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Masooma Memon on October 12, 2020 (last modified on November 12, 2020) • 29 minute read
Have you been thinking about blogging for lead generation lately? Or, perhaps you already have an up and running blog, but it doesn’t help much with generating leads?
Either way, getting your blog to send a ton of leads your way isn’t an impossible nut to crack.
First, you need to have a good understanding of your audience and what their pain points are. Creating good content that solves these pain points takes care of the rest, paired with leveraging ways to get your visitors to share their information.
Now, all this might leave you feeling overwhelmed.
But you don’t have to be as we’ve put together a list of ways bloggers generate leads from their blogs. On top of that, we’ve explained the lead generation process.
So, today, you’ll learn:
Lead generation involves getting interested or potential customers, also called leads, to share their contact information with you. This way, you can save their info so you can nurture them to convert later on.
In other words, the lead generation process is the first step in moving customers through the buying process. Once you have the contact information, you can take the lead through the various buying stages, for instance, from awareness to interest to consideration, and finally, conversion.
Many marketing pros agree that a good conversion rate is somewhere around 2% to 5%. But what about your visitor to lead conversion rate (traffic conversion rate)?
Generally speaking, a good lead-to-visit conversion rate isn’t defined by hard numbers. This is because, in most cases, conversion rates are tied directly to business goals and strategies. It’s still worth mentioning that, for many businesses, visitor-to-lead conversion rates are generally small.
To provide more insight, we asked 23 marketing pros what’s the lead-to-visit conversion rate on their blog, and almost 25% confirmed our expectations when they answered between 1-2%.
The short answer: with their content or blog posts in simpler terms.
However, reading good content doesn’t mean your lead will take action themselves. Instead, bloggers have to take steps to push them to take action, for instance, encourage them to share their contact information, so they put them through the buying process.
So what are these ways to push leads to sharing their info? Bloggers employ a range of tactics ranging from adding compelling calls to action (CTAs) in their blog posts, offering content upgrades and other freebies, installing lead magnets, using interactive content, hosting giveaways, and so on.
All these are ways to get leads to share their info. But remember, they’re all based on providing high-quality, helpful content. Meaning: bloggers need to offer good content first, generate leads second.
That said, Omniscient Digital’s Alex Birkett makes a good point, “generating leads from your content is going to depend a ton on what your business is and what industry you’re in.
For example, are you selling premium education programs like Udacity or CXL Institute? Your content, in that case, is like a freemium version of your product. That’s to say it needs to be insanely good to the point that readers trust you and want to pay you for more of it.
However, in another space – let’s say the CRM market — you probably don’t need to impress anyone with your deep technical expertise. Instead, your best bet is to simply rank for higher intent keywords (like ‘best CRM’). So the strategy may differ depending on the context. However, I think one effective way anyone can generate more leads is the simple (but not easy) strategy of writing better content.”
Wondering exactly how other bloggers are generating leads from their blog? Here’s a brief look at the tactics our expert respondents shared with us:
Let’s dive into the details of blogging for lead generation now:
Lead magnets are “pieces of downloadable content that provide value to the audience, in exchange for their information,” in the words of Andres Tovar of Noetic Marketer.
“Nothing gets people to part with their valuable contact information quicker than offering them a glossy, downloadable asset for free,” opines The Content Panel’s Scott Stevens. “It’s not rocket science, and it’s not new, but it works.”
Bruce Harpham from SaaS Marketing Services agrees: “The best way to generate leads from your blog is to invite people to sign up for your email list. To do this, I recommend offering a free resource aimed at solving your target market’s problems.”
For example, Harpham adds, “I have found that I consistently convert about 2-3% of my website visitors to email subscribers. Once they are on the email list, I can continue the marketing process.”
Here’s how you need to go about creating a valuable asset that your audience will want to download:
Not only does this give you a lead, but you also get valuable information about where they are in the buying cycle,” notes Stevens.
“For example, if you’re an SEO agency, a lead downloading an eBook titled ‘SEO 101: What is SEO’ is going to need a lot more nurturing than someone downloading a book titled ‘Tracking SEO KPIs with Google Analytics,’” Stevens shares.
Tihana Drumev of Best Response Media shares another example: “[a previous] client was a baby formula producer, and they were giving away branded baby’s first-year memory books. We had more than 400 email subscribers through the sign-up fields in a week. And it wasn’t something new; they were handing the baby books regularly, on a different landing page on the website (with significantly low conversion rate).”
