To build a successful blog that drives actual ROI for your business, you have to do more than just publish new articles each week. Writing fresh, original content week after week is just one piece of the overall strategy that you must implement if you ever want to drive more traffic to your website, build a loyal audience, and ultimately gain new customers. The problem is, driving blog traffic and building a loyal audience isn’t easy.
In a lot of cases, it takes a lot of energy, a lot of testing, a lot of patience, and a lot of failures before you’re able to finally crack the code and start seeing actual results. But here’s the good news: You don’t need to make dramatic, sweeping changes to your blog or invest all of your marketing budget into expensive, experimental campaigns in order to move the needle. Oftentimes, you can start on a much smaller, simpler scale and end up getting big results. If you’re looking for a few simple changes you can make to drive more blog traffic and build an engaging, loyal blog audience, consider starting with these 7 suggestions:
1. Use Content Upgrade Offers
With the right content upgrade offer in place, you have the opportunity to capture and engage with what could become some of your most profitable customers and biggest brand advocates. So what is a content upgrade offer? Put plainly, a content upgrade offer is an extra resource you create and give to readers in exchange for their email address. Unlike the standard RSS sign up forms you typically see at the bottom of a blog post or within a sidebar, content upgrade offers live within the meat of a blog post. They’re recognizably different from RSS capture forms because, if done well, they are hyper-relevant to the blog post topic.
Source: How To Create A Social Media Strategy (With 3 Steps And A Template) from the CoSchedule blog
Examples of content upgrade offers can include:
- White papers
- Slide decks
- Audio files
- Industry reports
- Swipe files
- Interactive templates
Source: 8-Part Checklist For Creating a Winning Employee Information Form from the When I Work blog
The purpose of content upgrade offers isn’t to trick people into giving you their email address. The purpose is to provide them with free added value—value they can learn from, apply at their jobs or in their daily lives, and value they can forward on to someone else they know. Once you have a person’s email address, your goal should be to nurture them and attempt to move them down your sales funnel. To learn how to build content upgrade offers and incorporate them into your blog post, read this article on content upgrades by Brian Dean of Backlinko. In it, he provides more information to support the effectiveness and value of content upgrade offers, and outlines the step-by-step process for getting started.
2. Perform Keyword Research
Performing keyword research is an essential step in the blog ideation process. When done right, effective keyword research analysis can help you ensure that more people find your blog when searching for answers to their questions in search engines like Google or Bing. The process of performing keyword research is fairly simple: Step 1: Think about what questions, pain points, or topics your potential customers or blog readers are typing into Google (ex. how much does an in-ground pool cost?) Step 2: Make a list of all the topics, pain points, and questions you come up with. Step 3: Use Google Keyword Planner to search for keyword phrases found within your list. Step 4: Identify keyword opportunities that have a high search volume, but low to medium competition. Step 5: Make plans to write a blog post that relates to the keyword phrase you identified, but only write it if you’re confident you can produce a blog post that is more helpful, meatier, and timelier than any other piece of content that already exists online. Reference the keyword phrase organically throughout your blog post, but don’t go overboard. If you’re unfamiliar with using keyword research to come up with better blog post ideas, there are a lot of resources worth digging into. Here are 3 you can start with today:
- How to do Keyword Research: A Guide from Moz
- Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide from Backlinko
- How to do Keyword Research for Content Marketing by Uberflip
3. Run Social Media Contests
Another great way to drive more traffic to your website and build an audience is by launching a social media contest that can be incorporated into and promoted on your blog. The easiest and most popular type of social media contest you can run on your blog is a giveaway. With these social media giveaways that live on your blog, your goal isn’t just to give a free prize away to a lucky winner—instead, your goal two-fold:
- To increase exposure and build buzz about your business and products on social media.
- To attract potential customers and capture their information by giving them the chance to win something they want.
