Is it possible to convert customers on a blog post?
While it may not be realistic to expect an immediate “click to add to cart” conversion on your blog content, you can nudge readers further down your buyer’s funnel.
This week I share some of our favorite methods to convert your clients in a way that doesn’t make them immediately want to bounce off the page.
When we get into the brainstorming stage and start creating a lot of organic traffic that could mean upwards of thousands, if not tens of thousands of visits to our client’s blog month over month, just with a single piece of content.
It makes sense that once we get content ranking for our clients, we should start thinking about how we can convert those customers that are coming onto their blog content. It can be really hard to do this in an elegant and effective way. Based on our experience and what we’ve guided, some of our clients in the past, I’m going to share some of my top tips and features that I’ve seen around the web.
I should note first that when I say conversions, I mean that in a pretty broad goal setting sense. A conversion for one client may be adding a product to a cart, but a conversion for another client may be downloading an eBook or requesting a demo. This is however you like to set goals and what your expectations are of what your blog content should be doing and how you can implement that in a professional and elegant looking way.
Option 1: Banner Ads
My first tip is banner ads within content. This is a pretty obvious tip—we see it a lot on content getting a good amount of traffic, then adding a banner ad either to the top of the fold middle of content, or at the very end. It’s a great, low effort way to encourage click through rate and to encourage more engagement on content.
But I’ve also seen banner ads that are really poor and obtrusive or just ineffective. I wanted to point out some examples that I’ve seen that I really like and think are doing a really great job. One example is REI.
It’s not always super aggressive, which I appreciate from an eCommerce brand. They do a good job at having banner ads that are more lower touch points, lower friction, something like signing up for a class or learning more about a specific product. It’s not immediately there to sell you and it’s not screaming at you, “You need to buy this product right now!”
Another one that I like is ProFlowers, which shows related products at the end of every single post that are very well customized to what that post content is. It’s also just a nice placement.
I find that if you don’t want to disrupt your blog content with a ton of banner CTAs, because that can really encourage bounce rate and make a poor user user experience, just try doing a CTA or a banner at the very bottom.
It might not get you as many clicks, but you can A/B test placement throughout the post. I find that the bottom is still effective for many clients.
Another one is NerdWallet. Their banner ad is much higher up in the content, usually after the introduction, but I find that their banner ads are just really well designed, simple, branded and it’s in line with their content in a way that is not super distracting. If you’re going to do a banner ad within the content, NerdWallet is a good example of that.
My final example is doing more of an aggressive product grid. I like Frame Bridges’ example where it’s nicely branded and simplified and feels a little bit more seamless within their blog content. Again, it’s not very distracting.
That shows you the progression from Proflowers to NerdWallet to Frame Bridge of how you can incorporate a product banner ad more and more aggressively in your content.
Option 2: Sidebar CTAs
My next tip for incorporating and encouraging CTAs on your blog content is utilizing your sidebar. My colleague Barbara, our senior front end developer did a great blog posts on just sidebar best practices, which goes over how you can effectively utilize your sidebar for conversions.
I find that a lot of blog sidebars are an afterthought in blog design and UX, when really that is ideal real estate for conversions and encouraging a deeper click through rate in your content.
I also see that brands make a mistake of busying it up with just way too many options. You should ideally just simplify it to two to three actions, maybe even just one banner ad to test out at first.
Things that you can do to utilize conversion the sidebar is obviously banner ads. I like this example from University of St. Augustine. It shows max three options and very simplified. They clearly swap out these banners based on where they are in the semester and to encourage students to learn more.
This is a good example of how you can just create a nice clean sidebar, negate all the unnecessary stuff like an archive tab. You can do related posts in the sidebar, but maybe you want to put it elsewhere so not be so distracting. Maybe even remove social media buttons from that place in the sidebar to really draw attention.
Another smart thing is just to have the sidebar scroll with the user as they continue to read content. It’s nice reminder CTA to the right hand side, as they continue to scroll down the page.
Option 3: Pop ups
My next tip is popups and interstitials. These get a lot of people upset in the content world because we’ve all experienced bad popups. They can be really obtrusive, poorly designed. They can slow down load speeds.
Pop ups get a really bad rap of just being a negative UX experience. But again, there are smart ways to use a popup and not have it hurt your UX and also not have it hurt your SEO do keep in mind that Google has released rules about interstitials and what are best practices to ensure that you’re not getting penalized from a traffic perspective.
Some brands whose popups I do enjoy, the first one is PolicyGenius. Their pop-up is very small, towards the bottom of the page, that comes up when you’re on their content. Something that I really love about their popup is that the copy will change in that popup based on the page that you’re on.
If I’m clicking through to different pages and I keep getting the same pop-up and it’s copy and paste the same copy across each one. That to me just expresses laziness and it doesn’t make me want to click. I’m more inclined to just tune it out.
Another one that I like is on Braze. They have a nice pop-up banner that’s well-branded and appears as you start scrolling at the bottom of the page.
In terms of full page popups, definitely follow Google’s guidelines on what they consider obtrusive versus unobtrusive. Make sure that if you want to introduce some full page popup, you’re not doing so at risk of getting a penalty or losing traffic.
Sometimes full page popups on blog content is a little strange and too aggressive because if we think about the buyer’s funnel, a lot of blog content is at that top of the funnel. Popups, especially a full page, is encouraging a lot of bounce rate and a poor reader experience.
Option 4: Get Creative!
These are other creative ideas that I’ve seen around the web that don’t really fit in the three categories I just mentioned.
Talking again about Braze, they have a little “Connect with Sales” text at the bottom right hand of a lot of their pages, which I thought was just like a nice, subtle nudge to encourage somebody to set up a demo with them.
It’s not the best because as you scroll, it will collide with other content on the page and become hard to read. With a little bit of tweaking they’re almost there.
The next one is considering having your content be the call to action. The obvious thing is to internally link to service pages, you should default be doing that. But to take it a step further, I love this example from Embroker where they do a insurance policy quiz. They actually quiz the user on what do you know about your insurance policy and find out knowledge gaps for their customers, and then encourage reading more below based on the answers they got wrong.
You’re basically building a piece of content that in effect is doing the converting for you. And it’s again, is convincing that customer to educate themselves a little bit and then reach out if they are interested in learning more.
Another one that I’ve seen, especially in eCommerce and like home and lifestyle brands is the clickable product images. Pottery Barn does a great example of this, where you’ll see a really nice styled kitchen or dining room image. And then the little “+” symbols that hover over certain products that are in that image. You can just click on them to open up a more detailed product description, easily add to cart.
There’s a little bit of UX and design tweaking that Pottery Barn could do to make that pop up a little bit more pleasing to the eye, but it’s really smart from a conversion perspective to add that sort of feature on your blog content.
Finally, I really like going back to NerdWallet in addition to the banner ads that they have in content, they also have a deeper CTA that is more of a question answer format.
If you’re on a blog post and you’re trying to learn more about a specific topic, there will be a box that asks you a question with multiple choice answers. Based on what you select, it will say “Get a quote” or “Learn more” as an option.
That’s a great way to get people engaging with the content a little bit more, make sure that they’re reading what you’re actually writing and bring them further down the funnel.