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4 Tips for Increasing Conversions on Your Blog

Yesterday I asked readers about their #1 Desired Conversion on their blog and suggested that identifying it can be a powerful thing. Today I want to share a few tips on moving beyond identifying what you want your readers to do and actually making it a reality.

1. Call Readers to Action

Unless you call people to do what you’re wanting them to do you’re unlikely to get them to take that action. Many bloggers worry about being too aggressive with their calls to action, some to the point of not ever issuing them or doing them in just subtle ways that they’re ineffective.

While it’s possible to be too aggressive in your calls to action I think bloggers could do well to be a little bolder in many cases.

Calling your readers to your desired action can happen in numerous places on your blog including in blog posts (which is where they are often most effective), in your navigation menu, in your sidebar, on internal banner ads etc.

The key is to keep experimenting with different ways to call your readers to do what you’re wanting them to do and to track which methods work best. Read more on Calls to Actions within Blog Posts.

2. Positioning

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about getting people to take action is that it is often largely about ‘positioning’.

I discovered this in the early days of optimising the ads on my early blogs. Putting an AdSense ad over in the sidebar initially seemed like a logical spot for them – but the night I put them inside my content and wrapped the content around them I saw the click through rate skyrocket (I found it hard to sleep that night I was so excited).

Why did it work? The answer is simply that I started putting the ads where readers would see them.

A few other positioning lessons:

  • Above the Fold is Gold – the segment of your site that is on the screen when someone arrives on your site and is seen without them having to scroll down is called ‘above the fold’. Your #1 desired conversion should be visible above the fold.
  • The Power of Pause Points – anywhere on your blog where people ‘pause’ and are looking for something to do can convert well too. For example under your post and around the comments section can be a spot where readers have stopped reading and are wondering what to do next.
  • In Content Rules – whether it’s AdSense ads, an affiliate promotion or selling your own product – putting your call to action inside a post tends to work best in my experience. People come to your blog to read your content (not to scan your sidebar). A relevant blog post to your call to action will always convert better than a random ad sitting on your sidebar.
  • Make Your First Link Count – I’ve tracked hundreds of email promotions and blog post promotions to see how readers interact with what I send them and in almost every single case readers click the first link in a post/email at a higher rate than any other link further down the page.

The key is to experiment with different positioning again and again and to put tracking methods into place that enable you to work out what is and isn’t working so that you can optimise your results.

3. Secondary Conversions

Many bloggers will find it difficult to identify their #1 desired conversion because they have more than just one important thing that they’d like readers to do. They want people to:

  • click their ads
  • subscribe to their RSS feed
  • follow them on Twitter
  • join their forum
  • buy their eBook
  • buy an affiliate product
  • Digg and Stumble their articles
  • Like their posts on Facebook
  • Join their Facebook page
  • email a friend with a link to the blog

And that’s just for starters…..

The problem with too many desired actions is that you can end up issuing so many calls to action that your blog becomes cluttered and nobody ever does anything.

Having said that – if you do have secondary conversion points, think about prioritising them and also think about how you can lead your readers through a process of doing all of the things you might like them to do.

One way that I’ve done this on my photography blog is to make my #1 conversion point to get people to sign up for my email newsletter. I find that if I can get them to do this then I have a way to access readers over time and to lead them through a series of other conversion moments – but also build a relationship with them.

In the weeks after they signup to the newsletter they get emails that all have opportunity to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, that promote our eBooks (including one with a discount and strong call to action), that point them to some of our best content where they’ll also see ads, that invite them to pass on the newsletters to friends, that have calls to action to join our forum…. etc

Some of these calls to action are subtle and are just buttons in our email while others are stronger, but over time I find that the typical newsletter subscriber actually will probably take anywhere from 3-10 of our secondary conversion objectives.

The key is to get people’s permission to stay in touch and then to gently lead them through a variety of conversion activities, all the time also providing real value and building relationship/trust with your readers.

4. Rethink your Priorities over Time

Blogs evolve, mature and change over time. As a result the priorities in your objectives and desired conversions will probably change also.

I’ve seen this numerous times in my own blogging as my situation has changed.

