How to Create Calls-to-Action That Get a Reaction

In our previous lessons, we discussed how to create good-looking landing pages and how to get people to visit them. Now we’re going to look into the decisive factor: the call-to-action.

Once you know how to create effective calls-to-action, you’ll be ready to start raking in leads.

The Definition

A call-to-action(CTA) is simply an instruction you give to your audience.

It usually has an imperative verb (“Register now”, “Get in touch with us”) and we’ll get to the reason behind that shortly. The request could be anything.

According to the definition, the world has a lot more calls-to-action than we’d probably imagine.

By simply sharing a funny video on Twitter and telling people to watch it, you’re creating a CTA.

However, if you’re interested in lead generation, the types of CTAs you should care about are the ones that get people to register on your website or subscribe to your mailing lists.

Here’s what one of our CTAs looks like:

calls-to-action

In this lesson, we will talk about creating calls-to-action in landing pages but also in articles and websites. To be honest, every web page should have at least one call-to-action.

The Placement of Your Calls-to-Action

While we’re on the subject, let’s discuss the proper placement of CTAs. There has been a lot of debate on this subject and the closest people have come to a resolution is agreeing to disagree.

Placement in Blog Posts

It’s not that much about different opinions as it is about different industries and readers.

Some companies have found above the fold (immediately visible part of the page) CTAs to work well. Other businesses get much better results when they let the viewer read for a bit before introducing a CTA.

In the past, above-the-fold CTAs were most popular because people rarely scrolled down the page.

That’s not necessarily the case anymore. Visitors are pickier now. They want to see value before opting in. We’re not saying that above the fold doesn’t work anymore. It’s just that it doesn’t work for everybody.

For example, let’s say you are a writer advertising your content writing services. It would make sense to place your CTAs under the fold because so that potential leads could see the quality of your articles.

Asking them to give out their email or become a client before they sample your content wouldn’t work as good.

ContentVerve experienced the same thing:

[Credits: ContentVerve]

[Credits: ContentVerve]

The IT or beauty product industries, however, get great results by showing the CTA early. Many of their customers already know what they want, they’re just looking for the landing page.

Do your own testing and see which side of the fence you are on.

Firsthand experience is more valuable here than the advice of any thought leader.

Placement in Landing Pages

A landing page is designed to attract attention, but the CTA is the “crown jewel.”

So you need to make sure it stands out.

I’m not saying you should place your CTA right in the middle of the page, but you do have to make it impossible to miss.

One popular method is to make the button colorful and big.

Unless you have a specific design in mind, don’t use the CTA’s color for any other button.

Here’s a simple color scheme that works. What stands out the most is the CTA, the other colors are neutrals (you can see some brown, some muted black and grey). But you can’t miss that green!

[Credits: CavasOnDemand]

[Credits: CavasOnDemand]

A landing page’s calls-to-action should be short and to the point. The rest of the page explains why you should opt-in.

Placement on the Website in General

Your homepage should have a special box with a CTA. It’s the most visited page on the website, so it has great lead generation potential.

Put a CTA on the website sidebar as well. The same sidebar usually appears on every page, so readers are always one click away from opting in.

Don’t think that you have to cram everything above the fold. A study by CXpartners concluded that if you move content under the fold, the audience will follow. Here is a heat map to prove it:

[Credits: cxpartners]

[Credits: cxpartners]

Finding Your Perfect Placement

Understanding the human mind isn’t easy. With thousands of readers, it’s next to impossible. Come up with a hypothesis and see if it’s true.

The key to finding out is simple: do lots of live tests.

It’s not just about the CTA placement and page layout, though, it’s much more. We’ll talk more about testing at the end of the article.

The Wording in Your Calls-to-Action

Placement isn’t everything. Even perfect positioning won’t help you get email addresses if the text is bad.

First of all, don’t write something generic like “sign up here” or “subscribe to the newsletter.”

These messages may be clear enough, but most people associate bland CTAs like these with spam. The least you should do is make the CTAs specific to your brand or offer.

Here’s an example of what NOT to do (this text is pretty bland):

[Credits: Pressbook]

[Credits: Pressbook]

In general, your blog and social media accounts are great at building trust between you and the audience. With awesome content, you may be able to get away with a bland call-to-action.

But why risk it?

Make the opt-in button something different like “I’m in!” or “Let’s get this show on the road.” These are good examples because they bring a lot more energy than just “ok.”

Get people excited.

When it comes to CTAs, boredom is one of your enemies. Take the words “get” and “acquire” as an example. I don’t even have to tell you that “get” brings better results than “acquire.”

For a CTA button, some words simply work better than others; they’re more actionable. Here are a few more examples:

  • Featured
  • Exclusive
  • Advanced
  • Access
  • Secrets
  • Special
  • Better

Don’t assume that these words are magical and that if they’re crammed together, they’ll make the ultimate CTA. They’re just useful when it comes to helping you craft your own message.

Your call-to-action should be short (less than 15 words).

Otherwise, people will lose interest. With such limited space, don’t try to add unnecessary words just because they’re actionable. Make sure the message sounds natural.

Here are a few examples of what we mean:

[Credits: LessAccounting]

[Credits: LessAccounting]

Take note of how much information there is on this landing page. Still, it’s well structured, clear, and the simple CTA (Let’s do it!) draws you in.

[Credits: giftrocket.com/]

You can bet that no other company has the CTA “Send a GiftRocket.” The business embraces its quirkiness and so should you.

[Credits: Grey Goose]

[Credits: Grey Goose]

Grey Goose uses a beautiful and simple design to draw attention to the CTA. Take this as an example of “less is more.”

The Feeling Your Calls-to-Action Evoke

Using actionable words is dandy but let’s not stop here. The emotions you create through your CTA are just as important as the words themselves.

That being said, evoking negative emotions can be just as effective in terms of getting people to click on your desired CTA as evoking positive emotions.  More about that in the following lines.

Accepting Brings Positivity

Earlier, I told you to get people excited about your offer. By doing that, you already add a positive spin to the opt-in. You can add another sentence after the “yes” answer to make it even more appealing.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to send people emails with tips about home redecoration.

Don’t let the opt-in button be just “send me the tips.” Make it more upbeat, like “Yes, send me the tips. I want to have a beautiful home.”

Note how the message was written in the first person.

That’s not accidental.

The most effective calls-to-action take this route because it makes it more personal for the reader.

The idea isn’t to simply create a positive message. Craft a message that will make the reader feel positive.

Powerhabits gets it. The whole landing page is designed to get you smiling:

[Credits: PowerHabits]

[Credits: PowerHabits]

After crafting a CTA button that evokes happiness, it’s time to create contrast.

Declining Brings Negativity

Not all of your CTAs have to have the word Yes in them. (like, for example, Yes, sign me in or Yes, I’m interested).

You can also have the word No. But you need to be careful with this.

When adding a “no” button, you need to make this option sound boring and unpleasant. Again, accentuate negativity using additional text.

Example:

No, I don’t want more traffic or No Thanks, I’m not looking to lose weight.

This will make the other option, which represents the action you do want people to take, sound way more appealing.

Watch out, though. There’s a fine line between making a negative message and a hurtful one. You don’t have to put people down for refusing to give out their email addresses.

Another simple way to achieve a “negative” effect is to make the button gray. It will look sad and unappealing, especially compared to the colorful “yes” button.

Men’s Health CTA is a good example here:

[Credits: Menshealth]

[Credits: Menshealth]

Compare the two buttons for a second. Which one seems more appealing to you?

Talking about Value

You should be offering people valuable information or other goodies in exchange for their email address. The problem is that not everyone will know how to appreciate the value of your offer. As a result, they may not choose to opt-in.

Show just how good a deal you are offering by using a unit of measurement everyone understands: dollars. By offering exact figures, you show people the real value they can get by opting in.

Here are two examples of CTAs that know how to leverage their value:

You might have also seen the use of the word “secret.” It’s a nice touch that adds excitement and exclusivity to the whole deal.

[Credits: the musician's guide]

[Credits: the musician’s guide]

In this example, I want you to notice the timer on top. That’s another big thing about successful calls-to-action.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

By this point, you know how to make pretty awesome CTAs, but there’s still one problem. The reader may like the deal but decide to sleep on it and “come back later.”

The problem here is that most people won’t come back after this thought. They either forget or decide it’s not worth it.

Your CTA should create an incentive to act right now.

A good way you can do this is by showing the limited time window or stock.

Instead of making an offer available indefinitely, it might be better to put a time limit on it. Sure, the time will run out and some people will miss it, but the conversion rate boost can more than makeup for that.