An example of a campaign built through Gleam and hosted by Beardbrand
There are a lot of tools you can use to run giveaway contests on your blog. Here are a few worth checking out:
One last note worth mentioning: there are rules about how to manage a contest on your blog. Before launching a giveaway, make sure to do your research. To learn about some of the rules, read these posts, then consult a legal professional to make sure you’re covering all your bases:
- No Purchase Necessary & Giveaways: Everything You Need to Know
- Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know
4. Promote Content Everywhere
It might not surprise you to read that in order to drive more traffic to your website, boost exposure, and build a following, you need to actually be intentional and strategic when it comes to promoting content. This means doing more than simply sharing your new blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. There’s a lot that goes into content promotion, and there are a lot more places and channels than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that you could be leveraging when it comes time to share your newest blog content. For example, you should be sharing links to new blog content:
- In your email signatures
- In help section articles or FAQ pages
- In your print marketing collateral
- On every page of your website using tools like io
- In forums, Facebook groups, Slack groups, Quora, and other community sites
- On other blogs as links in guest posts written by you
To get serious about content promotion, explore these resources:
- 50 Promotion Tactics To Include In Your Content Marketing Strategy
- 17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content
- How Content Promotion Works for Blogs Big and Small
When you take the time to intentionally promote every piece of content you create and publish in your blog, it creates for you more opportunities to reach new readers, build more relationships, and convert more people into customers.
5. Test Different Types of Content
In addition to testing different content promotion tactics, you should also be testing different types of content as a way to connect with new readers and build audience loyalty. The days of text-only blog posts are over. To capture the attention of blog readers, you need to present them with information in a variety of ways. Your audience will respond to types of content differently than other blog audiences. The only way to know which types of content perform best on your blog is to test them over time and gauge how your readers respond (do they comment more, do they share more, do they stay on the page longer, etc.). Here are a few ideas for different types of content you can create and incorporate into blog posts:
- 10X Content - these are epic, meaty blog posts that blow every other resource in existence on the same subject out of the water (see Rand’s post here).
- Infographics - information, statistics, graphics, and other visuals that all come together to form a compelling story (build them using tools recommended in this Buffer post). Videos - educational videos that summarize information in your blog post or provide additional information that readers can only access by clicking play.
- User-generated content - stories, photos, videos, and other content from your customers that help other readers understand why they chose to do business with you, and what they’re lives are like now that they’re working with you or using your products (see examples in this HubSpot blog post).
- Mini-graphics - visuals that summarize points throughout your blog post (quotes, bulleted lists, section headings, etc.).
- Slidedecks - PowerPoint or SlideShare presentations that readers can flip through to quickly learn more about the topic you’re writing about.
Example of a mini-graphic in a HubSpot blog post To determine which type of content works best for your audience, make sure to monitor Google Analytics and evaluate the success of each blog post you create.
6. Make Your Blog Beautiful
If your blog is slow, ugly, or hard to read, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to come back more than once. As such, it’s important to take the time to make your blog user-friendly and beautiful. So what makes a blog beautiful? There are a few common characteristics your blog should have. Beautiful blogs use:
- Responsive design
- Lots of white space
- Large font (at least 20 px)
- Crystal clear graphics and photos
- Intentional color palette
- Organized and consistent blog structure (headings, subheadings, bullets, breakout quotes, etc.
- Tools and tactics that boost loading times and overall speed
An example of a beautifully-designed blog from HelpScout
7: When In Doubt, Focus on Being a Resource
At the end of the day, none of the tactics mentioned so far matter unless you can first focus your energy on making your blog a helpful resource for people to find and visit whenever they need help. Blogging is much different than what it was five and even ten years ago. People aren’t going to your blog to learn about your company and your products (at least not at first). Instead, they’re landing on your blog to find answers and solutions to their problems. They have questions, and it’s up to you to be the one who can answer them. If, every so often, you can just forget about everything else and just focus entirely on being a resource for others, the rest (traffic, exposure, loyalty, customers) is sure to come in time.
What else are you doing to boost blog traffic and build a loyal blog audience? Tell us in the comments below!