In the early days of making money from blogs my #1 objective was getting people to click my AdSense ads. I needed to get my earnings up in order to stop other jobs so that I could dedicate more time to blogging. AdSense was also converting really well so I spent a lot of time working on ad optimisation.

In time I began to see the power of hooking readers into coming back to my blogs again and again rather than just sending them away to advertisers. I began to promote my RSS feed more prominently. This of course led to me experimenting with different types of subscribing and getting readers to connect with us in different ways – ultimately email newsletters.

More recently as I’ve begun to release my own products my priorities have begun to shift a little more towards generating sales. I still want people to subscribe to my newsletters as the #1 objective but higher up on the list now is for people to hear about our products.

In future I’m sure the list of priorities will continue to evolve and change and as a result the calls to action I issue will reflect this. The key is to keep asking yourself about your objectives.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hi Darren,
    I like your suggestion not to overdo it when it comes to calls to action. And re-evaluation is definitely key because what’s important at one stage in your blogging may not continue to be important later on down the line.
    I appreciate you taking the time to provide clarity and as always giving me something to think about.

  2. Ivan Walsh says:

    Hi Darren,

    There’s different ways to approach this. One technique I’ve found that works is to generate ‘scarcity’.

    While this sounds like a contradiction, it works. For example, tell your readers that only 30 copies of a book are left… and there is only 5 hours left to place the order.

    Urgency and scarcity can be very effective.

    @JohnChow does a good job on this. Seeing how he twitters can be very educational :)

  3. Calls to action have been my greatest asset when recommending something. It’s seems silly if you’re not familiar with the concept, but it’s amazing how simply telling someone what to do actually causes many to do it.

  4. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Darren,

    I must say that I’m guilty of #3, “Having to many calls of action.” I have to remember to just keep it simple by offering one call to action and just move them through the process.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  5. RJ Weiss says:

    Can anyone recommend a plugin, that I can use to insert a subscription box that includes both my RSS and Newsletter below each post.

    To me, that’s a perfect place for a call to action.

  6. Jean Sarauer says:

    That line about people coming to the blog to read the content and not scan the sidebar is going to stick in my brain! Also making the most of that first link. Excellent tips.

  7. I agree with number 1.Call Readers to Action

    Treat your visitors like 4th graders. Take them by the hand. Make it simple for them.

    Many undermine the importance of this point. It is very important if you want to see your call-to-action increase.

  8. Karen says:

    All great tips, Darren.

    This sentence stood out for me: “every single case readers click the first link in a post/email at a higher rate than any other link further down the page.”. I never really thought about it before, but it makes sense that the first link would be the most important one. I think that I’ve overlooked this and will definitely keep in mind the next time I sent out my newsletter and emails. What’s the use of having a great article if it doesn’t have the right conversion techniques.

    Thanks,
    Karen

  9. I love your advice on positioning, especially the pause points – makes so much sense.

    I need to take a look at my content accordingly; I am excited to see how I can improve my findings.

    Best,
    Ana Hoffman

  10. Tyler Davis says:

    The thing about adsense is that when someone clicks on your ad, it means that they want to leave your site. Ideally, you want them to stick around on your site and contribute to the conversation. I go the opposite direction and try to get my click-thru rate to be as low as possible. If people are clicking on adsense ads, then I am not doing my job.

  11. Fred Kapoor says:

    Very true. All the tips are very realistic basically because they are based on the reader’s point of view which is, actually the only way to provide them with what they want. Thank you very much for sharing these pieces of advice.

  12. Joshua Noerr says:

    I love point number 3 regarding prioritizing of secondary conversions. I believe I maybe asking for too many calls to action. Thank you for that insight.

  13. axel g says:

    I remember how I used to put Adsense in all the wrong colors and places.

    It’s fun to experiment, especially when the clicks kick in.

    In the beginning the clicks weren’t worth much, but that changes too…

    Another really helpful post!

  14. Rob says:

    Some great tips Darren. I like your idea of focussing on email subscriptions as the primary call to action so you can keep in touch with your subscribers easily, and then following up with further calls to action in newsletters – might try that one and see how it goes…

    @RJ Weiss – there are a few plugins that allow you to insert specific info at the end of each post. You could use one of these to enter your RSS and newsletter info at the end of each of your posts.

