If you run a business online, having a blog is essential. It’s a quick way to build an online presence for your brand. Regular blogging has the benefit of keeping your site populated with fresh content. And fresh content means an increased likelihood of fresh eyes on your posts. It also means greater opportunities for search engines to index your site’s pages. When that happens, say hello to increased organic traffic!
Building traffic is only one part of the equation. You also need to get your readers to do something once they land on your site. This is usually referred to as conversion. You want readers to complete an action because it will push them further down your sales funnel.
Now, that action will differ depending on what you’re specifically trying to accomplish. Do you want to increase newsletter signups? Or maybe you want to increase sales of a product you’re trying to sell? Regardless, everything you do on your site—or at least on that specific page—should be to encourage visitors to complete this action.
Before we dive into the specifics of how to write blog posts with the direct intent of conversion in mind, let’s take a look at the general conversion process for a moment.
The Sales Funnel
Also known as the conversion funnel, the sales funnel is a set of steps that a prospect takes before they become a paying customer. According to CrazyEgg, this follows a pretty specific pattern.
First, you create your website and all of its content. This includes your social media, ads, press releases and any other materials that effectively “tell your story” as a brand. These efforts are designed to bring in new prospects to your site. These are the people that click on a link to your site from organic search results, from a link posted on social media or in an ad, or visit your site directly via word of mouth referral.
Once you have “eyeballs” on your site and your content, you can work on getting these people to complete a specific action. Often, a preferred method is to set up a “Wall” wherein a prospect must input their email address for access to exclusive content. If your content is compelling (and convincing enough) you should pull in a significant number of people here. People that complete this step are called leads.
From here, you have to convince these leads to actually become customers. This tends to be the hardest part because you have to demonstrate how and why your product or service will benefit them. If you succeed here, you’ll gain a first-time customer, get the chance at creating a repeat customer, and build income.
Obviously, I’ve made some broad generalizations here. But hopefully these general definitions give you a sense of how the conversion process plays a role in building an online presence for service-oriented businesses, mom and pop shops, e-commerce sites, and everything in between.
Now that you have an understanding of what conversions are and how they fit into the sales funnel, we can move onto some ways you can ensure your blog posts are optimized for conversion.
The following tips apply to writing landing page copy and other forms of copy as well but bloggers can make direct use of them to write and promote posts that motivate readers into action.
Read High-Converting Copy
There’s nothing like learning from the best, right? That’s why it’s so important to spend some time reading examples of copy that has proven itself in the past. There are collections of high-converting copy all over the web but I’ve gathered up a few that I think are particularly helpful to get you started:
- Great Copywriting Samples: Features advertising samples but good writing is good writing and these ads are designed to make you think, feel, and act.
- 7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them: Offers exactly what the title says by offering direct examples of effective copy and the elements each blog contains that make them so effective at converting.
- 13 Damn Good Ideas from 13 Dead Copywriters: Okay, so this one doesn’t offer direct examples of effective copy but it does provide quotes from some of the best copywriters who have ever lived about the art of writing copy that converts.
Use Keywords Proven to Convert
Have you ever noticed that a lot of the copy out there uses similar phrasing? Or that it tends to feature a similar voice? While creativity has a defined place in copywriting—those Old Spice ads were pretty great, after all—there is an element here that’s decidedly formulaic. I’ll talk about the specifics of that more in a bit. What you should know right now is that some of the best copy out there tends to gravitate to the same keywords.
Because they work. Plain and simple. There are 5 words that have been found to be themost persuasive in the English language. They include:
These words are most effective in headlines because they pack a real punch in encouraging your readers to take action. Of course, there are many other words you should think about using, too. For example, David Ogilvy, copywriter extraordinaire, favors influential words like “quick,” “easy,” “revolutionary” and “now.”
Using high-converting keywords can mean the difference between writing blog posts that are only so-so and those that truly standout.
Craft a Killer Headline
You can use some of those great keywords you learned above to craft great headlines for your blog posts. Headlines have long been a mainstay of advertising. Think of any print ad you’ve ever seen and that bold copy that draws your eye is usually what would be considered the “headline.”
Notice how I said headline copy “draws your eye?” That’s because that is precisely what headline copy is supposed to do. It’s supposed to attract attention. And that’s really important because people don’t read the fine print. Hell, they hardly even read the regular print.