Authority Nutrition’s call-to-action knows how to light a fire under their audience:

[Credits: Authority Nutrition]

[Credits: Authority Nutrition]

Experiment with this little psychological trick.

Another way to create a sense of urgency is by adding the word “Todayin your copy. It can bring in a lot more leads. Just check out the results ConversionXL got:

[Credits: ConversionXL]

[Credits: ConversionXL]

They tried out several different styles and found the “sweet spot” for lead generation.

A/B Testing

There are a lot of different styles and directions you can choose for your calls-to-action. 

To find the best fit for your audience, you need to conduct some tests. A/B tests to be specific.

A/B testing is when you create two or more similar pages that have one key difference. You launch them and measure their conversion rate. After a set period, you see which one did the best.

For the sake of clarity, we’ll split the points of interest into three categories:

1. The Layout

We just talked about different CTA placements so I won’t go into detail again. What I should mention, though, is that the layout encompasses more than just the fold. Each element on your page interacts with the other. Keep an open mind while testing.

For example, Unbounce discovered that placing the CTAs before the prices increased the conversion rate:

[Credits: Unbounce]

[Credits: Unbounce]

The change in the “treatment page” brought a 41% lift. A word of warning: their conversion rate increased dramatically, but that doesn’t mean it will work the same for you. So, it’s important to run your own tests.

2. The Design Elements

The sizes, fonts, and colors on your landing page (and website in general) are crucial to the conversion rate. Relatively small changes, like the color of a button, can have a huge impact.

Hubspot tried two different colors for its CTA button. Here are the “contestants”:

[Credits: Hubspot]

[Credits: Hubspot]

What they found is that the red button beat the green one by 21%.

A big point of interest is the image you use (if any). The feeling you evoke has to be positive, but there are tons of ways to do that. Will a photo do the trick or would a drawing work better?

Maybe consider adding a video instead.

VidYard added a video to their landing page and doubled their conversion rate.

[Credits: Unbounce]

[Credits: Unbounce]

3. The Copy

When you consider how important every little detail is, it’s easy to see the role the text itself plays. Luckily, there’s no real need to try out a thousand versions that are almost identical.

When testing the copy, there are a few areas where you will want to focus:

  • The calls-to-action;
  • The Headlines;
  • The Secondary Headlines;
  • The Descriptions.

Now that you know which words are more “actionable” than others, see if you can improve your conversion rate. Don’t shy away from weird ideas.

Timothy Sykes took a different approach and got a 39% better conversion rate:

[Credits: quicksprout]

[Credits: quicksprout]

You’ll need some A/B testing software if you want to get results fast. We recommend you try Unbounce, Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely.

They’re not free, but they’re worth the money.

Conclusion

CTAs represent a crucial part of any marketing strategy. And now that you’ve completed this lesson, you have a better understanding of how to use them effectively.

And with this lesson, you’ve also completed our course on Conversion Rate Optimization.

You’ve learned more about:

  • the different conversion elements you can include on your site,
  • how to build better landing pages that have effective calls to action in place,
  • how to make the most out of every opportunity to generate leads,
  • and much more.

Use this knowledge to make changes in your strategy, generate more leads and grow your site and business.

 

Creating a Landing Page Leads Can’t Refuse

You may remember that we talked about creating a landing page in our last lesson. Well, that topic deserves some more details.

“Lead capture pages” or landing pages are one of the biggest sources of new leads for a business. Since the stakes are so high, you have to put serious effort into your page.

Not to worry, though, that’s what we’ll talk about today.

The Structure of a Landing Page

Before you even decide what your landing page will be about, you should have a page template in mind. You’ll be a lot more efficient if you know from the get-go what topics to cover and how much space you have.

Here’s a great template from Neil Patel:

Neil Patel's guide to content based lead generation

Neil Patel’s guide to content-based lead generation

It seems easy enough, right? Let’s go over each point of interest next:

1) The Headline. You need something eye-catching. The reader should immediately understand the page’s topic. Think something along the lines of “Get 10,000 visits this month from Social Media.”

2) The Secondary Headline. Now that you’ve got the reader interested, start giving details.

3) The Message. Here you have to explain what you’ll do for the reader. Don’t lose time on details. All you have to explain is how you’ll get them from point A to point B and how that will improve their lives.

4) The testimonial. Success stories are an awesome persuasion tool. You definitely want to have one. We’ll get into the psychology of it later in the lesson.

5) The Trigger. Urgency is a powerful motivator. Tell the reader that if they don’t act now, they might not get the chance to do it later.

6) The Call to Action Button. Articles usually have longer, more complex calls to action. That’s not the case here, so make it short and flashy. Direct the reader’s attention to it.

 

7) Remove Other Links. If you offer someone too many options, they might end up choosing none. Remove any additional links to other pages to improve the CTA button’s click rate. Links like the site navigation, for example. Consider removing them. Otherwise, the user might take a different action than the one you want them to take. You can add anchor links to redirect the user to the main conversion element.

8) The Image. A simple page with no image might come off as boring. Pick something that evokes positive feelings. You could even add a picture of your team, or your brand’s mascot smiling at the reader.

9) The Page Borders. It’s fine for a homepage to have sidebars and other stuff on the borders but not for a landing page. Pick something simple that will direct the reader to the center of the page. You don’t want people thinking about anything other than opting in.

At this point, you might have noted that landing pages aren’t very fancy or complicated.

That’s intentional. You’re not looking for organic outreach here. The page’s only objective is to generate leads, so the process needs to be as easy as possible.

The General Message of a Landing Page

Now that you have a basic outline, you may be asking yourself what style to use. Should you be formal? Clever? Should you evoke emotions?

The answer to all of those questions is simple: be direct.

Don’t paint a large picture; don’t talk about company culture. The reader reached the landing page with one question on their mind: “What can YOU do for ME?”

Draytek’s landing page wastes no time explaining why people should opt-in:

[Credits: Draytek]

[Credits: Draytek]

Focus on the concrete difference you can make, and make sure your copy reflects that.

The better way to explain this is through a couple of examples.

So, let’s say you make software that automates the process of sending emails.

Here are two examples of landing page messages:

Example nr.1:

“Our software generates email templates and segments your contact list into separate groups. You have the option to tweak messages and set a timetable. Afterward, the software automatically sends emails to the targeted groups according to schedule.”

That’s a good example of what NOT to write on a landing page. It only presented what the software can do, NOT how it will help.

Example nr.2:

“With our software, you’ll no longer lose hours on end writing emails. You just pick a template, personalize it and choose the target. The software will send all your emails on time and you are free to focus on more pressing matters.”

Can you see the difference? The copy is much better here because it’s focusing on the pains and goals of the audience.

People don’t want fancy software; they want to save time, to have easier jobs.

Kissmetrics know this and they show it on their landing pages.

[Credits: Kissmetrics]

[Credits: Kissmetrics]

Anything besides advantages and functionality will hurt your message. Leave the banter for your blog. Landing pages cut to the chase.

Links to Your Landing Page

You want to attract as many people as possible to your landing pages.

That means putting links in several places. Different links can bring different types of leads, however. So different, in fact, that making a single landing page for all of them will end up targeting none of them. So, you should consider creating multiple landing pages.

Here are the main places you’ll want to post links and the kind of audience they will bring.

In-Article Links

Creating a landing page for people who are already reading your blog is probably the easiest. The readers already know your business, your company culture, and your services.

The landing page only needs to drive the point home and convince people to opt-in. You can keep things short. The less fluff you add, the more likely you are to get leads.

These landing pages are also good for getting people to actually buy your products.

Here is an example of how we add landing page links in our Squirrly articles:

SQ in articol

Homepage Links

Usually, someone who came from your homepage might not know very much about your services. Maybe they just found your website. In that case, convincing them to opt-in is a bit tricky. You haven’t built trust yet.

Don’t ask for a huge commitment here because people may not be ready to make it.

Another best practice is to make sure your links are easy to spot. For example, Hubspot’s landing page link sticks out on their homepage because of the different color:

[Credits: Hubspot]

Social Media Links

You won’t get any clients right off of social media, but you can get leads.

Social media can bring in quite a bit of traffic. However, those people probably know next to nothing about your business.

Your landing page may be the first impression they get.

A landing page stops being effective the moment you try to add an “about us” or “welcome newcomers” section.

Instead, focus on getting people to subscribe to your email list. Give them a reason to want to commit right away.

Here’s one of our tweets linking to a landing page for our WordPress SEO plugin:

sq twitter

Why Create Several Targeted Landing Pages

Different groups of people will require different approaches.

We touched on people’s familiarity with the company, but it goes deeper than that. If you offer different services, the audience is further segmented by the products they want.

There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” landing page.

