by Jon Mehlman
The purpose of this article is to show how self-published authors like yourself can use the power of blogging as a powerful mechanism to bring quality visitors, leads, and customers to your site. It’s not intended to review the various ways of how to make money with blogging (like selling ad space, for example).
I love my job! I’m an Inbound Marketing Consultant at HubSpot. And every day I have an opportunity to positively impact my clients in a measurable way.
I use “measurable” in a very literal sense (no pun intended for you literary, self-published types out there) because the HubSpot software was designed by a bunch of metric driven techies. Since these techies are HubSpotters too, I’m sure they hear the same little voice in their head’s that I do. It says, “If you can’t measure it, it’s not worth doing.” So it’s satisfying to have analytic tools that can directly attribute the effect your blogging efforts to visitors, leads and customers. In fact, for the month of April 2012, Infinity Publishing generated 113 leads that viewed the Infinity Publishing blog prior to becoming a lead.
Sherrie at Infinity Publishing is one of my rock star pupils because she believed in the process and trusted the inbound marketing methodology. And while most of you who are reading this are not HubSpot clients, I have little doubt that folks like yourself, who are interested in self-publishing, can achieve similar results if you put forth the effort.
Much like your bathroom scale at home, the numbers don’t lie. When you put in the sweat equity and create remarkable content, which includes publishing captivating blog articles, you will see the results in the form of an increase in your traffic.
Now don’t get excited yet, because an increase in traffic alone isn’t going to get visitors to pre-order your next best seller. Not gonna happen.
What you need to do, if your goal is to convert visitors to customers, is create a holistic approach that converts a visitor to a lead and then shortens the lead to customer sales cycle. And the best part about it is that if you do it right, your visitors won’t even feel like they’re been sold!
Blogging is one of the best ways to get new visitors to your site. Think of it as your welcome mat to your home. It’s the first step in your sales process, right? Without visitors, you have no one to sell to and no opportunity to convert them into raving fans. So the first thing we need to master is how to blog to attract the right types of visitors to our site.
The 7 Most Important Blogging Best Practices that Led to Infinity Publishing’s Growth
1) Know Your Audience. HubSpot refers to this as buyer personas. Once Infinity Publishing became intimate with their buyer personas and understood their goals and challenges, it became easy to educate them, answer their questions, and solve their problems. By creating blog content centered around buyer personas, Infinity Publishing was able to establish themselves as a thought leader and center of influence among the publishing community
2) Blog Multiple Times per Week. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between blog frequency and customer acquisition. In fact, 78% of companies that blog daily have acquired a customer directly attributed to their blogging efforts.
3) Blog in a Conversational Manner and Don’t be Too Self-Promotional. Sherrie does a great job of not only selecting great topics to blog about (because she knows her buyer personas) but she also writes in a tone that’s easy on the brain. For example, in one of her articles last month titled Using Amazon Keyword Tags to Sell More Books, she starts out, “Over the weekend I was looking for a book on Amazon…” That’s brilliant! Sherrie knew that “Amazon” is pretty much always trending and would create a buzz and chatter among her followers. And you know what? She never mentioned Infinity Publishing in the entire article. Not once! And not only that, but she got 10 comments and 658 page views. But the best part is that 8 visitors read her blog post prior to becoming a lead.
4) Leverage the Power of Community by Featuring Guest Bloggers. There is power in numbers. Think about it. You get guest bloggers to carry some of the content creation load and at the same time, offer your tribe a fresh perspective with a different twist. But best of all you will get new inbound links, which is still super powerful in Google’s ranking factor. Your guest bloggers get a whole new set of eye balls by being featured on your blog which provides them with a new platform to reach additional followers who will potentially join their tribe too. Everybody wins!
5) Strategic Focus on Your Organic Keyword Strategy. By focusing on a small set of CORE keywords at a time, Infinity Publishing has increased the number of keywords that they show up for on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Sherrie is able to rank on page one of SERP’s because she focuses on 10 – 12 keywords at a time. It’s important to note that you can slip in the SERP’s if you don’t continue to create content around those keywords, or get more inbound links. So like Sherrie, you need to constantly monitor your current rank, difficultly, monthly search volume, visitors and leads, and creates content around keywords that you need to rank higher for, based on what your data tell you. Once you see that one of your keywords has achieved its rank, move on to another keyword to focus on, but never forget the keywords that got you on page one of the SERP’s in the first place. A well designed keyword strategy will rule the day!
6) Ask Compelling Questions. It’s tough to build a tribe of followers without mutual dialog. A great way to engage with your visitors is to include a compelling question at the end of each blog article and encourage them to use the comments section to continue the conversation. Provide thought provoking questions to give your readers an opportunity to share their thoughts and ask their own questions of other people just like them.
7) Create a Holistic Inbound Marketing Strategy That Converts. By holistic I mean tying everything together so that your efforts are going to be rewarded. Ideally, every blog article you publish should have a call to action that’s aligned with the subject of your blog article. The blog article should tie in with your keyword strategy and buyer personas. You should have a relevant piece of content for visitors to download when they click on the call to action button that’s at the bottom of your blog article, as well as other pages on your site. The call to action buttons take them to a landing page where your visitor gives you their name and email in exchange for your “remarkable content.”
The magic happens when you begin to truly take the time to listen and get to know your buyer personas. What you’ll find are patterns and consistent themes of questions, problems, and comments. Once you begin to harness the power of your blog as a medium to answer their questions, solve their problems, and encourage their comments, you will begin to align what your followers want with what you have to offer. And that’s how you’ll grow your followers and your business online.
What are some topics of interest that you’re passionate about? What are other successful strategies that have helped you create meaningful blog articles and content that has grown your publishing business?
Jon Mehlman is an Inbound Marketing Consultant (IMC). Throughout his diverse career, Jon has held business development, marketing, and consulting roles in various industries including Wall Street, CRM software, financial services, manufacturing, and internet marketing software.
Jon’s “Ah-ha” moment came when he attended his first live HubSpotTVshow while at his previous company. His intention was to network and figure out the best way to partner with HubSpot. But when he got there, Jon realized that what he really wanted to do was work for HubSpot... and the rest is history.
For kicks, Jon loves skiing, cycling, and traveling with his wife and two boys, Jack and Theo. Jon’s been a long-time volunteer ski instructor with the Adaptive Sports Foundation, and has been a proud participant of the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), the largest fundraiser for cancer research in the United States.
He’s a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Marketing.
P.S. If you’re a prospect or just passionate about inbound marketing, I highly recommend Inbound Marketing University, HubSpot’s free internet marketing and social media training program that has certified over 2,500 marketers.