Our experts also had some best practices to share for creating lead magnets. Here’s a quick round-up:
Editor’s note: Learn what interests your blog readers and how many subscribers you have with this Blog Performance Tracking Dashboard. You can see your number of subscribers, blog engagement by pageviews, and engagement by clickthrough rate too.
“The most effective way to generate leads from your blog is to find a gap in knowledge or expertise in the blogging world,” points out Dusk Digital’s Caleb Riutta. “Once you find a topic that hasn’t been over blogged about in the past, then you have to write a stunning blog post with 1000+ words. This requires research and more research!”
“Provide real, actionable information,” advises Altitude Marketing’s Adam Smartschan. “If you go into a post thinking only about generating leads, you’re doing it wrong. Think about your prospects and what they need. Imagine the questions they’re asking. Then provide answers to those questions.
If you hit the mark, you’re their knight in shining armor. They trust you. And when they need something – either immediately or in the future – they’ll know to turn to you.”
Accordably’s Alex Cannon has the same approach: “Guide your potential customers to decisions rather than pushing them. Write about topics that are directly related to their industry and include useful tips on how your product could make their life easier. Skip the hard sells and focus on solving their problem.”
Vidyard’s Kendall Walters adds further to this: “In my experience, the best way to increase lead generation from your blog is to offer people helpful content that lets them take the next step.”
Ben Johnston from Sagefrog Marketing Group suggests, “Create content for your blog that targets user intent, no matter how specialized or minuscule the term or volume is!”
“Target your users at all different levels of your funnel by what their interest or pain point is,” explains Johnston. “Even more important is providing value when the user actually lands on your blog post; in short, user intent is everything when it comes to generating leads. Provide value, and they will take the completed action.”
“Offer exclusive content to your readers: Attract readers with content that will help them more than free blog content,” suggests Pankaj Sabharwal from Grazitti Interactive.
“This means providing value in your routine blog posts, and at the same time, going in-depth with exclusive content. For example, you could ask readers to sign up for a webinar, listen to a podcast, or even join your online community,” Sabharwal goes on.
Coschedule’s Ben Sailer also notes, “While there are differing opinions out there on the value of gated content, in our experience, it still works extremely well as long as the content you’re gating is useful and valuable.”
Allison Chaney from Boot Camp Digital also vouches for gated content. “In your blog post, share valuable information and then offer a full version of the content, or a resource or guide that aligns with the content. At the end of the blog, place a clear call to action that invites the user to share their email address to receive the resource.”
To this end, Vidyard’s Kendall Walters lays out the action steps for you:
Walters goes on to back this up with an example: “If you’ve written a post about how you can use video for sales, offer video scripts to help reps get started. If your blog is about creating a marketing budget, offer a budget template.
To scale this, you can put your posts in topic buckets and create assets that work for several pieces.”
For example, Walters shares, “On the Vidyard Blog, one of our top lead gen assets is our Types of Video Guide. It’s a series of checklists, one for each different type of video, that pair with a series of search-optimized blog posts. The checklists serve as an at-a-glance reminder about the details of each different type of video, along with key points to consider for creating each.
It might sound like a lot of work, but it pays off. And besides, intentionally creating content upgrade assets for blog posts doesn’t necessarily mean you need to reinvent the wheel.
Depending on the subject, it can be as simple as offering the post itself in a different format, such as a PDF, making it easy for the reader to print out, share with colleagues or save for later. We did this with our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing on the Vidyard Blog, and it’s proven to be a top lead driver for the channel.
Regardless of what kind of content you offer, the most important thing is delivering value to your reader. Do that, and they won’t hesitate to fill out your form.”
“Align with your sales team,” recommends Referral Rock’s Katrina Dalao. ”They talk to leads every day and are the experts on what concerns or questions you should cover in your content.
Use their insights to create engaging content that speaks right to your audience. If a lead sees you taking the time to understand and address their exact concerns, they’ll be more likely to move along your sales funnel.”
Ariel Lim from Ariel Lim Consulting comments about this: “Content upgrades is the single most effective way to generate more leads — these are specific lead magnet or marketing offers about the blog post they are reading.”
For instance, Lim says, “I shared below that my blog has less than 1% conversion rate. But on the posts that I implemented content upgrades, I have an 8+% conversion rate.”