You’ll get the most leads by making dedicated landing pages.

It’s not as time-consuming as you may think. Start with a basic template and customize it for each group. With more landing pages, each with their specific links, it will also be easier to measure results.

Optimizing Your Landing Page for Humans

Now you know what a landing page should look like and the different kinds of people that will land on them. The question now is how the readers want to opt-in.

Well, there are many factors at play. Here are a few ways of raising your conversion rate:

Privacy Assurance


By this point, a lot of people expect to get spammed whenever they give out their email address. Some may refuse to subscribe even though they’re interested in your content.

Add a statement that you will never disclose their information.

You could also mention how many emails you’ll send. This act alone can raise your click rate considerably.

ContentVerve did a bit of experimenting with this idea and their results are undeniable:

[Source: ContentVerve]

[Source: ContentVerve]

The Psychology Behind It

It can be hard for people to trust businesses these days. Most leads have had unpleasant experiences in the past, so they’ve become more cautious.

You won’t have this problem with loyal readers. The problem is that they’re a minority. Just by stating your intentions, you solve many trust issues.

Careful with the wording, though.

Using the word “spam” will most likely bring your click rate down. Negative words tend to have negative results, just because you’re using them.

Limiting Choices

I already mentioned that it’s a bad idea to have multiple links on a landing page but let me show you how much of a bad idea it is.

Each link and button is an option. The more buttons there are, the less likely it is for the reader to pick one specifically. That’s bad news for you because you only want them to click on the call-to-action button.

Many companies have experimented with the links on their landing page, and all came to the same conclusion: less is more.

Here are Hubspot’s results:

[Source: Hubspot]

[Source: Hubspot]

If you think a 28% lift is big, check out Career Point College’s results:

[Source: Career Point College]

[Source: Career Point College]

As you can see, removing a few links can have a dramatic effect on the conversion rate.

The Psychology Behind It

Plenty of studies have been conducted offline and online on the matter. The phenomenon affects lots of things, not just landing pages.

The idea is that, instead of making the wrong choice, people prefer to make no choice at all.

By adding more links, you give readers more options. They don’t know for sure which option is the best. Because of that, they end up doing nothing.

About Tooting Your Own Horn

Being humble is a virtue, but it’s not terribly helpful on a landing page. Show confidence and, even better, results to back it up.

If you’re offering software, talk about how clever it is. If you’ve got information, say how valuable and hard-to-get it is. Some may think that you’re just blowing hot air, but, at the end of the day, it brings results.

Take a look at Monetate’s landing page.

[Credits: Monetate]

[Credits: Monetate]

The reader immediately thinks “If these techniques are good enough for leading brands, they’re good enough for me.”

The Psychology Behind It

After so much false advertising, people don’t trust everything a business says. Still, the bottom line is that a possible lead won’t believe in your company if you don’t do it yourself.

You don’t have to exaggerate the value you’re offering, but you shouldn’t sell yourself short either.

Show the reader what you have to offer and let them decide what to do.

Presenting Happy Customers

Talking about benefits is good. Showing the results you brought to others, however, is even better. Present how you helped others in the past and you’ll gain a lot of trust and respect.

There are two different approaches here and both bring good results. You should use both if possible:

1. Bringing up numbers.

If you have 5,000 happy subscribers or 50K people who have already benefited from your offer, talk about it.

Ask the reader to join the bandwagon. If you’re getting lots of new leads every day, don’t forget to mention that too.

2. Adding testimonials to your landing page.

A quote from one of your happy clients will add a personal touch to the landing page. In many cases, this works better than plastering the page with large numbers.

Nothing brings authenticity to a landing page like a section about previous successes. It’s one of the best conversion elements at your disposal.

The Psychology Behind It

Going with numbers has a straightforward effect on the readers. They will think that if so many people agree that the stuff a company offers is so awesome, then it must be really valuable.

It’s human nature to try and be part of a group.

The testimonials, though, they hit a bit closer to home. The reader sees another person and the reaction they had to the newsletter or product.

They consider that if other regular people like the offer, they might too.

Conclusion: The Cherry on Top of the Landing Page Cake

Now you should have a better understanding of landing pages and how they work.

Even with all these tips, you’ll have to do some experimenting on your own. After all, audiences are different. What may work for us at Squirrly may not work for your business and vice-versa.

There is one thing that we still haven’t covered yet: the call-to-action (CTA). We mentioned it, but an excellent CTA takes just as much work as the rest of the landing page.

Don’t worry, we will give CTAs their well-deserved attention in the next lesson.

 

 

Effective Conversion Elements and How to Implement Them

In lesson 3, we got to talk about three conversion elements and how to use them.

I hope you got the chance to try them out and see the results. If you remember, I also said that you need to do a lot of testing before you know for sure what works best.

This time around, we’ll be a bit more ambitious and aim for nine more conversion elements. Remember that our goal during this step in the lead generation process is to get an email address from our potential leads.

We have a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in. Let’s pick up from where we left off, meaning the 4th way in which you can use your WordPress site to collect emails.

4.The Bottom of the Article

While not everyone sticks around to the end of articles, when someone does finish reading it, you can bet you have their attention. The logical thing to do is to put a proposition there, at the bottom of the page.

Whenever you ask someone for their email, you have to offer something in return.

That’s the basis of most conversion elements. Since they’re at the bottom of your article, it probably means they liked your content. The best thing you can do is to offer them more content.

Focus on information. Offer readers valuable insight. For a person, information is valuable if:

  • It’s useful to them.
  • It’s difficult or impossible to find anywhere else.
  • It’s easy to understand and apply.

Here are a couple of examples that will help you understand how it’s done:

http://backlinko.com/

backlinko.com

http://www.hubspot.com/

hubspot.com

The trick with “Bottom of Article” messages is knowing what to offer. To that extent, Backlinko is offering a lot more exclusivity than HubSpot.

5. The Slideup Box

This nifty little box hangs around the corner of a site’s screen, offering visitors cool stuff. It’s not as invasive as a pop-up but it still grabs your attention.

This makes them almost as hard to miss as pop-ups but less distracting. You can also customize its timing to make sure you don’t put off readers.

You could make the box appear when people reach the middle of the page. If they click on the “X” instead of giving their address, make it so they won’t see it again for a month or so. This way, no one will complain.

This is what slideup boxes look like:

blog.hubspot.com

 

blog.hootsuite.com

As you can see, the box can also be big enough to start covering content. Consider how big your box will be and run tests to find the optimum size. It has to be seen but it also has to be small enough not to annoy readers.

6. The Hellobar

No, it isn’t a pub where you meet new people.

The hellobar, a lot like the slideup box, is a line that lingers at the top of your blog posts. You get to choose what color, copy(written text) and links it has.

Since you can’t fit a big call-to-action into a tiny bar, you have to get straight to the point.

Try to get people interested by using as few words as possible. It’ll take you a bit of practice, but you’ll get there.

Another cool thing about the hellobar is how convenient it is.

There are some cases in which readers want to give their email address right away, but don’t see any immediate way of doing so. They’ll most likely see the hellobar then. Maybe it didn’t convince the person to subscribe, but it got the address.

If you’re not using many conversion elements, add a hellobar.

Don’t lose a lead because they couldn’t find the “subscribe” button.

In the past, we used a hellobar ourselves together with a slideup box and got some pretty good results.

Here’s what your hellobar could look like:

open.buffer.com

 

Squirrly's very own hellobar

Squirrly’s old hellobar

7. Content Upgrade Pop-Ups

We already talked about pop-ups in lesson 3, but these are a special kind of pop-up. In fact, they have more in common with Bottom of Article conversion elements than with pop-ups.

The fundamental principle behind content upgrades is easy to get:

  • You create top-quality content.
  • At some point in the article, you offer extra resources related to the content, asking for an email address in return.
  • People take you up on the offer because the content is worth it.

One of the hardest parts about using upgrade pop-ups is choosing when it’s worth it. Creating extra resources takes time and effort. As a result, it may not be worth the effort every time.

Before committing to this tactic, do a bit of experimenting.

Take one of your best articles and do the content upgrade trick. See how well it goes.

Here is an example of the upgrade pop-up done by one of the pioneers of the tactic, Brian Dean:

http://backlinko.com/

Backlinko.com

Clicking on “get access” leads you to this:

http://backlinko.com/

Backlinko.com

The readers already know how good the content is, want more, so they give you their email addresses.

8. Redesign Your Homepage

Your homepage has the potential to bring in the most leads. It’s often the first and only page viewers get to see. That’s why it’s crucial that your homepage is optimized for lead generation.

Redesigning your homepage is often a hit-or-miss situation.

