When I first started my marketing career, I took pride in the fact I was a marketer and not a salesman.
I avoided selling at all costs because it felt, well… “salesy.” After all, no one likes to listen to a pushy sales pitch – online or in person.
This turned out to be a mistake though, because coincidently, I made no sales. No matter how much marketing I did, if I didn’t ask for the sale, I didn’t get clients. Go figure…
I knew something had to change, so I started testing different value driven, non-salesy sales content. Throughout the years I’ve tried many strategies, but there are five I’ve found work best. These strategies will work on ANY blog or website to increase conversions and make more sales.
It’s no secret everyone loves a good story. It holds their attention longer and is more engaging than a collection of dry facts and research. Turn your customers and the success you have provided them into an interesting story – in the form of a case study.
Case studies don’t have to be complex. You can use this simple framework to create a case study for your website and even turn it into an individual blog post or an example inside an article.
I’m sure you’ve seen email opt-ins asking for an email address in exchange for an e-book. Many blogs have the same e-book at the bottom of every single blog post, and while that’s better than nothing, the e-book may not be relevant to the post topic.
For example, a leadership coach writes an article about communication and has an e-book opt-in about self leadership. The reader, who came to learn about communication, is less likely to download the e-book and opt-in to the email list because of the disconnect.
The difference between a content upgrade and an email opt-in is relevance. Before creating content upgrades, the average opt-in rate on the Fluxe blog was 5%. Now, with content upgrades, the opt-in rate has increased to 40%! And we’ve had the same results for our clients.
There’s no doubt this takes more time and effort – not only to create more content but also to create great content upgrades. I’ve tested a dozen ways to create content upgrades, but by far the simplest tool I’ve used is LeadPages. LeadPages makes it easy to add calls to action throughout your site and create high converting landing pages.
The feature I use on my blog is called a Lead Box. It allows you to add a small pop-up to any post that exchanges the visitor’s email for the content upgrade without taking them off the original page.
In the example above, I wrote a post about the value of an email list with a content upgrade for an e-book about building your email list. The opt-in is highly relevant to the content, and it’s a natural next step for the visitor to take after reading the post.
It’s also important to note that your content upgrade doesn’t have to be an e-book. You could create a checklist, cheat sheet, tutorial, Screencast, or a dozen other useful resources. Just remember: the goal is relevancy. The stronger the relationship between your content and content upgrade, the higher your opt-in rates will be.
We talked about using your customers as case studies, but what about your own stories?
It is possible to talk about how you overcame a problem using the solution your business provides? This is a great strategy for service businesses and coaching businesses.
Another way to do this is by giving a behind-the-scenes look at your business. You can educate your customers, tell them about yourself, and show them your culture and the people behind the scenes. This helps humanize your business and gives your audience multiple ways to connect with your brand.
For example, when talking about a problem in an article, tell a story about how it relates back to your company. Then, show an inside look at the processes you have or the steps you take to fix that problem.
I used this technique in a previous post about the problems people have creating blog content. Many business owners struggle to create consistent blog content, so I shared how we created a system to minimize their time spent writing, while retaining their brand voice.
This gives me an opportunity to talk a little about the value we provide to our clients in the context of the article. I don’t have to be too salesy and it’s great tool for prospects to self-identify while reading educational content.
Most people think the sales process comes after the content is finished or even at the end of a post. In reality, you can start selling even before you write one word.
One of the smartest ways to do this is starting a podcast or blog for interviewing potential customers. This bypasses the gatekeepers and transforms you from a salesperson to a peer in your prospect’s eyes.
You can ask them questions, learn about them personally, and add real value to them while they learn how your company works. And what happens when you’re finished? They turn around and promote the episode that features them in their network.
Podcasting isn’t just a great sales tool, it’s a great networking tool. It gives you a chance to interview people you wouldn’t normally get to chat with and then build a relationship with them. Just take a look at my list of 50 Top Entrepreneurial Podcasts. You’ll see individuals and companies using podcasts to expand their network and grow their prospect lists.
We all know selling is about trust, but it’s easy to forget. Stop trying to sell and start building trust with your prospects by giving them more value through educational content. You don’t even have to talk about your product to sell it.
Instead of focusing on selling, focus on connecting with your audience by showing you understand what they’re going through. Empathize with them.
How do you do that? One simple way is revisiting the last few sales conversations you had with prospects that were key to closing the deal. What were the stories, examples, problems, and pain points you discussed that helped the lightbulb go off in their head?
The beauty of this strategy is you don’t have to guess. You just need to listen and make sure you record those triggers from your prospect conversations.
How are you using your blog to convert readers into qualified prospects?
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife and son.