How to Convert Blog Readers Into Customers

convert blog readers

Creating a popular blog isn’t hard. If you follow this guide, you’ll be covered on the content end. The rest just involves social media promotions. The hardest part about blogging is generating a positive ROI from it.

Over the last seven years, I’ve created four blogs: Pronet Advertising (I don’t own this blog anymore), Quick Sprout, KISSmetrics, and Crazy Egg. Each of those blogs not only exceeds 100,000 monthly visitors, but, more importantly, they drive customers to each of my businesses.

What I’ve learned the hard way is that monetizing blogs is much more difficult than building traffic, but I feel that I now have a formula that works well. Here is the formula I use to monetize my blogs:

Webinars

If you have a product or service, you should consider doing a weekly webinar. The webinar shouldn’t just be about your product or service, but instead it should be around something that benefits your potential customers.

For example, although we sell a customer analytics solution at KISSmetrics, we continually create webinars on marketing-related topics as our ideal customer is a marketer.

Giving them useful information about marketing builds trust within our brand, and that drives signups. Plus, whenever we see a fit, we can always plug our analytics solution within our webinars.

Now, the tricky part about webinars is that you have to convince people who are watching them to sign up for your product or service. Here are the two ways we do it:

  1. Ask them to sign up – you can tell people who are watching your webinar to sign up for your product or service. I’ve found that if you get 10% of the people to convert, you are doing really well, especially if you are driving them to a paid product. Realistically, less than 5% of the viewers will actually sign up for your paid product if you ask them to do so within the webinar.
  2. Offer a free trial – when people are signing up to watch your webinar, include a “check box” that gives them an option to sign up for a free trial of product. We typically can get 41% of the people who sign up for our webinars to opt-in for our free trial using this approach.

Remarketing

It’s much easier to drive traffic to your blog than to your main site because content marketing can drive millions of visitors through the use of infographics, content guides, and plain old blog posts.

Once you have a large audience reading your blog, you want to remarket to them. Through services like Retargeter and Perfect Audience you can pixel all of your blog readers so that when they browse random sites like TMZ, they’ll see a banner ad for your company.

We’ve found that when you remarket to your blog readers, you will get a click-through rate .2%. Out of all of those visitors, 3.58% will convert into customers.

As for the cost of remarketing, you shouldn’t be paying more than $2 a CPM for web-based remarketing, and you shouldn’t pay more than 50 cents a CPM for Facebook-based remarketing.

Calls to action

There are a ton of ways you can drive traffic from your blog to your main website. The easiest ways to do it is by through calls to action. There are 4 effective calls to action you can easily use:

  1. Hellobar – through the use of Hellobar, you can place a simple little orange bar (or whatever color your want) at the top of your blog posts. In that bar, you can put whatever text and call-to-action button you want. On Quick Sprout, my Hellobar message is: Learn how TechCrunch increased their traffic by 30% in 60 days. When people click on it, it drives traffic to a landing page that collects leads for me. 3.53% of all Quick Sprout readers click on the Hellobar.
  2. Navigation link – within your navigation bar, you can include a link back to your corporate website. On Quick Sprout, the navigation item I added to one of my corporate websites is the “consulting” link. That link gets clicked on 1.21 % of the time.
  3. Static ad – within my sidebar is an ad of “Ben Huh” that states “Neil helped us grow to 500 million pageviews a month”. That ad gets clicked on .94% of the time.
  4. Scrolling ad – at the bottom of my sidebar is an ad of Michael Arrington. As you scroll down to read the rest of this post, the ad scrolls down with you. That ad gets clicked on 2.58% of the time.

Although the calls to action don’t seem like they get clicked on a lot, they do add up: I am able to divert 8.26% of all the traffic from Quick Sprout to one of my corporate sites. In the end, all of those visitors drive over six figures in new revenue each month when I look at the lifetime value of each customer.

Case Studies

If you are targeting businesses as your primary customer type, case studies are another great way to drive customers to your business. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Give away the farm – case studies that tend to convert well in my experience are detailed ones. Think Harvard Business Review type of case studies… Go so deep within each one that you are giving away your secrets and letting people know exactly what you did. Make sure you include a picture of the customer as well as a testimonial from them. And, most importantly, sell your product or service within the case study.
  • Promote your case studies – The easiest way to promote your case studies is to turn each one into a blog post. Just make sure it benefits your readers and teaches them something new. In addition to that, you can link to your case studies within your sidebar like I do on Quick Sprout or highlight them on the homepage of you blog like I do. Because I showcase my case studies in these two areas, they make up 3.73% of my traffic, and 4.19% of all the people that read those case studies turn into leads.