If you start doing it, make sure you have the time to redo it a couple of times based on the data you receive as feedback.

There is no “perfect homepage”. There are a lot of factors at play. The best you can do is try to understand your audience. Personalize the website according to their wants and needs.

You don’t have to start from scratch.

Look at your homepage and ask yourself “Which of these things should visitors see?”. We are focusing on email addresses so the answer is “the opt-ins”.

Put all your conversion elements in such a way that people can see them right away. Blog posts, “about” pages and so on can take the backseat.

Noah Kagan’s website in an excellent example of a successful makeover:

http://okdork.com/ before the redesign

okdork.com/ before the redesign

okdork.com/ after the redesign

You can browse the website without giving your email address, but it’s much more compelling to do so now.

9. Dedicated Landing Pages

Landing pages are crucial parts of the lead generating machine. Most businesses understand this and make landing pages. Still, it’s one of the most poorly used conversion elements.

A whole lot of thinking and planning needs to go into each page, but we’ll get into that in our next lesson.

The first thing you need to know about dedicated landing pages is that, as the name implies, they’re dedicated to one subject, one purpose.

If you offer several services or products, don’t just dump them together in one single page.

Landing pages have to be very targeted. The advantage of dedicated landing pages is that you can offer guests exactly what they want from you.

Software developers can offer product trials. E-commerce websites might give discounts. Marketing agencies leverage valuable information. Those aren’t always the case, of course, but you get the idea: different industries have different requirements.

Avoid being vague on your landing pages. Each extra detail you offer proves how well you know your audience. Just look at this page.

http://www.monetate.com/

monetate.com

10. Exit Intent Pop-up

Great, another pop-up, am I right? Well, that’s just the reality of things: pop-ups are useful. These ones, in particular, get excellent results for eCommerce businesses.

The name kind of gives it away. It’s a pop-up that only pops up when visitors want to leave the website. When this happens, you’ve got to hit the viewer with the best offer you’ve got.

It may be your last chance to gain them as a lead.

For the eCommerce industry, it’s easy to attract users to click on it because there’s the option to offer a discount to the products people were about to leave in the shopping cart. For other companies, however, it may not have much of an effect.

A good question (maybe even the best question) is what should you include in exit-intent pop-ups? Here are some ideas you can use:

  • Discounts. I kind of spoiled this one, didn’t I?
  • Contests. People are more willing to give their email addresses if it means they may win something cool.
  • Targeted messages. If you know something about a visitor (like how they came to your website), you can leverage that to keep the browsing. Using clever copy that shows you’ve researched your target audience will help pique visitors’ interest and prove that you have something valuable to offer.
  • Loyalty Gifts. Everyone likes to be treated well, to feel appreciated. You can give recurring visitors more than just value. You can offer them a token of appreciation for their loyalty.

As you can see, there are many ways you can use exit-intent pop-ups. Experiment a bit and see what works for you.

Here are a few examples of what your pop-ups could look like:

http://optinmonster.com/

optinmonster.com

Worried that people might find your pop-ups annoying? Well, think about it this way: If people complain about your pop-ups, they probably would have never become clients anyway.

Essentially, you don’t lose anything. So they are definitely worth giving a try. 

11. Top Nav / Sidebar / Footer Links to Landing Pages

As content creators, we know that you can’t just ask a stranger to buy products or services.

We need to gain their trust first, and rushing the process is generally a bad idea. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer visitors the chance to become clients as fast as possible.

We already talked about what a landing page should contain. Now let’s focus on where to put links to them.

Design your website in such a way that the reader can always access a landing page. Watch out, though!

You don’t want to be too pushy.

The top nav, sidebar, and footer are the best spots to put these links.

Here’s an example of what readers see if they read an article on your website:

  • They enter the website and see an interesting link in the top nav. They don’t click it because they don’t trust you yet.
  • They’re reading the article, enjoying it and they see another cool offer in the sidebar. They’re tempted, but they want to hear everything you have to say.
  • They finish the article and like it. In the footer, they see the offer for the third time and decide that it’s worth checking out.

After that, it’s the landing page’s job to convert. The example I gave isn’t extremely realistic because people don’t usually trust a business after only one article. The process is the same, though, it’s just on fast-forward.

Here’s an example of top nav links from Backlinko’s website:

http://backlinko.com/

backlinko.com

The more conveniently placed your links are, the better conversion elements they become.

12. Within Individual Articles

Why should the corners of your blog get all the love?

The posts themselves should have links of their own as well. You get to choose where exactly they’ll be, meaning that you can add a link wherever you see fit. Besides anchor text links, you can also add conversion elements within your articles.

For instance, you can add Buttons which contains links, but unlike regular links, they are harder to miss because they stand out quite a lot. 

Use them strategically to break up large blocks of text to make the article more readable. Don’t overuse these or else your posts will look spammy.

The most important place where you should put a link is at the end of the article. Make a compelling call-to-action and add the link to it.

If you only put one link in the whole post, it should usually be at the end.

An example of an anchor text link is this “check out our WordPress plugin for SEO” – with a link that sends visitors to a dedicated landing page.

Buttons look more like this:

conversion elements

The results these links bring mostly depend on how good your content is and where you decided to put them.

Conclusion: Why You Should Use these Conversion Elements

Social media marketing and blog posts are great. There’s no denying that. However, those methods aren’t the least bit personal. You don’t read every article that you see on Facebook, do you?

Emails are much more likely to be read and engaged with, which is why it’s so important to build your email list.

Once you have that, you can send content and offers directly to your readers. If you want real engagement and lead nurturing, this is the way to go.

Using conversion elements like the ones I talked about in this article will help you grow your email list, which is a crucial step in growing your client list.

That wraps it up for this lesson. In the next one, we’ll take an in-depth look at landing pages.

 

12 Super Awesome Ways in Which You’ll Get Leads Jumping at the Opportunity

Ready for a new lesson?

Great! Until now, I showed you the importance of generating leads and how the overall process works. The process of turning website visitors into actual customers.

If you remember: the first part was actually getting their email addresses.

You first want them to take any action that shows some kind of commitment. You want them to ALLOW you to send content to them, materials, anything that could be of value. And yes, that does include discounts or amazing offers to your products and services.

So, how do you start collecting emails? Good news!

There are 12 ways in which you can use your WordPress site to collect emails.

Getting Leads to Jump at the Opportunity – Step 1: Collecting Emails.

These are the 12 things you can implement on a website. These will be your tools for capturing leads and the interest of many people who visit your website.

I am personally going to keep calling these 12 things: Conversion Elements, as they help convert site visitors into email subscribers. Let’s go over them, one by one.

1) Top of the Sidebar

2) Pop-Up

3) Feature Box

4) Bottom of the Article

5) Slideup box

6) HelloBar

7) Use Content Upgrade Pop-ups

8) Redesign Your Homepage

9) Dedicated Landing Pages

10) Exit Intent Pop-Up

11) Top Nav / Sidebar / Footer Links to Landing Pages

12) Within Individual Articles

While you shouldn’t use all of them at once, you should certainly use MORE THAN ONE.

And the best thing is that you can always A / B test, in order to find the right amount of such conversion elements for your site.

Testing the ones that Grab the Most Leads

I’ve seen cases where a Hello Bar and a Dedicated Landing Page works best. One such example is a company that was one of our clients for content services and which achieved a conversion of 5% (that’s usually a very decent conversion).

However, for Squirrly.co (our own site), the Hello Bar we’ve used brought only: 1.33 % Conversion rate.

Of course, this should have been higher. We tested clicks, not email subscribers here, because we couldn’t get email subscribers from this.

So we had Number Of Displays | Clicks | Conversion. See them in this screenshot:

Screenshot 2015-10-19 14.28.54

See? So, what you really need to do is: Test!

Not everything will work for your business, but you won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try and measure the results.

And all of these 12 methods of capturing leads will provide different results, from business to business.

They are influenced by:

1) The kind of people who come to your site.

Some kinds of website visitors hate Pop-Ups. Some love them.

It all depends on your audience. I’ve written more about this below in this lesson.

2) Copy (the written text). The copy on each element.

3) The Promise

If you only promise them new emails every week, that’s BAD! I mean: terribly BAD.

Most people don’t know this, but “Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter” kind of promises don’t work anymore.

Think about this: many people migrate to Slack and other alternatives to email because they can’t stand getting so much email from so many sources.

So, if you think they’ll want EVEN MORE email, then you’re clearly in the wrong here.

No, what you need to do is have an amazing promise:

  •  an interesting eBook
  • a cool infographic
  • a useful audiobook
  • free lessons, free courses
  • VIP Access to something (even a membership site)
  •  FaceTime with you or someone from the company to discuss their current problems (which you are helping them solve with your content, website, etc.)

