Backlinko http://backlinko.com Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:22:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Data-Driven Guide to Creating Viral Blog Posts [Infographic]http://backlinko.com/viral-content http://backlinko.com/viral-content#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:47:48 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=6490 When a blog post goes viral, there’s no magic or luck involved. In fact: According to new research, viral content tends to contain a few critical elements that push people to share. I cover 21 of these elements in today’s data-driven guide. Check it out: Here’s my take on the research-backed tips from the infographic:... Read more »

The post A Data-Driven Guide to Creating Viral Blog Posts [Infographic] appeared first on Backlinko.

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When a blog post goes viral, there’s no magic or luck involved.

In fact:

According to new research, viral content tends to contain a few critical elements that push people to share.

I cover 21 of these elements in today’s data-driven guide.

Check it out:

viral_content_infographic

viral tweet button

Here’s my take on the research-backed tips from the infographic:

1. Use an (Odd) Number

Headlines with numbers are 36% more likely to generate clicks, according to research by Conductor.

Headlines With Numbers

And a study of 150,000 headlines revealed that odd-numbered headlines have a 20% better CTR than headlines with even numbers.

odd number headlines

Brian's take

The next time you’re at CVS, take a look at the magazine rack.

You’ll see covers with tons of numbers, like this:

magazine number headlines

Magazines use numbers in their headlines for a very simple reason:

They work.

And you’d be hard pressed to find a headline on Backlinko that doesn’t contain a number.

For example, here are a few of my most popular posts over the last year:

Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors In One Day (5,142 shares)

headline example

16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Site (3,738 shares)

headline example 217 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today (4,242 shares)

headline example 3

Bottom line? Numbers get more clicks.

But…why?

It’s because numbers give people something VERY specific to cling to.

Think about the difference between these two headlines:

“Techniques to Lose Weight” vs. “17 Techniques to Lose Weight Fast”.

The number “17” instantly makes the headline much more enticing.

What about the even number vs. odd number debate?

Sure, I occasionally use an even number in my headlines…

…but most of my posts use odd numbers (17, 21 etc.).

Like Outbrain, I find that odd numbers work a little bit better.

2. Use [brackets]

In an analysis of over 3 million headlines, Hubspot found using [brackets] in a headline bumped up CTR by 38%.

headlines with brackets

Brian's take

I use brackets in my headlines all the time…

…and it makes a BIG difference.

Question is: WHY?

Brackets give people a “sneak preview” into your post.

Is your post an infographic? A case study? A free ebook?

The brackets let people know…before they click.

For example, here’s the headline from one of my recent posts:

headline with parenthesis

“(Two Step-By-Step Case Studies)” tells people what I have in store for you…

…which makes you more likely to click.

3. Use Short URLs

Marketing Sherpa found that short URLs are 2.5x more likely to attract clicks.

short url ctr

Brian's take

There’s absolutely ZERO benefit to using long URLs like, site.com/05/01/2015/10-ways-to-get-lots-of-clicks-on-your-blog-post.

And long URLs create this problem for people that want to share your post on Twitter:

too long tweet

#notgood

As you may have noticed, I use VERY short (2-3 word) URLs here at Backlinko:

short URL

Why?

Actually, for three reasons:

First, a short URL gives people a high-level summary of what your post is about (more on this later).

Second, short-and-sweet URLs easily fit into social media posts.

Third, the URL is SEO friendly because it contains ONLY your target keyword.

For example, take my post On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page.

backlinko on page seo guide

The URL for that post is simply:

backlinko url

Boom. Simple, yet effective.

4. Use a Descriptive URL

A Microsoft study found trusted domains get 25% more clicks. Opt for example.com/cute-cats vs.  example.com/blog/post?id=5421!6g.

trusted domain ctr

Brian's take

This guideline is very simple:

Your blog post URL should give people a short summary of your post’s topic…and nothing else.

A URL with lots of junk — like, example.com/postid=2891/why-you-use-confusing-urls — confuses people.

Confusion=fewer clicks. Fewer clicks=fewer shares.

How about an example?

A while back I published a post called, Ecommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any Content.

example blog post

That post is a case study that shows you how a Backlinko reader (Chris) built backlinks to his ecommerce client’s site.

Because the post was all about “ecommerce SEO”, I made the URL:

google chrome url

Also:

Yes, “Ecommerce SEO” described my post’s topic.

But it also happened to be my target keyword.

Thanks to the SEO-friendly URL (and a bunch of other factors), that post now ranks in the top 5 for “ecommerce SEO”:

google search result first page

5. Intro=Short Sentences

People only read 28% of a blog post, so you need to hook them fast.

Question is:

HOW?

Short sentences.

Dr. John Morkes found that short sentences boosted content readability by 58%.

short sentences readability

Brian's take

Think about it:

Why would you spend HOURS on your headline…

…then turn around and slap together a weak introduction?

It makes no sense.

In my opinion, your introduction is more important than your headline.

Why?

Because your introduction is your ONLY chance for you to put a hook in the mouth of your reader.

And you lose someone in your intro, they’re NOT going to read on (or share your post).

Backlinko’s strong introductions are one reason that some of my blog posts have an “Avg. Time on Page” like this:

google analytics time on page

And short sentences are of the easiest ways to bump up the quality of your intros.

For example, take a look at my intro for this post:

backlinko blog post intro

See how I hit you with a flurry of short sentences?

Those super-short lines are one reason why that post’s Avg. Time on Page is over 7 minutes.

time on page 2

Now that you’ve built your intro with short sentences, it’s time for the next step…

6. Add a Colorful Image Above the Fold

Xerox found that colorful visuals made people 80% more likely to read a document.

likelihood to read a document

Brian's take

When you add a colorful image to the top of your post, you INSTANTLY make your content more compelling.

That’s why I almost always include a colorful image at the top every blog post, like this:

blog post image

And this:

blog post image 2

Pro Tip: Make sure your image doesn’t push the content below the fold.

Here’s an example of I mean:

blog post image above the fold

That image of the guy running looks cool.

But it’s so big that it pushes the content below the fold.

And your reader has to scroll to read line #1, you’re going to notice a lot more bounces the next time you check Google Analytics.

Instead of an overbearing image, align your image left or right, like this:

image aligned leftThat way you get the power of the colorful image…without hiding your content.

7. Images=More Shares

Skyword research found that text content with at least one image generated 94% more views on social media.

images more shares on social media

Brian's take

This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Even though Skyword found that one image is better than zero…

…don’t hesitate to use a bunch of images in every blog post that you publish.

Because the simple fact is: people LOVE images.

They’re more compelling than text.

And they break up your content (which makes it easier to read).

That’s why I sprinkle in at least once image in my posts for every 200 words of text:

using images in blog posts

8. Images=More Credibility

A Claremont University study found that images — any images — boosted content credibility by 75%.

image content credibility

Brian's take

The results from this study were REALLY interesting.

Here’s how it went down:

The researchers showed people two versions of the same statement.

In version #1 the statement was text-only, like this:

statement

(By the way, these are actual images that I pulled from the study)

Version #2 also had the same statement…with an image:

statement with image

Amazingly, people saw statement #2 as 75% more credible.

By the way, Mona Lisa does have eyebrows…I looked it up :-)

Here’s the takeaway from this research:

People aren’t going to share content unless they think it’s credible.

And when you include an image– any image — you give your content’s credibility a shot in the arm.

In fact:

Whenever I use a statistic in post, I include a screenshot. The screenshots makes my stats more credible.

So instead of saying, “I increased my traffic by 111%” and leaving it at that…

…I’ll show a screenshot of my Google Analytics:

google analytics screenshot

But what if you’re not in an industry where screenshots make sense?

Remember:

ANY image will do.

Let’s say you wanted to convince people that blueberries reduce cancer risk. You’d include an image of blueberries with your statement:

image of a blog post

And you’re set.

9. Use Pro Images

Image quality makes a huge difference. An internal Marketing Sherpa study found that pro images received 121% more Facebook shares than”semi-professional” photos.

pro images shares

Brian's take

OK, OK.

I just told you that ANY image boosts credibility, and therefore, social shares.

But what I didn’t tell you is that image quality makes a HUGE difference.

In my experience, “quality” means three things:

1. The image is a good fit for the topic.

2. NO cheesy stock photos.

3. The image is high-res.

As long as your image satisfies all three of these guidelines, feel free to toss it into your post.

10. Publish Long Content

Professor Dr. Jonah Berger found that longer content was 76.8% more likely to go viral. Aim for at least 1,500 words per post.

content length virality

Brian's take

This is a biggie.

In my experience, long-form content CRUSHES short blog posts.

That’s why most of my posts rock word counts like this:

wordpress word count 2

And this:

wordpress word count

There’s a good reason that I publish long-form content:

It gets results!

Not only do you get more social shares, but longer content is more likely to rank on Google’s first page:

Longer Content

11. Use a “Featured Image”

Setting a featured image ensures your social shares include an image. Social shares with images get 150% more retweets on Twitter and 53% more Likes on Facebook.

retweets with image facebook likes with image

Brian's take

Social media posts that have an image grab more eyeballs.

More eyeballs=more shares.

And you can easily ensure that social shares of your post have an image…

…with about 18 seconds of work.

How? The Wordrpess “Featured Image” feature.

wordpress featured image

Just click on “set featured image”:

set featured image

And choose an attention-grabbing image from your post.

choose an image wordpress

When someone shares your post on social media, your image will automatically appear:

facebook post

Done and done.