“The idea behind the content upgrade is to create an offer that is related to what the blog post is about that can and will provide additional value. For example, the blog post is about setting up Google Analytics. A content upgrade can be an exclusive video that shows people how to do it, or a PDF guide, or, in my case, the top 5 filters you need to add after you set up Google Analytics to get accurate data,” elaborates Lim.
“Contrast this with the standard everybody else is doing — a popup or a call-to-action to subscribe to the newsletter. Boring and irrelevant. Content upgrades are the way to go if you want to generate more leads. Period. It takes more time, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Zachary Hadlee’s Milosz Krasinsk also reveals, “One of the methods I implemented lately was letting my visitors download short summaries of my long blog posts in exchange for an email. It’s pretty straightforward to put it into effect; it practically takes no time, as I always write short summaries of my articles anyway.
Not everybody has time to read the full article, so this tactic brought me some considerable results in conversion. You can offer a short PDF summary containing the most important points you’ve shown in your article. I just include a popup with a CTA to let the visitor download or subscribe to my newsletter. This is just one of many strategies bloggers use. The conversion rate on my blog has improved somewhat since I implemented that.”
FansRaise’s TJ Kelly also applauds content upgrades for lead generation: “Offer a download of the full list of 20. That way, if users want to find out what the last 10 are, they have to download your asset and give up their contact info in exchange.”
“The most important thing is not to be overly narrow about the keywords you build articles around,” recommends Alex Willen from Cooper’s Treats.
“If your visit-to-lead conversion rate from your blog is high, that’s not necessarily a good thing, because it means you’re being too targeted. Your blog should be a place where you cast a wide net to get people onto your site, and ideally get them to give you their email (but if not, you’ve still pixeled them for retargeting). Getting people to come to your site is about brand awareness, not immediate conversions – those come later.”
This suggestion for blogging for lead generation comes from Fara Rosenzweig of ManyChat. Rosenzweig shares, “We’ve placed our Chat Widget on our blog at the end of Q2. The goal was to generate newsletter sign-ups and registrations. Within 30 days, we more than doubled our monthly newsletter sign-ups and drove over 200% in traffic to our registration page.
Having a conversation that is personal, instead of one to many, has paid off for us to generate more leads from our blog. We’re able to personalize the conversation around what they read and ask if they want more sent to their inbox, or ask them to take the leap to get started. I wish we implemented our bot sooner.”
“One of the most effective ways that have generated me more leads from my blog is using a ‘Hello Bar’ at the top of my blog posts,” shares Caffeinated Face’s Marco Baatjes.
“Within the bars, I typically include an attractive call to action, like getting exclusive content or offering an e-book, for example. The bars typically have a conversion rate of around 6.25% for me compared to having signup forms within a blog article, which has less than 1% conversion. The main reason for this is that most leads never get to the end of the blog post, which is why I prefer using the ‘Hello Bar.’”
Janice Wald from Mostly Blogging suggests, “You need optins that entice people to sign up. For example, when I announced I was hosting an exclusive Community Pinterest Board for my email subscribers, people were clamoring to get on my list.
My other optin, a blogging community where bloggers are organized by niche, is also popular. People can join the exclusive community when they get on my email list. By getting on my list, people are notified of sales, discounts, and course launches.”
“It sounds obvious, but you need to have a CTA,” Yoreevo’s James McGrath observes.
“I see a lot of bloggers writing amazing pieces of content, but they don’t generate many leads from them,” notes GrowthHackers’ Jonathan Aufray. “Why? Because often they forget to put any CTA (Call-to-Action) or only add CTA buttons at the end of the post.”
The solution, you ask? “Include CTAs within the copy,” Aufray recommends. “For instance, add a call-to-action button in the middle of your blog post so visitors who read 50% of your post will see a CTA. Just by doing this, I can assure you that your visit-to-lead conversion rate will increase.”
Total Girl Boss’s Shannon Denton adds, “If you end your post without any invitation to something, even if it’s to leave a comment, you are doing it wrong. You are supposed to get your visitors to do something like download, sign up, click, read another post, install, subscribe, contact, etc. You basically create a lost lead without a compelling call to action.”
For example, McGrath shares, “We are a real estate brokerage and have a small pop up on all of our blog posts. It asks users if they want to browse listings and save thousands on their purchase, so it’s relevant and attractive.”
Slyecom’s Pir Fahad Momin goes on to say, “If you’re ending your blog posts without a call to action, then you’re doing it wrong. You need to get your visitors to do something: sign up, download, click, read something else, subscribe, install, contact you, and so on.
