If you’re doing content marketing right, you’re creating lots of relevant, quality content in the form of blog posts. And hopefully, a healthy percentage of them are evergreen, compounding posts that are building SEO traffic over time. Read Carolyn Frith’s post here for more about the importance of leveraging compounding posts with social and other online promotion platforms to boost visibility.
While you’re doing everything you can to bring your posts greater visibility, it only makes sense to find as many ways as possible to capture leads from those visitors. To capture leads, obviously we need forms and lists so we can save contact information and begin a nurturing process appropriate to the prospect’s sales-funnel level. Here are three opportunities for forms and customer interaction to help you do just that.
Add a Subscribe FormEvery blog should have a subscribe form. This seems obvious but it’s surprising how many companies don’t bother with a subscribe form. You should always add a blog or newsletter subscribe form to your post page. Your relevant post content is attracting visitors who are searching for help, answers and knowledge about topics related to your company’s product or service solution. Most are top of funnel, or more often only circling around the entrance, but they are very likely in your target audience with the possibility for sales down the road. By having them on a newsletter list, you’re keeping in touch and top of mind for when that day comes.
I Don’t Have Time for a Newsletter and a Blog
Obviously, your newsletter content needs to be relevant, quality content suited to your visitors’ needs; otherwise they’re going to cancel, and your list will dry up. To avoid duplicating effort, simply use short snippets of the blog posts themselves for the newsletter with a link back to the original post for further reading. In effect, your blog posts do double duty as your newsletter with the added benefit that you can occasionally send additional newsletters devoted to a new product, special offer, etc.
Where do I place the subscribe form?
Most of the time, the subscribe form is placed at the top right in the sidebar above everything else, and this is probably best. Some sites use a popup to capture subscribers, but this is more appropriate if your site is primarily a blog rather than a company site. Reserve the lightbox popup for download and other offers (more on that later); however, you can create a slide-in type of popup without the lightbox effect if you want as a second subscribe form in addition to the subscribe form in the sidebar.
An alternative is to add a small subscribe form right at the end of the post where it will remind people to subscribe while they are still feeling gratified by your helpful nuggets of wisdom. Try placing it in different locations to see what gets the best results.
Provide Free Download (Bait Piece) Offers
Unless you have an extremely well niched audience and a ton of raving fans, 90% of your visitors will not subscribe to your newsletter. They arrive at your blog through organic search and are not interested in receiving another newsletter in their inbox, so we need another way to build a list. Gated, free downloads such as white papers and special reports are a great way to do that. Gated means that although the download is free, the visitor must fill out a form before they get the free download, so make sure the title and content are compelling.These can be offered either in the sidebar or as a lightbox popup that floats above the page, but popups are great because–one–you can’t miss em and–two–they also give you more room for enticing lead copy than you might normally have in a sidebar. I know: they are annoying. But they are also proven to be effective, especially entrance popups that appear upon entering the post after a short delay. The fear that they will decrease page visits has proven to be largely unfounded, so they continue to be popular.
Any number of white papers or special reports can be created covering various topics, and you can set different ones to be offered depending on the blog post category to better match the post’s content. Relevance is the key!
One of the great things about white paper downloads is that you can weight the level of the prospect’s interest by the topic of the paper. A topic that is highly relevant to the buying decision indicates the prospect might be seriously considering purchase options. You can also place a RELEVANT trial or demo offer in the white paper itself. We place them at the very end after the content.
Use More of the Sidebar Real Estate
The sidebar on most blogs contains a subscribe form, a category drop down, and a listing of recent posts. Those generally use less than half of the space along the right side of the post. Some sites choose to show social media content here, but that’s a bad idea. Social share badges are good either here or after the blog, but otherwise, leave social media for your social platforms, and keep your content focused.
There is no rule that says you can’t place self-serving ads in the sidebar. Magazine sites place sponsoring ads in the sidebars, in banners across the top and beneath the featured article. There’s no reason you can’t do the same thing for your own products or services. Some may be demo or free-trial signups; others might just be links to relevant product pages where there are other demo signup or learn-more contact forms. That’s right—you can develop a whole variety of ads featuring your different product or service solutions, trials and demos, and rotate them out by blog topic category just like you can with popups. There are banner-ad plugins available that will do that for you.
Another benefit will be the creation of more excitement on the post page. More images, colors, more avenues to explore just makes for a more exciting experience. Yes, white space is important, but too much is dull just as too many elements can make it too busy. Try to find a balance. Remember, your visitors don’t view the entire post all at once. They view it in screen loads as they scroll down, so they only see a few elements at a time.
So use your blog post real estate wisely. It’s too valuable to go to waste. Repurpose your posts for your newsletter, and add a newsletter subscribe form in the sidebar in the upper right. Use gated, free downloads in popups to help build more lists. And make better use of your sidebar real estate for further engagement opportunities with demos, free-trial signups and links to product or service pages. Happy hunting.