How To Write Blog Posts That Sell

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March 02,2017 by
Russ Henneberry

Do your blog posts pack the necessary punch that will turn readers into customers?

According to WordPress, 76.9 million new posts are published every month.

That’s a lot of competition…

But even more OPPORTUNITY for YOU to publish posts that will convert your readers.

In this article, I’ll teach you everything I’ve learned about creating blog content that converts from my time running blogs at Crazy Egg, Salesforce, and now DigitalMarketer.

Let’s begin with…

5 Types of Blog Content Offers

These offers are…

  • More content – Make a clear call-to-action (CTA) to read another blog post, watch a recorded webinar, or visit a YouTube video. The goal is increased touch points with your brand.
  • Lead Magnet – Gated offers that require an email address. The goal is to generate relevant leads for an eventual offer.
  • Flash Sales – Deeply discounted offers (over 50% off) on products or services. The goal is customer acquisition and activation of prospects that have been reading your blog for a while but have yet to buy.
  • High-Ticket Offers – Send prospects to a sales page about a higher ticket offer. The goal is offer awareness, not direct sales. For instance, we don’t expect many direct conversions from a blog post to a $1,000 offer.
  • Membership Content – If your blog post is relevant to a product or a piece of content that can be found in your membership group or private community, consider using a CTA for people to get more information and training about the topic. We do that routinely with our paid members area called DigitalMarketer Lab. The goal here is two-fold. For non-members of our membership program, the goal is awareness of all the great content we have available in DigitalMarketer Lab. For members, the goal is increased satisfaction with and consumption of the content available in DigitalMarketer Lab.

Let’s look at some examples…

Examples of Blog Content that Converts

In this section, I’ll go through five different blog posts, their CTAs, and the landing pages…

1. Blog Post Conversion Goal: More Touch Points with our Brand

The first example is for an offer that is simply more valuable content like the Double Your Sales mini-class.

This mini-class educates prospects (through a free six-lesson course taught by Ryan Deiss) about conversion funnels and email marketing and ultimately makes an offer for our email marketing training, The Machine.

Here’s what this blog post looks like…

An example call-to-action within a blog post

…and this is the landing page for this CTA from the blog…

An example landing page from a blog post call to action

2. Blog Post Conversion Goal: Relevant Leads

A second type of blog post CTA is to a gated offer or what we call a Lead Magnet.

In this blog post about Facebook advertising, we make an offer for our Ultimate Facebook Ad Template Library which requires a prospect to give us their email (so we can follow-up with relevant offers using email marketing).

This is the blog post and CTA…

Call to Action to a Lead Magnet in a blog post

And this is the squeeze page for that Lead Magnet…

blog-content-that-converts7

3. Blog Post Conversion Goal: Customer Acquisition and Activation

A third type of CTA is the deep discount offer called Flash Sales on our products.

For example, this blog post makes a relevant offer for our “How to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Subscribers and More” training in DigitalMarketer Lab. There are times when the price point on this is changed from $27 to $7.

Here’s what that blog post and CTA look like when the price point is at $27…

blog-content-that-converts4

And this is the landing page for that offer which uses a video sales letter to make the offer…

Example landing page with a video sales letter

4. Blog Post Conversion Goal: High-Ticket Offer Awareness

A fourth type of blog content CTA is a high-dollar offer. For example, this article that teaches our blog audience about the three different types of conversion funnels — a key concept we need a prospect to understand before they can make an informed decision to buy our $2,000 Funnel Blueprint training…

Blog post call to action to a high dollar product

And this is the sales page from this blog post CTA…

A high dollar call to action from a blog post

5. Blog Post Conversion Goal: Membership Site Awareness and Increased Consumption/Satisfaction

And lastly, the fifth CTA from a blog post is to our premium membership content. This content cannot be accessed by non-members but we want our members to be aware that there is further training on a topic. And, we want non-members to know that more training is available if they join our membership community.

Here’s a post employing this CTA type…

Call to action to premium content

Members of DigitalMarketer Lab are taken to the premium training by clicking on the first CTA (Click here to access your Execution Plan)…

Digital Marketer Lab Execution Plan

While non-members that click to learn more about DigitalMarketer Lab are taken to the sales page to learn more about our membership community…

blog-content-that-converts12

The Key to Blog Conversion Success

The difference between a 1% and a 10% click rate on your blog post CTA is…

offer relevance.

Makes sense, right?

The greater the congruence between the piece of content and the offer — the higher the click rate.

For example, a financial planner has created a blog post called “12 Steps to a Happy and Healthy Retirement.” A “Retirement Checklist” that is offered in exchange for an email address (called a Lead Magnet) will convert much better than a “College Savings Checklist” for this particular article.

