Your business blog is among the most useful aspects of your digital marketing toolkit. The simple ability to put out interesting, engaging, and useful content is incredibly powerful. The search engine opened up our society to the idea that we can just look up anything we want to know, which means that millions of search engine queries are being run every day and, these days, the curious almost always find themselves on a business blog. From repairing a toilet (I’ve done this) to programming new software (this one also), there will be a wide collection of how-to and thought leadership articles available. This is why so many businesses have begun to build their blogs as a resource centre for potential customers.
Planting the Seed
When a search engine user (aka future lead) decides to look up something written in your business blog, they enter the top of the funnel. If they like the content and enjoy the reading experience, they are more likely to stick around and read a second article, I often refer to this as dwell time. This builds a positive association with your website and brand. The next time they need information related to your industry, they will natively gravitate toward your website again as a trusted resource. A good quality blog allows you to build trust and rapport with potential leads without taking a single direct action or making them feel advertised to.
From Reader to Conversion
From here, the conversion funnel can continue in one of two ways but the ball is still in your lead’s court. If they really enjoy your articles, they may become curious about who your company is, what services you offer, and if you can help them as more than just a source of information. The other possibility is if the lead already needs your services or will in the near future. When it comes time to choose a company to provide for them, they are more likely to investigate a brand they’ve already come to trust and enjoy the writing style of, assuming that the customer experience will also be enjoyable.
Of course, in the natural way of business, most companies want to speed up the process. They don’t want to just increase the chance that readers will become customers, they want to secure a connection and directly influence readers to make the conversion. This process is generally termed as “lead qualification” because it is supposed to effectively weed out passive information-seekers and those currently looking for service. But not all lead qualification tactics are made equal.
The Downside of Disruptive Lead Qualification
Far too many businesses take the need to connect with readers as an opportunity to go back to their old disruptive marketing ways. This is because the standard lead qualification method is the common pop-up, an extra internal window that appears above the content and asks visitors if they’d like to give their email address in return for some kind of reward. Maybe a discount, maybe a downloadable, or just to join the mailing list. The problem is that not everyone knows how to use a pop-up in ways that A) don’t annoy their leads and B) actually have a chance of converting readers into qualified leads.
In the case of gathering leads from blog readers in particular, timing is everything. Unfortunately, the first go-to approach and the easiest implementation is also the worst possible timing. The last thing you want when trying to convert a blog reader is for your pop-up to appear at the beginning of their reading experience. First, this makes your website seem inherently pushy and possibly spammy. Second… how do readers know they want to convert if they haven’t had a chance to read your content and gauge how much they like your brand yet? Build trust first and then ask for something in return.
Timing is Everything
There are positive and effective ways to use pop-ups to qualify blog readers, but the moment they open your blog article is not the right approach. Instead, actually, consider how the reader experience works. First, they want to absorb your content then, if the content is good, they will have a heightened interest in lead and customer conversion. This means you have to give your readers time to actually read before trying to qualify them as leads. There are three ways we’ve seen this done well that you may want to emulate.
1) The 3/4 Page Pop-up
The three-fourths method is a clever calculation that allows you to programmatically guess which readers are genuinely interested in your content and company and who is just skimming to click away soon. Those who carefully scroll down through more than 3/4 of the content are more likely to be reading deeply and enjoying what you have to offer. If they make it that far into an article, especially your meatier articles, they probably have a genuine interest in the topic and may be tempted to subscribe to more great content, information opportunities, and the services you offer.
2) The Return-to-Tab Pop-Up
Another interesting approach that gauges whether or not readers are interested is through a trigger that activates your lead qualification when a reader returns to the website tab. This is not the same as visiting the tab after opening it, as many people right-click and open several links in a row to peruse in order. Instead, the return-to-tab method suggests that if a reader checks another tab, then clicks back to read further, that they are probably interested in finishing the article and more invested in your content and business.
3) The Second Article Pop-Up
The third trigger is harder to hit and will reduce your instances of lead qualification but is an incredibly good measure of reader interest. If they open a second article from a link in the first, this is someone who is interested in exploring more of the resources you have to offer. They may also be interested in your services, business, or mailing list.
Giving Leads Time to Think About It
Finally, I’d like to add one more piece of advice that has been seen very rarely ‘in the wild’ of business blog methods. What happens when a reader is not ready to convert when the pop-up arrives, no matter how carefully timed you designed it to be? What if they want to finish the article or read three or four more before they commit to lead qualification steps? The answer is to allow your readers to respond to the lead conversion in their own time.
However, not many businesses consider this possibility. Once the lead conversion pop-up is closed, that’s it. The reader won’t have another easy chance to accept the discount, sign up for the mailing list, or request the downloadable. There might not even be a navigable page on your site where they can hunt the option down. For this reason, we highly recommend ‘docking’ your pop-up opportunity in a sidebar after it is declined, offering a polite continuous opportunity to accept your offer and qualify as a lead. This way, you can catch everyone who simply needed a little more time to consider their decision or explore your website.
For more expert inbound marketing tips from social media to business blogging, contact us today!