Rita is close to tears.
We’re sitting at a consultation call and she recalls how her boss hired her to bring more signups, how she’s been creating content, how, after nearly 18 months of working on SEO, some of those assets had finally started ranking and attracting website visitors. And how, in spite of doing all this, she is generating practically zero signups for the company.
“Why can’t I convert blog traffic into signups and sales? And what am I going to tell my boss, if she asks about it?” – She wonders.
Now, she has done everything by the book, she thinks:
- She put calls to action all over the blog.
- She’s also pushed the product in the content heavily so that no reader will miss on its incredible value.
Yet, no one’s biting.
Unfortunately, one part of the problem is exactly what she has been doing so far. The other, what Rita should have done instead.
If you’re in a similar situation, keep on reading. In this guide, I’ll show you the correct framework for converting blog traffic.
I promise that this simple change will help you increase the interest in your product among blog readers, and convince those people to try out your app.
But first, let’s start with finding out what Rita’s been doing wrong.
How SaaS Brands Try to Convert Blog Traffic, Typically
Now, this goes absolutely without saying: Content drives SaaS marketing and growth.
It’s with the help of content – blog posts, landing pages, pillar pages and more – SaaS companies are able to generate brand awareness, the buzz and the interest they so very much need to get more signups and sales.
It’s no surprise how much time, effort, and resources SaaS companies dedicate to the channel, typically.
Unfortunately, for so many of them, the outcome is far from what they’ve expected.
Sure, with the right SEO optimization, they do get the traffic. But that traffic doesn’t convert, and that’s for two reasons:
- Your visitors don’t know enough about the product to sign up,
- You do not present them with the opportunity to learn more about it.
Just look at what Rita has done.
She put calls to action (CTAs) everywhere. Now, it seems only logical to do so, right?
Yet, if we looked at her site, I can guarantee that those CTAs would be:
- Sign up button in the navigation, often referred to as the curiosity link,
- An ad for the product in the sidebar. The chances are that this would be a floating banner, sliding down as the reader scrolls deeper into the content, and
- A banner at the bottom of the content.
Clicking on those CTAs would take a visitor to the signup page where they could enter the free trial or become a freemium user, depending on the company’s sales process. What’s more, some CTAs – like the under the post banner – could even include the signup form.
Now, I can understand the logic behind this: To generate signups the company tries to shorten the path to signing up.
The quicker the person sees the signup form, the greater the chance they’ll complete it.
Unfortunately, such thinking ignores one critical fact: Blog visitors, people who are often at the early stages of the buying process, know nothing about the product.
- They have come to the site looking for advice, not solutions.
- Their visit is driven by curiosity and the desire to learn something.
- And, most likely, they haven’t even started researching products that could help them. I’d even go further and say that those people don’t know of any solutions that could help them.
Well, they don’t know it yet, of course, but that’s the crucial part, actually.
Now, let me be clear about something. Those CTAs may work out fine for some sites. So could a self-conducted brain surgery. That said, it’s not a treatment any serious medical professional would recommend, I suppose.
So, what should you do instead?
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Framework: How to Really Convert Blog Traffic
I’ve been talking about two methods to convert blog traffic into sales over and over in this guide so far. So, let me introduce them to you.
The only two ways to convert blog traffic are:
- Pushing people from the blog to a commercial page (a feature page, the homepage, etc.) relevant to the topic of the post they’ve just read.
- Convert blog visitors into email subscribers and get them on your email list.
What’s more, you should be using each of those methods. However, when do you use each will largely depend on the type of content and its topic.
To understand the distinction, we need to discuss two aspects of your SEO strategy that play a massive role in generating conversions:
- The Search Intent, and
- Proximity to Purchase.
The Search Intent
The search intent is your first clue regarding the likelihood of a blog reader actually converting. The intent can also reveal how to convert that person.
Here’s how it works.
