We all want it.
And for good reason:
With highly-targeted traffic, you can rank higher in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), generate more high-quality leads for your business and increase revenue (if your site is optimized correctly, that is).
But without it…
…you’ll struggle to grow your business in a predictable and scalable way.
It’s no secret:
If you’re not turning site visitors into email subscribers (and eventually subscribers into customers), you’re not just leaving money on the table, you’re actually jeopardizing your business.
Business owners, for the most part, know this…
…and it’s exactly why many resort to conversion optimization.
The problem, though, is few know how to do it correctly.
They install a pop-up here and an overlay there without really knowing what they’re doing or why. Worse, if done to the detriment of the reader experience, it can work to their disadvantage.
This isn’t going to be a problem for you, though, because in today’s post, you’re going to learn exactly how to optimize a blog post so you maximize the traffic you’re already receiving and convert website visitors into email subscribers (without annoying them).
Let’s jump in.
Step 1. Look at Your Analytics
Before optimizing a blog post, you need to do an 80/20 analysis of your site’s content.
The 80/20 rule, also known as ‘Pareto’s Law’ dictates that 80% of your desired outcomes are the result of 20% of your activities or inputs.
In other words, you need to identify the 20% of your content that generates 80% of your traffic.
To do that, you’re going to need to go into your Google Analytics.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you already have Google Analytics setup. If you don’t, read Google’s Startup Guide. This will bring you up to speed.
The reason you’re going into Google analytics is to determine why people are visiting your site, to begin with, and to bridge any gap between what people are searching for and what you’ve written.
If readers are searching for ‘golfing lessons for teenagers’ and you’re writing about ‘golfing lessons for adults’, while similar, there’s a mismatch between what they want and what you’re offering.
If, though, you identify where readers are dropping off and why, you can optimize your page for better conversions (e.g. you could write a blog post on ‘golfing lessons for adults’ and link to it in the sidebar).
To get started, login to Google Analytics, scroll down to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘Search Console’ > ‘Queries’.
Look at your top 10 search queries. What do they tell you about how you’re running your business? Do any search queries surprise you?
Look at your 10 highest-performing articles.
If their click-through rates are high, you need to ensure you’re not losing them once they land on your site. This is best reflected in your bounce rate. If it’s high, you need to do something on-site to lower it.
To check your bounce rate, click on ‘Landing Pages’ in ‘Search Console’. As a rule of thumb, anything in the range of 26 to 40 percent is considered excellent.
While lowering bounce rates goes beyond the scope of today’s article, (read Neil Patel’s article), you can lower your bounce rate by writing content that’s thorough and well-researched, and tailored to your readers’ needs, desires and pains.
Once you’ve chosen the 20% of the content you’re going to optimize, you’re ready to for Step 2.
Step 2. Collect Emails
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to look at three highly-effective ways of capturing email addresses (in order to effectiveness):
- Content upgrades
- Strategically placed opt-ins
Let’s look at each in detail
i. Content upgrades
For years, bloggers have used ‘lead magnets’ to convert website visitors into email subscribers.
You might have even done this yourself.
Today, though, they’re far less effective. PDF reports or eBooks, while still valuable to some extent, don’t have the same appeal they once had (for reasons we’ll cover in a future post).
To get noticed in today’s noisy world, it’s not enough to offer a generic bribe on your site. You have to go a step further. If you want to rapidly grow your email list, you need to create content upgrades, too.
According to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income,
A content upgrade is simply bonus content that people can get access to in exchange for their email address. Unlike traditional “site-wide” lead magnets, however, content upgrades are unique to the specific content that people are already reading or listening to on your site.
Let’s return to our golfing example. If you wrote an article titled ‘10 Ways to Improve Your Backswing without Hiring an Instructor’, you might offer a PDF that offers 10 additional tips or even better as a content upgrade.
Not only do content upgrades offer your readers more value…
…they’re one of the highest-converting conversion strategies in conversion optimization, today.
In fact, when Brian Dean from Backlinko added content upgrades to all his blog posts, he increased his conversion rate from .54%. to 4.82% in one day.
There’s a reason content upgrades are powerful:
They’re unique to each article to publish.
You’ll usually see a content upgrade offered at the beginning of a post, highlighted by a yellow box (and sometimes at the end of the article, too).
Here’s an example from Neil Patel:
When you click on the anchor text, it triggers a pop-up (also known as a Leadbox):
Neil creates a content grade for almost every post he publishes. While you don’t need to go to that length, you do need to add a content upgrade to your highest-performing blog posts.
To create your content upgrade, go to your email marketing provider (Aweber, Mailchimp, Convert Kit, etc.), copy your optin code and embed it in your blog post. (To learn more about how to content-specific bonuses, read Bryan Harris’ complete guide).
‘Everybody hates pop-ups.’
How many times have you heard that in marketing?
…how many people still use them?
Contrary to what most people say, pop-ups are still a highly-effective way of building an email list—if they’re used correctly.
In fact, in less than two years, SumoMe have collected 23,645,948 email addresses for its users with List Builder pop-ups, alone.
In order for pop-ups to be effective, they must be:
- Specific to the blog post and relevant to the reader
- Timed correctly
a. Specific to the blog post and relevant to the reader
I think we can all agree:
There’s nothing more annoying than pop-ups that aren’t tailored to our interests.
While reading this article about conversion optimization, imagine you saw a pop-up about how to do Facebook advertising.