Special promotions

One of the easiest ways to convert readers into customers is to offer them special promotions. From doing a blog post that offers readers a special discount, or a bundled deal like Appsumo tends to offer, you can get really creative in driving signups.

What we’ve found is that doing bundled deals converts the best. For example, if you are a software as a service company, you can team up with four other companies and offer everyone’s product together at a super discounted price. The best part about doing this is you can also get these partner companies to blog about the bundle so you won’t just be promoting this to your user base; you will be gaining access to the other companies’ audience.

The conversion rates on these types of offers range a lot as it depends largely on your offer and price. To give you a sense of rough conversion numbers, you should be able to convert at least 100 of your readers assuming your blog gets over 100,000 unique visitors a month. If you can’t achieve those numbers, it means your offer isn’t good enough.

Collect emails

My favorite way to monetize a blog is through emails. It’s a much longer process than the above methods, but the conversion rates tend to be higher.

Let’s start with the ways you can collect emails on your blog:

  • Popup – by leveraging tools like PopUp Domination, 1% to 3% of your readers should be giving you their email address.
  • Sidebar – by adding an email opt-in form within your sidebar, you should be able to convert .5% to 2% of your readers into an email subscriber.
  • Blog posts – at the end of each blog post, you can add an email collection box. Typically .75 to 2% of your readers will convert into an email subscriber with this option.

I know the percentages above vary a lot, but it depends on how many of these opt-in methods you use. The more you use, the more cannibalization there will be, so your percentages across the board will decrease. But if you offer something for free in exchange for someone’s email, such as an eBook, your percentages can potentially be on the higher end.

Once you have the emails, you want to create an email drip system. Typically, the email drip consists of at least seven emails, and it is sent to people automatically over time. With services like MailChimp, Aweber or SendGrid, you can easily create a drip. Within those emails, you need to educate your customer base and sell to them over time.

A good email drip should convert at around 5%. So, if you collect 100 emails, 5 of them should turn into customers. And if you suck at writing drips, you can always hire consultants to write them for you.

The key to email copywriting is to educate first, build trust second, and then sell. And you can’t do this by just writing a few emails, which is why the rule of thumb is to sell on the 7th email as it is hard to accomplish all of that in less than 7 emails.

Conclusion

Blogging can be very profitable. You simply have to focus on converting your readers into customers. Just don’t focus on monetizing your blog until you have at least 20,000 monthly readers.

I typically wait till I have at least 50,000 readers because lesser numbers haven’t panned out for me. The cost to maintain the blog costs more than the revenue I generate from it until I have at least 50,000 readers.

Do you know of any other creative ways to monetize a blog?

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Trackbacks

  1. Minteresting Friday — Digital Media Resources Mashup – November 30, 2012 » How To Do That
  2. 26 Essentials for Blogging Success: What You Need to Know « Blogging Enterprises
  3. 20 Biggest Benefits of Blogging « MrYoungScholar
  4. 26 Essentials for Blogging Success: What You Need to Know « Blogging Enterprise

Comments

  1. @ Neil Great Tips, It is the best way to make money from blog.

    Just like problogger.net founder Darren did to make money from his blog

    But If you don’t have too much time then we may use Google Adense, Chitika, Infolinks to monetize our blog.

  2. This is why it’s in Neil I trust

  3. Excellent tips, +Neil Patel ! I love the fact that your first suggestion is Webinars! Feel free to share my book, *The Webinar Way* available on Amazon so people can engage for maximum benefit! http://amzn.com/B009VSVMKY

  4. I would not just wait for 50K users to start monetize your blog. It’s never too early. However, if you only have few visitors, you may not make good money anyway.

    Great tips here.

  5. We’ve not ventured as far as the pop-up yet – I have no doubt it would increase sign-ups but for me I want to balance that with usability and general site friendliness.

    Have you had any instances of general complaints from that particular bit, as it could be construed as a bit aggressive?

    Great roundup though – especially useful the relative CTR of the static sidebar ads, believe it or not it’s a question I’ve posed to myself “Hmm, wonder what CTR that TechCrunch ad gets!”

    Thanks, Liam
    @toneliam

  6. You are right on the money with these tips Neil. I agree with everything you said except for waiting until you get 50k subscribers to monetize your blog.

    For most new bloggers starting out in this overcrowded blogging world, getting 50k or even 20k subscribers could take years. And a business that takes years to make money is a failure.
    So my advice would be to already have a monetization strategy for your blog before you even build it, so it gets rid of the uncertainty of how to monetize later on down the line.