Bite-sized chunks of information are infinitely more digestible that lengthy diatribes. So save your soliloquies for creative writing class and get to the point when writing headlines.
This is even more true online, where attention spans are shorter and people make a regular habit of skimming content. Skimmers will see your headline first and foremost. If that captures their attention, they’ll move onto subheadings, then pictures, then your call-to-action. If you’re lucky, they might take in your bulleted lists, too.
See now why a great headline is so important? It may very well be your one shot at capturing a lead. So don’t blow it! Make it punchy. Make it stand out. But don’t confuse these tips with taking this opportunity to be super creative. Yes, good copywriting and headline writing requires creativity but the best headlines, the ones that have gotten the most consistent conversions, are those that follow a few specific formulas.
CopyBlogger offers a list of 10 headline formulas that have been proven to work time and time again that you might want to check out. A few personal favorites include, “Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]” and “[Do something] like [world-class example]”. So, if you filled in the blanks here you might get headlines like, “Here is a Method That is Helping Bloggers to Get More Traffic” and “Blog Like a Famous Advertising Agency.”
It’s About the Benefits, Not the Features
A significant rule of copywriting is to always emphasize how a product or service will benefit a potential customer. Rather than offering a lengthy features list that may or may not have any impact on a site visitor’s impression of you and what you’re offering, strive to answer the question, “So, what does it do for me?”
While this method wasn’t always the most desirable approach, it’s what’s working best in the modern world, especially online where customers already know what features they want. So talk about what your product or service can actually do for your target customer and you’ll make a lot more headway than if you focused on features alone.
If you want to follow a tried and true formula to make sure your blog posts and site copy are their most effective, you can use AIDA. The acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and it’s effective because it helps you to focus your writing efforts to appeal directly to your target demographic.
Maybe you run a craft shop on Etsy and support it with a blog on your own domain that features information about your products, your process, etc. Your target market is women in their mid-30s-50s with some disposable income who also like to create handcrafted items. In every post you write, you should strive to capture the readers “Attention.” You can do this by appealing directly to their sensibilities.
Pro-tip: Headlines are the perfect place to accomplish this. Maybe you can focus on the satisfaction of decorating one’s home with handmade items?
From there, you need to maintain “Interest” in the topic at hand. You can do this by offering new information that the reader hasn’t thought of before. Often, using storytelling techniques can work really well. Tell a story about how one woman used handcrafted centerpieces to create the perfect atmosphere for her family’s first Thanksgiving together in years.
Interest naturally leads into “Desire,” which is where you can throw all of the benefits we discussed in the previous section into play. What are the direct and indirect benefits of decorating your home with handmade items? If you have a few previous customers’ testimonials on hand, this is where you make use of them.
Finally, we’ve come to the “Action” portion of AIDA, which is where you lay out your offer (custom-made holiday centerpiece for 50% off) while simultaneously disputing any objections a potential customer might have (I can’t afford this; it’s not a necessity) and introducing scarcity (this offer is only good for X amount of time). As it’s name would suggest, you should close out this section of AIDA with a call-to-action. Tell your blog readers what step(s) you want them to take next. No ifs, ands or buts!
Now Is Not the Time to be Complicated
You’ve heard of the K.I.S.S. method, right? Well that definitely applies to writing conversion-worthy blog posts. Now is not the time to bust out the thesaurus and use every complex vocabulary word you’ve ever learned. A major component of writing copy that converts is to appeal to your target demographic by using the language they use.
Speaking above people’s heads—whether intentionally or unintentionally—can make your prospects feel alienated from your products or services at best. At worst, highfalutin language can feel condescending. And that’s definitely not an impression you want to make.
Instead of loading up on those $10 words, think about how you can convey your ideas in the simplest way possible. How can you phrase something to be direct and to-the-point? How can you educate and inform your audience without resorting to verbal acrobatics?
Load Up Your Posts with Facts and Stats
Whenever you write blog posts, it’s important to make them a combination of informative and entertaining. Obviously, a list of statistics isn’t going to be all that entertaining, but if you can present hard facts and numbers in an engaging way, you’ll be totally golden.
Just make sure that the information you include is actually relevant to the subject at hand. If it’s not, you stand to bore your readers and possibly even confuse them. Which, as you can imagine, are not good things!