A high-quality blog post without a compelling CTA is a lead lost. They’re already on your site. They’re already interested and engaged with you and your brand. So give them more.
You’ll be surprised to see how a simple CTA phrase can generate a large volume of leads from your blog. There are several places you could locate your CTA on your site:
Some more expert pointers to keep in mind as you create a CTA for your blog posts:
Dhruvir Zala from Learn Unique shares more ways to leverage blogging for lead generation: “Through interactive quizzes [and] polls perform the best in many cases.”
Sell Courses Online’s Baidhurya Mani also speaks in favor of interactive content for getting leads. “Our blog is the main source of lead generation for us, and the strategy that has worked the best for us is using interactive quizzes. With a single quiz, we’ve generated 25,000+ leads over the past couple of years.
We designed this quiz to help users figure out the best online course platform for their business. We ask them a series of questions and then make a personalized recommendation based on their answers. The users need to enter their name and email address to see the recommendation.
The best part about using a quiz like this is that you don’t ask the visitors to share their information upfront. Rather they’re asked to share it at the end after they’ve engaged with the quiz content, which results in better conversion rates.”
Organic Slideshare CTAs at the end of a deck embedded in a post can have a post-click conversion rate on a landing page of nearly 80%. If the deck is good and gets re-purposed on other blogs, it can help scale lead gen efforts past the original blog post. Not to mention, any organic traffic it gets on Slideshare is susceptible to driving even more incremental leads.”
“Dialing in on keywords that reflect search intent more closely associated with people who are ready to purchase can be an effective way to produce content that speaks to the bottom of the funnel,” notes ClydeBank Media’s John Donnachie. “Expanding on this, creating content for all funnel stages will more closely speak to the needs of your audience and will provide better results.
Andreas Johansson from Andreas Johansson UX also shares, “The most successful way I have for generating more leads is to understand the intent behind WHY people are searching for a specific term (e.g. ‘How to increase leads for my blog’) and then provide the users free help to solve this problem.
Give the users more value than they expected. Once you have established trust, you can bring the users a free lead magnet (e.g., ‘Download this free e-book to get to know the secrets behind lead generation’). Basically, give the user something for free in exchange for their email. This is an efficient method that tends to work well for me. It’s all about value and trust…”
“Do keyword research before picking your topic,” advises Yulin Yin from Do Hard Money. “You would need to understand what people are searching and what content you need to provide to rank and compete with your competitors.”
In the same vein, The Word Counter’s Kevin Miller says, “To generate more leads from your blog, you must implement a good SEO strategy that relies on high-quality content plus in-depth keyword research. If you do the leg work and use keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, you can identify hidden opportunities and then capitalize on those opportunities by creating high-quality, keyword-informed content.”
MARION Integrated Marketing Agency’s Tony Mastri comments further on this, “Though it’s not generally our #1 goal with blog posts, creating an article that ranks for commercial keywords as well as informational keywords can actually help to generate sales qualified leads.
The blog topic must have significant overlap with several commercial keywords and be strong enough to rank for these money-makers. This generally happens by creating outstanding content that uses a broad range of LSI terms and thoroughly covers the topic with high-quality content and insights. The upside is that you can generate soft conversions with a single content asset (whitepapers, eBooks, blog subscriptions) and customer conversions.
The downside is that if you do manage to rank for high-value commercial keywords with your blog post, the searcher intent doesn’t always match, and your customer conversion rate will be lower as a result. Like I mentioned from the start, commercial rankings and customer conversions from a blog post are not our #1 goal but rather bonus conversions for creating great content.”
Skyler Reeves from Ardent Growth shares his observation on keyword research too: “One of the primary pitfalls I have seen when working with clients is that what they think their customers are searching for and what their customers are actually searching for are often very different. So a small thing like optimizing for the word ‘attorney’ instead of ‘lawyer’ could cost you some traffic.
For most of my clients, a volume difference of 40 isn’t a big deal, but for a divorce attorney in a small town, that’s an opportunity to get 40 additional leads per month. And that’s a big deal.”
Moving forward, you have got to “use keyword research tools properly,” suggests Reeves.
“Here are the tools that I recommend:
Editor’s note: Already using keywords but not sure how well your posts are ranking for them? Use this free Keyword to Pageview Dashboard to keep a pulse on your top keywords by position and volume, among other important metrics.
