How To Use a Blog To Improve Your Sales
Now you know how to come up with blog topics that will pull in new customers, it’s time to think about execution. Blogging for profit is a subtle art. Sure, you know how to blog, but it’s not as simple as that. A cowboy would sit down and churn out 600 words of block text. A Ninja would write more nuanced and engaging content.
To boost your sales, your blog posts have to achieve a few other things first. They need to keep people on your website (using relevant internal links and calls to action) and they must be appealing to your target market. This means writing enticing headlines and formatting the posts so their reading experience is enjoyable.
We’ve overseen hundreds of content marketing campaigns, so we know the formula behind writing effective blog posts. This content marketing tutorial will unveil some of Exposure Ninja’s best blogging secrets.
I know how to blog, so isn’t that the same as blogging for profit?
Not necessarily. The thing about writing is that it’s often couched in creative mysticism. The most admired writers are eccentric bohemians with radical worldviews, cutting witticisms, and a powerful understanding of the world around them. It’s okay to be inspired by all that, but don’t get carried away.
Remember that the ultimate aim of blogging for profit is to sell your product or service. You’re not writing a novel or confessing your innermost thoughts. Though, at the same time, you don’t want to just ram your business down people’s throats. It’s all about the soft sell.
You’re writing about a topic closely related to your product or service, showing people you’re an expert in it, and then giving them chances to convert into customers throughout the post. That’s the essence of blogging for profit… but how is it done?
The 4 golden rules of blogging for profit
1. Don’t write boring headlines
In blogging, there’s nothing worse than a boring headline. Rather than write a boring headline, you may as well set your computer on fire in a public space* — you’d get more views!
Traffic can vary by as much as 500% depending on the quality of the headline, so it needs to be given due attention. OK Dork carried out content analysis of nearly a million headlines on the internet to see what highly-shared articles have in common. It found that the most shared headlines contained one or more of the following elements:
- List Posts
- How To
The analysis also looked at the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of the headlines. They found that those with over 1,000 shares had an EMV of almost 40%, while posts that were shared 100 times had a value of under 20%. This means that more popular content is better at hitting people’s emotions — and that’s no coincidence.
You might not be a fan of the Buzzfeed method of doing things (e.g. “24 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re Slightly Obsessed With Stationery”) but there’s a reason they get so many shares. They’ve perfected the list post and combined it with kooky, relatable topics that people love to share.
While the Buzzfeed tactic is great for certain publications, clickbait headlines can get annoying, so use them in moderation.
In a more recent analysis of 100 million headlines, Buzzsumo discovered that the ideal headline has the following characteristics:
- Contained certain key phrases (the most popular being “…will make you…”)
- Used emotional phrases (such as “tears of joy”, “make you cry”, “give you goosebumps”)
- Avoided overused phrases (the least popular being “…that actually work”, “…simple ways to…”)
- Started with a number (the most popular being 10)
- Contained 8 to 18 words and 80 to 100 characters (10-word headlines were most popular on LinkedIn and 15-word headlines were most popular on Facebook)
This new data suggests that people are indeed getting frustrated with certain clickbait techniques (“…that actually work…”) but still go head over heels for others (“…will make you cry…”).
If there’s one thing to take away from all of this, it’s that knowing how to craft the perfect headline is almost a completely separate art to knowing how to blog. So, in order to create the perfect headline, don’t be afraid to spend more time on it. You can always create a headline at the end of the blog writing process. That way, it may be easier to summarise what your article is about.
*Please do not set your computer on fire in a public space. Or anywhere, for that matter.
Are you struggling with boring headlines? Why not hire our awesome Content Marketing Ninjas to do it for you? Contact Exposure Ninja today and receive a FREE website review explaining how our Ninjas can help you.
2. Subheadings and bullet points break up intimidating blocks of text
The average human attention span is now around eight seconds. What does that mean for the formatting of your blog?
If you’ve ever visited a web page that has 500 words of text and no subheadings, we can bet you didn’t stay for long. Your brain just wasn’t engaged. Subheadings and bullet points give structure to a page, making it easier for readers to skim the content. They may also carry a potential SEO benefit, so it’s a no-brainer when writing your blog posts.
3. Use visuals and embedded media
Blogging isn’t just about writing. Most of the best blogs on the internet are packed with top-notch visuals. Check out Moz’s on-site blog. Every post is full of graphics and screen grabs, helping readers understand the topic and keep them hooked.
Social media has driven us all photo crazy. On Snapchat, 8,796 photos are uploaded every second, while 350 million photos were uploaded to Facebook every day in 2013. This means people are used to seeing visuals whenever they visit the internet — and your blog should be no different. Here are a few suggestions for visual blog content…
Although we love to see visuals whenever we browse the web, not all images are created equal. Photographs of real-life projects and people are far more appealing than generic stock shots. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a dab hand with a camera — authentic images will build brand trust and give a personal feel to your business.
If you can’t muster any photos of your own, stock images could have a part to play, but avoid the most overused ones. If you think you’ve seen a particular model or a photograph before, it’s probably because you have. So, avoid!
Infographics strike the perfect balance between information and visuals. At Exposure Ninja, we create infographics all the time as part of our clients’ content marketing campaigns. Not only do they get shared around more than regular images; they also look awesome when embedded in blog posts.
You don’t need to be a graphic design wizard to create an infographic. Online tools like Piktochart and Canva let you design infographics with little to no experience, with templates making it easy to knock up shareable content in no time. If this is still a little daunting, hire a freelance graphic designer to create a pro infographic.
Video may have killed the radio star, but it’s been jolly helpful to the blog star. Embedded videos that you’ve crafted yourself will add a professional touch to your on-site blog — and they’re easier to create than you might think.
Let’s imagine you own a salon and you’re writing a blog post about 10 popular DIY haircuts. An easy way to create video content would be to choose one hairstyle and film yourself doing it. You don’t need to be Michael Moore to produce useful content; the natural look will make your brand feel more authentic.
4. Calls to action
When you work for Exposure Ninja, you are taught to revere three letters above all others: CTA. These stand for “call to action”, which is the equivalent of a clarion call.
Your call to action should be a one or two-sentence snippet at the end of your blog post, which encourages readers to take the next step towards purchasing your product. You should also try to include one every 600 to 1,000 words (notice how this blog post is about 1,800 words long so it contains two calls to action?) Your CTA could be a 25% off discount code or a free eBook if they sign up to your mailing list.
The call to action is the pièce de résistance of blogging for profit. This soft sell at the end of your blog post is what you’ve been building towards. In short, if you don’t know how to write a good call to action, you don’t really know how to blog for a business.
Whatever your call to action, make sure your readers get to the end of each blog post and find an awesome offer that they can’t refuse. It might seem kind of hokey and forced, but it’s worth practising. There is hard data which confirms how the right CTA can increase conversions. See the bottom of this post for an example…
Conclusion: blogging for profit is about great content and a great offer
Blogging for profit means mastering the art of both blogging and profit. You might know how to blog and you might know how to sell, but blogging for profit means knowing how to put both together to create content which is both engaging and drives sales.
It’s a hard trick to master. The old way of selling meant shouting your messages at people from billboards, radio and television. Blogging for profit is much more subtle. It’s about writing something which people will want to read, designing something which people will choose to share, and creating something people will be able to find on search engines.
Knowing how to blog for a business website means being a magnet that pulls people towards you, rather than being a megaphone that shouts outwards. That is the essence of blogging for profit.
Follow the steps in this content marketing tutorial and you’ll be writing killer content in no time. Send us your best headline for a chance to win a free website and marketing review worth £197. Only kidding — everyone can have one!