When you think of growing your database through blogging, you typically think about writing helpful content, then using calls-to-action somewhere in the post to offer conversion opportunities.
And that's the right way to think about it.
However, there are other ways to use your blog to contribute to database growth -- I'm talking about promoting an active blog comments section.
Your blog comments section is a typically untapped channel that can not only lead to a more robust database -- but could actually bring in some of the best future customers you have because of how engaged and informed they are from reading your blog.
With that in mind, let's walk through some best practices on how to use comment forms to get 1) more subscribers, and then 2) nurture those subscribers into leads for your company.
Setting Up Blog Comment Forms Correctly
In order to turn blog commenters into an engaged part of your database, there has to be some sort of opt-in conversion event. The most natural opportunity lies in asking a commenter if they'd like to subscribe to your blog. (It's important to know that subscribers don't equal leads. We'll talk about that more later, though.) Let's walk through how to set up your blog comment forms to encourage subscription.
Create an Opt-In Box in Your Comments
When a blog commenter fills out your blog comments form, they should not automatically be subscribed to your blog. But creating a way to make it easy for your blog readers to subscribe to your blog through the blog comments form can be extremely helpful.
In this post, we explain how to add a check box to your blog comments form, allowing your readers to subscribe with a click of a button. It's a natural fit for two reasons: They're already engaged enough in your blog content to leave a comment, and they're already providing the form information you would need to subscribe them to your blog.
Be sure not to default to opting them in -- let them make the choice.
Keep It Short
Keep it as easy as possible for people to comment on your blog post. Commenting on a blog post is very different than downloading a landing page offer, and you should keep that in mind as you're creating your comments forms. When someone fills out a form to download an offer, they're typically willing to fill out more fields because they're getting something in return. But when filling out a form to comment on a blog post, they are providing value to your site by commenting with their thoughts and questions. So even though you could make the form as long as you like, you should try to keep it short.
Customization doesn't just mean asking additional information beyond name, email, and website when someone fills out a form. But it could mean personalizing the fields of your form based on what you know about your audience. If you have a Spanish speaking audience, for instance, your name field shouldn't say "Name." It should say "Nombre."
If you are a Professional or Enterprise HubSpot customer, you can use smart fields on your forms to achieve this. You'll see a system-generated form called [Your Blog Name] Comments Form, which you can edit by dragging and dropping modules based on the information you want to gather in your comments form.
Nurturing Blog Subscribers Into Leads
Alright, so you've set up the opportunity to convert blog commenters into blog subscribers. You're already building your contacts database -- good job! Now what?
Well, you've grown your contacts database, but you don't have leads you can rotate over to Sales yet. In fact, you don't even have a contact you should be sending marketing emails to. Remember that they subscribed to the blog, not the rest of your email marketing. So how do you turn those subscribers into leads?
Relevant Post CTAs
Blog subscribers are interested in reading more of your blog content -- that's why they subscribed. So the more relevant your in-post CTAs, the more likely it is subscribers will convert on one while they're reading a blog post. This is the most basic way of converting subscribers into leads, and it happens pretty organically. A subscriber reads a few blog posts about, say, marketing automation, and on the third or fourth one, perhaps they're ready to invest a little more time learning about it. So they download the offer they see in your blog post about marketing automation.
You'll want to continue to nurture those leads further before turning them over to Sales, of course. A top-of-the-funnel download usually doesn't indicate sales-readiness -- but that's where Smart blog CTAs can help you, which let you segment your blog readers by lifecycle stage. These will help you surface content more appropriate to the reader's stage in the sales cycle -- whether that means surfacing a light ebook to a new visitor, or a more sales-centric offer, like a demo or RFP, to someone who has interacted with you several times before.
Include CTAs in Blog Subscriber Emails
Your blog subscribers will receive emails from you on a regular basis, which provides another opportunity to include calls-to-action that might lead to a new conversion event.
In addition to the preview of a blog post that you normally send, include a relevant call-to-action -- whether that's for a complimentary offer on the same subject matter, or even just to follow your company on social. Even a non-lead-gen CTA provides more opportunities to convert subscribers into leads through other channels. Just be sure any additional call-to-action you include in your subscriber email doesn't take away from the main point of the email ... the blog post!
(Note: If you use HubSpot Professional or Enterprise, you can create smart CTAs to include in your emails. This will allow you to show different emails to your subscribers who are at different lifecycle stages.)
In what other small ways are you building your contacts database through your business blog?
Originally published May 7, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 28 2018