Because of the 3 influencing factors, it’s MANDATORY that you test out every possible conversion element.

One final idea in this chapter of the lesson:

Just having a sidebar thing ain’t enough for most people / most personal brands / most companies.

See Buffer’s example. They’ve done their tests. Look at how mediocre sidebar stuff are for them:

 

Alright, let’s dive into each type of Conversion Element:

Conversion Elements: One by One

Let’s take a look at all of them.

I’ll share great stuff that people won’t usually tell you. I want you to get the best knowledge there is on these things because they will play a major role in how you get leads for your business.

1) Top of the Sidebar

This is the classic position.

Actually, it’s the most common thing that you can see on blogs.

We have that, Neil Patel has that, Unbound has that, and if you were to look at lists with top 10 blogs of this year,  you’d see that most of them have this.

 

^^The one from Squirrly :-)

 

 

^^Gary Vaynerchuk

 

 

^^Backlinko.com

 

 

^^Search Engine Journal’s

 

 

^^The one from Search Engine Watch

We actually tested this method, and according to A/B tests and experiments that we’ve made, we reached the conclusion that in order for us to get leads for one of our services, we need to have a button that sends to a Landing Page, NOT an email form.

You live and you learn.

There are many things you can test on the Top of the Sidebar conversion element. For example:

a) offering a freebie.
b) adding social proof to your opt-in form (for example, happy customer reviews, number of customers, and so on).
c) the length of the opt-in form (making the form really long, or really short).

Let’s take a look at a website from one of our customers because they had a very cool value proposition for their top of the sidebar conversion element:

“Get Free Consultancy from us regarding the next party you’ll organize for your child. I’ll show you where to get the best balloons, toys and party theme ideas. All according to your kid’s preferences.”

I saw that and I was like: “Wow. That’s a solid value proposition for a desperate parent looking to solve the problem of the next boring party he’s about to throw to his kid.”

I mean: that parent doesn’t have to read any content. He gets exactly what he needs through a direct call with a consultant. Well, I’d give my email out for that.

Much better than the ‘old : weekly newsletter thing, ey?

2) Pop-Up

This is one of the best conversion elements ever. No wait, you have to test this first, but here’s what I’ve learned placing conversion elements on tens of websites for tens of businesses:

People say they TOTALLY HATE pop-ups. But the results show otherwise.

Seriously.

Maybe 2% of your visitors will talk poorly about you and your pop-ups. Is it worth trying to optimize for the 2 %?

Well, let me tell you another thing: that same 2 % will most likely NEVER become your Leads. So why would you care about them? They SHOULDN’T even be on your website!

That’s why even though most people claim they hate pop-ups and that pop-ups ruin the world, kill unicorns, etc. you shouldn’t really care.

If the value proposition you place on the Pop-Up is great enough for them, they will give you their email. They will become your Leads. They will wait for you to reveal the great thing they can purchase.

This is what you need to know.

Here are a few examples of pop-ups from some of today’s most popular sites.

^^blog.appsumo.com

^^optinmonster.com

 

^^ socialmediaexaminer.com

Screenshot 2015-10-19 14.48.35

^^one of the Pop-ups we had at Squirrly.

Our own data at Squirrly shows that pop-ups are great. For us: they are the best conversion element (besides Landing Pages) that we’ve tried so far.

Pop-Ups are a Can’t-Miss call to action!

Literally, you can’t miss it. It opens up over the content you’re reading.

The things you can tweak (and should tweak) at pop-ups are:

a) Frequency


  • Set up your pop-up so that it doesn’t show up every time someone visits your blog. This can potentially (doesn’t always happen) annoy people enough to make them leave without saying Good-bye!

Set it up so it only shows up once every month as a simple reminder that they can sign up (to get something Awesome).

b) Timing


  •  Asking people to subscribe to your blog before they even get a chance to read your content might seem like it doesn’t make much sense. Well, you’re right. Or wrong. As I said earlier on: it depends a lot on the audience.

I can tell you from our tests and our experience that if you’re writing content for Developers and you place a pop-up that shows up only after they read the text, that will be very helpful.

They will be happy. Otherwise, any sooner than that (let’s say 60 seconds) they will leave.

Happened on all the game dev and software dev blogs we’ve worked on.

BUT: if you target marketing people, then your best bet is 5 seconds to 10 seconds since they open the article for a good read. Yup, it’s been tested and converted. It delivers the best conversions.

It was completely different from the Developer’s industry.

Some tools for implementing pop-up Conversion elements will allow you to play with Timing even better: you could even choose to have the pop-up appear only when your visitor starts reading another article from your website.

More than that: you can even choose to have the Pop-Up show when the visitor wants to leave the website.

Most people like to subscribe to this one because if they’ve liked the content on the blog, they realize that “yeah, I should get more stuff like this from these guys. They had cool things on this website.”

3) Feature Box


A feature box is placed above the content on a blog (above the content, NOT over the content, so it’s not a pop-up).

It presents a snapshot of what the blog is all about and gives incentives for people to sign-up and become leads of that website.

You can pitch the benefits of your newsletter (or your eBook, or your course, free consultancy, etc.)

In the beginning, when Squirrly as a Company had just the WordPress SEO software in his offering, we used this idea. It worked amazingly well for bringing us leads for our software.

The conversion rate from email subscribers to customers was really big. It converted much better than other channels we were trying out back then.

Here are some examples of companies using Feature Boxes.

^^business.pinterest.com

^^One we used for Squirrly

Okay, now we’ve had plenty of things to go through in this one lesson.

We’ve managed to cover 3 of the 12 conversion elements that you could use on your website to capture Leads. In the next lesson, we’ll cover more.

If You Had an Opportunity to Generate Leads Today Would You Be Ready?

Great to see you in class!

Time for the second lesson, where you will find out what it means to get new leads and also how to get from having a simple lead to gaining a real customer.

This lesson will help you understand exactly how to Deal with Leads. It’s easy to generate leads. It’s amazingly hard to get the right kind of leads for your own business.

If you get 400 people as leads in your marketing funnel, but none of them convert into customers, something isn’t working.

Before we dive into ways of using your website and social media accounts to generate leads, it’s important to see how you can get leads that you will be able to convert into real customers.

A Tale of Two Marketing Companies

In order to understand everything better, I feel I need to tell you a short story of two great companies from the Inbound Marketing industry: Hubspot and Act-On.

Where marketing ends, sales start.

Hubspot is staffed with an army of marketing people. That’s how they create so many landing pages, so many webinars, so many articles, tutorials, and so on.

They’re using a lot of marketers to get traffic to their site and then to turn the new visitors into leads. Using marketing automation, they make sure that those leads become customers.

Now, for that marketing automation to work, there is a very well-defined process that they have implemented, which I will explain later on in this lesson.

Their main strategy is to produce A LOT of targeted content and attract as many leads as possible. They don’t need a lot of salespeople, because the ones they have NEVER ever go door-to-door, they don’t send out cold emails, they don’t cold call, and so on.

They get all the leads they could ever want from a very well-defined lead generation mechanism.

In most companies, the salesperson has to waste a lot of time just to get leads. In Hubspot’s case, that doesn’t really happen, because they get so many leads into their marketing funnel.

They also send a lot of content through marketing automation sequences to the leads they get and make them more and more “ready” to be contacted by a salesperson.

The salesperson just has to be there to close the sale. It’s not a tough job, because most of the “complicated stuff” is handled by the marketing department and the content they create.

If we had to give numbers to this, just to make a point and help you paint a more colorful picture of what all of this means, I think it’s safe for us to play with imaginary numbers.

Remember: these are not the real ratios. These are not the real numbers. These are just to help you understand the difference between two very influential companies from the Inbound Marketing industry.

Let’s assume that:

Hubspot has 200 People in the Marketing Department and 20 people in Sales.

Their competitors are doing quite the opposite:

Act-On, on the other hand, has 20 People in the Marketing Department, and over 200 people in Sales.

Wow! That’s quite unexpected. And again: both companies are growing, both are doing very well, but their approach to handling marketing, lead generation and sales is completely different!

It’s important for you to know that there is more than just one way of doing business. Understanding this allows you to be more flexible, and choose the path you personally feel it would FIT you.

Most companies do things the Act-On way, where they hire lots of salespeople, to contact lots of people via LinkedIn, email, conferences, etc.

But I’m thinking that a company like yours doesn’t really have that man-power.

So you can easily think of placing your bet on a Hubspot kind of strategy, where you produce more content –  as opposed to producing more cold calls.

However, just producing tons of content will never be enough.