Take this article that offers a blog post template called “The Crowdsourced Post”…

blog-content-that-converts13

This article got 12,357 Page Views…

Page Views on a blog post

 

… and 1,270 clicks on the CTA…

Call To Action Clicks from a Blog Post

That’s a 10.3% click-through rate on the CTA.

Notice how congruent the offer is to the subject matter of the article…

A relevant call to action in a blog post

The article is about a blog post template called “The Crowdsourced Post,” the offer is to receive a second blog post template called “The Content Aggregator.”

Compare that to this article called “23 Things You Won’t Believe People Are Selling on the Internet”…

Article with irrelevant call to action

This is an article we ran on the blog just to have some fun with our audience on a Friday afternoon. The post highlights a number of bizarre products (like Scratch N’ Sniff Jeans and Bacon Bandages) that people are selling online.

We had no relevant CTA, so we went with a $1 Trial offer to our membership community, DigitalMarketer Lab…

blog-content-that-converts18

This post got even more traffic than the first one…

blog-content-that-converts19

But the click-through rate on the CTA was pitiful at just .0017%. Yep… there were only 24 clicks on the CTA…

blog-content-that-converts20

But don’t fret — our goal with this Buzzfeedesque blog post wasn’t conversion. We wanted to have some fun with our audience and the amount of traffic, social shares and comments we received on this article indicates that we hit our mark.

But if it’s conversions you are after — keep the conversion behavior and the topic of the blog post as congruent as possible.

All that said, in most cases, any CTA is better than nothing. If you don’t have an offer that is 100% congruent — use what you have and put creating that offer on your short list of things to do.

Next, we’ll examine the content that converts readers…

(NOTE: Need Content Marketing training? See DigitalMarketer’s Content Marketing Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)

6 Steps To Writing Blog Content that Converts

Let’s talk about the mechanics of writing a blog post that actually gets conversions.

There are two things to keep in mind when creating your content…

  • Relevance – to the eventual offer you will make.
  • Consumption – of the content (after all, if they don’t consume the content — they’ll never click the CTA).

Let’s start with…

Step 1 – Write it Backwards

If you want your blog post to convert, you need to know what a conversion means for the post. Do you want the reader to…

  • Read more content?
  • Download a Lead Magnet? (e.g. give you their contact information and become a lead)
  • Buy a low-dollar product? (e.g. convert to a customer)
  • Become aware of a high-dollar product?
  • Become aware of membership/subscription benefits (non-customer) or take advantage of membership subscription benefits (customer)?
  • Other: _______ (you may have some other behavior you are shooting for)

The first step in creating blog content that converts is to get clear on what that CTA is going to be.

So, write the CTA FIRST.  

Start a new post in WordPress or open a Microsoft Word doc and type the CTA. Something like…

Example Call To Action

Now, let’s work backward from there…

Step 2 – Choose the Topic

Now that you know what you want your reader to do, it’s time to ask these questions…

  • What do I need my prospect to believe in order to click on the call to action?
  • What do they need to understand/learn/know before they will convert?
  • What barriers do they have to overcome to convert?
  • What objections do they have to overcome to convert?
  • What are they thinking about/worried about/researching/talking about before they convert on what you have to offer?
  • What is the primary pain point your prospect is experiencing?

For example, you are a fitness trainer that specializes in marathon training and your CTA in an article is…

Click here to Access Your “Marathon Training Workout”

You have decided that your prospect…

  • … needs to believe that they have the ability to run a marathon.
    • Example blog post topic: “How to Complete Your First Marathon (even if you’ve never run a single mile)”
  • … is objecting to running a marathon because of a lack of training time.
    • Example blog post topic: “How 3 Serial Marathon Runners Train With Just 5 Hours a Week”
  • … is researching the equipment needed to train for a marathon.
    • Example blog post topic“The Marathon Runners Equipment Checklist”

Do you see how this works? Do you see how knowing your CTA in Step 1 allows you to answer these questions? And do you see how answering these questions will force you to write a blog post that is RELEVANT to the CTA?

Now, lets’ move on to…

Step 3 – Pick a Blog Post Type

Based on the topic of your post, decide which blog post type you’ll employ. Yes, I said TYPE. There are 100’s of ways you can approach your post. (You can get the Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas here.)

Here are five of my favorites…

Blog Post Type 1: The Listicle

This is simply a list.

The list post is one of the simplest to put together and very versatile. Not to mention — people just love lists.

Here are some example Listicle blog post titles…

  • Top 100 Most Breathtaking Wedding Photo Locations in Chicago
  • 12 Homemade Fashion Accessories that Will Turn Your Girlfriends Green with Envy
  • 10 Ways to Save $1,000 in 30 Days or Less

Watch this short video that will show you how to set up a Listicle…

Blog Post Type 2: The How-To Post

Pretty self-explanatory, right? The post you are reading right now is a How-To post. For many of you, this post type will make the most sense for the topic you have chosen.