    Ones that spring to mind are the WP Post Footer plugin:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-post-footer/
    and the Add Post Footer plugin:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-post-footer/

    Personally i’d hack the single.php file and enter the code for the RSS and email subscription box directly into it, but these should be able to help you out and don’t require much technical skill. Hope that helps.

    Rob

  15. Rasmus says:

    This post is full of excellent advice. I am definitely guilty of presenting the reader with too many options. And I never thought about that until reading this – time to do some re-thinking!

    Also, when it comes to e-mail newsletters, I have found the same to be true: the first link is also the most clicked. I guess this can be linked to the classic pyramid structure of news reporting – put the most important first.

    Thanks for a great post.

  16. Alex says:

    Darren, once again another fantastic resource from the man with the domain namesake. I really enjoyed the post mainly because the point you made about adsense in the content vs. the sidebar is really insightful for me and I will straight away start split testing this to see if I can see similar results. (I have two kids under 2 so I don’t sleep anyway, so it would be nice to have an excited excuse for once!)
    Thanks again mate and look forward to the next installment of juicy blogging goodness.

  17. Howard Shen says:

    Hello there Darren!

    This post rocks! ;)

    Thanks men, I appreciate what you posted. This helps to our fellow bloggers and network marketers as well.

    I have also made a post on this at my site. If you have time check it out dude. ;)

  18. mondex1 says:

    I like all the suggestions and I might implement this on my blog. I haven’t re-evaluated for long time the priority of my blog. Thanks for a very good tips. Cheers!

  19. Rightly said,it is important to engage the readers into conversations as it leads to the reader feeling connected with the author.Nice post.
    http://www.harshitsinghal.com

  20. I definitely agree with the call to action. I always ask my small business clients what they want visitors to do when they get to their website. I think some people are afraid to ask!

    That’s really good to know about the ads. It makes a lot of sense because when ads are in the sidebars, I ignore them every time.

  21. HAHA!! As I’m reading this I’m thinking… my call to action, I don’t have ONE call to action…

    * click their ads
    * subscribe to their RSS feed
    * follow them on Twitter
    * join their forum
    * buy their eBook
    * buy an affiliate product
    * Digg and Stumble their articles
    * Like their posts on Facebook
    * Join their Facebook page
    * email a friend with a link to the blog

    Then I got to this part, and just about squirted milk out my nose!!!

    We have the same call to action! :)

  22. Good point when you state

    ” 3. Secondary Conversions ”

    Many of us attempt to have so many #1′s that we end up possibly not converting anything because we approach everyone with way to many #1′s.

    Instead, we can work on a subscription base in which we can traffic our #2′s through this route.

  23. Hey Darren,

    Another excellent post. I loved the “secondary conversions” part.

    But I think getting them subscribe to your RSS should be the primary goal as once they are into the list, it easy quite easy to get them follow you on Twitter, Facebook etc.

  24. kumo says:

    I think the first one call readers for action is the most effective method. If we can make the action simple and worth doing it, surely people don’t mind spending few seconds for it.

  25. I think the best method in blog is the better utilization of categories. In my opinion categories should be placed on top navigation along with left or right navigation panel. Visitors will always look on the top first and then comes to left, right or down the page.

  26. Nothing more, nothing less. You have heard from the problogger. Now i need to re-read this post until it sinks into me and starts to work for me

    Thanks Darren

  27. Ron Johnson says:

    Tell them what to buy and tell them to take action is the best way that works for me.

  28. Thanks for this. I have to keep this in mind too. This blog looks really uncluttered and simple. I’m sure it took a long time for you to achieve this. However, it does have lots of ‘call to actions’ on it. Great job.

  29. Faryal says:

    I agree with Josh and Warren about doing too much with call to action. More focus is required I guess and a step-by-step planning to lead the readers and maintain their interest.

  30. Darren,
    Your point about make the first click count, I believe, is very important. If the first link leads some one to another site that you are referencing you may lose the reader. Before they have read all you want to share and promote.