A lot of people produce a lot of content. The problem is that most of them don’t generate leads. And then: there’s no process in place for turning those leads into actual customers.

You need to have all your bases covered, and make sure you’re not just creating content – but that you also have all the mechanisms in place to ensure that content is successful in terms of generating leads for your business.

Understanding the Purpose of the Marketing Department and How This Will Change the Way You See Your Business

I’ve wondered, some years ago, while reading through a lot of great marketing lessons where marketing stopped. I mean: at one point it has to be considered that the Marketing Department reached an end goal.

Otherwise, it would seem a bit chaotic, and they [the Marketing Department] wouldn’t have a clear goal, nor a clear metric that they had to improve on.

How do you measure the success or the performance of your Marketing Department?

Most people would say: “well, I’d measure that in terms of new customers”. And this would already be a Huge mistake.

Marketing is all about positioning, pricing, packaging, etc. I agree. Marketing does not mean “promoting”, nor “promotion”. It’s much more than that.

But if you have a Marketing Department or some people on the marketing team, and you’re working on inbound marketing and content marketing, what could you measure their performance on?

The answer is: “Leads”. An even better answer would be: “Qualified Leads”.

All of my studies and all of my discussions with experts (people from Facebook, Hubspot, Act-On, etc.) have led me to see that the Marketing Department is in charge of generating Leads and then getting them ready for the Sales Department.

Let us continue over the next few lessons to discuss about the marketing department (even if you have just 2 or 3 people in it) as the team in charge of getting targeted traffic to content on your site and then generating leads that are easily converted into customers.

This is what I am going to teach you in these lessons.

I really wish I had someone to explain all of these to me when we started Squirrly.

Since learning this, all of our marketing and sales activities over at Squirrly have been 10 times more efficient. Why? Because we invest our time and effort only in the things that matter.

Because we perfectly understood the relation between marketing and sales.

Generating great opportunities for your sales team.

There is a process for all of this:

Lead Generation ⇒ Nurturing Leads ⇒ Extra Lead Nurturing ⇒ Qualified Lead ⇒ Sale.

Lead generation

This is all about the way in which you generate new leads for your business. We will cover various methods to do this over the next lessons.

In order to effectively generate leads, you will most probably promise access to something valuable for that person:

1) A free consultation;

2) An eBook;

3) A white paper, or an industry report;

4) A course;

5) many other types, which we will cover in the next lessons.

Nurturing Leads

It’s a process in which you get the leads you’ve acquired earlier on to start trusting you and trusting your brand.

So, how do you do this?

First of all, you need to deliver on your initial promise. If you promised something to someone, deliver that promise first: the eBook, the free software, etc.

Then, you can start sending in more valuable things.

More valuable things could be: courses, PRO Tips, webinars, etc.

You need to stay in touch with your fresh leads.

Educate them. Send them great content that will teach them something valuable.

In the emails you send out to them you should never talk about Problems. You need to talk about solutions to their problems.

You can send case studies, success stories, etc.

If you manage to establish a more personal connection with them, you will increase your chances of success.

Extra Lead Nurturing

This can be done through real conversations (NOT automated stuff), over email, phone, Skype, one-on-one coaching meetings, etc.

If you do all of these AND if your process is crafted right, then your leads will get to the stage where they are Qualified.

Qualified Leads

Your goal. Your number one goal.

Get your Leads through all of the steps above and turn them into Qualified Leads.

The natural thing that comes to the mind of a qualified lead is: “Shut up and take my money!”

000 shut up take money

They are so familiar with you, they trust you, they love what you have to offer. All they need right now is for a Salesperson to get in touch and close the sale.

Boom!

Now that we went through all this, you are ready for the next lessons, which will be super actionable.

Generating Leads Will Make Your Business Thrive: A Facebook Story

A big thank you to everyone for being in class today. It’s really exciting to get a new course started that will teach you all about Generating leads with your WordPress sites and blogs.

Other courses that we’ve created cover topics such as:

1) How to do SEO, the SEO Mindset and how to do it White-Hat;
2) How to start optimizing Content for Human Readers and get them to start engaging with you;
3) How to generate new content very easily;
4) How to get about 10,000 visits overall to your blog through social media promotion done right (using hashtags, best hours at which to post messages, posting on social media groups and communities).

These 4 courses from Squirrly show how to drive quality traffic to your website. Now is time to start talking about how you can convert the traffic you get to your site into leads.

Let’s get started.

Getting Started

As you already know, there are so many things to do when it comes to marketing, that it’s easy to get lost in all the activities.

We understand this ourselves, and our focus right now is to help you see how you can focus on One Metric that will move the needle in the right direction for your entire business: Leads.

We’re NOT know-it-alls. We study a lot, and then when we find great things we just share them with you in these courses. We evolve.

And that’s how you get better and stronger. But we all need to start somewhere.

It was actually refreshing to see that Noah Kagan, one of the first employees of Facebook (in the Marketing department) was in your shoes and also in our shoes a while back: he didn’t really know what to do, nor what to focus on.

A Story of Facebook and the Prologue to Their Massive Growth

“Back in 2005, when I worked as employee #30 at Facebook, I would bring all kinds of new ideas and different product features to Mark Zuckerberg. To me, every idea seemed worth trying and implementing. I didn’t have a framework or a set of priorities – I just had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to try.

Finally, one day Mark pushed back. On a whiteboard, he wrote the word: “GROWTH”.

He proclaimed to the entire team that he would not entertain ANY idea unless it helped Facebook grow by total number of “users”.

Lesson learned: Focus on moving one metric at a time. This simplifies every single decision you make and helps prioritize which actions to take.”

Boom! That’s it. From Mark and the Facebook team themselves.

So if you already know how to get website and blog traffic, it’s time to start studying this very important metric: “Lead Growth”.

You Need to Grow the Number of Leads that You Are Getting

At Squirrly this has been our goal from day 1.

Generating leads the right way and creating a community around our products has always been the thing we are best at.

I mean: after all, our users are still with us after so much time, engaging with our lessons, engaging with our content and also with our SEO Software, the Squirrly SEO plugin for WordPress.

You need to start applying this for your business as well. Why?

The way Internet Marketing works is that people seldom buy from you on the first encounter. They stumble across your blog after clicking on a link they found on social media, in a discussion group, or you know: just a recommendation from someone.

It’s your job to tell them what to do next.

They hardly even know you. They’ll click around, but remember they’re most likely not ready to buy just yet.

So what will you ask them to do?

You could ask them to subscribe to your email list, of course. This is, in fact, a Golden opportunity.

They are on your landing pages or blog for a reason. They must have liked something about what you shared, which means they are already feeling some affinity towards you.

Your ONLY goal right now is to have them give you their email.

That’s all that you need to focus on.

If you have that, that’s powerful. You now finally have a direct communication channel with them.

A Direct Communication Channel

The way this works is that from now on, you will use this important channel to make that person gain trust. And after you will have gained their trust, the sale will come.

It’s only natural.

Remember: Person visits website ⇒ Get their Email ⇒ Keep in touch.

Build on the relationship you already have. Gain Trust ⇒ Make that person buy.

You can already see that there are TWO important steps in between the visit and the purchase. And these two important steps can take a whole lot of time.

Let me ask you: How fast do you start trusting someone?

Hmm… how fast? How much time does it take?

You see: your leads will act in the same way. You won’t gain any trust just because they saw your website.

Most companies fail at getting the emails of their customers.

Even more of them fail at gaining trust via well-targeted emails after they have the contacts in their pockets.

That’s why they never get to make any sales. That’s why in the end: failure is all that awaits them.

I want to keep you away from such a sad story. That’s why: with the help of my team at Squirrly, we’ve worked on this new course that will show you the steps that come in between the Visit and the Purchase.

squirrly team

From all of us here at Squirrly, we hope you’ll enjoy the next lessons.

The Blogging Assistant that Drives Your Content Strategy

The previous two lessons are prone to help you out with your Content Strategy, especially at times when it becomes really hard to produce new content for your audience.

This lesson comes to continue the ideas that I’ve presented to you in the other lessons, and it will be something actionable that you can start doing as soon as you read each idea that will follow here.

It’s going to be really hands-on and it’ll all be done with the help of a very special Assistant.

The Blogging Assistant

The Blogging Assistant is an important part of the Squirrly SEO product, and it’s no wonder really that thousands of people use it on a daily basis.

To learn more about it, go to:

plugin.squirrly.co/research-tools-for-writers/

The Blogging Assistant doesn’t just provide free images to use in your blog posts, it helps you enhance your Content Strategy and it also helps you save a lot of time.

How will the Blogging Assistant help your overall Content Strategy?

The same as Google Alerts. What do you mean? I mean exactly that.