Use Previous Clients’ or Customers’ Words
Testimonials can make or break your copy. Seriously. The best blog posts and the best copy often feature words that come directly from previous customers’ mouths. These quotes add weight to your claims.
I mean, think about it. What sounds better to you? A blog post from a company owner’s perspective about why they think their products are great? Or a blog post interview that features direct quotes from a previous customer on the same topic? The second one, right? And that’s precisely the point. The words of your customers carry infinitely more weight than any fluffy sales copy you could muster.
If you’re running your site on WordPress, you might want to check out plugins like Testimonials Showcase, Testimonials by WooThemes and Viavi WP Testimonials to really make your customers’ words stand out.
Ask for the Conversion with a Call-to-Action
If you want a high-converting blog, you need to make sure your posts actually ask for the conversion. I know it can seem awkward to ask people who’ve taken time out of their day to read your content to do something further–but you can’t expect them to read your mind either. The greatest copy in the world is going to be largely ineffective if you don’t include a compelling call-to-action!
I think Unbounce describes the good ol’ CTA the best:
Your call-to-action represents the tipping point between bounce and conversion. When you ask someone to do something online, they have to go through your call-to-action in order to do it – regardless of whether you’re asking them to download a PDF, fill out a form, buy a product, or even just click through to another page.
I like this “tipping point” image because it so accurately conveys just how pivotal a moment the CTA presents. Your copy could be flowing, engaging and all-around awesome. But once the reader hits the tipping point, the call-to-action, she’s faced with a decision. Even changing just one word in your CTA can make the difference between converting and not.
The real key is to convey a combination of value and relevance in your CTAs. According to Unbounce, a button that said “Get Instant Access Now,” wasn’t as effective as one that said “Read Full Essay Now,” for an essay writing services website because while it did convey value it wasn’t specific enough. Basically, don’t leave any room for guessing here.
Test, Test, Test
Always A/B test your copy. You’ll want to create variations for all aspects of any given post that is designed to convert. I realize that not every single blog post you write is going to be designed with conversion in mind. And that’s fine. In fact, if every post were conversion optimized, it would get a bit tedious and likely appear formulaic.
But for those posts you do wish to use for conversion, it’s vital that you conduct thorough testing to ensure each component is working in your favor. To do this, you’ll need to create multiple versions of your post(s) that include slight variations. You can do this using a WordPress A/B testing plugin like Convert Experiments by Yoast or WordPress Calls to Action.
A few areas you should pay particular attention to include the headline, images, captions and call-to-action. You might also wish to play around with the color scheme, button positioning and overall text formatting to see what gets the most engagement.
Once you find a version that works for you, don’t assume that your work is done, however. Testing in this manner should be an ongoing thing. When you find a version that works, run with it then come up with another version to test alongside it. Conversion optimization is a task that’s never completed.
Don’t Forget SEO
Writing conversion-oriented blog posts is quite a bit different than writing standard web content. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore SEO. Since your blog posts are to appear on the web, SEO is just as important as ever. No, that doesn’t mean you need to worry about keyword density anymore, but it does mean that you need to:
- Do some keyword research before you start writing.
- Use longtail keywords to add relevancy to your content.
- Share your content on social media sites.
- Make it a point to write lengthy content with real value.
You might want to use an SEO plugin to keep tabs on some of the finer details like title tags, meta descriptions, and other important on-page elements. I really like WordPress SEO by Yoast.
And Don’t Forget You’re Writing for the Web!
Just like you need to remember the importance of SEO, you also need to remember the conventions of writing for the Internet. That is, don’t let the fact that you’re writing copy designed to convert distract you from standard web content conventions. It’s pretty basic stuff but bears repeating:
- Keep paragraphs short
- Use bulleted lists
- Use sub headers to break up relevant sections of text.
- Use short sentences and avoid complex vocabulary—keep it simple!
- Link to other pages and posts on your site.
- Link to relevant external sources
Sometimes writing blog posts is about more than just stringing together a few sentences. Rather, it’s about bringing your readers on a journey with you and before they’re tempted to leave your site and pursue other interests, convincing them to take action.
Writing conversion-worthy blog posts isn’t easy but I hope you now have a better sense of how to accomplish this feat. It’s going to take some practice.