Though similar in topic, it’s not relevant to your current needs, is it? After all, you’re reading an article about conversion optimization.
On the other hand, imagine you saw a pop-up that offered you a step-by-step checklist for implementing the steps outlined in this article. Chances are you would be much more likely to opt-in because the offer adds more value.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in: combining content upgrades with content specific pop-ups will skyrocket your conversions.
The best part is you don’t even need to provide more content.
In fact, a content upgrade can be as simple as a coupon offering a discount, a one-on-one consultation—even a brief explainer video simplifying a complicated subject.
The more value you provide, the more email signups you’ll receive and the more opportunity you’ll have to turn your subscribers into customers.
b. Timed correctly
One of the biggest causes of high bounce rates comes from misusing pop-ups.
It’s a familiar story:
You click-through to a site, begin consuming content and after 10-seconds…Surprise! A pop-up blocks your view.
Interrupting your reader while they’re reading your content not just hurts reader experience—it affects your average on-page time (which in turn affects your rankings).
The solution, then, is to time your pop-ups either toward the end of the article, or, right before they leave.
This is why we looked at bounce rates in Step 1: if you can trigger a pop-up before your average time-on-site expires, you have a much better chance of turning readers into subscribers (without annoying them).
iii. Strategically placed opt-ins
Believe it or not:
There are times when a reader is consuming your content and actually wants to opt-in.
With that in mind, it’s useful to have opt-ins strategically placed on your site.
My favorite place?
Think about it:
If a reader has made it all the way to the bottom of your post, they obviously enjoyed your post. Why would you not ask them to optin?
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income does this brilliantly:
Not only does he use an opt-in in the footer, he uses social proof to further invite readers to opt-in.
Remember: getting visitors to optin on your site is about more what tools and tactics you use; it’s about how you ask them, too. And that’s exactly why Step 3 is so important…
Step 3. A/B Test
So far, we’ve discussed how to identify your traffic sources and capture emails from incoming traffic. If all you do is Step 1 and Step 2, you will see improvements in your conversions.
To really amp things up, though, you need to introduce A/B testing. This will tell you what’s working, what’s not and most important, what you can improve.
Whether you’re using a content upgrade or an exit-intent popup, there are three elements to focus on when A/B testing:
- The headline
- The body copy
- The call-to-action (CTA)
i. The Headline
According to Copyblogger, on average, only 2 out of 10 readers will continue reading past your headline.
The headline is the most important part of any copy your write.
While there’s no formula to writing good headlines, you can’t go wrong with a ‘how-to’ headline:
In the above example, Jeff Goins offers to solve a common problem his audience of aspiring authors has: “How do I grow my audience?”
Writing headlines requires practice (even legendary adman David Ogilvy wrote 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement). Don’t get frustrated if you can’t get it right off the bat. To learn more about how to writing magnetic headlines, read Copyblogger’s eBook.
ii. The body copy
To get more conversions, you need to focus on crafting copy that’s compelling and articulates, in simple terms, the benefit the reader will receive from opting in.
Character space is limited, so you need to focus on making each word count. If brevity isn’t one of your strong points, consider modeling a competitor (note: this is different from copying).
With more and more business owners relying on pop-ups to capture emails, you need to be unique if you want to get noticed. One way to do that is to go against your reader’s expectations.
When most readers see a pop-up, they immediately think they’re going to be asked for their email. But you can break that expectation by introducing your copy differently.
When Maria Popova from Brain Pickings asks for your email, she uses the body copy to address the elephant in the room:
Another way to challenge expectation?
Tim Urban from Wait But Why is a master of this:
Humor can go a long way—don’t be afraid to express it.
iii. The call-to-action
Here’s a fact that might surprise you:
No one wants to ‘Subscribe’ to your newsletter.
It’s not because it isn’t very good (I’m sure you’re doing a great job); it’s because ‘Subscribing’ is an ambiguous word. What exactly are your readers getting?
As copywriter Ray Edwards says,
Everybody’s favorite radio station is WIIFM: what’s in it for me?
If you made your body copy compelling enough and promised a benefit for opting in, the call-to-action needs to reflect it with clear, easy-to-understand language.
In other words, if you’re offering “10 Ways to Lower Your Putting Score”, don’t ask the reader to “Subscribe”. Instead, you might invite them to click the button that reads, “Send Me The Guide!”
Sounds better, right?
The more value you’re providing and the more expertise you’re demonstrating in your content, the greater chance you’ll to have to market your product and services to your audience.
Here’s another example:
Look closely at Ramit Sethi’s call-to-action? What do you notice?
Instead of relying on generic words like “Subscribe”, or “Get Updates”, Ramit he’s specific, action-oriented copy that matches what he’s offering in the headline (“Get instant access to the best of my New York Times bestseller”).
Be congruent throughout your marketing and your customers will notice (and thank you for it).
Whether you like it or not, conversion optimization is one of the most important areas of your business. And yet, for many business owners, it’s the most neglected. Don’t be one of them.
Start with one article, identify where readers are dropping off and rewrite your article so it grabs attention, earlier, and maintains engagement
The longer a reader is on your site, the more likely they’ll optin. And the longer they’re on your list, the greater the chance they’ll buy from you (if you continue delivering value).
As you’ve seen, optimizing content doesn’t need to be time-consuming, but it does need to be a priority.
The question is…
…will it be for you?
How have you optimized your posts for conversions? What has your experience been? Leave a comment below.