    But I do get your point, build an audience and get your readership up before monetizing…which is always the best route!

  7. Thank you Neil for your nice post. Your ideas always evergeen and innovate. Your constructive and creative trics i always appreciate.

  8. Awesome! Already looking at those services that help you to convert better! Kissmetrics by itself is a kick ass product, helps us to learn so much about clients behavior and pivot quickly if we see a drop out. Good job man!

  9. 50k followers ? you have to give us more insights about how to reach this number in two months Neil .. we haven’t time to wait for to learn !:-)

  10. Another article to bookmark and flag as pure gold.

    I completely agree with the Webinar strategy. It’s made a big difference in our company. (One thing to keep in mind… if you’re industry isn’t used to the term “webinar” make sure you educate people on what it is. We call it a “Live Online Training Event” or “Live Show & Tell Event” – it helps with conversions.)

    Thanks again for a great article Neil.

  11. Hi Neil,

    Great guide as usual. I have published a detailed conversion oriented guide with a mockup of a “perfect” blog post. Hope it will be useful as an addition to this blog post:

    http://www.webiny.com/blog/2012/06/26/how-to-reduce-bounce-rate-engage-your-audience-and-drive-conversions-with-your-blog/

    Best regards and keep writing these excellent tips!

  12. Great post as always Neil, building a list is really important, it can be a gold reserve in the future.

  13. Building relationships with different bloggers and author should be the main intention of every one who wants to build better community around their blog.

    And you are very correct about monetizing blog. Once you are able to build regular readers, then it will be much easier to make money with them. But if you have first to own their trust.

    Considering the PopUps. I have used them, but many of my readers complained me about it, and asked me to stop using it. So finally I had to drop it. But I have seen success by adding subscription box below the content. Its really easy ( just need to add few function in function.php ) and ready to go.

    Thanks for the great post, I enjoyed it a lot.

  14. Nice post Neil. How do you do the scrolling ad? Did you use a plugin for this?

  15. These are really neat tips. Your ideas are practical but I would love to get 100,000 monthly visitors. I totally like the webinar strategy there. Then again it totally depends on the niche you are looking at.

    Thanks again,
    Jason.

  16. I submitted a quizz to my readers at the end. After revealing the result, I suggested them to send out the quizz to 5 best readers and discover the friends results. At the least they can compare results and share it to facebook, twitter…

  17. Hello Neil Patel!

    It is fact that there are many ways to make money online and one of the best and more interesting is blogging! I totally agree with you that the most difficult part in blogging is not actually the traffic but how convert this traffic! Giving something extremely valuable to your readers can create a presell situation where people trust, share your content and at the end buy your product if only you provide solutions to their problems!

    Thank you,
    Zouras

  18. Great post Neil.
    Definitely list building is one of the foundations of monetization and it is something I am working on.
    Thanks for sharing this Neil

  19. Good entry Sir Neil. As usual, your article always teach me something new and fresh. Thank you for your sharing.

  20. Awesome article Neil, a few questions.

    1. For the retargeting, 3.58% will convert into a customer. Is this a paid customer? Or is this converting to a trial? 3.58% seems very high!

    2. 20,000 readers per month, is this monthly uniques in Analytics? Any ideas around what sort of audience size based on other metrics like newsletter subscribers, or RSS subscribers, twitter followers etc.

    Good stuff anyway, thanks for the post.

  21. Neil,
    Thank you for this amazing information. I only noticed now, but I do notice that Michael Arrington ad is floating and this is really an awesome call to action place. Thank you for sharing.

    I loved your ideas and since my blog is very new, I guess I will have to wait until I can build my traffic good enough to utilize some of your ideas towards monetizing my blog.

    Warm Regards,
    Kumar

  22. Thanks for the tips Neil, excellent detail as always.

    We’re in the process of implementing a number of your suggestions on our blog, and are looking forward to seeing the sorts of returns we get in terms of subscriber rate, share rate, and traffic increases. Keep up the good work!

  23. Neil, Always quality & value. How do you find the time? Are you sure you’re not channeling the likes of Ogilvy, Bernbach et all?
    Regardless keep up the good work.

  24. Hey Neil! How in THE world are you able to get the banner to stay/follow me as I SCROLL down this page? Please?

  25. I like the point of having a “Hellobar”. This may be in any form. either an image, form, Webpage. But this will surely help us in getting quality leads

  26. Now a days people are blogging because they don’t have any business to promote so they starts putting up advertisement banners from day one and that’s why they creates a mess and leaves the industry by being a critic whenever people asks about their experiences being a blogger.