It can help to break the “how-to” information into steps, phases or categories.

Like this one…

How to Write a How To Blog Post

In any case, I advise you to begin the How-To post with an outline and write from there.

Here are some example How-To post titles…

  • How To Grow Red Luscious Tomatoes In the Winter
  • 5-Steps To Teaching Your Kindergartner to Read at Home
  • How Gmail Will Save You 8 Hours of Productivity a Week

Watch this short video that will show you how to set up a How-To post…

Blog Post Type 3: The Content Aggregator

Why create new content when you can aggregate?

The Content Aggregator is a hybrid form of the Listicle that uses OPC — Other People’s Content.

Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most socially viral content on a given topic and aggregate it into one post.

Here are some example Content Aggregator titles…

  • 25 Guacamole Recipes That Will Spice Up Your Next Dinner Party
  • 5 Easy and Pretty Hairstyles for Fall
  • 10 Tennis Drills That Add 10 MPH To Your Serve

Watch this short video that will show you how to set up a Content Aggregator post…

Blog Post Type 4: The Crowdsourced Post

This post type leverages the authority of other experts and influencers. Simply ask three or more experts the same question and aggregate the answers into a single post.

Here are some example Crowdsourced Post titles…

  • 10 Pro Body Builders Share Their Best Bicep Exercise
  • 5 Morning Routines From From Fortune 500 CEO’s
  • How 12 Veteran Salesman Spend 15 Minutes Before a Cold Call

Watch this short video that will show you how to set up a Crowdsourced post…

Blog Post Type 5: The Embed Reactor

This is the fastest way (that I know of) to create top shelf content — with speed.

Find an embeddable video (think YouTube), Slideshare presentation or infographic (check out visual.ly.) Bonus points if the video, Slideshare, or infographic is already popular.

Embed it in your blog post.

Write a reaction underneath.

Done.

The title of these posts is usually a variation of the title of the resource you are embedding.

Watch this short video that will show you how to set up an Embed Reactor post…

Step 4 – Edit for Consumability

OK, time to start talking about a second (but more important) aspect of this blog post: consumability of the content.

I don’t think “consumability” is even a word. If it isn’t — it should be. :)

The more barriers you put in front of your reader — the fewer clicks you’ll get on your CTA.

And it all starts (literally) with…

The Headline 

I cannot overstate how important it is to write a good headline for your blog post.

It should be clear, and not cute.

It should be complete, but not wordy.

It should be compelling, but not hypey.

The headline is a promise and that promise must be met within the blog post itself. That’s the unofficial pact you’ve made with your audience. Don’t violate it.

The easiest way to write good headlines — is to use a headline swipe file. You can download DigitalMarketer’s headline swipe file here.
Blog Post Headline Swipe File

A headline swipe file contains formulas for headlines that have worked for decades.

But don’t just copy these headline formulas verbatim. Instead, grab a cup of coffee and read through each one a few times. Try to determine WHY the headline works.

Once you understand why each headline works — you’ll be able to start crafting your own headlines that are variations of the formulas in your swipe file.

Once you have a solid headline, you need to turn your attention to…

The Introduction

If your headline gets their attention — they’ll read the first line of the post.

What will they find? An intimidating block of text filled with long, scary words?

Hope not.

Your challenge as a writer is to take a body that is in the resting state and put it in motion (e.g. scrolling down the page). Once that body is in motion — it’s easier to keep it in motion.

But that first few sentence is critical.

The job of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read. And the job of the second sentence is to get the third read. And so on.

The first sentence should be…

  • short,
  • punchy
  • and curiosity based.

The combination of these three elements will lead get your reader in motion. Legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman, calls this “The Greased Chute.” Imagine your reader is sitting at the stop of a slide. You want to make that slide as slick as possible to get the reader “sliding” down the page.

Notice the first line and introduction to this article that has been read by nearly a half million people since it was published…

blog-content-that-converts29

It begs the question…

“I’ve finally found what?”

and this one…

Example of a good blog post opening

You have to be wondering…

“What’s the big misconception?”

These openings are simple to read and raise curiosity and anticipation in the reader.

After you have your blog post completely finished — return to the introduction and be sure that it is as “slick” as possible.  Your conversions will go up.

Transitions

When you move from one idea to the next — you are raising a stop sign.

And stop signs are bad.

Concentrate on your transitions and your consumability will increase. And greater consumability = greater conversion.

Have a look at these for inspiration…

Blog Post Transition 1

and…

Blog Post Transition 2

and…

Blog Post Transition 3

Notice how each of these transitions keeps the reader moving.

But there’s on more way to keep your reader sliding down the slide…

Formatting

Use formatting like…

  • Bullets (see what I did there? :) )
  • Numbered lists
  • Line Breaks (you shouldn’t have many paragraphs with more than 3 sentences in them)
  • Blockquotes

… to break up the text.

