You probably know all too well by now that content creation is a very necessary function of successful inbound marketing. And for the inbound marketers who embrace that, a business blog is one of the most reliable and effective platforms for publishing much of the content they create.
But if you’ve been consistently blogging for a while, you probably have all the
business blogging basics
down pat. So wouldn’t it
be great if you could take your blogging to the next level, scaling the impact of your blog so it makes an even bigger, better, and more powerful dent in your marketing results? Enter the concept of 'blog marketing,' which refers to implementing a marketing strategy to grow and scale the impact of your blog . There are three critical steps to blog marketing: 1) getting your blog discovered by new visitors, 2) converting those visitors into dedicated subscribers, and 3) leveraging evangelists to share your content and attract brand new audiences.
So let's say you've worked through step 1, and you've got a good amount of blog traffic flowing. How can you get those folks to stick around and keep coming back so they become avid readers and fans of your blog content? Step number 2: Converting those visitors into subscribers! In this article, which is an excerpt from our new ebook, How to Grow & Scale Your Business Blog , we’ll give you some great step-by-step tips for turning those casual visitors into valuable, dedicated subscribers.
Step 1: Blog Frequently
First things first: frequency matters. How can you expect visitors to subscribe to your content if you rarely or infrequently publish anything for them to come back to. You wouldn’t exactly be making the strongest case for subscription, would you? If you really want to scale your blog, you need to make a commitment to boosting your blogging frequency. According to an internal study of HubSpot customers, businesses that blog more than once per week add new blog subscribers at twice the rate of businesses that blog just once per month .
Yes, frequency matters -- so work your way up. If you’re currently blogging once a month, work your way up to once a week. If you blog once a week, work your way up to a few times a week. Truthfully, the most successful blogs publish content daily -- or multiple times a day.
Step 2: Create a Blog Subscription Landing Page
Sure, you probably already have a ‘subscribe’ module on your blog’s homepage. It may look something like what you see to the right. But if you start promoting subscription to your blog via other marketing channels like social media, email, and calls-to-action, it will start to get a bit complicated to direct visitors to that module. You'd have to say something like this:
“Go to blog.hubspot.com, and ... see that little field on the top, right-hand side of the blog? Enter your email address there to subscribe.”
That isn’t exactly the optimal way to promote blog subscription, is it? And can you imagine trying to fit that into a 140-character update for Twitter? Furthermore, it also sounds pretty darn unprofessional and confusing. You’re guaranteed to lose out on some valuable subscribers along the way.
So what’s a more effective way to convert blog visitors into subscribers? Think … you know the answer. It’s the same way you convert website visitors into leads. A landing page ! Create a blog subscription landing page to convert those blog discoverers into dedicated blog subscribers. This will become the heart and soul of your blog subscriber conversion efforts, allowing you to more easily promote blog subscription through your other marketing assets. So instead of that convoluted message directing people to the little module on your blog’s homepage, you can just say something like, “Visit http://blog.hubspot.com/subscribe to subscribe to the HubSpot Blog!” So much simpler, right?
Tip: Optimize Your Landing Page
Optimize your subscription page using the same best practices you would for any other landing page on your website. Include a descriptive headline that captures visitors’ attention and summarizes what they’ll get, demonstrate the value of subscribing in your landing page copy, include a high-quality image, and emphasize email subscription by placing the form above the fold. You can also incorporate other elements -- like social proof -- to help boost conversion rates. Speaking of boosting conversion rates, don’t be afraid to do some A/B testing like you would for any other landing page (here's a great article on landing page A/B testing to get you started).
Tip: Encourage Email Subscription
But let’s backtrack a second. Notice how I mentioned that you should emphasize email subscription? Remember, there are two ways your visitors can subscribe to your blog -- via RSS, and via email. Both are valuable, but email subscription can have a much bigger impact than RSS subscription. Email boosts traffic to your blog, since subscribers get emailed whenever new content gets published (compared to RSS, which subscribers have to manually check on their own).
In fact, 13% of monthly traffic to the HubSpot Blog comes from email. Furthermore, it drives subscribers back to your website, where you have the opportunity to convert them into leads, as opposed to an RSS reader that they never have to leave. And to tie this all back to the importance of blogging frequency, in that same study of HubSpot customers, we learned that businesses that blog more than once per week generate 9x more blog email traffic than businesses that blog just once per month . Convinced that you should put more of an effort into generating email subscribers yet?
Step 3: Promote Your Blog Subscription Landing Page With CTAs
Now that you’ve built your blog subscription landing page, you need a way to drive traffic to it! It’s easy enough to share a link to your page through social media accounts, but other channels can accommodate more sophisticated and effective methods -- like call-to-action buttons!
If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can use HubSpot’s Call-to-Action manager to create or upload call-to-action designs -- and A/B test CTA variations. If you’re not a HubSpot user, you can also create CTAs using a tool like PowerPoint , or hire a designer to do the work for you.
Tip: Be More "In Your Face" About Subscribing
Once you’ve designed some CTAs for your landing page, be more “in your face” about converting your blog visitors into subscribers by placing these subscription CTAs directly within each of your blog articles. Don’t worry -- they don’t have to replace your articles’ lead-gen CTAs; just insert your blog subscription CTA directly below the one you’re using for lead generation (like we've done at the bottom of this very post!). And if you’re worried about it impacting the clickthrough rate on your lead-gen CTA, just keep a close eye on your CTA analytics. When we implemented this on the HubSpot blog, we didn’t notice a dip in CTR on our lead-gen CTAs, but you should always test for yourself.
Where appropriate, use your blog subscription CTAs on other pages of your website to give visitors a low-commitment conversion alternative, as opposed to an offer for which you require full form completion. For HubSpot customers, also consider adding your blog subscription CTAs to Smart CTA groups , which allow you to automatically customize which CTAs get shown to users in different lifecycle stages or based on specific list criteria.
Step 4: Do Some Email Marketing
In addition to promoting blog subscription through social media and CTAs on your website, email marketing can serve as another effective channel for driving blog subscriptions. Here are two great email marketing methods through which to promote blog subscription:
1) In a Dedicated Send
Promote blog subscription to different segments of contacts in your marketing database. Tailor the messaging and language you use in your dedicated send to the interests and needs of that segment. For example, you could segment your list by people who recently converted on a particular offer, and promote subscription by providing examples of articles related to topic of the offer they downloaded as a way to demonstrate the value of subscribing.
2) Within Lead Nurturing Workflows
Not every email within your lead nurturing workflows needs to promote a lead-gen offer. Switch it up by featuring some of your big hit blog articles targeted at the types of people you’re emailing in your segmented workflows.
In what other ways can you turn your casual blog readers into dedicated subscribers? Share your tactics in the comments!