12. Include an Infographic

Data from BuzzSumo found that infographics generate 2.3x more social shares than how-to posts.

infographics social shares

Brian's take

Infographics are dead?

HA!

Like any content — if you want your infographic to go viral — you need to bring it.

In other words:

Turning a lame post like “5 tips for Twitter marketing” into an infographic isn’t going to magically turn it into a winner.

But if you have highly-visual topic on your hands, an infographic can push it to the next level.

In fact, here are two infographics I’ve put out in recent years…

…along with some data on how they performed.

Infographic #1: On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page

backlinko on page seo infographic

(4746 social shares & links from 348 referring domains)

Infographic #2: Google’s 200 Ranking Factors (Infographic Version)

google ranking factor infographic

(5765 social shares & links from 189 referring domains)

Bottom line?

Infographics STILL work. But to go viral, they need to be awesome.

13. Put Share Buttons Above the Fold

A Google study found that elements above the fold are seen by 58% more people than those pushed further down the page.

visibility above the fold

Brian's take

There’s a game I see a lot of bloggers play with their readers…

It’s called: “Find the share button”.

And it KILLS their ability to generate shares.

Me?

I make put my social share buttons where you can’t miss ’em.

Not only are they prominently displayed above the fold:

backlinko social share buttons

But the buttons follow you as you scroll down the page:

scrolling social share bar

Here’s the takeaway:

If it takes someone more than a half-second to find your share buttons, put them in a more prominent place.

(Like above the fold)

14. Get Emotional

A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found content that elicits the emotions “awe”, “surprise” or “anger” was 28% more likely to go viral.

emotional content viral

Brian's take

If you want your content to go viral, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind:

“Sharing content is an emotional decision” — Tweet This Quote

In other words, the more emotionally stirred up someone gets, the more likely they are to share.

And Dr. Berger found that 3 specific emotions — awe, surprise and anger — stimulated the most shares.

Here’s a real-world example of a post that presses all three of these emotional buttons:

Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List

google ranking factor blog post

Because the post is stirs up people’s emotions, it’s generated 12,347 shares and links from 935 domains.

Let’s dive into the emotions from this post that got people all riled up.

Emotion #1: Awe

Like I mentioned in item #10 from this list, long form content makes people feel a sense of “awe”.

And considering this post clocks in at 5600 words, it definitely fits the bill.

wordpress word count 3

Also, I didn’t just list out each ranking factor.

I included a brief description for each and every factor on the list.

google ranking factors items

This insane level of detail=more awe.

Emotion #2: Surprise

The fact that someone sat down to list out 200 ranking factors surprised a lot of people.

blog comment

(I even surprised myself. That post took WEEKS to put together)

Emotion #3: Anger

I didn’t intend to upset anyone with my Google Ranking Factors post.

But you know how people online can be…

Even though I clearly stated that the ranking factors are “controversial” and “speculation”…

blog post introduction

…some people still got bent out of shape.

angry commentIn fact, a lot of those angry people shared my post to just say, “I hate this post!”.

And those “hate shares” led to more traffic for me :-)

15. Mention Influencers

Link to influential people in your post (and let them know about it). A Columbia University study found that for your content to go viral, influencer shares were”critical”.

Brian's take

Here’s the secret to getting an influencer to share your content with their audience:

Make them feel awesome.

How about some proof that this approach actually works?

A while back I published a case study that revealed how Jimmy generated 36,282 visitors and 1,000 email subscribers from a single post.

content strategy case study

In that case study I pointed out that one of the main reasons Jimmy’s post went viral was that he mentioned a lot of influencers.

But he didn’t just mention influencers and call it a day. He reached out to let them know.

In case you’re curious, here’s the email that Jimmy sent to the influencers that he mentioned:

heads up outreach email

And an example of one of their responses:

outreach email response

Pretty cool, right?

16. Publish Between 8am and 12pm

Shareaholic found that 27% of all social shares occur between 8am and 12pm EST.

social media shares time

Brian's take

I’ve found that 8am-12pm is the “sweet spot” to maximize shares from a new blog post.

There’s a simple reason this time works so well:

8am-12pm is one of the few times where the entire world is awake.

For example, when it’s 11am Eastern in The States, it’s:

Pacific Time (US): 8am

Midwest (US): 10am

Europe: 5pm

Asia: 11pm

Because I have readers from around the world, I tend to publish my posts around 8am Eastern time.

That way, everyone has a chance to see it.

17. Use Hashtags

Dan Zarrella analyzed 1.2 million tweets and found that hashtag-containing tweets boosted retweets by 55%.

hashtags retweets

Brian's take

There’s not much for me to add here.

When you find a simple way to boost retweets by 55%, you should take it every single time.

And adding hashtags to your tweets couldn’t be simpler.

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, just click on the “share” tab…

yoast seo plugin

…and toss a hashtag or two in the “Twitter Description” field.

yoast social

18. Use “Scannable” Text.

Like short paragraphs, subheadings and bullet lists. Dr. Jakob Nielson discovered that “scannable” online content boosted readability by 47%.

Scannable Content Readability

Brian's take

I’ll admit it. I’m a HUGE readability nerd.

Because the fact is this:

If your content is hard to read, people won’t read it.

That’s why I stick to 1-2 sentence paragraphs:

single sentence paragraphs

Lots of subheadings:

subheading

And bulleted lists:

bulleted list

I suggest you do the same.

Because when you add all this up, you’ll have content that’s super easy to read (and skim).

19. Be Insanely Practical

Dr. Jonah Berger found that highly-practical articles are 34% more likely to go viral.

practical articles viral

Brian's take

It was hard for me to accept this at first, but here it goes…

People don’t care what you think.

Sure, if you’re a huge name with a million followers you can get away with blog posts like: “Let’s Call SEO Content Marketing From Now On” and “Here’s What I Think About the Paleo Diet”.

But if you don’t have a huge following?

Your content needs to be insanely actionable.

I built Backlinko from zero to 100k visitors/month on the back of very practical blog posts.

In fact, the #1 complement that I get has nothing to do with how handsome I am :-)

It’s that my content is “actionable”.

blog comment 2
blog comment
blog comment 3

Bottom line:

If you want your blog post to go viral, make sure it contains lots of meaty, actionable stuff.

20. SEO Tag Copy=Adwords Ads

Adwords ads are designed to maximize clicks. Base your SEO title and description tags on Adwords ads to maximize traffic from search engines.

When your content shows up in search engines or on social media, two things can happen:

Thing #1: People click on your result

Thing #2: People click on something else

For your content to go viral, you need to maximize clicks to your post.

And to do that?

You need compelling title and description tag copy.

But how do you know what to put in your title and description tags?

That’s easy: just use Adwords ads.

google adwords ads

Brian's take

Remember that click through rate makes up about 70% of Google Adwords’ Quality Score.

(In other words: the higher your CTR, the better your Quality Score)

So you better believe advertisers work their tails off to maximize their CTR.

And when you use their copy in your meta tags, you have a result that people love to click on.

For example, let’s say your post is about “app marketing”.

You’d simply search in Google for “app marketing”:

google homepage search

And use the words and phrases that show up for Adwords Ads…

google adwords ads

…in your title and description tags.

title and description tags

21. Ask People to Share.

Include a CTA at the end of your post…and make it personalized.

Hubspot found that targeted CTAs (“Share these weight loss tips”) outperformed generic CTAs (“share this post”) by 42%.

custom call to action

Brian's take

You’d be surprised how many shares and comments you can get simply by asking.

That’s why I include a “leave a comment” CTA at the end of every post.

For example, I recently published a post that shows people how to increase traffic.

backlinko blog post

And at the end of the post, I toss in a hyper-targeted CTA:

targeted CTA

Note how I don’t say something generic like, “leave a comment”.

The CTA is VERY specific to what the person just read.

Like Hubspot found, I notice that the hyper-targeted CTA works GREAT.

In fact, that post has over 400 comments:

blog post counter

In this example I my CTA was to leave a comment.

But the same rules apply for social shares.

How about an example?

Back when I first launched my Definitive Guide to Link Building, I included a targeted CTA to tweet it out:

tweet call to action

When someone clocked on that link, a pre-populated tweet appeared:

prepopulated tweet

And that super-targeted CTA generated A LOT more shares than if I said something generic like, “share this”.

Here’s What To Do Next (Your “Homework”)

It’s important to me that you don’t skim this guide and then pop over to Facebook.

I want you to actually use the information.

So today I have some “homework” for you.

Leave a quick comment below to let me know which technique from this guide you plan to use first.

For example, your comment might look something like:

example blog comment

So leave a quick comment right now.

The post A Data-Driven Guide to Creating Viral Blog Posts [Infographic] appeared first on Backlinko.

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How We Rank #1 in Google And Grew Organic Traffic by 963% (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies)http://backlinko.com/seo-strategy http://backlinko.com/seo-strategy#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 12:00:59 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3019 Today you’re going to see one of my favorite SEO strategies in action: The Guestographic Method. First, I’ll show you how Perrin used this technique to boost his organic search engine traffic by 963%. Then you’ll see how David used the same strategy to rank #1 for the keyword “internships”. Let’s dive right in. The... Read more »

The post How We Rank #1 in Google And Grew Organic Traffic by 963% (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) appeared first on Backlinko.

