can be a little annoying, they tend to work.
“Your visitors are already on their way out, they have signaled their intent to leave and their attention is quickly being focused elsewhere,” marketer Sid Bharath says. “Your options are to do nothing, and perhaps never be able to count them as a returning visitor, or take your best shot, display a popup, and try to convince them you are worthy of their time.”
It may be a last ditch effort, but it’s never too late to collect a lead. Use exit intent popups and track the results. If they seem to be working, then continue to leverage them as part of your lead generation strategy.
Maximize Your Blog’s Value
Well-designed blogs with regularly updated content and robust SEO and backlink strategies are a dime a dozen these days. If you want to be competitive and accomplish your goals, then you have to be proactive and really hone in on some of the different ways in which you can drive leads directly from your blog. It’ll take some time and effort, but you’ll be better off for the resources you pour into it.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn
Thanks for the info Larry. I certainly am always trying to get involved with the comment section of my blog – as a frequent reader I think it’s great when the author responds. I’ll have to try out some more of these techniques like the free trial, or popup idea.
I think building trust is the key here.
Most people are lazy to optin even if you offer them freebies such as eBooks, videos, tools etc.
You need to build trust and trust is the currency online. You can build trust by networking with the influencers in your niche, by writing really good case studies and showing some unique stuff like income reports etc.
Also figure out ways to anlayze your competition. Find out how they are capturing their emails and promoting their stuff to get more leads.
You will get a lot of ideas that way! Great insights.
This is a good post, Larry. You speak highly of incentive. An incentive for readers to come to your blog. An incentive to understand as the blog publisher the purpose of the blog. An incentive to be a helpful netizen with influencers to build relationships over time and to be giving and helpful. An incentive to giving as much as possible to an audience who comes by your blog. Then you give them a reason to be in a position to sell them your product or service.
You also speak of incrementally building up to being engaging and involved with one’s audience. Agreed, by being active then you get to the heart generating the right leads and of solving your customers problems.
can you tell me more about Intent Popups? although its effective for getting your targeted results, but user dont like this
Thanks for sharing this info, i have recently started a blog on my money making site, and publishing blog post on regular basis, i have also hire a freelance written for my blog and getting my post written, but still i missed many thing which you mentioned, surely i will start correcting my blog posts right away to make it more effectively.
You got it right.
Blogging has become a source of income. People used to blog as their hobby but now anymore.
The first thing is to recognize what kind of blog you want to forge. Do you want to guide the beginners or any other audience?
Freebies always work in user engagement. You can also use the discount to make your readers stay.
Collecting email address with your email marketing strategy is one must thing to do.
Great Points ! For me, giving discount, freebies and using comment section to keep users engaged, are some methods which works, I haven’t tried Webinars and mainly due to the fact that I haven’t had any time to do so, but I do indulge in conversations with my readers via comments and Try to solve their queues, hence it helps me generate more leads.
Also, it helps me create a good list of emails for marketing and generating leads become easy when we have loyal readers who trust our emails and what we have written in our articles.
Thank you, Larry, for sharing this information, every point is this post is influential.
Your first point about providing the visitors a reason to believe, is my favorite point.
Thanks again, keep inspiring beginners like me. :)
Thank you, Alton. It is a great post.
I like the information about the use of the sidebar position and providing a reason to believe.
I intend to experiment with the Free eBook offer and see how my visitors convert. Your post reinforces what I have heard about offering visitors something to make them subscribe to your newsletter.
It is a challenge getting visitors to my blog to subscribe to my newsletters and I have lost leads.
Thanks for this great post. I will explore most of the options you stated.
I agree with you that we need to recognize our audience and at the same provide something in return for them to come and visit our blogs.
I am not so sure of the sidebar real estate, I heard many bloggers have started removing their sidebars, I have to make a decision yet.
Thanks for the post
Blogs are a great way to increase your digital presence, making you more visible and findable in various search engines such as google, bing etc. They can also be a great way to generate leads.
A visitor’s first experience with your company might be through a blog page. Definetly our blog must focus on our customers in order to boost leads. It should either solve their problems or share your resources. Blog is considered as an opportunity to connect with customers in a real-time. Eventually, thanks for sharing your best tips regarding this subject.
With best wishes,
Blogging is an income stream and should be taken seriously. Gone are those days we create blog for fun…
You made a good point; many bloggers don’t know the value of commenting and also replying a comment.
Thanks for such a lovely post, it will truly help bloggers…
Have a wonderful weekend
Hey Larry You shared some great tips here for collecting leads from blog, I prefer exit intent popus are great way to get leads. Also hellobar for collecting emails, I have tried manycontacts plugin and it worked like charm on my blog. I got 30% increase in conversion through this hellobar.
To get more leads you need test out various methods on your blog, out of many methods choose which gives you high conversion rates.
The discount has been by far the most successful lead collector on my sites. Creating a sense of urgency, like a limited time offer that may or may not really be limited works pretty well.
Thanks for this informative post. You have nailed it. These above tips can surely help bloggers to collect leads from their blog. Understanding your blog audience is really very important to determine you blog objectives. Awesome post :)
Awesome post……. your article is really informative and helpful for me and other bloggers too because lead generation is not as easy as a cup of tea. These 6 ways are amazing, specially, point 1(Provide a Reason to Believe) and 5(Get Involved in the Comments Section). Really you have described everything in descriptive, simply yet effective too. You’ve done a great job with this.
Yes Gaurav this post is really informative and helpful. I also gain lots of knowledge. Now, I believe, I can get lots of traffic on my website as many doubts also crear from my mind after reading this post.
i am doing blogging since 2014. Blogging is good source of income without spending lot and giving too much time. Keep working but smart work, that’s all you need.
Making a career change is tough @ 1st emotionally b/c you’ve been doing something for so long as a habit or pattern. Striving daily and having an open mind to change can help anyone achieve more than just a career change; perhaps starting their own business and not having to worry one bit about making their employer rich. And most importantly, using a blog to change your life can fair out better than hoped for in the longrun because you allow your thoughts to transfer into potential streaming profits, as long as you “do the transformation business work at full strength.”
Great post! Very useful content. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to incorporating some of these elements into my blog.
Thank you Larry,for sharing your knowledge and information.Lead generation is not easy and your tips would be very helpful for bloggers.
Blogging has a lot of strategy and strategic people can progress easily. Your 6 techniques will help a blogger for making the best decisions.
Actually, the audience trust is very important for blogging success. We can gain trust easily by hosting webinar.
However, thanks for sharing your nice informative ways of collecting leads.
With Best Regards,
Impressive, must say, its the bitter truth of blogging and these days mostly people take blogging for fun.
But you rightly said, gone are those days.
Specially that commenting and responding is the key note that needs to be taken care of.
Have a great day ahead.
Firstly thanks for sharing such a nice strategy. I totally appreciate specially 4th one. Sharing post is not enough. leads are also essential.
Hey Larry…wonderful post on creating and nurturing leads via blogging..very informative and challenging as well.