Marketing

How to Generate Leads & Sales from Your Blog

35% of marketers say attributing leads and/or sales back to their blog is a challenge. Hear from 29 content marketing pros on the lead generating methods that work best on their blogs.

Kevin Kononenko on June 25, 2018 • 22 minute read

35% of marketers say that attributing leads and/or sales back to their blog is a challenge.[Tweet this stat.]

Over the last few weeks, Databox partnered with LeadQuizzes to poll dozens of content marketers to see how they drive value from their blog, how they track it, as well as how well their blogs convert visitors into leads or sales.

The aforementioned statistic is staggering on its own, but when you consider the amount of time and resources that many brands are spending on content creation, it points to an even bigger issue…

Companies are investing a lot into content without really knowing how, or if, it converts.

Now, there’s a flipside to this statistic, too.

57% of marketers say that attributing leads and/or sales back to their blog is easy, and of these respondents, roughly 31% say that their visit-to-lead conversion rate is between 2-5%.

While we didn’t see a material difference between 2-10%, notice how 15% of these respondents still reported “Not sure” in regards to their conversion rates.

The short of it is this–many brands aren’t sure how to drive value from their blog.

This is why executive buy-in can become a hot-button issue over time as it relates to blogging. Continually allocating resources to a channel that’s hard to track value from is counter to most leaders’ worldviews.

But it drives traffic. It increases brand awareness. This is how people buy now.

All good talking points, but without the piece on how it influences downstream engagement, it can ring hollow.

This is why we partnered with LeadQuizzes to go deeper with the content pros that are having success.

They shared the tools, tactics, and overall lessons learned on driving conversions from their blogging efforts.

If you want to monitor engagement and conversion rate on a page by page basis, use our free Google Analytics Blogging Metrics dashboard.


Ways to Improve Lead Conversion Rate


Bottom of Funnel Content

If you strictly write content in order to increase your monthly traffic numbers, you may find that many visitors are not necessarily qualified for your products. No matter which lead conversion tactics you try, they still will not have any interest in what you are selling.

Image cred: Imagine Business Development

You may need to write more “bottom of funnel content”, in other words, content targeted at prospects that already have an interest in buying. Although this will not generate as much traffic, it will be much easier to convert visitors. You should have a balance between top-of-funnel, mid-funnel and bottom-of-funnel content on your domain.

 

Dennis Westphal
Coredna

One Tactic: This is content that’s aimed directly at prospects that are about to buy. For example:

Coredna eCommerce vs [Competitor 1] vs [Competitor 2]

Or things around choosing a platform (or re-platforming). Our content around “How to Choose a CMS Platform” is a pretty good example.

The strategy here is to take other companies that have large brand share in the space and target their names in search results and insert Coredna into the conversation.

This type of content will take longer to get traffic, but the visitors that it attracts are highly qualified.

 

Mackenzie Thompson
National Health Care Provider Solutions

One Tactic: We follow SEO blog posting guidelines and a top keyword strategy utilizing Ahrefs. We are able to rank for top keywords that are known to convert for our online certification. We are now ranking on the front page for several keywords related to our products, that redirect to our blog.

 

AJ Alonzo
demandDrive

One Tactic: Backlinks are key – usually to a piece of content that’s gated or has a really strong call to action. We want people to click through multiple links while they read our blogs, ultimately getting them somewhere that has both useful information AND a capture form.

For us, it’s all about volume and the quality of the blogs we’re putting out there. Anyone can blog daily to attract readers, but to engage the reader and get them to want more, you need quality content. Having them jump from blog to blog with backlinks and CTAs requires compelling content, and eventually, it becomes so compelling that the reader fills out a form or heads over to a “Contact Us” page.

This does require your marketing team to be able to produce a high-volume of quality content, so dedicated writers are pretty much a “must” for this to work. Understanding how to create evergreen content is also helpful, and repurposing becomes your best friend.

 

Embedded Forms

Many marketers will link to a separate landing page with a conversion form. Although this may work in some instances, it also adds another step. The visitor must click the link, read the copy on the landing page, then submit the form.

You can cut out a step by adding a form within the blog post itself. Now, visitors can instantly download a resource. You still need to provide context with a form title and call-to-action, but it should make more sense when it comes directly after a helpful blog post.

 

Juli Durante
SmartBug Media

One Tactic: Without a doubt, the most effective way to generate more leads from blogging is providing relevant calls to action.

Too often, I see companies incorporate a “Most recent” guide as a CTA on every blog. That may work if you’re playing a volume game with traffic, but you won’t see amazing per-post conversion rates. I worked with one client who had a generic CTA on one of their most popular blog posts. That CTA had about a 1% click-through rate, which isn’t great for a blog post.