    So you said right people should start blogging only when they have to patience to wait until they reaches till 20,000 visitors a month mark.

  27. Wow, Neil, you’re a wealth of good information. I’m not very knowledgeable about blogs and am just beginning to use them effectively. I’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go.
    However, I took your tip to heart and just signed up with Mail Chimp, and I’m definitely looking further into this Hello bar. What a neat idea that is. Thanks and keep up the work, Neil.

  28. Neil,

    Another great post .

    Now we usually take all your notes for reference to our marketing strategies. Really very informative on content marketing and converting them to customers.

  29. Email marketing is the best bet to lure them.

  30. Neil…what planet are you from? 20K visitors/months? Peoples who have that many visitors don’t read your blog. They already know how to make money and do a marketing. I have an advice for you – know your audience.
    Best regards.

    • I would disagree. I know a ton of people who read this blog and get way more visitors than that. Plus a lot of people who get over 20,000 visitors don’t know how to monetize their blog.

      I get emails from Quick Sprout readers who have over 100,000 visitors and make $0 from their site. :(

  31. Another great post Neil, but that’s not something new.

    For me the best way to convert readers into customers is to attract them to sign up to your newsletter – and that is where serious money lies for sure :)

  32. And again, great tips Neil! Thanks for sharing them.

    I believe that those are the current best ways to convert readers to possible customers. Since it’s all about content these days, use compelling content to maximize your blog’s potential as a source of money. Evergreen content such as case studies (like you said), is a great way to convert traffic to leads, since they are already a testimonial of what you have and CAN do. Of course, proper call to actions are necessary!

    Timely and awesome as usual Neil!

  33. Thanks Neil, very Original and detailed analysis! Very intelligent marketing too! Respect!!

  34. I honestly believe that those are the best ways to convert readership to the potential customers.

    Thank you for sharing Neil, great article as always.

  35. Great tips! I really don’t have anyone’s that you haven’t already listed. My favs are build a list, podcasts, remarketing, and case studies. Just be genuine and not pushing your stuff down peoples throat seems to work with my clients/customers. Also prove that you have used and give the pros and cons of a product or service. Nothing is every 100% great!!!

  36. Hi Neil,

    Thank you for this great post. It’s very usefull for me.

    I just have two questions and i need help please :

    1. can you give me the name of the scrolling ad plugin you use on your blog please? Or someone can?

    2. What plugin do you use for popup message or post footer.

    I really love them. Thanks

  37. Awesome tips, as always!

    Honestly, Neil, 10% conversion is a very high figure for most industries. I have been able to achieve that number for some of my sites but it takes a lot more work.

    With paid ads, no matter how much you optimize them the ROI has been falling across the board. Relationships still work in the online space.

  38. In my opinion the most important thing is making your posts entertaining, informative, and keeping a strong call to action.

  39. Very well outlined post, Neil.

    At first I was a bit curious about the don’t Monetize until reaching around the 20’000 per month mark.
    Though, when I think about it, that’s a good ball park figure as far as adequate traffic to gain through monetizing….

    Then I look at that “I can has Cheezburger” ad link in the sidebar shouting ” 500 Million Page views per month, and that 20’000 a month pre – monetizing target looks so darn reasonable….

  40. Hi Neil,
    Your post is excellent because in today scenario conversion rate is very imp. thing. Your post is helping us how to convert blog traffic to permanent customers.

  41. “I typically wait till I have at least 50,000 readers as the numbers haven’t panned out for me under that.”

    I think, this number largely depends on your niche. It can be either 5000 or 200000 monthly readers.

  42. Hi Neil,

    Valuing the people who visit your blog and replying to their comment, something I see you do… builds that trust, makes people feel valued and want to return to your blog.

    Great post, thanks Neil.

    John

  43. Neil, I’m sure you’d agree that conversions require fresh, high quality content. You need lots of good articles, blogs and social media posts to make it all come together and start building that trust. I find it increasingly time consuming though to look after all my niche sites and am spending more and more time managing them. Have you found a way “around” this? I found this service that’s being developed by a couple of guys and although they are just in development- it may be worth a look? The address is: http://www.massivenichemarketing.com

  44. Thanks for the great tips, as turning a web visit into a customer is a challenge sometimes. Thanks again.

  45. I think the only way to convert your readers into customers is by collecting their emails and then sending them emails and having a contact with them can make them convert.
    Nice points by you as well.