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SEO Strategy Case StudyToday you’re going to see one of my favorite SEO strategies in action:

The Guestographic Method.

First, I’ll show you how Perrin used this technique to boost his organic search engine traffic by 963%.

Then you’ll see how David used the same strategy to rank #1 for the keyword “internships”.

Let’s dive right in.

The Guestographic Method: An SEO Strategy That Gets Results

Guestographics work for one simple reason:

They make your content MUCH easier to share.

I published a post last year that outlines the entire process: How to Get Backlinks With Guestographics.

guestographics blog post

So if you haven’t read that post, go check it out.

In that post I reveal how The Guestographic Method increased my organic traffic by more than 175%:

organic search engine traffic increase

And Guestographics are one reason that Backlinko ranks #2 for the keyword, “on page SEO”:

google search rankings

Does this sound like something you’d like to try?

Keep reading…

How Perrin and David Used Guestographics to Skyrocket Their Rankings (And Traffic)

I just showed you how well Guestographics worked for me.

Now it’s time to reveal Perrin and David’s results.

First up, we have Perrin Carrell.

perrin carrell

Perrin recently launched a pet blog called ChewieSays.com.

Why did Perrin make this blog?

Well, a few months back Perrin picked up a cute little black puppy from an animal shelter (Chewie).

chewie the dog

Like most new dog owners, Perrin searched for the best dog food for Chewie…

…but he didn’t find any content that blew him away.

That’s when Perrin realized that he had a HUGE opportunity staring him in the face:

There’s aren’t any dog blogs with mind-blowing content. Why not make the first one?

In Perrin’s own words:

I saw a few smaller blogs ranking for low-competition keywords. I thought I could top what they were doing. I also noticed that authoritative pet blogs were getting insane traffic. Even though it was going to be really tough to beat these bigger sites, that showed me that the ceiling in this niche was really high.

Perrin Carrell

After dozens of late-night writing sessions, Chewie Says went live:

chewiesays homepage

That’s the good news.

The bad news? The dog blog space is dominated by a handful of massive authority sites.

That means that Perrin is going toe-to-toe with mega-sites like PetMD.com and Ceser “The Dog Whisperer” Millan.

You could even say that it’s a dog-eat-dog world (sorry, I couldn’t resist 😀 ).

To have a fighting chance against these massive authority sites, Perrin had two options:

Option #1: He could grind away on his blog, publish on a set schedule, and HOPE he got traffic (“The Publish and Pray Approach”).

Option #2: He could create (and promote) a few pieces of amazing content.

Fortunately for Perrin and his new blog, he pulled the trigger on option #2.

And he decided to kick things off with Guestographics.

How did it go?

Guestographics boosted his organic search engine traffic by 963% in just 6-weeks:

Organic Traffic in Google Analytics

And thanks to placements on a handful of popular pet blogs…

infographic placement infographic placement 2

…and The Huffington Post…

huffpo link

…he also funneled over 1000 targeted referral visitors to his site:

Infographic Referral Traffic

Not bad for a brand new blog.

Note: His secret was NOT a $10,000 infographic. As you’ll see in a minute, design had very little to do with Perrin’s success.

Now It’s Time To Check Out David’s Amazing Results…

SEO agency owner David Gross also used Guestographics to kick some serious SEO butt.

Last year I wrote about how David pushed his client’s site to the #1 spot in Google.co.uk for the keyword “internships”:

Rankings Increase

No, you’re not seeing things.

That’s #6 to #1…in one week.

At the end of this post I’ll give you an update on where David stands today.

Now I obviously can’t guarantee that you’ll get the same results as Perrin or David (that wouldn’t be responsible of me).

But it gives you an idea of the power that Guestographics bring to the table.

With that out of the way, it’s time for me to walk you through the step-by-step process.

Step 1: Create and Publish a (Really Good) Infographic

Here’s the deal:

Despite what most “content marketing gurus” would have you believe, design plays a VERY small part in an infographic’s success.

In fact, choosing the right topic is 90% of the game.

And that’s where Perrin’s infographic — 22 Ways Dogs Make Humans Healthier — hits a home run:

infographic example

Sure, his infographic looks really nice.

But it wouldn’t have done NEARLY as well without a topic that dog lovers cared about.

Now:

Perrin had a hunch that dog owners would want to learn that Mr. Fluffy Pants improves their health.

So he searched for “dogs and human health”.

google search example

And he came across this slideshow from WebMD ranking on the first page:

web slideshow

(Yes, that’s really what it looks like)

As Perrin puts it:

That’s not a good article. It’s just fun facts with cute blurbs. There’s no design or research to speak of. I knew I could do it better, and one of the ways I wanted to improve it was to make an infographic.

Perrin Carrell

Even though the WebMD page leaves A LOT to be desired, it attracted backlinks from over 228 referring domains:

ahrefs referring domains

In other words, Perrin saw that there was proven demand for information on “ways that pets improve human health”.

But not just any information…

…demand for visual information.

So Perrin decided to create an infographic around that proven topic.

First, he spent a day researching content for the infographic.

Then he hired a freelance designer to take his list of bullet points…

infographic text content

…and turn it into a professional infographic.

zoomed out infographic

Looks nice, right?

And that pro design only set Perrin back $200 (!).

How to Find Proven Infographic Topics

You might be wondering:

“Perrin already knew what his audience wanted to see. What if I have no clue what to make my infographic about?”

No worries.

Just follow these 3 simple steps…

1. First, head over to Visual.ly

Visual.ly is the web’s biggest infographic directory.

visually homepage

And it’s a gold mine of battle-tested infographic topics.

2. Next, search for a keyword that describes your niche.

For example, let’s say you run an ecommerce site that sells clothes.

You’d search for keywords like “fashion”, “belts”, “dresses”, and “shoes”.

visually search

3. Then sort by “Viewed”

search sorting feature

That will show you Visual.ly’s most popular infographics on that topic…ever.

They even show you how many views each infographic has:

number of infographic views

Scan through the results until you find a topic that seems like a good fit for your site.

And you’re good to go.

As you probably know, publishing something valuable isn’t enough to generate quality backlinks and targeted traffic.

If you’re serious about getting results from your content, you need to strategically promote it.

Which leads us to step #2…

Step 2: Find People That Are Interested In Your Infographic

Once your infographic is ready, it’s time to make a list of people that might want to check it out.

The easiest way to do that? Search for keywords that describe your infographic’s topic.

For example:

Let’s say that you just published an infographic about the Paleo Diet.

You’d Google keywords like “Paleo diet”, “Paleo diet recipes”, “what is the Paleo Diet?” etc.

And Google will show you a list of blogs that tend to cover that topic:

google first page

You can even use Google Suggest to get even more keyword ideas:

google suggest search

Here’s how Perrin found his Guestographic prospects:

Just like I recommend to anyone using Guestographics, Perrin searched for keywords like “pets and health.”

But he didn’t stop there…

Perrin also hunted for quality pet blogs on the pet section of AllTop:

alltop pets

And he also searched for keywords like “top 50 dog blogs”.

dog blog search

These “best of” keywords hooked Perrin up with hand-curated lists of popular pet blogs:

pet blog list

Once you’ve found a quality blog in your niche, here’s what to do next:

Step 3: See If They’re Interested In Your Infographic

Most people pitch bloggers the complete WRONG way.

Instead of gauging interest with a feeler message, they go straight for the hard sell.

You’ve probably received some of these annoying emails yourself.

Have you ever replied to any of them?

I didn’t think so :-)

That’s why you want to start off the Guestographic outreach process with a quick email…

…A quick email that simply asks them if they want to see your infographic.

Here’s a tested script you can use:

And here’s the the exact feeler email that Perrin sent out:

guestographic outreach email

See how Perrin’s message is completely different than most pushy outreach emails?

He’s just asking if they’d like to see the infographic…which is an easy sell.

In other words, you don’t want to link to anything in your first email.

Why not?

When someone sees a link in an email from someone they don’t know, they think: “this person must want something”.

And they hit the delete button.

But when you send an email that simply asks if they want to see your content, it’s usually received with open arms.

In fact, Perrin sent 92 emails…

…and he got 5 conversions (that’s a 5.4% conversion rate).

Solid.

Now:

Once you get a response back saying, “sure, send it over”, like this…

guestographic response

…it’s time for step #4.

Step 4: Make Sharing Your Infographic a Breeze (AKA, “The Bribe”)

When you want another site to link to you, you need to remember one thing:

The more barriers you remove, the more success you’ll have.

Well, what’s the ONE thing that prevents people from sharing an infographic?

The fact that they have to write a unique introduction to go along with it!

Well, the beauty of Guestographics is that you remove that barrier.

How?

By writing that introduction for them.

This is the script that I use:

And here’s the email that Perrin sent to the people that liked his infographic:

unique introduction pitch

And because you’re making their life easier, your response rate will be MUCH better than a pushy pitch:

email outreach response

When someone says “sure, send me an introduction”, send them a high-quality 200-250 word intro.

Oops. I almost forgot.

Here’s the script to use when you send your intro:

And here’s the email Perrin used to send people his unique introduction:

email with unique introduction

Before you hit “send”, there’s one more thing to keep in mind…

How Perrin Found Even MORE Link Opportunities

Now that people are sharing your infographic on their site, it’s time to leverage those placements for even MORE opportunities.

