But, starting and running an effective, traffic-generating blog requires a lot of time and energy. And, if you're a marketing manager on a tight budget, you might only be interested in tactics that directly benefit your bottom line.
As you determine how you'll invest your time, effort, and money in 2021, you might ask yourself, "Will my blog posts actually lead to purchases?"
To help marketers answer the question above, we surveyed nearly 300 consumers using Lucid software to learn if reading company blog posts had ever led them to make purchases from that brand.
Do Blog Posts Lead to Purchases?
While the growth of other content strategies, like video marketing, might have you thinking that consumers will only buy products after seeing them on other platforms, you might be surprised by how consumers responded to our survey question.
When we asked, "Have you ever purchased something from a company after reading a blog post from them?", a whopping 56% said, "Yes."
If your company has a blog that discusses your industry or how your offerings can help with the average reader's everyday pain points, your audiences can discover and gain trust in your brand's expertise. That trust and credibility could ultimately lead to purchases.
Why? If a prospect trusts the advice or information given in your blog posts, they might trust that your offerings are better quality than your competitor's because your brand knows the industry, what customers want, and the pain points that your product or service solves.
Even if you prefer video, social media, or visual marketing strategies, it's important to remember that blogs can help you sell products in ways that other content types can't.
For instance, while videos and images might only give prospects a glimpse of how a product or service works in real life, blog posts can offer extensive information that a visual content editor might need to cut to avoid overwhelming a viewer on social media or other platforms.
And, while blog posts offer more chances to provide in-depth information than some content types, they also could increase your search ranking and allow more opportunities to link directly to a landing or purchasing page. Because of this, consumers could find your content via search, read your post, and click straight to a product purchasing page with low friction after your content has persuaded them to buy a product.
Additionally, because most blog sites allow you to embed videos, podcasts, and imagery, your company blog can also be a great place to promote your other marketing assets while still informing prospects about your brand.
In the next year, consider a mix of content marketing that includes blogging. Not sure how to persuade shoppers with your blog posts? Here are a few quick tips.
How to Lead Readers to Purchases
Strategically place product page links and CTAs.
Aside from mentioning your brand, product, or service where it feels natural in your blog posts, you can also use hyperlinks to link out to product pages, or CTA buttons that draw slightly more attention to a product or offer without directing reader attention too far away from the blog post.
At HubSpot, we usually place at least three CTAs related to a blog topic in each post: a text-based CTA in the introduction, a larger banner image at the bottom, and a slide-in CTA that shows up to the side of your text as you're scrolling through the middle of the post. This allows three mentions of a product or offering without interrupting the reader's experience.
Offer a free resource:
If your brand sells a subscription, service, or product that's on the pricier side or needs leadership approval from your company, blog readers might need more than a few blog posts to trust your brand and invest in your product. In that case, you might need to focus on lead-nurturing rather than sending blog readers directly to a purchasing page.
HubSpot and many other blogs have grown their contact and qualified lead lists simply by creating a free downloadable resource, such as an ebook, template, or research report, and offering it through CTAs at the end of blog posts.
Below is an example of a recent free research report resource we offered at the end of one of our Sales Blog posts:
To access free -- but gated -- offers, readers must give basic information about themselves and their company. From there, they receive an automated email or instant download of the resource while also becoming a contact -- or lead -- and enter our lead-qualification process to see if they could be a good prospect to reach out to.
The HubSpot Blog's free resource strategy results in thousands of qualified leads per year that could potentially convert into HubSpot customers. You can learn more about how to implement it on your blog here.
Remember, quality beats over-promotion.
In another recent Lucid survey, one-third of our group of general consumer respondents most commonly read blog posts to "learn something new." Meanwhile, roughly 20% read blog posts for the sake of entertainment.
As a content creator, it's important to remember that readers will likely find your blog because they're looking for information related to an industry they work in, want to learn something related to their hobbies, or need solutions for a pain point they deal with in their daily or professional lives.
Odds are, they're not looking solely for promotional content. If a reader visits your blog site and finds nothing but blog posts filled with product shots and cheesy advertorial language, they might lose interest in your content and might not develop the sense of trust needed to make a purchase.
While it's wise to place a few unintrusive CTAs in your blog posts, and even mention your product or service when it feels relevant, be sure your content primarily offers valuable guidance, advice, and information that will help your reader and fulfill their needs.
For example, in this post about AI social media tools, we give valuable information about how to implement AI-based technology in a social media process while listing HubSpot as one of the tools readers can use. While we still mention our offerings, the post's goal is to show readers how multiple AI tools can streamline a marketing process.
Creating Your Blog Nurturing Process
Ultimately, every brand has a target audience with different interests and content needs. While one blog strategy, such as free resources, will work well to generate qualified leads for a B2B company, other tactics, like simply linking to a product in blog posts, might be more lucrative for consumer-facing brands.
As you focus more on turning your blog traffic into revenue, keep these questions in mind:
What information is valuable to my audience?
Does my product require lead nurturing such gated offers?
Will the tactic I'm using seem over-promotional or disengaging to my audience?