If you’ve gone through the last two lessons, you saw that Google Alerts helps you be up-to-date with the latest topics, articles, ideas, and things that people share in your industry.

This way, you can cut your research time in half and produce amazing content very fast.

The Blogging Assistant helps you do the same thing, and best of all you can do everything straight from your WordPress Admin dashboard.

Also, you can cut some days out of your editorial calendar, by assigning something like “I’ll do a Blogging Assistant Article” or something that sounds cool and makes you realize (when reading) that you will create a fast article that’s inspired by the Blogging Assistant from Squirrly SEO.

Now, on that particular day, you can just open up your WordPress, click Add New Post and start building a great article, all by using the Blogging Assistant.

Using the Assistant- How Integrating Your Work Inside WordPress Keeps You More Focused and Helps You Work Faster

Before we start, make sure that you have the Squirrly SEO Plugin installed in your WordPress. If not, please go ahead and install it.

Here, I start showing you what steps you can take to use the integrated workflow of the Blogging Assistant:

1) Set Your Topic

In WordPress, go to Add New Post.

On the right side of the screen, you will see a box that reads: “Optimize for Keyword”.

Remember that you need to start thinking about your Keywords as Topics. One Topic => One Article. Hope that’s clear.

In the Optimize for Keyword field, make sure that you type in your topic.

In this example, the topic I want to write about is “cooking recipes for dinner”.

HIT ENTER

 

2) See what tweets go around in your industry. Think of inserting some.

Now let’s see what tweets we can find related to your topic “cooking recipes for dinner”.

Click the tweet button. It will start by displaying the last word you inserted in the “Not relevant” box, which in this case is “recipes.”

You can see what people are currently talking about related to “recipes”.

This will help you get a glimpse into what’s new in your industry and also it may help you find amazing content that people share a lot.

Remember, you can use that to your advantage. You can take some ideas from there and give them a new spin, to make it interesting for your audience, while also not having to spend too much time doing a lot of research.

Also, you can experiment with using the Not Relevant button to find tweets related to all kinds of topics like “pie” or “soup” or whatever.

3) Wiki It if it’s something weird. Or new.

You may just read about something weird that’s related to “cooking recipes for dinner”.

It can be something that only top chefs know about or something that’s totally random or crazy and you want to check it out and learn more about it.

Or maybe it’s just something that’s new to you. Normally, you’d have to leave your WordPress interface and move to some other distracting tabs.

No More. You have the Blogging Assistant now.

Look, I’m a content marketer, I’m an archer, a swordsman (sounds weird, but yes I really am). I’m certainly not a cook, so for me, even something like “broule” is weird and new and I don’t know anything about it.

I also don’t know what “Hasselback Potatoes” are.

But Wikipedia seems to know that one as well. So, straight from my WordPress I can find out all about it and read more about it. All I need to do is type “Hasselback Potatoes” in the Not Relevant section.

Note: this is just a simple use-case with the cooking recipes and these weird potato thingies.

You should start using it like right now and see how it fits into your normal workflow. Try it out a couple of times. You’ll see that it can integrate insanely great in your content-generating workflow.

You see that “Read It” button there. Click it :-) (magic happens)

Now, directly in your Post interface from WordPress, you can read the Wikipedia article that includes the info about this potato dish from Sweden.

Of course, if you intended to write about it in your blog, you can click the “Insert it!” button right there.

The best part is that it includes the paragraph in a beautiful way and it also inserts a link back to the original article from Wikipedia, so you don’t have to.

Pretty neat, right?

4)Hijacking News like a Ninja

News directories can be very useful because they could offer you quality news related to your topic. This way you can get informed about the latest industry standards very fast and start publishing articles right away.

Now you can do the same thing, straight from your WordPress. Click on the button that reads Blogs from the Blogging Assistant.

You’ll start seeing a feed of articles written about your topic.

See what are the most interesting news you can find about your topic and then click “Read it!”.

Just like you did in the Wiki example above. You can look at the previous lesson and follow the steps I gave you there for quickly crafting new articles for your audience, based on the latest news about your topics.

You’ll find that it’s great that you can read new blogs directly in your WordPress interface.

5) My Articles

If you click on the last button to your right from the Blogging Assistant, you will see that it finds articles from your WordPress site that have used the topic you now inserted in the “Optimize for Keyword” box.

This is especially helpful for building a lot of inner-links to help out your content strategy and get the best SEO for your site.

Internal links are important because they help Google find, index and understand all of the pages on your site. When used strategically, they can send page authority to important pages in your site to help them rank higher on Google.

6) Search For Images. Dare for More.

Great. Now you’ve set your topic in the software and the Blogging Assistant now knows that you’re looking for all sorts of stuff that’s related to your “cooking recipes for dinner” topic.

Click on the button that looks like a photo-camera. You’ll find it just under the text field from the Optimize for Keyword box.

If you see something like “No results found!” don’t worry! It just tells you that it could not find images that are copyright free AND ALSO related to your “cooking recipes for dinner” topic.

Here’s what you do when that happens:  Click on the “Not Relevant” button you see there.

 

A small text field appears. Write an alternative, perhaps more general keyword there. In my case, the word “recipes” works just fine.

Hit ENTER

 

Check the box next to the text that reads “Show Only Copyright Free images to” keep surfacing copyright-free images. As you can see, this allows you to find a lot of potential images for your new article, straight from your WordPress interface.

And so on.. Play a little with it. After you’ll begin using it a couple of times, you will start noticing patterns. You will get some amazing insights and ideas on how to integrate this into your content strategy.

This feature right here can save you a lot of money, because buying the rights to use images in your articles can get pretty pricey. And using images that are not copyright free can even lead to legal issues that you surely don’t want.

So make sure to make the most out of this amazing feature made available by the Blogging Assistant. Dare for More.

Awesome Job! You’ve Made it to The End of This Course

Thanks for following through with this course. You’ve learned a lot throughout these lessons.

Here’s a quick recap that should make you feel very proud of all that you’ve accomplished:

  • You’ve learned to create an efficient infrastructure for idea generation that will help you harvest more ideas than ever before;
  • You’ve learned how to organize and filter your ideas;
  • You’ve learned how to write better headlines that your audience is going to love;
  • You’ve learned how to use different tools to come up with content ideas that are fresh and interesting;
  • You’ve learned what it takes to create content that is relevant, timely, Google-friendly and Human-friendly.
  • And a lot more.

I really hope that you’ll put all this insight to good use and that it will help you generate a lot of new great ideas for your content.

Cheers!

Content Strategy 101. Being in the Top with News About Your Topics

In the previous lesson, I showed you how to be on Alert for generating creative ideas. Great tactics were presented in this course that you can take away and integrate into your content strategy.

The most successful bloggers in different niches use those methods all the time.

Now, let’s continue with some new resources that will really help you get more ideas and improve your content strategy.

Being in the Top with Mashable.com

Mashable.com is an amazing site for content creators. That’s because the site aggregates top news and information across a variety of topics. Based on a topic, you can learn what’s happening from trusted sources.

So you can use the site when writing about new topics or when trying to write something new about the topics you tackle with your posts.

Let’s say your usual topics involve “connected cars”. Naturally, you’re taking this idea generation course because you need to generate more ideas.

Oh, yes, and from time to time you need extra help in order to be able to publish and do everything faster.

That’s where Mashable.com comes into play! Continue reading

Be On Alert for Better Idea Generation

The Idea Generation Course continues with this lesson which is all about being on alert in order to get better at content generation.

You already have the proper sets of tools, right?

By now, you should have an Editorial Calendar that you are using, as well as Trello Boards on which you can place ideas that you generate.

You should also have a way of filtering which ideas are worth turning into content that you’ll share with your audience.

Oh, and you also learned a few productivity tips to help you out in dealing with all the new ideas and key activities you have to perform in order to generate more AND better ideas.

Keeping up with the News in Your Industry

In order to generate more ideas you, as a content writer, have to read a lot. Well, that’s great, but it can also wear you out real fast.

You’ve probably noticed that when you first started creating content for your WordPress site it was simple to come up with brand new ideas and things you wanted to share with the world, so idea generation wasn’t a real issue for you.

Back then, it was so simple for you to tell stories because you basically had a huge amount of stories inside of you just waiting to burst out and see the light of a WordPress blog page. Great times!

Then, as time went by, and your scheduled articles got published, you realized that it was starting to get harder and harder to keep up with everything that you needed to get done in order to take your site to the next level.

So it became even harder to keep up with creating new content for your website.

Now let’s say that you did manage to perfectly do all that (even though we both know it hasn’t been a walk in the park).