Because this post was driving a good percentage of total website traffic, we knew that we had to make a change to actually affect performance. We decided to write a new guide that was an expansion of that article and swap the CTA. We were able to move the CTR up to 8%.

If you’ve got that alignment going for you, your next step is to embrace some cool lead gen tactics. Should you be using end-of-post CTAs or inline, text-based copy as a CTA? Does an in-post *form* function better than an in-post CTA? What about a pop up with a tool like HubSpot Lead Flows or Sumo?

If you’re driving volume and not leads, get the content right first, then you’ve got a lot of room to play and be successful.

 

Ashleigh Peregoy
Box Marketing

One Tactic: In a recent blog post, we shared ways for a business to DIY a Marketing Audit. On top of that, we shared a link at the end where readers could also request a Free Marketing Audit from my marketing business. This did two things:

  1. The blog informed others with ways to do a marketing audit on their own, which made us a resource for educating them.
  2. It made us the possible “go-to” to get the marketing audit done professionally, and at no cost or obligation to them.

I think if an agency isn’t trying to sell something, but rather educate those that are reading it, the ones reading will quickly realize it’s harder than they thought.

 

Andrew Vinas
Organik SEO

One Tactic: We treat each blog post like its own landing page. And every successful landing page has a clear call-to-action.

Adding call-to-actions is a blogging best practice to offer readers a next step. This ensures readers will want to continue to engage with your content. Whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or downloading an eBook, CTAs are the key to turning anonymous blog visits into conversions.

But call-to-actions aren’t just for the end of your blog posts. Sometimes, you have to anticipate that your readers may never make it to your punchy conclusion and colorful CTA button. We also always try use links within our content, directing readers to other relevant blog posts, service pages, or to more information on how we can help them.

 

Robert Johns
UNINCORPORATED

One Tactic: The key to generating leads from your blog is to develop high-value content. We find that CTAs pushing towards relevant self-assessments, checklists, or eBooks convert at a much higher rate. This makes sense because the end-user gets a valuable resource in exchange for their information. There is certainly a time and place for CTAs that push towards a contact form, but we find that these typically don’t convert quite as well.

Key takeaway: create valuable resources in order to generate more leads.

 

Matteo Gasparello
Strategico.io

One Tactic: Content upgrades give me excellent results.

Simply put, I offer something of high-value from my post that’s available only by subscribing to my list.

For example, in this article about video advertising, I offered a downloadable pdf version of my guide in exchange for signing up to my list. Since the guide is +7500 words and it will take some time to digest it, it makes sense to have a PDF ready in your inbox that you can access whenever you want.

The result? A conversion rate of 9.23% based on 1450 form impressions.

Since I didn’t want to clutter my guide with a sign-up form, I decided to strategically place a button near the top of the page that invites to download the PDF

When clicked, the popup opens, and by filling it up, the user will receive the PDF via email immediately.

Several tools allow you to generate leads via your blogs, but they all have different prices and options. I recommend to check out Sumo, Monarch and OptinMonster.

After the user is subscribed and engaged with my content, I follow up to offer a quick consultation call to understand their challenges and ways I can help them.

 

Prathamesh Yeotekar
Valasys Business Solution

One Tactic: There are several areas on your blog that you can use to acquaint guests with suggestions to take action, for example, free consultations, free trails, free counsels or a basic mailing list opt-in form. These regions incorporate your header, sidebar, the conclustion of blog entries, your About page and your footer.

The key is to place your opt-in form in various locations on your blog where you have captured your readers’ attention. We use Unbounce to manage this process.

 

Interactive Content

Digital marketing can be like an arms race. Once a few early adopters share their success with a new tactic or tool, the rest of the market adopts the same tactic and expects to see similar results. Unfortunately, visitors become exhausted from seeing the same lead capture methods over and over again, and become less likely to convert.

Interactive content is at the very beginning of this cycle. Early adopters are seeing great results from quizzes, calculators, interactive e-books and other interactive tools. In the next 5 years, prospects will expect this level of interactivity, but for now, it will help you stand out from all the static content.

 

Tim Vertz
Vertz Marketing

One Tactic: Within each blog article, we suggest having a separate block or area with either a call-to-action lead magnet or lead quiz. This will get your blog readers to click on something they really want and generate a lead from this content.

 

Felix Lara
Going Places Digital

One Tactic: We deal with identity resolution marketing in our space, and a strategy that has worked for us is digging deeper on topics no one else is writing about in our space. Most blogs share superficial content that doesn’t get read because people are relying on tools like Buzzsumo, Feedly, etc., to tell them what topics get shared the most.

Instead, we go for angles that no one else is talking about in our space, which is in-market data targeting. Furthermore, we rely on tools like LeadQuizzes to extend an invitation to visitors to see if their business qualifies for a partnership. All in all, LeadQuizzes makes it simple to assess whether someone is a good fit or not without sounding salesy.