    Indeed, before I visited your blog, I wrote a posting and even though I mentioned a valuable book early in the posting I did not put the amazon link to the book till at the end of the posting since the link would lead them away from my blog.

    Thanks again for all you thoughts.
    David
    http://www.ReduceStressIncreaseSuccess.com

  31. “Above the fold is gold” – fantastic advice.

  32. This is one of those posts that I read, read again and read every single comment!

    I’m trying to create an email list and I’m finding it to be so difficult. I have it top right side above the fold. I’ve worked on this for months with no results, even tried the pop-up – still no result.

    My site is not made for adsense so I put at the bottom after the visitor has gone through the page because that is not my MWR.

    Great post, thanks!

  33. I think just providing tremendous value rich content that gets the readers engaged and also creates a relationship with them usually does the trick

  34. RJ Weiss says:

    @Rob – I appreciate the suggestions. Thanks a lot for taking the time to make those recommendations.

  35. Devin says:

    HI Darren,

    Point number three is something I have been trying to take to heart as really I want every visitor to do something, one of fifty things.

    I will make a list and try to keep things simple.
    devin

  36. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for another great post, Darren! I see things in here that I can put into action today. You have also given me a couple of ideas that I can use to better promote some of my own products on my blog.

    I like the ‘clean look’ of your blog. Even though you have quite a bit of information, it is still visually crisp – a good example of your own words in action.

    Thanks for all the great info!

  37. Peter Jay says:

    Call to action, positioning well and rethink..
    All this can much easier when the #1 desire goal archived – the consistency of traffic.

  38. Paul Tech says:

    Calling readers to action has been overdone by lots of marketers but I really love your other 3 points, especially secondary conversions.

    Email newsletter is great for relationship building over time and that is something which I am considering to do on my blog too.

    http://seventoten.com

  39. RhoRho says:

    didnt know where to post this

    i am new to blogging, my adsense accounted was disabled due to invalid activity, suspicious activity, i appealed the decision and was denied. so i guess I am banned for life from google, unfair, but not much i can do. they dont give you any details. i signed up for Adbright. Are they as good as Adsense? is this the end of blogging for me?

    very distraught over this as I really enjoyed blogging and was hoping it could turn into something that I could count on for income over time.

  40. Marcie Hill says:

    Thanks for this. I am revamping my blog and this was certainly on time.

  41. Noble says:

    Yeah…I really thik its all about staying focussed and not chasing everything that pops up and become popular. Focusing of a few things is better than dabbling with every technique. The world is moving so fact that I think that any blogger who tries to keep pace might actually succeed in keeping up but ultimately loose out in fulfilling their core blogging objectives.

  42. Ed Dearborn says:

    When bloggers know how to sell, they will write better, more convincing copy.

  43. Another great article Darren….I like how you use subtle calls to action also….so many times we can think a call to action ‘has to be in your face’ that we can miss alternative ways to share our message.
    Rachel
    ARE Creative
    Dorset, UK

  44. SV says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thank you for the valuable suggestions. As I’ve started a blog recently, my #1 call to action is getting people to subscribe to my RSS, retweet my posts, like my posts on Facebook etc which is basically promotion of my blog.

    -SV

  45. Moritz says:

    Although I have already realized most of these tips and earn a hundred thousand euros/month with my different projects, I’m still learning something in detail every day …

  46. Darren I’m new to reading and commenting on your blogs. I have to ask myself what rock I have been hiding under. Every post has been packed with value and this is not the exception. When I read #3 I cringed a little having been guilty of some this in the past. Thanks for taking time to educate.

    Steve Shoemaker

  47. Alan Mater says:

    I totally agree with your positioning theory. But it also means some testing needs to be done as every blog is different in terms of design and structure. But you’re right that it has to be at strategic places where they get looked at.

  48. Nikon S210 says:

    We must do the action before the others did, and we must become active if you want your product sold.

  49. Your third point regarding secondary conversions…never really thought of before!! This is a very good analysis. I think I should try your tactic of not overwhelming my audience

  50. Matita occhi says:

    A great step by step guide…

    Thanks alot Darren ;)