Even if you somehow managed to juggle with everything and keep all your balls in the air, even if you’ve managed to keep your readers happy and satisfied with brand new content, there’s one thing still missing: getting a much-needed break.

So that you can refresh your brain and revamp your ideas.

Burnout is a real thing, and it applies to the process of generating new ideas as well. That’s why you need Refreshments.

Feeding Your Intellect

If you keep giving and never getting anything back into your brain, you will become drained.

Yes, this is the main reason behind the course I’m teaching you right now. Idea Generation will help with this refreshment part. But you need more than just Headlines and general ideas.

When you keep losing track of all that’s new in your field, you won’t just get a drained brain, you’ll also have a hard time getting back in the game.

So you end up jeopardizing your whole content writing activity by not keeping up with the news and feeding your intellect with the latest things happening in your world and your readers’ world.

Be on Alert for Better Idea Generation! More like, Google Alert really

I’ve got some great news for you. In this lesson, you will find some really cool ways to help you stay on top of all that’s new in your industry.

For today, you’ll learn about Google News and how to set it all up to work awesome for your idea generation process.

 

1) How Will This Help?

By setting up Google Alerts on certain topics that you usually cover regarding your industry, you will get daily (or weekly) alerts regarding the best things that have been written about that topic and ended up being crawled by Google.

What’s important here is that all the stuff you’ll be getting is current, so it will spare you of having to manually research what’s been written lately. Google Alerts will do that for you.

What I’m teaching you right now is an efficient method of reducing the time you spend coming up with new content ideas. It’s always important to find new ways to reduce the production time so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

2) Setting up your own Google Alerts to feed your intellect.

  •  Go to google.com
  • Make sure you’re logged in with your Google Account
  • Type in google.com: “Google Alerts”
  • Click on the result from google.com/alerts

 

In the text field just below “Monitor the web for interesting new content,” you will type in one of the topics that you generally write about.

Let’s say you usually write about “cooking recipes for dinner”. Type that topic into the text field (as shown below).

If you go to Show Options, you’ll see some cool settings that you can apply. They can help you decide how you want the alerts to be sent to you.

The last step is to click on Create Alert.

You’re all done. You’ve just set up your first ever Google Alert.

3) Now set up alerts for all the other special topics that you cover.

The more precise the topic, the better and more targeted results you will get (and also more relevant articles will be made available for your reading).

Next lesson: more ideas on how to keep up with the news and the latest posts from your industry

Hope you enjoyed this lesson and all the tips within.

You’ll get some more great tips in the next lesson on how to rock your idea generation and forget about ever feeling drained and helpless in the face of new content that you have to create.

7 Ways to Generate Content Ideas that Humans Love

Why Is this Lesson Important?

It will show you some tips for how you can take the ideas you’ve sketched out in your Editorial Calendar and on your Trello Boards (you do remember those concepts from lesson 2, right?) and make likable content out of them.

A friend of mine is an MBA in Boston and also a teaching assistant. He displayed a nice image on Facebook with a high-profile marketer whose Powerpoint said:

“Goodbye B2C and B2B. Welcome H2H”.

Now, with H2H he was referring to “Human to Human”. Why’s this something to care about?

The problem is that we’ve all been so used to being concerned about our own technology, our own websites, our own marketing efforts, that we neglected thinking about THEM. The people we’re supposed to serve.

I’m not here to point the finger at anyone.

All of us have made this mistake at some point in time.

It is very important to generate content ideas that stand a real chance of being appreciated by your readers.

When you generate content ideas, make them for your audience.

You write the content on your WordPress site for your audience, not for you.

In general, you should not generate content ideas for yourself (unless you keep a personal diary that you want to make really cool).

1) Ask “What is surprising about this?”

If it’s not surprising, then you’re not really telling them something they don’t already know.

How can you make it surprising?

  • Use an interesting twist on the story. Find One element that most people missed. Focus on that. Develop that ONE idea.
  • You can be against popular opinion. But you will need to have very good arguments. Otherwise, it can backfire.
  • You’ve used the info in this course to generate some cool titles and sketch out some topics that you want to write about. Search forums using Boardreader.com or use Quora.com to see what people found worth mentioning about that topic. You might just find a hidden gem that will make your content surprising.

There’s no use to writing something that everyone else already knows about.

2) Ask “Are all of these words necessary?”

After writing something, create a habit out of asking yourself if all the words really need to appear there.

We’ll start discussing this point from the keyword perspective, and then move on to discuss it from the normal word perspective.

You need to start thinking of the keyword that you optimize the article for as a Topic. Always do that.

In an article, your purpose is to stick to your Topic.

If you write an article in which you debate two topics, you will confuse your audience. If you’d go to an editor and present that article to him, he’d just shut the door in your face.

So, ask yourself if you want to just stuff in keywords and confuse your audience, or really write valuable content on the web.

If you just stuff in keywords over and over, you’re writing for yourself, you don’t care about the Reader’s Experience. Also, it’s not good for SEO either, because Google will have a problem with that, too, since it factors in user engagement and readability.

It’s not only about keywords. You must also make sure that all the words you type actually have a purpose and mean something within the context of your writing.

Some tips to make sure you’re succinct:

– Drop the tangents and disclaimers;

– Save a side point for another post (I keep saying that: one topic = one article. More Topics = More Articles)

– Having one point per blog post will cut through the reader’s attention fog better than a multi-faceted rambling.

3) Ask “How will this help them?”

Are you just venting or writing a piece just for the sake of it?

Or is what you’re writing something actionable and constructive that people can use to improve their lives in some way?

If you manage to answer this and generate content ideas that are helpful for your audience, make sure that in each piece of content you also mention it to your readers why this will help them.

They might figure it out on their own, but seeing it stated will give them more confidence that they’re engaging with useful content.

4) Teach the Reader

Personally, I think that the main feature of good content is that it teaches the reader something new.

One of the reasons some people are against content marketing is that people usually just reformulate ideas over and over again, without really teaching anybody anything new.

For every idea that you can find in most articles, there are about nine similar articles who tend to say the same thing.

The best nugget of wisdom that I can give you here is:

Write something personal. Write from your personal experience. It’s the simplest way to generate value for your readers. Say something that you’ve made, present it from your own experience and be as transparent as possible.

Remember: a great artist is the one who gets naked in front of his audience.

5) Use the “Help Me Write” Technique to Find out Exactly what Your Audience Wants from You

This is something interesting and new (to me) that a few fellow inbound marketers have shared with me.

It’s a way in which you can find out what you should write for your audience next.

It’s also a great way to get your readers even more engaged with your brand and writing process.

For example, you can make one of your weekly posts in an ‘ask the audience’ format.

Or, you can get your readers to help you decide on the focus of a special piece of content.

Your audience will be able to vote on what they want to read next from you.

If you only write occasionally, the “Help me Write” technique is a great way to get the motivation and direction you need to sit down and start writing.

6) Offer an Exceptional Reader Experience. Always, Human-Friendly

We love the web. All of us Squirrlyans love the openness and innovation that can happen on the web.

That’s why it’s very important for me to teach you how to offer an amazing experience for your readers. I might be one of them.

Or I might become one of them.

Naturally, you want me (your reader, in this example) to have an amazing time reading your article because:

  • you’ve put a lot of work into it;
  • you want to be appreciated as a writer;
  • you want to convert me and your other readers into Leads.

In order to do that, you have to provide all of us with an amazing reading experience. Your content needs to be Human-Friendly.

If you are a Squirrly SEO user, you already know that you can count on the SEO Live Assistant to help you offer an amazing experience to your readers. So you’re already one step ahead of the game.

7) Tweets and Seth Godin

This is an odd headline, right?

But it teaches you some very important concepts. As I kept saying here, you need to write for your audience.

This last tip will help you make it all even better. This is for those of you who are more advanced content writers.

While it seems like a very simple concept, it will be hard, at first, to get used to writing like this.

Have you ever read a book by Seth Godin?

Do you know what his secret ingredient to making you read all the book is? The fact that his phrases are about 120 chars ~ 125 chars short. No longer.

That’s one key element that makes his writing so powerful. It’s what makes you think that all he writes is magical.

If you want to generate content ideas that your audience will love, then you need to go Seth Godin-style on them. Practice makes perfect.

To help you out until you manage to master it:

The first step is to start writing tweets. Forget about phrases. Make all of your content made up of short tweets (140 chars phrases).

Keeping your writing short will help keep your ideas nice and sharp, and your readers will appreciate you very much for it.

You’ve Made it to the End of Ths Lesson!

Wow. Quite the lesson. Thanks for following through with the 7 tips. Go on and generate content ideas that Humans will love. You now have the right tools in your arsenal.