Often, the main reason why visitors do not click on your call to action is that it’s not relevant to them. And the first step to tackle this is by understanding a couple of things about why they have searched for this content in the first place.
In the simplest terms, the search intent defines the reason why someone has looked up specific information in the search engine.
There are four main intents that we, SEOs, focus on in our work:
- Commercial and transactional intents relate to the buying situation, and they aren’t relevant to blog readers, mostly.
- Local intent, as the name suggests, focuses on local information.
- The last one, however, – the informational intent – is what you target with the blog content.
The informational intent describes all the search phrases that people use to find information to learn something. Often, these phrases include words like “how,” “method,” etc. However, many head terms will have informational intent as well.
Here’s a quick comparison of different intents.
This search phrase – “Small Business CRM” – returns mostly commercial results that customers could use to identify and sign up for software products. In fact, most of the results on the first page are product roundups and comparisons, suggesting that people searching for this phrase look for potential solutions to choose from.
This phrase – “how to use CRM in a small business” – however, returns a quite a different SERP.
This time, the first page is filled with blog posts offering information and advice. The perfect audience for this content is different from the previous example. Those visitors do not seem interested in any particular solutions yet. What they want is information about whether such a product is for them.
Since this keyword has an informational intent, Google pushes content relevant to the users’ needs higher in rankings.
Most SEOs use the search intent to help improve Google rankings. However, you can also use it to understand how to convert your blog readers.
Look at the second SERP example above. Ask yourself, how likely would you be to buy any products if you were looking for this information right now?
My guess, you’d be a million miles away from even thinking about it.
(Sure, you might start considering the purchase down the line. But you’re not there yet.)
Failing to understand this is one reason why your blog doesn’t convert, actually.
And to change that, you must understand the motivation of someone entering your website through an informational search, and then, lead them to the place that corresponds with that intent.
Let’s part this for now and move to that other aspect:
The Proximity to Purchase
In its simplest form, the concept of keyword proximity to purchase states that informational keywords have different levels of problem intensity.
In short, some keywords attract people who are more likely to be interested in your solution than others.
Just think about it, a person clicking on your post with advice about using a CRM is more likely to be considering such a system than someone reading your post about the benefits of a good email signature.
(That is if your product is a CRM system, not an email signature creator, of course.)
That’s what the keyword proximity to purchase concept defines – How likely someone searching for this information is to be thinking about a product like yours.
I like to think of the proximity to purchase as a set of concentric circles. Your product is at the center, and those concentric circles come out of it.
Each circle represents a different topic you cover in the content.
So, the further away a circle or topic is from the center, the smaller the level of interest in your product.
OK, so we have the search intent and the proximity to purchase. Let’s put the two together, then.
Here’s How Do You Convert Blog Traffic into Sales
Let’s identify what aspects we need to consider:
The search intent. Informational keywords that you target with blog posts are less likely to generate direct signups. People using those keywords, typically, search for information and advice and have little to no commercial intent in mind.
Then, there’s the proximity to purchase which states that some informational keywords carry more interest in a potential solution than others. We’ve discussed examples of that as well.
And here’s how to use them to convert blog visitors into sales and signups.
When it comes to topics with close proximity to purchase, instead of pushing those potential customers to the signup page or showing a signup form at the bottom of the content, send them to a commercial page that’s relevant to the topic they’ve been reading about.
It could be a page that’s talking about a feature relating to the post’s topic or the homepage, of course. It can be any page in fact, as long as it can introduce the product in the context of the advice those people have just received.
For those further away in the purchase proximity scale, you’re far better to do something else – Collect their email addresses and convert them to a mailing list, ideally with a content upgrade or a lead magnet. Then, use simple email marketing automation to introduce the product in context.
In this case, since those people aren’t ready to learn more about your product (and so, showing them in context would be almost impossible,) you need to take a subtler approach. Offer them value in the form of a lead magnet. Then, use the simplest automation possible to bring them to closer proximity to the product.