“I‘d say you should try to make your blog posts more similar to landing pages, so consider adding a lead form (eventually with a lead magnet) aside, or a form that lets people subscribe to the newsletter,” suggests Clickable’s Alessandro D’Andrea. “[It] is a great way to convert people that come to your form, and are attracted from content marketing activities.”
“One effective way for generating more leads from your blog is sharing your blogs on social media,” writes Maxburst’s Andrew Ruditser. “Although social media is one of the best platforms to use to promote your blog, it is difficult to catch users’ attention in the midst of many other brands trying to do the same thing.
It is important to get your post to stand out and make it more engaging. It is common nowadays for users to scroll right past posts that require a lot of reading, as they don’t have the patience or time to get interested.
However, adding the popular choice of memes, gifs, videos, etc. that are grabbing users’ attention all over these social platforms, will give your post a higher chance of users engaging and wanting to read more, generating more leads.”
This is another useful tip for using blogging for lead generation. Banish’s Daisy Jing talks about this, “Surveys through giveaways. Have your readers answer some fun surveys that will give them a chance to win awesome prizes. In this way, you have the opportunity to gather data and generate more leads.”
“I’ve had a lot of success at Quora,” shares Brian Kelleher from KillerGuitarRigs. “You find relevant questions and then give as complete an answer as possible, while using the answer to sell the reader on visiting your blog, either to get the solution to their issue or to get further information.
It can be a case of throwing a lot of answers at a wall and seeing which ones stick, but what you will find is that sometimes a good answer will not only get thousands of views, it may end up getting picked up by Google for different keywords. This opens you up to a lot of extra opportunities.”
Jorden Roper of WritingRevolt explains, “I have generated over 35,000 leads with my small niche blog as well. To answer your questions: 1) What’s ONE effective way to generate more leads from your blog? How does this work?
The most effective way I’ve found to generate more leads for my blog has been to go ‘all in’ on one top resource that is hyper-relevant to the target audience and promote that heavily throughout the content. I have a free webinar that converts well – not only readers to leads but also leads to paying customers. So, I focus on promoting that to grow my leads as well as my business revenue.”
“A super effective way to generate more leads from your blog is to add a pop-up blog sign-up,” insists Mirabel Technologies’ Kelly Jacobson. “Create a pop-up window that appears in the center of the screen after a few seconds of scrolling. Entice the reader to enter their email address to sign up for a blog newsletter or weekly notifications.”
Zachary Darsch from Knovio (By KnowledgeVision) notes the same: “The most effective strategy we use for generating leads from our blog is with pop-ups. Using Sumo, we create targeted, well-timed pop-ups to drive users to take action. Depending on the content, we’ll ask them to subscribe to the blog/newsletter, view other content that may interest them, or even speak with a sales rep if we view the content closer to the bottom of the funnel. Most recently, we’ve begun testing exit pop-ups and have seen immediate returns.”
In fact, “adding both an in-line call-to-action and another at the end of the blog content is a natural way to generate leads,” shares Jennifer Lux from SmartBug Media. “We have also found that using the HubSpot Lead Flow tool with a slide-in at the bottom of the screen has been fairly effective for lead generation.”
“Although it might feel interruptive, once the visitor has read at least half the blog, this animated CTA really grabs their attention and helps facilitate the next steps. Another tactic is adding a form at the bottom of a post so that contacts don’t have to take the extra step of going to a landing page to download content on a related topic,” Lux elaborates.
JC Steadman Marketing’s James Steadman talks about this: “When qualifying a lead, I need to know whether they understand direct response marketing and why it could be a good fit for them. So, I send cold traffic to the blog post above with some UTM tags for tracking. They’re then hit with re-targeting ads that mirror the main points in this article, prompting them to join my newsletter or (just implemented) my Facebook group.
About 4% of the people who visit that page join the newsletter, and 0.8% just sign up for a strategy call right off the bat. The kicker is the retargeting, which either gets them to join my newsletter (if they haven’t already) or join my group. Most of my conversions then happen over email.”
“One effective way that I have found to generate leads for a blog is to integrate useful tools within the content,” notes Jon Tabbernor from ReachPar.
“For example, on my golf website ReachPar, I have used integrated tools such as a golf handicap calculator within the content. I have found this to lead the user to naturally use the tool due to there being a natural connection between content and the resource.”
This brings us to the end of our list of ways you can use blogging to gather more leads. In short, lead generation boils down to creating highly valuable content – content that you share as downloadable assets, content that you share as interactive quizzes, content that you share on your blog, and so on.
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