Here’s the 3-step process Perrin used to unearth a goldmine of link prospects:

1. First, Perrin looked to see if people commented on his Guestographic.

For example, quite a few pet bloggers left positive comments on his Guestographic placements:

blog comments

2. Then he checked to see if the commenters ran quality pet blogs.

Remember:

Someone that that leaves a comment took time out of their day to let you know how much they liked your infographic.

In other words, they’re raising their hand to say: “I love this infographic!”.

And that means that they’re going to be VERY receptive to your outreach.

Once you’ve found a commenter that also runs a relevant blog, move onto the next step.

3. Finally, he reached out with a (modified) Guestographic pitch.

At this point Perrin found four people that a) commented on his infographic and b) ran a quality pet blog.

He sent those four people an outreach email or a Facebook message:

facebook outreach message

Because Perrin reached out to such a laser-targeted group, people were pumped to hear from him:

facebook message

Out of the four messages he sent, Perrin racked up two extra Guestographic placements.

That’s a 50% conversion rate for those of you keeping score at home.

Step 5: Add a Link In Your Introduction

This is important:

The unique introduction doesn’t just make sharing your infographic easier.

It also makes your link MUCH more powerful.

How?

Unlike most infographic backlinks, which appear automatically when someone shares your infographic using an embed code, like this…

infographic embed link…Guestographic links are surrounded by unique content in the introduction.

contextual backlink

Links in the intro boost your referral traffic and is better for SEO.

In total, Perrin’s Guestographics campaign brought in 8 niche-relevant, white hat backlinks.

(5 came from Guestographics. The other 3 were natural placements that happened after his infographic spread around the web)

That’s a total cost of $25/link.

Backlinko Update: Does David Still Rank #1 Today?

Now it’s time for an update on Dave Gross’s Guestographics campaign.

Last year David stumbled on the post where I first introduced Guestographics: How to Get Backlinks With Guestographics:

guestographics blog post

And he instantly realized that this technique could help him land high quality backlinks for his SEO clients.

In fact, he left a comment on that blog post saying that he was going to give it a shot:

blog comment

And David followed the same process that Perrin did.

First, he created and published a quality infographic, The Ultimate Guide to Video CVs:

video CV infographic

Second, he found sites that might want to share his infographic.

David worked with his client’s team to brainstorm the types of UK-based sites that might want to share the infographic:

Mindmap Screenshot

This extra step revealed dozens of link opportunities that they would have missed out on if they stuck to “the usual suspects” of career blogs.

For example, David was able to land an infographic placement from Warwick.ac.uk (DA88):

link from warwick university

Warwick.ca.uk is a site that doesn’t show up when you search for keywords like “video CV tips”.

But David’s mindmap hooked him up with that opportunity…

…and it paid off.

Next, he sent out a quick feeler email to gauge interest.

Here’s the email that David’s team sent out:

Outreach Email Script

As you can see, Alex (who works for David) isn’t pitching anything.

Because he wasn’t pushy or needy, he got a ton of positive responses:

email_response

Next, David’s team replied to the people that responded.

Here’s the second email that David’s team sent out:

Infographic email

And because David made sharing super-easy, people were happy to share his infographic with their audience.

Success Email

Finally, David sent a unique introduction to go along with the infographic.

And he landed several contextual backlinks from authority career sites, like this:

contextual backlink

All in all, David’s team reached out to over 200 people…and landed 21 new backlinks.

That’s a 10.5% success rate…which is outstanding for email outreach link building.

And the #1 spot in Google.co.uk that David got for his client?

Still there :-)

number one ranking in Google

Now I’ve Got a Question For You…

Are you going to give Guestographics a shot?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment right now.

Or maybe you have a question about the process.

I’ll be in and out answering comments today.

So if you have a thought or question, let me know in the comments box below.

The post How We Rank #1 in Google And Grew Organic Traffic by 963% (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) appeared first on Backlinko.

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16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Sitehttp://backlinko.com/seo-copywriting http://backlinko.com/seo-copywriting#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:00:09 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=5810 Knowing SEO is great. Knowing copywriting is great. But when you can do BOTH? That’s when you can slap a big ol’ “S” on your chest… …because you’ll be unstoppable. And today I have something that will make you feel like you have SEO superpowers: 16 insanely actionable SEO copywriting techniques that you can use... Read more »

The post 16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Site appeared first on Backlinko.

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seo copywriting techniques blog post bannerKnowing SEO is great.

Knowing copywriting is great.

But when you can do BOTH?

That’s when you can slap a big ol’ “S” on your chest…

…because you’ll be unstoppable.

And today I have something that will make you feel like you have SEO superpowers:

16 insanely actionable SEO copywriting techniques that you can use right now.

Free Bonus: Click here to get access to a free PDF checklist that shows you how to execute all 16 of the techniques from this post (the checklist also includes 2 bonus strategies).

1. Use Udemy to Make Your Content 2-3x More Compelling

Look:

Most people think SEO copywriting is all about putting words after words.

But in my experience, the STRUCTURE of your content is just as important as the writing itself.

And what better place to find proven content structures than Udemy?

udemy

(In case you’re not familiar with Udemy, it’s a MASSIVE directory of online courses)

Here’s how you can use Udemy to make your next piece of content 2-3x more compelling:

First, head over to Udemy and enter a keyword.

For example, let’s say you were writing a blog post about photography. You’d search for “photography”:

udemy search 1

Udemy will show you all of their popular photography courses:

udemy search results

Next, pick a course with a lot of reviews.

Let’s go with the EasyDSLR Digital Photography Course for Beginners:

udemy course selection

Once you pick a course, take a look at how many people have already enrolled in it.

As you can see, nearly 6,000 people have enrolled in the EasyDSLR course:

udemy students

Do you see how huge this is?

You’re looking at content that 6,000 people have shelled out cold hard cash to get access to.

That means you don’t need to rely on your Spidey sense. You KNOW there’s going to be demand for your content.

Thousands of people have already voted…with their wallets.

Now:

Once you’ve found a popular course, scroll down to the “Curriculum” section.

That’s where you’ll find the proven structure you can use for your next post:

udemy curriculum

Obviously, you don’t want to rip off the instructor’s course.

But you can use bits and pieces of the curriculum for your outline:

outline

Now that you have your outline, it’s almost time to put pen to paper.

Before you do, make sure to read the next technique on my list…

2. Add “Bucket Brigades” To Slash Bounce Rate and Boost Time On Page

When someone lands on your site from Google, two things can happen:

They either leave right away…

…or they stick around.

And when people stick on your page like superglue, Google thinks:

“This is a great page. Let’s give it a rankings boost.”

But when people leave your site like a sinking ship…

That’s when Google drops you like a stone.

google bounce rate

The bottom line?

If you want higher rankings, you NEED to keep people on your site.

How? Bucket Brigades.

Bucket Brigades are words and phrases that keep people on your page.

For example:

You may notice that I tend to use short sentences that end in a colon, like this:

bucket brigade

That’s a Bucket Brigade.

But what are Bucket Brigades, exactly?

Bucket Brigades are an old school copywriting tactic that were originally designed to keep people reading sales letters.

I’ve adapted Bucket Brigades for online content and the results are, well, crazy.

In fact, here’s Backlinko’s average time on page:

time on page

Yes, that’s 4 minutes.

A good chunk of that above-average Time on Page is due to the fact that I sprinkle Bucket Brigades into every post.

Now it’s time for me to show you how to use Bucket Brigades to boost your Time on Page:

First, find a place in your content where someone’s likely to hit their browser’s “back” button…

…and add a Bucket Brigade.

Start with your intro.

Here’s an example where I used two Bucket Brigades in my intro:

bucket brigade intro1

(By the way, the Time On Page for that post is over 7-minutes):

time on page 2

You also want to use Bucket Brigades in the middle of your content.

Here’s an example from one of my recent case studies:

bucket brigade example

Bottom line: whenever you have a section where someone may get bored and leave, add a Bucket Brigade.

You can make up your own Bucket Brigades, like I did in the example above (“The secret to publishing content that people want to share is this:”).

Or you can use these tried-and-true Bucket Brigade classics:

  • Here’s the deal:
  • Now:
  • What’s the bottom line?
  • You might be wondering:
  • This is crazy:
  • It gets better/worse:
  • But here’s the kicker:
  • Want to know the best part?

And — bada bing, bada boom — you’re set.

Once you’ve added a few Bucket Brigades, move onto technique #3…

3. Add These Words To Your Content (And Make Google Happy)

Today’s super-smart Google doesn’t care how many times you cram a keyword into your article.

Instead, it pays close attention to Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.

(LSI keywords are a fancy way of saying: “synonyms and closely related words”)

And these LSI keywords help Google understand what your page is all about.

For example, let’s say you do a Google search for “cars”.

How does Google know whether you’re searching for:

  • Cars the vehicle
  • Cars the movie
  • The 1970s rock band (with awful hair)
  • The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs)

The answer? LSI keywords.

For example, when Google sees a page with LSI keywords like this…

LSI Keywords

…they know the page is about the cars you drive.

But when Google sees a page like this…

lsi keywords 2

…they know it’s about Cars the movie.

So how can you add more LSI keywords into your content?

I’ll explain with an example:

Let’s say your keyword was “laptop repair”.

First, search for that keyword in Google:

google search example

Then, scan the page for bold words and phrases that aren’t your target keyword.

Here are some examples from the first page for “laptop repair”:

lsi keyword example

See how Google bolds words like “notebook”, “computer repair”, and “fix”?