 

Sunil Patel
Acorn.Media

One Tactic: We create an inline placement which is relevant to the content.

We used to push traffic to a landing page. However, we are seeing better engagement from quizzes. Currently, we are seeing 15-20% conversions on the traffic we send to a quiz.

 

Brian Carter
Brian Carter Group

One Tactic: We ran a campaign using LeadQuizzes and Facebook Ads to drive leads for our marketing agency. The leads were only $1.87 apiece, compared to our previous leads which were over $20 each. The key was making the quiz fun and easy by tying it into celebrities. (And, of course, people love quizzes and they’re the most shared type of lead magnet there is, according to our research using the tool Buzzsumo.)

 

Chad Pollitt
inPowered

One Tactic: You can create decks with Slideshare with a CTA embedded at the end. Then, you can embed them in an existing blog post.

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.

 

Landing Pages

Qualification is one of the benefits of the lead capture process. In other words, does the visitor care about their problem so much that they are willing to read the copy on the landing page, fill out the form and read the resource (hopefully)?

Landing pages provide those details for a curious prospect. You can either include a link to a landing page in an existing blog post, or create a longer, more-detailed landing page that could rank for valuable keywords itself. In each case, you should prominently feature a sign-up form.

 

Tyler Pigott
Lone Fir Creative

One Tactic: When a user finds your content on the web and chooses to read it, they are more than likely interested in that topic and would find other resources helpful that cover the same theme as the blog article. So promoting other assets like ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, videos, etc. has been key for our clients in using their blogs most effectively to generate leads.

Generally, we will add inline CTAs in the blog text directing users to other helpful resources. In some instances, we use pop-ups or HubSpot Lead Flows to serve up that content to the reader.

Those CTAs and/or popups will direct users to another page on the site or landing page that has some sort of conversion point, likely a form to exchange their information and in turn get access to the asset.

We use HubSpot for CTAs, Forms, Landing Pages and reporting on the attribution of these leads.

 

Nicole Sengers
Spitfire Inbound

One Tactic: We have found that adding relevant CTAs throughout blog posts, rather than just at the end of a post, has improved conversion rates. This includes links to related blog posts or relevant downloads.

 

Ken Franzen
Neon Goldfish

One Tactic: Give away your best content to build trust!

We created an e-book focused on a handful of tips that landscape companies could implement to increase lead conversion on their websites. The campaign was rounded off with a landing page, follow up email sequence, and paid promotion to drive traffic.

Here is the initial landing page we used.

After two weeks, we were seeing a little shy of a 1% conversion rate. Not impressed, we decided to shift gears completely.

What if we simply ungated the content and gave it away?

We created the following landing page containing every single word of the e-book and included the offer to download a PDF copy of that very same content.

Conversions for this new landing page containing all the copy of the e-book jumped to 11% immediately.

The visitors to the page were able to preview the content and understand there is value to what we were offering. This made them comfortable with opting-in to download the PDF version of the ebook.

 

Pop-Ups

A very small percentage of visitors will reach the bottom of a blog post, perhaps around 10%. That means that most visitors will not see your call-to-action, even if it might help them.

Pop-ups can share an offer as the visitor is reading through the page. Or, exit intent pop-ups allow you to share a valuable piece of content as a visitor is considering leaving the page. The dynamic nature of these pop-ups will grab the visitor’s attention.

 

Zachary Darsch
Knovio (By KnowledgeVision)

One Tactic: 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.

 

Martha Madero
grou

One Tactic: One effective strategy for us is using HubSpot Lead Flows. We always integrate a contextualized call-to-action to the blog posts, but we have noticed that adding the Lead Flow that is also contextualized helps us better capture the reader’s interest. They can give us their information in exchange of a piece of content or something they consider valuable.

 

Jennifer Lux
SmartBug Media

One Tactic: Adding both an in-line call-to-action and another at the end of the blog content is a natural way to generate leads. 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 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.

 

Jonathan Aufray
Growth Hackers

One Tactic: Getting traffic to your blog isn’t that hard. But, you don’t want to just drive traffic. You want to convert those visitors into leads. To do that, you need your readers’ email addresses.

I recommend an exit-intent popup installed on your blog. This popup will be triggered just before people try to leave your blog post. In this popup, you want to bring value in exchange for an email. This value could be a free educational course, a free e-book or white paper, tips to help your visitors achieve what they were looking for when coming to your website, a discount on one of your products or services, etc… If you’re able to give your visitors something valuable for free, they will be happy to give their email.

 

Dennis Seymour
LeapFroggr

One Tactic: I really like creating specific calls to actions on the blogs I run. On some of my startups, I use Intercom and on others, I use Convertfox.

Basically, depending on the blog post topic, I have some specific message triggers set up. When the reader gets to a certain point of the post, a message pops up and asks them to engage.