What automation would work best?
Naturally, there is almost an endless number of approaches you could take. But for a start, I recommend that you keep it simple.
Instead of plotting some complex automation strategy, do this:
Think about four or five questions someone might have after reading your lead magnet. Then, set up the automation so that each email answers one of those questions. The final email would be a call to action to learn more about the product (although, you’d, naturally, include gentle nudges in other emails too, of course.)
Implementing These Strategies in Practice
A question I often hear when presenting these strategies to clients is “how do we know where to use each of those approaches.”
Here’s the simplest way to answer it.
Grade your existing topics by their proximity to purchase. I use a 1-10 scale, with the highest number describing the closest proximity and the lowest defining no interest in the product at all.
Once you’ve graded your topics, use the first method – calls to action to relevant pages – on posts with proximity from 10 to 7.
Use the lead magnets strategy and offer blog giveaways for topics that you’ve graded 6-4.
Anything below that is too far to do much about it, so you can experiment with those as you wish. My advice would be to interlink those lowest proximity posts with the ones higher on the scale, to push the user there, and let them convert on those content pieces.
How to Measure Your Blog Conversions
Now, this is a big issue for us all. In spite of all the amazing work we’re doing with SEO and content marketing, we still need to prove a positive ROI to the people who have hired us – clients in my case, and, most likely, a boss for you.
So, here’s how you can monitor conversions and results these two strategies deliver.
Measuring Strategy #1: Pushing Potential Users to a Product Page or Homepage
There are two ways that you can report on this strategy. One signifies whether your content actually converts visitors. The other shows how many of those visitors actually sign up.
Here’s how to do it.
To evaluate and track the success of the strategy, you must measure how many blog visitors actually click on the call to action and go to the destination page.
For example, if you send visitors from a blog post about the benefits of having a CRM to the homepage, you measure how much traffic landed on the homepage from that content.
You can do it in a number of ways:
- Assign a UTM code to calls to action in the blog post. This way, your referral traffic will show in Google Analytics.
- Set up a goal in GA to track traffic to the destination page. Then, use the landing page report to identify conversion rates from the blog post to the destination page. This approach is particularly handy to monitor traffic to a handful of destinations from a multitude of blog posts.
Here’s how to set up a simple goal to track blog traffic to the destination page.
In GA -> Goals, click New Goal, you’ll be asked to select goal type. You can choose from pre-selected templates or start from scratch.
Next, give the goal a name, and select the destination URL:
TIP: At the bottom of the screen, just above the Save button, you’ll see an option to verify this goal. Do it. It’ll tell you how this goal has performed in the last 7 days. This is a nice indication of what results you can expect moving forward.
This method relies on setting up goals as well. This time, however, you specify the final stage of the signup’s funnel – typically your thank you page – as the destination.
You then use the Landing pages report in GA to see how many people who have first landed on the blog post have signed up for the product (i.e., reached the thank you page.)
Measuring Strategy #2: Email Signups
Now, this strategy is much simpler to measure. Most of the data is delivered in your email marketing platform – the number of signups, and often even, which call to action generated the signup.
Personally, I use a combination of a dedicated call to action plugin and an email platform. Each delivers its own set of analytics. The plugin reports on the performance of each CTA, whereas the platform shows me list growth and subscriber engagement.
You may be using a simpler process. Nonetheless, you will find the list growth data in the email platform, and that is the basic KPI you should be tracking.
What You Should Take Away from This Guide on Converting Blog Traffic
- It’s near impossible to generate direct signups from the blog.
- Visitors landing on your blog posts often have insufficient knowledge about your product to sign up immediately.
- To convert them, you must first identify their proximity to purchase, and then use either of the two strategies (or both combined):
- Push them to another page that can introduce the product to them in the context of the article they’ve just read, be it a product feature page or the homepage.
- Offer them a lead magnet to convert them into email subscribers. From then on, you can use simple email automation to introduce the product.
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