Google bolds those terms because it considers them VERY similar to the keyword you just searched for.

(In other words, LSI keywords)

Finally, sprinkle these bold terms into your content:

wordpress lsi keywords

Once you’re done, you’re ready for secret #4.

4. Rank #1 in Google With This SEO Copywriting Secret

Bold promise? Definitely.

But stay with me.

What’s the big secret I’m talking about?

Creating your own keywords.

I’ll explain.

If you search for your brand in Google, you probably rank #1.

backlinko search results

You may not have thought about it, but your brand is a keyword

…a keyword that you automatically rank #1 for.

But why stop there?

You can generate boatloads of extra organic traffic when you also brand your techniques and strategies.

For example:

You’ve probably heard about The Skyscraper Technique, my 3-step strategy for getting more organic traffic to your site.

skyscraper technique blog post

Because I branded my strategy “The Skyscraper Technique”, I now have a pipeline of extra visitors coming to my site everyday.

In fact, according to Google Webmaster Tools, the keyword “Skyscraper Technique” gets 1,103 searches per month:

google webmaster tools search query

Because I rank #1, #2 AND #3 for that keyword, I get the lion’s share of those 1,103 clicks:

skyscraper technique google results

Bottom line?

Whenever you develop a unique strategy, tactic, or technique…

make sure you slap a branded name on it. 

When you do, you’ll get a bunch of extra organic search traffic.

5. Stalk Forums for The EXACT Words Your Readers Use

A while back I published a post called, “Why Google Hates Your Site (Hint: It Has Something to Do With TrustRank)“:

long tail keyword exampleWith this post I decided to go after a keyword that my competitors wouldn’t bother targeting…

…even though it gets a decent amount of searches.

What was the keyword?

“Google hates my site”

Believe it or not, I didn’t pull this keyword out of thin air.

I chose this keyword because I saw A LOT of people in SEO forums saying things like this:

long tail keyword forums

And if people post something in a forum, you can bet your butt that they also search for the same thing in Google.

So I decided to use a variation of that keyword in my post:

long tail keyword optimization

Today, besides ranking #2 for my target keyword (“TrustRank”)…

trustrank search results

…when someone searches for “Google hates my site”, I show up in the top spot:

google search results

How can you use this technique to get more traffic?

First, optimize your page just like you normally would (If you need a hand, check out these 14 advanced on-page SEO strategies).

But before you hit “publish”, scan forums for words and phrases people tend to use around your topic.

For example, let’s say your target keyword was “organic vegetable gardening”.

You’d search in Google with inurl:forum + “organic vegetable gardening”:

google search query

This will bring up a bunch forum threads around the topic of vegetable gardening:

google search results

Skim the first few threads that you find.

When you see a phrase that seems like a good fit…

forum post

…search for forum + “phrase” in Google:

google forum search

If a lot of results pop up (like with this example), add those words and phrases to your post.

wordpress post

And you’re good to go.

6. Here’s How to Get More Social Shares From Everything That You Publish

Here’s the deal:

Sure, social sharing buttons help you get more shares…

…but in most cases, they’re not enough.

Instead, I recommend tapping into a copywriter’s best friend:

A call to action.

Let me explain.

A few months back I published a post called “17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today“:

17 insanely actionable list building strategies

To maximize the amount of shares this post got, I included a “click to tweet” button underneath each item on the list:

clicktweet

To date, my post has over 2600 tweets…

tweet count

…and a good chunk of those 2600 tweets came from my “click to tweet” buttons:

twitter search results

Here’s how you can do the same thing:

First, find a super actionable tip or strategy from your post.

Next, head over to ClickToTweet.com. Click on “basic link”:

click to tweet

Turn your actionable tip into a tweet:

tweet example

Then, click on “Generate new link”.

click to tweet example

Grab the link…

twitter link

…and pop the link into your post.

You can use buttons like I did. But plain-text links also work great:

click to tweet link

Whether you use a button or a plain link, definitely add at least one “click to tweet” call to action in your next post.

7. Here’s How to Get More Search Engine Traffic…WITHOUT Higher Rankings

Here’s something we can both agree on:

The higher you rank, the more clicks you get, right?

Well…not really.

I’ll explain.

Right now Backlinko ranks #1 in Google for two different keywords: “how to do CPA marketing” and “how to find long tail keywords” :

two number one rankings

(Obviously I rank #1 for more than just those two keywords. These are just 2 examples :-) )

Both keywords are “how-to” keywords.

Both keywords have ads above the organic results.

Yet the click through rate for “how to do CPA marketing” is 49% higher than “how to find long tail keywords”:

two-number-one-rankings_v1

Wait, what?!

Here’s the dead simple explanation:

My Google listing for “how to do CPA marketing” looks WAY better than “how to find long tail keywords”.

Just look at how clean and enticing this looks:

google listing

It’s got a clear title and compelling description copy.

On the other hand, my long tail keyword listing is a big mess.

google listing 2

The title tag is cut off and the description tag is a random snippet from the page. Not good.

Now:

I’ll have another powerful technique to boost your organic click through rate later in this post…

…but for now, follow these 2 simple steps:

First, make sure you write your own description tag for every important page on your site.

If you don’t, Google will sometimes write funky descriptions for you.

So pop open your SEO plugin of choice. Then, write a unique description tag for each important page on your site.

description tag

Next, tweak your title and description so that it emphasizes the here and now.

When someone does a Google search they want answers…FAST.

And when you show them that you’ll give them a quick win, you get more clicks.

For example, here’s the Google result for my list building post:

high CTR listing

See how my title and description emphasize fast results not once…but twice?

That’s exactly what you want to do.

Once you’ve finished that 2-step process, it’s time for SEO copywriting secret #8.

8. Hack Amazon to Get More Traffic to Ecommerce Product and Category Pages

With giants like Amazon littering the first page, it’s not easy running an ecommerce site today.

Despite that fact, I still see a lot of small ecommerce sites beat the odds.

Their secret?

They target long tail keywords that most of their competitors don’t know about.

Here’s how they do it (and how you can do the same thing):

First, search for a product that you sell on Amazon.

For example, let’s say you ran an ecommerce site that sold organic dog food.

You’d search for “organic dog food” in Amazon:

amazon search

But don’t hit enter!

If you wait a second, Amazon will show you long tail keywords related to that keyword (just like Google Suggest):

amazon suggest

Grab one of those keywords and pop it into Google.

google search keywords

Check to see if the first page for the long tail keyword is less competitive than the one you’re currently targeting.

Usually, it will be:

google-page-authority_v1

And because Amazon Suggest keywords are so laser-targeted, they tend to convert GREAT.

Finally, sprinkle those keywords into your product and category page copy (and in your title and description tags):

shopify seo example

As soon as you’ve added long tail copy to your product and category pages, move onto the next SEO copywriting secret on the list.

9. This Simple Strategy May Change The Way You Write Blog Posts

You probably already know that subheadings make your content MUCH easier to read.

For example, here are two screenshots from two different posts:

text readability

Which would you rather read?

Thought so.

But what you may not know is that the copy that you use in your subheaders is a BIG deal.

You see, most people use random subheaders like this:

subheadings example

Sure, that breaks up the content alright.

But random subheaders won’t make a visitor say “wow, there’s a ton of value here”.

Fortunately, there’s a quick fix for that:

Include benefits in your subheaders.

For example, in my post on building an email list, I include benefit-rich copy in most of my subheadings.

Instead of a bland subheading like “Focus On Your Thank You Page”, I put the BENEFIT front and center:

benefit subheading

See the difference?

Here’s the action step:

Include a benefit in AT LEAST 25% of the subheadings in your next post.

When you do — BAM! — you’ll instantly boost the perceived value of your content.

10. Gobble Up More Long Tail Traffic With “Title Tag Modifiers”

If you want more traffic from long tail keywords, the solution is simple:

Add “modifiers” to your title tag.

What are “modifiers”?

Modifiers are words that you add to your title tag…

…words that get your site in front of more long tail searchers.

Here’s little case study of this strategy in action:

A while back I published a guide called “Link Building: The Definitive Guide“.

link building guide backlinko

And the title tag I used was simply the name of the guide:

title tag example

At the time, I thought to myself:

“This title tag is short and sweet. It also includes my target keyword. This is a great title tag.”

But I was wrong.

I quickly realized that I could get MORE traffic to that page if I added a modifier.

So I added the keyword “SEO” to my title tag:

title tag wordpress 2

Thanks to that simple tweak, my page ranks for keywords that I wouldn’t have NEVER thought to optimize around…

…like “SEO link building” (480 searches/month):

seo link building

And “link building SEO” (90 searches/month):

link_building_SEO

According to GWT, those two keywords bring in 139 targeted visitors per month.

All from (literally) 28 seconds of work.

How can you do the same thing?

First, find a page on your site that has a short title tag (between 25-40 characters):

title tag wordpress

Add a word or two to your title tag that you think your audience might use when they search for your target keyword:

title tag with a modifier

If you’re not sure what modifier to include, pick one from this list:

  • 2015
  • “How to…”
  • Review
  • Best
  • Fast
  • Checklist
  • Guide
  • Tips
  • Easy
  • Simple

You won’t be able to predict exactly what keywords these modifiers bring in…

…but you’ll get more search engine traffic than you would without them.