I find this to be more effective than just asking for emails at the end because this is “in the moment”. They can actually convert into a lead right there and there’s no nurturing sequence anymore. I do still have a call to action for an email list at the end for some blogs (I’m testing it without any email collections right now), but the chat message popup jumps in and acquires leads that are already ready at that point. It’s definitely lower in terms of conversions later in the funnel (number of conversations triggered vs those that convert to a lead or those that respond) but it’s automated and practically instant lead generation.

 

James Robert Lay
Digital Growth Institute

One Tactic: Tying the blog post to downloadable content or assessments/quizzes that require an email address has been an effective strategy for our blog to generate leads.

This is amplified further when using pop-overs for those that scroll down 50% of the page or have an intent to abandon.

Plus, when you start production with a pillar piece of content like an eBook or video, this can be atomized into smaller pieces of content, like blog posts, which can be further broken up into snackable pieces of social content that drive traffic back to the blog article for lead generation.

 

Sean Si
SEO Hacker

One Tactic: One of my preferred lead generating tools that we use is Pushcrew. This tool enables users to receive the latest content from our website through subscription. This allows users to become notified on a regular basis, and keep more traffic flowing.

Another handy tool that we use is Quupromote, which allows us to share content on Facebook and Twitter, where a bulk of our users originate. We also get statistics that allow us to see how many times our posts have been shared and viewed over a span of a few weeks. This allows us to assess and optimize our content to ensure that it has the quality and depth that our users want to see.

When it comes to social media, we share our content through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Flipboard, all of which generate a good amount of interactions regularly. Generating leads using social media and subscriptions provide you with more stability.

 

David Balogh
BOOM Marketing

One Tactic: I know it’s not a surprise, but our most effective lead generation strategy is hands down great content combined with lead magnets.

Of course, we’re constantly testing the lead generating methods. For example, when we changed the color of every link in our articles to red (from orange), we saw a 2.17% higher conversion rate. Visitors also spend ~16 more seconds on our site. This is because red links stand out from the content, and people are much more likely to click through to another article or check out the lead magnet link.

For lead generation, we constantly use exit-intent popups, which is a great way for us to up the conversion rate a few more percent. Of course, we test these popups regularly.

Another great method for lead-gen is what we call a ‘yellow box’, which is like a content upgrade, but with our regular lead magnet. This way we can get a higher opt-in rate, even if we don’t create a really specific content upgrade for a blog post.

 

Andrei David
Andrei David

One Tactic: Currently, the most effective way to generate new leads is including a chatbot directly in the header of the page. It asks questions with 2 answer options and it either converts the visitors into a lead or it makes them read further on the page and view more articles on our blog.

This would either lead to increases engagement with the website and the opportunity to convert at a later stage, or directly convert the visitors into a lead.

 

Melissa Sepp
Hundred5

One Tactic: We usually add a free downloadable lead magnet to the blog post by embedding it in the article and sharing it through an exit intent popup. We’re using Convertful for that.

 

Retargeting

Once a visitor has left your site, they still might be ready to become a lead. Perhaps your article had some unclear wording, or they were reading it on their phone and became interrupted.

You can use Facebook Ads to retarget these unconverted visitors with an offer when they visit Facebook. Although this is an off-page tactic, it is still much more efficient than targeting cold traffic on Facebook. If they are already familiar with your brand, they have a higher chance of downloading an offer on the second time that they read about you.

 

James Steadman
JC Steadman Marketing

One Tactic: 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.

 

Video

According to the 2017 State of Video Marketing Survey from Wyzowl, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service. That’s huge! So, even after a prospect lands on your blog, he or she still might prefer a video version of the post. And, services like Wistia allow you to include a call-to-action at the end of the video so you do not miss the chance to capture a lead.

Although this is more expensive and time-consuming, you will satisfy those prospects who might not be interested in reading a blog post in the first place.

 

Mouneeb Shahid
2 Web Design

One Tactic: We use video tools like Vimeo and Wistia to offer video content within blog posts and include an embedded email capture form.

 

How To Start Improving Your Lead Conversion Rate

You may need to try multiple tactics listed above before you find one that resonates with your audience.

“But how do I know if my conversion rate is good?”

For example, if embedded forms on your blog improve conversion rates from 1 to 2%, is that good enough? Or should you keep testing?

First, you should check out an industry-specific benchmark. This will give you an idea for a reasonable goal.

Then, set up a SMART goal that you can track on a monthly basis. If you are way below the industry average, you may want to execute more aggressive tests to incrementally improve your conversion rates.

If you are already hitting the industry average, but feel you have plenty of room to improve, you can set a higher goal and then let your boss or client know when you hit it.

Take a measured approach. Shoot for incremental improvements. And most importantly, keep iterating.

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
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