As bloggers, one of our many goals is to make a sale sooner or later, even if we are primarily in the game for love or passion. And just like every business out there – online or offline – bloggers have varying degrees of success with their respective audiences.
So, how can you make sure that you’re in it to win it? Today I’d like to explore ways to turn blog readers into customers without sacrificing your blog’s quality and overall reputation.
It All Starts with Trust…
There are many ways to build trust with readers, and I am certain you’re already using some of them. However, I occasionally notice the lack of certain things that could otherwise help increase sales in the long-run. For example:
- Have an “About Me” page, as described in this article (not merely a half-hearted page with a brief paragraph about you).
- Create a “Start” page. Blogs have a lot of posts, but wouldn’t you want readers to start somewhere? Can you recommend an ordered list of posts that would benefit them from the get-go?
- Emphasize your friendliness. Be approachable in your posts, firm but not demanding. Specifically mention the fact that you are here to help in some of your articles, where appropriate.
Resolve Specific Problems, Nothing Less
This one is fairly obvious, but sometimes we get carried away with content that is only somewhat fitting as opposed to necessary.
Carol Tice’s blog, Make a Living Writing, is a great problem-solving example. She makes damn sure that every single post answers a crucial question or curiosity. Otherwise, her posts are written by a guest blogger who overcame a specific issue and they detail the exact steps taken.
Speak from Experience Whenever Possible
If you’re reviewing a product or service, are you merely learning about it by studying its sales page? Or are you actually trying it and discovering every good and bad thing about it?
People can normally tell based on how generic your review may sound, which leads to a damaged reputation (and distrust) over time.
Even if you’re writing a sponsored post, mention some of “the negatives” to make a well-rounded post and turn blog readers into customers more easily (thanks to your brutal honesty).
Also, include personal screenshots during your testing and not just ones gathered from the product’s website.
If not talking about products and services, try to back up your claims as much as possible by referencing (or linking) to additional information within trusted websites.
Prioritize Newsletter Signups
This is crucial in building trust. For example, I have seen a huge difference in promoting a product to a “cold audience” (first-time visitors) versus promoting it to my newsletter subscribers.
All in all, your website isn’t necessarily the place to sell. Sure, you will get the occasional sale from general visitors, but the majority should come from existing subscribers as you have already built traction and trust beforehand.
Increase your signup rate by implementing some of the following techniques:
- Provide most answers freely on your blog, while reserving some “bonus material” to those who subscribe.
- Place a signup form within articles, on the sidebar, and on the homepage (in non-intrusive ways).
- Be direct with a strong call-to-action; don’t be afraid to ask for that signup, as people are not exactly mind readers.
Don’t Be Overly Pushy
Most of your interactions should consist of freely helping people. So, how can you turn blog readers into customers with this? Simply put, the occasional sales pitch should come later on, and they should ideally be far and few in between.
Now, whether you deliver a soft pitch versus a hard pitch is entirely based on where you currently stand. As many of your sales will take place through newsletters, at least you should have built a strong relationship with your readers at this point, so use your best judgment here.
Remove distractions: Trying to get a signup? Get rid of that fancy AdSense ad. Also, consider placing supporting links at the bottom of your content (well below your call-to-action), perhaps under a “References” or “Resources” section.
Create a sense of urgency: Offer special discounts as a strict, limited-time offer. Be specific by mentioning the month and date of this offer instead of simply stating “Available only for a limited time.”
Pitch again later down the road: Not everyone can (or dares) buy the first time around. Perhaps they simply couldn’t make the purchase today, but what about in a month or two?
Are you making a living by promoting a product or service? What other tips have you adapted to turn blog readers into customers? Did you notice anything that worked particularly well?