And that’s what really matters :-)

11. Skyrocket Time On Page With This Intro Formula

As you saw earlier, Backlinko rocks an above-average Avg. Time on Page:

time on page

I already told you that Bucket Brigades were a big part of the story.

And now I want to show you another technique that makes Google searchers stick to my site like superglue:

One of my battle-tested blog post introduction templates.

And today I’m going to share one of my favorites:

The APP Method.

Here’s what it looks like:

aap blog post introduction

As you can see in the graphic, “APP” stands for: Agree, Promise, and Preview.

Let’s break each element down:

First, we have Agree.

Start your introduction off with an idea or concept that a Google searcher will agree with.

This shows them that you understand their problem.

Here’s an example from my post on creating a Social Squeeze page.

blog post introduction

That’s something people searching for my target keyword (“squeeze page”) know to be true.

Now that you’ve got them nodding their head in agreement, it’s time for the Promise.

The Promise is where you give them a peek into a better world.

Here’s an example from my Social Squeeze Page Post:

blog post introduction

Finally, hit them with The Preview.

Don’t beat around the bush. Just tell them exactly what you have in store for them.

blog post introduction 2

Once you put the finishing touches on The Preview, you’re set.

You now have an intro that keeps Google readers on your site…

…and a page that Google will want to show to more people.

12. Add More LSI Keywords With “Searched Related To…”

Remember:

Like I mentioned in item #3 from this list — the more LSI keywords you embed into your content — the better Google understands what your page is about.

Now I’ve got a mini case study that will show you how to reveal even more LSI keywords that you can use.

A while back I wanted to add a few LSI keywords to my post, “On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page“.

on page seo blog post

First, I searched for my target keyword (“on page SEO”) in Google:

google search 2

Next, I scrolled to the bottom of the first page. This is where Google shows you “searches related to…” keywords:

searches related to

These are PERFECT LSI keywords to include in your content.

I grabbed any LSI keywords that made sense and popped them into my content.

For example:

lsi keyword usage

And I was good to go.

This technique has a bonus benefit:

“Searches related to…” keywords help you rank for long tail keywords that may not show up in the Google Keyword Planner:

google search results 3

That means more traffic for you.

13. Borrow Headline Formulas From BuzzFeed and ViralNova

It’s funny:

A lot of SEO and content marketers hate on “clickbait” sites like BuzzFeed and ViralNova.

Me? I think they’re geniuses.

Their meteoric growth speaks for itself…

buzzfeed growth

Besides, it’s hard NOT to love headlines like these:

viralnova headlines

And they’ve proven that their headline formulas grab people by the eyeballs.

For example, item #9 from this post may have caught your eye:

subheading example

The idea for that subheader came from a post on BuzzFeed:

buzzfeed headline

And you can do the same thing.

Just check out some recent posts on BuzzFeed and ViralNova…

viralnova headlines

…and adapt them for your blog post titles and subheadings.

Obviously, some of their headlines are over the top.

So I’ve put together a few Buzzfeed-style headline templates that grab attention…without going overboard:

  • 25 ___ That Will Change The Way You ___
  • I Tried ___. And Even I Was Surprised About What Happened Next
  • This ___ Makes ___ 10x Better
  • Here Are 11 ___ That ____. And They’re Backed By Science
  • Use These 20 Simple Hacks For More ____. #5 Is Awesome
  • When You Learn About ___ You’ll Never ____ Again

14. This Simple Strategy Stops “Serial Skimmers”

Everyone and their mom knows that subheadings make online content easier to read.

To illustrate how much subheadings help, here’s the example I showed earlier in this post:

text readability

If you’re human, you prefer the post on the left.

Now:

Subheadings are just ONE way to break up your content.

Magazines use dozens of different techniques to break up walls of text.

Here’s an example from an Inc. magazine I have lying around my apartment:

inc magazine

And when you use the 3 magazine-inspired techniques I’m about to show you, you’ll stop “serial skimmers” in their tracks.

Technique #1: Quote Boxes

Whenever you quote someone, put that quote in a box. Here’s an example from Backlinko:

callout quote example

Technique #2: Sidebar Callouts

This is another magazine staple.

Whenever you have content that complements your post, put it in a callout box.

I use these quite a bit at Backlinko.

callout box example

Technique #3: Section Banners

This technique a bit more involved…

…but it’ll make your content look über professional.

Just add a custom banner underneath each subheading, like this:

section subheaders

See how nice that looks?

You can get these custom banners made at a freelance site like Elance.

Or, if you’re in the mood for DIY, Canva works well too.

15. Embed Adwords Copy to Get More Clicks to Your Organic Results

Now it’s time to show you another proven strategy for attracting more clicks to your site.

Let me show you how it works with a real life example.

Here’s what the listing for one of my posts USED to look like:

google search result listing

Because I was in a rush to get this post out in time, I forgot to write my own title and description tag…

…so Google wrote it for me.

And as you can see, it ain’t pretty.

The title tag was cut off…

cut off title tag

…and the description tag made no sense:

bad description tag

Here’s what I did to turn things around:

I included words and phrases from Adwords ads into my title and description tag.

Think about it:

Adwords ads have one goal…to generate clicks.

And through thousands of split tests, the ads you see are (usually) proven click magnets.

For example:

I noticed that most of the Adwords ads for the keyword “list building” had the words “email list” or “email lists”.

google adwords ads

So I made sure to pop the phase “email list” into my description tag:

good description tagA lot of the Adwords ads I saw also used words like “build” and “grow”:

google-adwords-copy

So I added the word “build” to my description tag too:

description tag example

And just like that I had a search result that’s MUCH more likely to attract clicks.

16. Use This To Make Your Content More Compelling

You’ve probably heard of HARO, a service that connects journalists and sources.

HARO Homepage

When a journalist needs a source for a story, he or she sends out a query:

haro query example

If you reply to a query with top-notch info, you can land mentions from some pretty baller sites.

But that’s not what we’re going to use HARO for today.

Instead, we’re going to use HARO queries to make our copywriting more compelling…

…and attract more long tail traffic.

Here’s how:

First, sign up as a source (it’s free):

HARO signup formNext, choose the HARO lists that fit your business:

HARO list preferences

You’ll start to get HARO emails from reporters and bloggers looking for sources:

gmail emails

Give each email a once over. Keep an eye out for any topics that you tend to cover on your blog.

When you find one, pay attention to how the journalist phrases the topic.

For example, let’s say that you run a career blog.

And one day you come across this HARO query:

HARO query 2

9 times out of 10, the journalist chooses an angle like this because there’s growing interest in that topic.

In other words: people are searching for that topic in Google more and more.

So right off the bat you’ve got a great topic (“Cover Letter Best Practices”) handed to you on silver platter.

But don’t stop there.

Pay close attention to the words and phrases the journalist uses in the query:

HARO for copywriting

Make sure to include similar words and phrases in your content:

SEO copywriting blog post

And just like that you have a post built to gobble up more long tail traffic.

Now It’s Your Turn

You’ve just seen 16 of my favorite SEO copywriting secrets…

Now it’s time to put these techniques into practice.

The first step?

Click the image below and enter your email to get access to my FREE SEO copywriting checklist PDF.

The checklist has all 16 of the strategies here…and 2 others that I didn’t have room to include in this post.

Click the image below to download the PDF now.

seo copywriting checklist

The post 16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Site appeared first on Backlinko.

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Want More Traffic That Actually Converts? Follow These 4 Steps…http://backlinko.com/increase-website-traffic http://backlinko.com/increase-website-traffic#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:52:16 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=5718 When you sign up for the Backlinko newsletter for the first time, you get this email from me: As you can see, the first thing I ask is: “What’s the #1 thing you’re struggling with?” To date, I’ve asked over 57,000 new subscribers this question… …and have received thousands of replies. But get this: I... Read more »

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When you sign up for the Backlinko newsletter for the first time, you get this email from me:

first email

As you can see, the first thing I ask is:

“What’s the #1 thing you’re struggling with?”

To date, I’ve asked over 57,000 new subscribers this question…

…and have received thousands of replies.

But get this:

I tend to get the same response again and again.

What’s that response, you ask?

TRAFFIC.

In fact, here’s a reply I got the other day from Christine:

email reply

Christine is absolutely right. Traffic is a common problem…

The Truth About Getting Targeted Traffic in 2015 (and Beyond)

I probably don’t need to tell you that traffic is the lifeblood of any online business.

No traffic, no leads.

No leads, no sales.

No sales, no business.

Despite the fact that targeted traffic is so important, when most people log into Google Analytics, they see something like this:

flat traffic stats

Flat as a pancake.

Look familiar?

If so, I want you to know that you’re far from alone.

Today there are 164 million blogs online…

…71% get fewer than 5,000 visitors per month.

blog traffic stats

That’s less than 200 visits per day.

Unless you’re a conversion Jedi, it’s almost impossible to turn 200 daily visitors into a thriving online business.

Even if you already get “enough” traffic, I can guarantee you that you have the potential to boost your traffic by 2x, 3x, or even 10x from where it is today.

How?

Well that’s the 4-step process I’ll go over later in today’s post.

But first…

Why People Struggle to Generate Traffic…and Convert That Traffic Into Customers

Here’s the deal:

Backlinko may generate over 90,000 unique monthly visitors today, but this success came after I struggled for YEARS.

In fact, the first site that I launched in 2008 was in the nutrition space. And it failed.

On paper this site should have been a home run for me.