    Thank you

  46. Neil, if I understand this correctly, this blog was created to link to other services and businesses you have by running the ads on it. Doesn’t it take a great deal of time to do so? Basically running an entirely different site? I mean I run a blog but on the website. That way I’m only optimizing one site instead of two and need traffic to come to just that site. Do you have a support team to maintain your blog site?

  47. Hi Neil

    What this post does is informing us bloggers, webmasters, Internet marketers and affiliates know how to approach making money online and patience involved and when to monetize your site. Most of us want to make money now without understanding the work involved and you cannot do it alone.

    Great post.

  48. Hey Neil nice tips.. Making money through blogging is not an instant process. You need to focus on readership first and revenue after you start to develop a readership.

  49. I really liked the ways to convert blog readers into the customer, specially the special promotions and collect emails. although collecting emails is longer but it is effective.

    Thank you.

  50. Great tips, Neil. Thanks!

    I just want to share that I haven’t been very lucky with building a list. My site has a sign up form at the side bar but up to this day, I don’t have a single sign up.

    I’ve been doing some back linking like crazy. Hopefully, it yields some good results.

  51. Excellent post! Bookmarked for future. I recently started another blog related to WordPress as my playground site for tutorials and rants, and it has steadily increased in traffic with zero marketing effort. Simply writing useful content (not even a lot of content) – just valuable content. It’s at 10K visitors per month now, and growing roughly 1K visitors each month. I haven’t considered monetizing yet, but will eventually after I reach the 20K or 30K mark.

    So hopefully that will encourage anyone who feels they cannot reach 20K – especially with quality content and actual social media push. My site’s proof that it can be done.

    Great post. I like that you provided actual numbers and conversion rates for your each marketing effort. Thanks!

  52. I am going to learn some of your tips to get my readership up for my new blog. I have found a small niche market that buys an affiliate product for ADHD time after time. I’ve got a 23.9% conversion rate just from doing a blog post once a week talking about issues related to ADHD and the specific benefits my all-natural products delivers.

    I also did a bit of article marketing to drive customers to my previous blog (which is where most of these conversions occurred). Now that I have sold that site, my task is to recapture that traffic and more at my new blog, using your great information I have found here.

    Thanks so much. I will let you know how it goes.

  53. Interested in your services and went to read the case studies. There is nothing there, what a dissappointment :(

  54. Goodness! Talking about 1,000’s of readers and subscribers sounds great! I’ve been working on my site for … mmm… longer than 6 months and it’s still very quiet. I love the idea of the webinars, though. Might even look at making a weekly video show from Google Hangouts which I’ve recently discovered. Thanks for the tips!

  55. I personally use Hybrid Connect for all of my optins. I’ve had a very large percentage (like 20%) optin to my list with fake email addresses in the past so I needed something to help address the situation. Hybrid connect actually integrates with Facebook connect to guarantee emails people actually check. I liked the product so much I ended up doing a video testimonial for them on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJMTfvCcEAw
    It does popups, sidebar optins, scrollers, and after post optins automatically for wordpress users.

  56. hi Neil,
    your ideas are always innovative and excellent…i always appreciate them…i am so glad to see these tips helpfull. excellent work.
    thanks.

  57. Hi!,,,

    Thank you for this amazing information. I only noticed now, but I do notice that Michael Arrington ad is floating and this is really an awesome call to action place. Thank you for sharing.

  58. Nice post. I think if you want to convert your readers into customers then you need to place really awesome call to action. You need to build relations with readers and you should behave like you are happy when they enter your website. :)
    Thanks
    Saif

  59. Totally agree. The key is slowly building trust by giving away valuable information – rather than just going straight for the money. I’ve shared your post on Blogbods in the hope that a few more bloggers take note of this fantastic advice. It’s about proving that you can be of use to your audience, and only then do you have the right to ask them to become your customers. All about paying your dues first.

  60. Hello Neal,

    What do you think is a good visitor:sales conversion benchmark to try to achieve? Do you know of any good examples of blogs that really convert with regard to sales?

    Thanks,

    Curt

    • There really aren’t any. It varies per site.

      In an ideal world if you can get your conversion rate of a visitor:sale to at least 5%. You are doing really well.

  61. Collecting E-mails helps a lot for sending newsletters, And subscriptions for every blogpost if we turn visitors into readers then only we can turn them into customers..!!! Because that’s all we want after all :)

  62. Thank you for this amazing information. A lot more then thanks for spending time on it. and making it useful for the audience. keep up the good work.

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