This is a guest post by Daniel Sharkov. He is a student and blogger writing about social media and traffic generation.
Traffic seems to be one of the metrics that people pay far too much attention to. Successful blogging doesn’t come down to how much folks you are able to bring to your site.
Getting traffic is not the only thing you should be striving to achieve.
Unless you only care about impressions, you should think more about converting people into subscribers, clients or buyers. That is what will really make the difference to your bottom line!
For instance a not-well optimized blog might be getting three times the traffic of a smaller one. If the latter however has the right call to actions in place and a layout that begs readers to take action, it probably will return better results than the first blog…
And inspired by the tweaking I’ve been doing lately on my own blog, I decided to come up with an eight-step list. The list is all about helping you increase conversion rates and hence get more loyal readers and make more money out of your blogging efforts.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the tips!
1. Give Your Readers Less Options
I’ve come across more than one or two blogs that use their sidebars for all kinds of things…
They have a widget, displaying the current date, they have an archive, along with categories, tags and a bunch of other plugins that don’t serve much of a purpose.
You might think a crowded sidebar will give you a better chance for clicks, lower bounce rates and eventually conversions, but you’d be wrong.
The simple fact is that the more options you give, the more hesitant the person will be as to which one he should choose. And when that happens, you will probably end up without a click on neither one of the widgets.
Four of the more important widgets you should consider are:
- Subscription form, preferably above the fold
- Short bio with a photo of yours and a link, pointing to your about page
- Popular posts widget, displaying not more than five-six articles
- Banner ads or affiliate products you promote
2. Use Dynamic Widgets to Improve Relevancy
Conversion rates don’t come down to list building only. You might be promoting a product as an affiliate. In that case a successful conversion would be when a visitor buys that product.
And as I mentioned above, one way to improve your affiliate marketing results is by placing banners in your sidebar.
A static widget that stays the same throughout your blog’s pages however isn’t ideal. You need to make sure that the resources you offer are relevant to the visitors’ needs.
Let’s assume someone clicks on a link, leading to an article about Twitter on your blog. The person finds the post useful and scrolls down. But then at the bottom you’ve made a mistake – you linked to a product review that has nothing to do with the topic.
In that case the visitor will probably just ignore that ad.
What you could do to overcome that problem is create different widgets, pointing to different products. You will place the individual widgets only under relevant posts. That way you won’t frustrate people with things they don’t care for and you will improve your chance for clicks from the right visitors.
But how do you target your widgets?
Dynamic Widgets is a great WordPress plugin that allows you to easily do just that!
3. Pop-Ups can Prove Highly Effective
Yes, there is no denying that pop-ups can be intrusive.
I mean you follow a Google link. You wait like ten seconds for the site to load. Then just when you think you will finally get to read the information you are looking for, the site is blocked by a pop-up, telling you to give away your email address.
And yes, I can’t deny it – the above situation is nerve-racking. But the fact is most pop-ups CAN be configured.
Lately I’ve been using a great Facebook lightbox that has helped me generate over 300 likes for my Facebook page in a little more than a month (normally that number would be less than 50).
In the plugin’s settings there is one clever option that can make all the difference – you can choose when the pop-up is activated.
For example you can set it up to two minutes. That way the visitor will see the pop-up just after they read an article. Assuming the reader enjoyed the post, that’ll be the best time to ask for a like.
On the other hand if the pop-up is displayed instantly upon loading, the visitor doesn’t have a logical reason to subscribe. Why should he? That’s his first visit plus he hasn’t read a single line of content. It doesn’t work that way.
4. Place Call to Actions at the End of Your Posts
Just as with using a pop-up box and making it deploy after the visitor has read an article, you should include subscription forms at the end of each of your blog posts.
That is when visitors already have an idea of the quality and usefulness of what you are sharing and when they are most likely to take action.
You might say that not all will see your call to action, because not all will reach the end of the post they are reading. But in the end chances are those guys wouldn’t have subscribed even if you gave them the option somewhere in between the post.
That of course isn’t the only place where you should consider including an opt-in form…
5. Make Use of Your Static Pages
Recently in my post “4 Pages that You Should Add to Your Blog and Why You Need Them” I talked namely about the importance of having some static pages on your blog and the reasons you need them.
The two most important ones that I mentioned were the “About” page, where you tell a little bit more about yourself, your skills hobbies, etc. and the “New Here” page – all about the first-time visitors and the place where you tell people what they can expect to learn from your blog.
Even though some blogs have those two pages in place, they don’t make the most out of them.
Because they haven’t included an opt-in. When someone clicks on your About page, then the person is obviously showing interest in learning more about you. And when they want to know more about you, it probably means they have liked you.
That is the reason why a subscription form at the end of the About page makes for lots of additional subscribers.
It’s a similar story with the “New Here” page. There you give example of your work and if people take the time to read through and happen to enjoy what you’ve shared, they’d be highly likely to subscribe if you provide them with an opt-in.
6. Above the Fold is Still an Option
So you placed an opt-in form in your About page and under your posts?
Well that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Although some say above the fold is a myth, I still believe placing a subscription from there is a must.
Even though visitors might not use it straight away, since it’s easily noticeable, most folks will memorize its location. That way if they don’t spot your other opt-ins but still like to subscribe, they will be able to do that from that one.
7. Give First-Timers an Alternative
One of the reasons is that you don’t have a backup plan so to say. When you share a tweet for instance, you only rely on the article, contained in the tweet to keep the attention.
Although you might get lots of clicks, not all folks will end up reading the post. From that point on they have two options – to either bounce away or to click on something that seems interesting to them.
Obviously you should aim for the second option…
One such thing might be the popular posts widget. However that one often stays way below the fold. What you need is something instantly visible.
What you could do is to include widgets that links to your Welcome page and to your Resources page.
- As you can see on my blog there’s the tab for first-timers. It doesn’t matter what they are looking for – if that’s their first visit and they don’t know what to do, they will find the tab relevant.
- Secondly there’s the “Useful Marketing Resources” tab. That one directs traffic to my resources page, which overviews the marketing tools I use and is a way for me to earn a commission. And since I am covering marketing topics, that tab is also highly relevant to the content.
All in all the idea comes down to creating a static page that provides general yet relevant information and linking to it in an obvious way. Simple yet effective.
8. Get Your Blog to Load Faster
You see, one of the reasons why bounce rates tend to be quite high is slow loading times. A good lot of your potential visitors simply decide not to wait for your site to load and skip to something else.
Think about yourself! How long are you prepared to wait for an unknown website to load?
If it’s a blog you already know and love, the situation might be different, but when it comes to say a Google search or a Facebook link nah… Ten-fifteen seconds would probably be your threshold. The more you wait, the more suspicious you become.
I have to say that loading speed is one of the biggest advantages of the Blogger platform. When you are on WordPress and have your own hosting, things are a bit different.
W3 Total Cache is the first thing you need to get your hands on. That WordPress plugin minifies all of your scripts and takes advantage of browser caching. Additionally I’d highly recommend you to also set a CloudFlare account. CloudFlare is a content delivery network that analyzes the visitor’s location and connects them to a local server for faster loading. The platform also uses caching and adds further optimizations to your WordPress content. If you decide to use CloudFlare, make sure to also install the CloudFlare WordPress Plugin.
That’s it guys! I really hope you found a thing or two useful in the above paragraphs. All in all to increase conversion rates, you have to consider the placement of your opt-in forms, you have to prioritize your call to actions and you need to have the right widgets display at the right time.
Now I would like to hear your thoughts! What in your opinion are some other ways for increasing conversion rates? Do you agree with the ideas I’ve shared? Let me know your two cents!