This post is a summery of a panel presentation given at Blog World Expo 2010 by Scott Fox, Shayne Tilley, Brandon Eley, and Scott Stratten.
- Know your goal. If you do not know the goal of your blog, you will never be successful with it. Pick your focus, whether it is to expand a current brand, drive traffic to your product, or just to go a step beyond social media, your blog should have a purpose. The panel recommends that your blog be part of a three prong strategy. First is social media, which you should use to attract your audience, give them a taste of what is out there and what you can do. The second aspect of your strategy should be your blog. Use your blog to engage your audience. Find their opinions, preferences, and needs and have a conversation with your users. Your third aspect should be your product. Use your product to transact with your audience and get the monetary gain that you need to keep your blog running.
- Know your Calls to Action. Clarify and focus your blog. Spilt your blog if necessary to allow yourself to stay on message and on target. Observe the number of calls to action on any page of your blog. On average, there are 35 calls to action on a single page. This is 35 distracting ways for your audience to leave your blog. Minimize and clarify for success. Also, evaluate what you have on your website. If you have ads that are run by an outside source, be aware that users could be seeing ads for one of your competitors. Also realize that every ad on your website is an endorsement from you, don’t endorse it if you don’t agree with it.
What calls to action you do have should be easy. If you ask for email addresses (and you should ask for email addresses) make it a truly one click sign up. Any more steps and you are eliminating your chances of getting an email. Make sure to keep your email request above the fold and offer an incentive for signing up. Especially if you are a new blog, offering a resource with sign up will help your chances of getting conversions. Also, avoid pop-ups if at all possible. They are annoying and nearly impossible to remove on mobile devices.
- Increase Trust. Increase your users’ trust in you. Have followers and show them. It seems shallow, but online you lack many of the social cues that exist in the real world. Putting up your follower count helps to build trust in you. Also, take the time to make your about page personal. Seeing a smiling face or a real location (city and state, no need for your street address) allows your users to begin to get to know you. Add media coverage links (As seen on…) and testimonials to your website. Ask your past clients for testimonials and put them somewhere visible on your website.
- Segment Your Audience. You shouldn’t ask your audience for lots of personal information when they join your email list, but do make efforts to get to know who your audience is. In your welcome email, ask them for their industry or what they want from your website. Not everyone will respond, but the ones who do will give you an idea of your audience. Also, look into your records. Do you have repeat clients or customers or is your audience mainly new to you? Each time someone provides you some information about themselves, they are holding their hand up to be counted, don’t ignore those hands. Put thought into what you do and don’t bombard frequent users with pop ups or on screen messages that welcome new users.
- Test, Test, Test. Test ferociously. No matter what you do, if it is working, it could be working better. Use the analytic tools out there and get a feel for what works. Use A/B split testing and test emails, photos, text, subject lines, etc to get the best mix that works for your audience. Don’t settle for a 10% conversion rate when you could have an 80% conversion rate. Recommended Tool: Google Website Optimizer.
Utilize all of the above, unless you are a incredibly new user. New users need to focus on creating quality content above all else. Once you establish a base of information, you can then start working on these five tips.
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