Think of your reader as a bicyclist that is sitting still at the beginning of a mountain biking trail.

Now, turn your blog post on its side visualize the peaks and valleys in your article.

blog-content-that-converts33

Use this “Peaks and Valleys” trick to visualize the likelihood of our cyclist prospect reaching the CTA. If you see too many peaks and not enough valleys — you’re making it tough on the prospect.

Use formatting to make the ride easier.

Step 5 – Use the “Deep Tease”

Your reader came from somewhere.

  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Search

Remember, your goal is CONVERSION by way of greater CONSUMPTION.

One of the best ways to get a prospect to read deep into your article is to “tease” some aspect of the article from the source of the traffic.

For instance, in this email, we are promoting an article with 11 email tricks. In the P.S. of the email, we “deep tease” the 5th trick to encourage consumption.

The Deep Tease

In this case, we used the headline of the post as a “Deep Tease”…

Blog Post Headline

As we all know, the headline is the most likely part of this post to be shared on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Those that click on this headline are encouraged to dig deeper into the article.

And last but certainly not least…

Step 6 – Insert 2 Types of CTAs

Use both text links and graphics (banners) as calls to action in your blog posts. Your reader is used to clicking on text links — so provide them. But don’t forget to draw attention by building a banner as well.

2 Types of Call To Action in a Blog Post

You can use a tool like Canva to build outstanding banners without needing to be a pro graphic designer.

Oh… and one more thing on these calls to action. Be sure to include a button on your banner. People are used to clicking on buttons.

Like this…

banner ad in a blog post

As an alternative to creating graphic banners, you can just use an HTML box that will draw attention. Some folks call it a Johnson Box and it looks like this…

Johnson Box Call To Action in a blog post

You can download a little piece of code that you can paste into the code side of your blog editor by clicking here.

OK, now let’s turn our attention to measurement…

How to Set Up Google Analytics to Measure Clicks From Blog Posts

This is a simple report to set up inside Google Analytics.

Start by opening the BEHAVIOR > EVENTS > PAGES report.

Google Analytics Report Showing Call To Action Clicks

Then, add a SECONDARY DIMENSION of EVENT ACTION…

Google Analtyics Showing What Call To Action Was Clicked

Then, open the ADVANCED FILTERS and INCLUDE only the EVENT ACTIONS you want to include. For example, if I want to measure how many clicks I received to the “Ultimate Facebook Ad Template Library” landing page located at http://www.digitalmarketer.com/lp/fb-ad-templates/ I would use this filter…

Advanced Filter on Google Analytics

If you want to include multiple pages as calls to action in your reporting, you’ll just place a “pipe” (they look like this: |) between each page extension. For example, if I want to add clicks to this page >> http://www.digitalmarketer.com/lp/ultimate-social-media-swipe-file to my reporting along with clicks to this page >> http://www.digitalmarketer.com/lp/fb-ad-templates/ I would put this in my advanced filter…

/fb-ad-templates/|/ultimate-social-media-swipe-file

Simply add another “pipe” for each page you want to include in your reporting.

Lastly, if there are pages that you DO NOT want to include in your reporting, you will want to use the ADVANCED FILTERS to EXCLUDE those pages. For example, we might have links to our “Ultimate Facebook Ad Template Library” on our About Page that we do not want to report on.

To exclude those clicks we would add this exclusion in the Advanced Filters…

Excluding Pages from your reporting

The last thing I would recommend you do is save this report as a SHORTCUT by clicking on this button. You’ll be able to access this report from your SHORTCUTS in the future…

blog-content-that-converts41

You can expect 10% or more of your readers to click on the call-to-action from your blog post if…

  • the post is consumable
  • the CTA is highly relevant

So… what about the other 90%?

I’m glad you asked…

Segment + Retarget

Blogs are made up content. That content is divided into categories.

For example, our blog in the DIY space has 3 major categories…

  • Recipes
  • Craft Projects
  • Home Decor

blog-content-that-converts42

What do we know about someone that visits an article in the RECIPE category?

What about the CRAFT PROJECTS category? Home decor?

We know something about these people, right? The first is interested in cooking. The second in crafts. And the third — well, I think you get the idea.

They’ve segmented themselves by visiting a piece of content.

And what if I told you that you have the ability to run ads on Facebook (and other ad platforms) based on the pages they’ve visited on your site?

Interested? Well — we’ve got an entire article on this blog that will teach you how this works.

Click here to learn more about using blog content to retarget your prospects on Facebook.

So, now you’re ready… You’ve got everything you need to write blog posts that sell.

Start turning prospects into buyers today.

(NOTE: Need Content Marketing training? See DigitalMarketer’s Content Marketing Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)

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About Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, Salesforce.com and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.

View all Posts by Russ Henneberry