After all, I had a Masters Degree in nutrition from Tufts University and a solid year of clinical experience under my belt (here’s me at graduation with my Dad):

graduation

My credentials meant I could produce “great content” that cited research studies. I could also use real world examples from my time working in hospitals and clinics in Boston.

And that’s exactly what happened:

I published some of the best nutrition content online at the time.

I mean, who else was taking scientific research and translating it into bite-sized nutrition tips?

excerpt from nutrition site

There was only one problem:

No one cared.

Was I publishing “great content”? Sure.

Did I promote it? You bet.

Was my blog updated at least once per week? Like clockwork.

So:

What was the problem?

The fact that I didn’t publish the RIGHT CONTENT.

What is The Right Content, you ask?

The Right Content is:

Content that generates traffic, leads and (most importantly) sales.

Content that only needs a little content promotion “push” to get going.

Content that establishes YOU as an expert (and someone people want to buy from).

In other words, rock solid content that you can build a business on top of.

Because when you do that, everything changes…

How I Went From “Oh Crap!” to “Hell Yeah!”

Since I discovered how to create The Right Content, everything in my life and business changed.

Now, instead that sinking feeling in my stomach that I used to get when I logged into Google Analytics, I get butterflies.

Here are Backlinko’s traffic stats from last month:

traffic stats

But keep this in mind:

These aren’t 93,277 tire kickers. A good chunk of these people are interested in my products and services.

In fact, even though enrollment for SEO That Works only open two or three times a year, I get emails like this every week:

email about stw

Because I attract people that want to invest in my training products, I’ve quickly turned Backlinko from a blank WordPress installation into a highly profitable business.

backlinko revenue

And that luxury gives me the opportunity to live my life on my own terms.

At the drop of a hat, I can go skiing in Canada or in Japan.

Or strap on a Speedo and sit on a beach in Thailand.

(I’m kidding about the Speedo…or am I? :-) )

In fact, a few months ago my girlfriend turned to me and said: “Honey, let’s go to Italy”.

So we packed our bags and took off. No arrangements. No phone calls with clients. We just went.

We saw the sights, ate lots of gluten…and I grew a beard:

brian in italy

Whether you own an ecommerce site, run a digital marketing agency, sell software, or are a full time blogger, you need content that brings in targeted traffic.

In other words, traffic that converts into leads and sales.

To do that, you need to rank for keywords that your customers search for every day.

Here’s the 4-step process to do just that…

Use This 4-Step Process to Get More Targeted Traffic, Leads and Sales From SEO

There’s no other way to say this:

Most content published today isn’t designed to maximize shares, traffic and customers.

And, yes, that even includes most “great content”.

Because there’s a BIG difference between “great content” and The Right Content.

And once you know what that difference is, and how to leverage it, you’ll be ahead of 90% of your competitors.

With that, let’s jump into the 4-step process for creating The Right Content.

Step #1: Find Influential People In Your Niche

This is HUGE.

Unless you describe your target customers as “influential bloggers and journalists”, your target audience isn’t going to share your content.

There’s a simple reason for that:

Your target customers don’t run websites in your niche!

For example:

The content on my old nutrition site was aimed at people looking to lose weight.

My target audience? They loved it.

Unfortunately, the influencers in my niche — like health and fitness bloggers — thought my content was way too basic and “rapid fire”.

These influential people preferred to link to in-depth articles. Articles that dissected dozens of research studies.

That’s one of the reasons Steve Kamb at NerdFitness succeeded where I failed.

His in-depth, 3,000-word blog posts…

….like his Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting)…

nerdfitness post

….attracts links from influential health and fitness bloggers with ease.

referring domains ahrefs

Bottom line: Publishing content that appeals to your target customer isn’t enough. You need content that your influencers want to share with their audience.

But to create content that appeals to influencers, you need to find out who they are.

Once you’ve identified the influential people in your industry, it’s time for step #2…

Step #2: Find Out What Your Influencers Care About

After you know exactly who the influencers in your space are, it’s time to figure out what they care about.

Because once you understand which topics push their buttons, you can create content that appeals to them.

Example:

A few years ago I created an infographic for a client in the investing niche.

Even though that niche is far from “interesting”, our infographic went viral. We’re talking thousands of targeted visits in the first two days.

Here’s the infographic:

client infographic

Now there are dozens of reasons this infographic did so well, from the design to the content promotion campaign.

But a good chunk of its success was due to one simple thing:

It appealed to the influencers in the personal finance space.

I’ll explain.

I noticed that a lot of high-powered financial bloggers were up in arms about inflation:

inflation article

So I decided to create an infographic that highlighted the problem they cared so much about.

And it worked GREAT.

Bottom line: If you want influential people to share your content, you need to know what topics they care about most.

Step #3: Create Content On That Topic

Once you have a topic that your influencers care about, it’s time roll up your sleeves and create content around that topic.

Here’s an example from real life:

A few months ago I published a post called 21 SEO Techniques You Can Use Today to Get More Search Engine Traffic:

21 seo techniques

The post was a huge hit. To date its generated over 113,000 visitors.

seo techniques post traffic analytics

(Not to mention and 2,136 new email subscribers)

Like the infographic I mentioned earlier, there was a lot that went into this post’s success (including the Share Triggers I’ll cover in a minute).

But the post did well largely because it covered topics influencers in my niche cared about.

For example, I couldn’t help but notice that more and more bloggers in the SEO space were talking about broken link building.

So I led off the post with an advanced broken link building tip:

broken link building tip

Even though a good chunk of my target audience hadn’t ever heard of broken link building, my influencers had.

So I put that tip first.

Bottom line: When you create content, it needs to appeal to the influential people in your niche.

Once you’ve finished the first draft of your content, it’s time for the most important step….

Step #4: Finally, Add Share Triggers (This Is the Secret Sauce)

In my experience, content largely succeeds or fails based on one factor:

Whether or not the content has Share Triggers.

What are Share Triggers?

They’re scientifically-backed psychological principles that — when embedded in your content — encourage people to share and link.

Also, Share Triggers give your content that “WOW!” factor that turns cold traffic into leads and customers.

A lot of these principles were first discovered by behavioral scientists like Dr. Jonah Berger, Dr. Katherine Milkman and Jure Leskovec.

viral marketing research study

And they’ve proven in the lab what I discovered through trial-and-error:

When you include Share Triggers in your content, people are significantly more likely to link and share it.

For example:

One of the most powerful Share Triggers is Social Currency.

Social Currency is the idea that we share things that make us look good. And this Share Trigger is a large part of the reason that the Shrinking Dollar infographic did so well.

Yes, the infographic was on a topic was near and dear to hearts of personal finance bloggers (inflation).

But more important than that, the infographic confirmed what they were already saying: inflation is a big problem.

Specifically, my content backed up their rants with meaty data:

infographic data

Every time an influencer shared my infographic with their audience, it boosted their Social Currency.

So they shared it. Again and again.

It even got included in Google News thanks to a feature in The Christian Post.

shrinking dollar google news

All because I strategically added the Social Currency Share Trigger into my content.

Bottom Line: Including Share Triggers in your content significantly boosts the odds that it will generate shares, backlinks and traffic.

You Can Totally Do This!

Right now, I want you to do one thing:

Get started with this process.

Specifically, I want you to leave a comment that describes the influencers in your niche…and the topics they tend to talk about and share.

For example:

If you sell supplements for athletes, your comment might look like:

Influencers: Fitness blogs and journalists that cover nutrition research.

Topics: New nutrition research studies, workout recovery tips, and superfoods for athletes.

I’ll be around today to answer questions and give feedback.

So leave a comment and let me know what you think.

The post Want More Traffic That Actually Converts? Follow These 4 Steps… appeared first on Backlinko.

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Content Strategy Case Study: 36,282 Readers + 1,000 Email Subscribershttp://backlinko.com/content-strategy http://backlinko.com/content-strategy#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:23:55 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=5624 A few weeks ago I get this email out of the blue from Jimmy… The email said: “The first time I used your Skyscraper Technique I got 30k pageviews, 1k email subscribers, and currently rank #2 for my target term.” Needless to say, I was intrigued. So I pressed him for more info. Turns out... Read more »

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content strategy blog post bannerA few weeks ago I get this email out of the blue from Jimmy…

The email said:

“The first time I used your Skyscraper Technique I got 30k pageviews, 1k email subscribers, and currently rank #2 for my target term.”

Needless to say, I was intrigued.

So I pressed him for more info.

Turns out Jimmy was happy to spill the beans on his entire content strategy (step-by-step).

Let’s jump right in.

Free PDF Checklist: Download a PDF checklist that will walk you through the exact Skyscraper Technique process from this post.

This 3-Step Content Strategy=More Traffic, Backlinks and Sales From Your Content

Here’s the deal:

If you’re serious about getting results from your content, there are 3-steps you need to know:

Step #1: Find content with a proven track record of attracting backlinks, social shares and first page rankings.

Step#2: Make strategic improvements to that content.

Step #3: Promote that content via email outreach (today’s post has A LOT of info on this step).

And BAM. You’re done.

As you may know, these 3-steps make up The Skyscraper Technique…

…an SEO and content strategy that’s changing the way marketers create and promote their content.

Not familiar with The Skyscraper Technique?

No worries.

I filmed a video that walks you through the entire process.

Now that you understand how The Skyscraper Technique works, it’s time to dive into today’s step-by-step case study.

Jimmy’s Post Went Live on September 28th…

…and here’s what happened:

The post generated 4,865 Pageviews in its first week.

first week pageviews

It also attracted over 5,600 social shares (that’s not a typo).

social share count

Including tweets from ballers like Neil Patel (118k followers)…

neil patel tweet

…and the official Eventbrite Twitter account (189k followers):

eventbrite tweet

Because Jimmy got so many eyeballs on his content, bloggers started linking to it pretty much from day 1.

referring backlinks

And these aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill backlinks either.

We’re talking about mentions from the authority news sites, like Entrepreneur…

entrepreneur backlink

…and Inc.com:

inc backlink

But that was just the beginning…

“But Wait, There’s More”

What happens when a page attracts a bunch of high-quality backlinks?

That’s right: the page ranks higher in Google!

And that’s exactly what happened to Jimmy’s post.

The post currently ranks #2 for its target keyword, “email marketing best practices” (1,600 searches/month).

get vero rankingsKeep in mind that the keyword “email marketing best practices” is no joke.

With a CPC in the $26 range, the first page for this keyword is an eye-gouging, hair-pulling dogfight.

Despite the fact that Jimmy’s site is relatively new, his post ranks above big brand sites like MailChimp, HubSpot and Econsultancy.

Because he ranks #2 for that target keyword — and dozens of long tail keywords — organic traffic to that page continues to roll in day after day.

When you combine the surge of viral traffic in September with the slow drip of organic traffic, you have a page that’s brought in 36,282 total pageviews.

total pageviews

But as you know, no one ever went out of business because they didn’t get enough website pageviews or tweets.

That’s why I want to point out that the traffic that lands on this page converts like a champ.

In fact, this single post has generated 953 new email subscribers and 256 free trial signups. 

Want to know how Jimmy did it…and how you can do the same thing?

Keep reading.

How Jimmy Daly Generated 36,292 Pageviews from One Piece of Content

Now it’s time to learn how Jimmy had so much success so you can emulate it.

But first:

Who is Jimmy…and why did he create this guide in the first place?

Jimmy Daly heads up content marketing at Vero, a small (but growing) email marketing company.

jimmy daly

Here’s something you may or may not know the email marketing industry:

It’s INSANELY competitive.

But get this:

The entire Vero team is only 5 guys (including Jimmy).

5 guys!

And these 5 guys are going head-to-head with giants like GetResponse, MailChimp and Constant Contact.

Can you say David vs. Goliath?

Fortunately for Jimmy, the Vero team have an ace up their sleeve.

An ace that gives them a puncher’s chance against the big brands.

And that ace is:

SEO and content marketing.

Or as Jimmy puts it:

We looked around at the big guys — MailChimp, Constant Contact etc. — and their blogs were boring. The content was really generic and uninspiring, leaving a massive opportunity for us.

Jimmy Daly

Before Jimmy came on board as the head of content marketing, Vero’s CEO (Chris Hexton) ran the blog.

And because Chris focused on banging out super-actionable content, he grew the Vero blog from 0 to 15k monthly visitors. Not too shabby if you ask me.

But to take the Vero blog to the next level, they needed someone who had time to eat, sleep and breathe SEO.

In other words, Jimmy :-)

But to compete against the big players in the email marketing space, they needed something else:

A proven content marketing strategy they could leverage for SEO success.

In other words, The Skyscraper Technique :-)

Let’s dive into the step-by-step process Jimmy followed.

Step #1: Discover Awesome Content

Before you put pen to paper, you need to find content that’s already done well.

You have two options here:

1. Super-Relevant Content – This is content that’s directly related to your industry. For example, if you run a dog blog, you’d want to look for popular content about dogs. Simple.

2. Semi-Relevant Content – This type of content isn’t 100% related to what your blog tends to cover. However, there’s something about it (like the format, writing style, or visual design) that you can incorporate into your Skyscraper Content. For example, a blog post titled “50 Ways to Improve the Health of Your Cat” could easily be turned into a piece of Skyscraper content: “75 Tips to Boost The Health of Your Dog”.

Jimmy decided to go with option 1: find super-relevant content in the email marketing space.

In Jimmy’s own words:

After we discovered the Skyscraper Technique, we did some keyword research to identify keywords that we wanted to rank for. “Email marketing best practices” was a search query that no one had really conquered. There were some link roundups and a few short posts, but nothing that soared high and above everything else. Inferior content was not hard to find.

Jimmy Daly

Here’s how you can follow the same content discovery process Jimmy used:

First, use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords with a) high search volume and b) lots of commercial intent.

(Need help coming up with keyword ideas? Then check out Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide).

When Jimmy used the GKP, he noticed that the keyword “email marketing best practices” had a search volume of 1,600 searches/month.

google keyword planner results

1,600 monthly searches ain’t bad.

But what really got Jimmy excited was the commercial intent behind this keyword.

(In case you’re not familiar with it, commercial intent=the likelihood that someone will buy something)

How do you measure commercial intent? Check out the Adwords cost per click (also known as “Suggested bid”).

In the case of the keyword “email marketing best practices”, the average CPC is more than $26.

adwords suggested bid

Here’s the thing:

Despite the fact that people were shelling out 26 bucks per click, the content on the first page was surprisingly weak.

When Jimmy sized up the top 20 results in Google, he saw content that…

Lacked depth (this page has only 250 words on it):

low word count page

Was hard to use (this is a category page):

category page

Or didn’t have any actionable information (this page is a list of links to other articles):

roundup post

That’s when Jimmy realized he could use The Skyscraper Technique to outdo the content that currently ranked on page 1.

Here’s how he did it:

Step #2: Improve The Content You Found In Step 1

Now that you found content that’s performed well, you need to execute the most important element of any content strategy:

Create something MUCH better.

Jimmy used 5 techniques to push his content to the next level:

1. He published ONLY actionable tips.

This is important.

No matter what industry you’re in, people want information they can use right away.

That’s why Jimmy packed his post with 100% meaty advice.

Or as Jimmy puts it:

We’ve made a huge effort to keep our content detailed, educational and super actionable. If you can’t read a Vero post and immediately implement the content into an email campaign, we’ve failed.

Jimmy Daly

Jimmy walks the walk. All of his tips are insanely actionable:

actionable tip

2. The post is loaded with real world examples.

When it comes to content, there’s one thing I’ve found to be true almost 100% of the time:

People looooove examples.

When you hear the words “for example” your brain breathes a sigh of relief. That’s because research shows that examples make learning easier.

For example (see what I did there 😀 ):

Jimmy includes at least 1 real world example for every tip in his post.

example email

Does adding examples take more work than simply saying, “do this”?

Sure.

Is it worth it?

You better believe it.

3. He curated quotes and insights from experts.

To pile another layer of value on top of his content, Jimmy included original quotes from industry experts.

How?

For every tip in the post, Jimmy found an expert that knew a lot about that topic…

…and he emailed them for a quote.

For example, Jimmy’s first email marketing tip is: “Create an Exclusive Club”.

email marketing tip

He realized that Alex Turnbull of GrooveHQ uses this exact strategy with his email newsletter.

So he emailed Alex for a quote.

alex outreach email

Because the outreach email was short, sweet, and to-the-point, Alex took time out of his day to reply:

alex reply

And Alex’s insight was added to the post:

expert insight in a post

Note: These expert quotes will come in handy when you’re ready to promote your content. You’ll see why in a minute.

4. Next, Jimmy cranked up the post’s UX

As I mentioned before, most of the “email marketing best practices” content out there was hard to use.

For example, a good chunk the top 10 results in Google were category pages or roundups that had links to other articles.

To make his content stand out, Jimmy created a very cool table of contents:

table of contents

Not only does this look cool, but it makes the post much easier to use.

Instead of sifting through 5,000 words to find what you want, you can simply click on any tip from the table of contents…

clicking table of contents

…And you’re magically teleported to that tip.

blog post tip

5. The design looks awesome.

There’s no way around this:

If you want people to read and share your content, it needs to look GREAT.

And that’s exactly why Jimmy worked day and night to make his guide easy on the eyes.

Not only was the guide jam-packed with high-res screenshots…

screenshot example

…but he created that colorful table of contents you saw earlier.

Keep this in mind:

Jimmy COULD have simply used a boring, plain-text table of contents.

And that would have worked OK.

But he knew that he’d get more “ummph” from a table of contents that stood out.

It took countless rounds of revisions, but over time, his design went from this:

epic guide first draft

To this:

mockup draft 1

To this:

mockup draft 2

To this (the final design):

final design

The end result of all this hard work?

An Epic Guide To Email Marketing Best Practices: 20 Tips for Dramatically Better Emails.

email marketing best practices post

Now that Jimmy’s epic guide was live, it was time to move on to the most important step:

Content promotion.

 Step #3: Promote Your Content

There’s no two ways around it:

If you’re serious about squeezing every last drop of value from your content, you need to actively promote it.

And when I say “promote”, I don’t mean sharing your content on social media platforms Facebook or Twitter.

I’m talking about strategically sharing your content in a way that maximizes traffic, backlinks and social shares.

How?

Let’s take a look at the 7 strategies Jimmy used to promote his guide.

1. He announced the post to his email list.

This is HUGE.

Your email list is the #1 content promotion tool you have. Period.

In fact, there isn’t even a close second.

Remember:

Your subscribers are made up of people that LOVE what you’re about.

In other words, they’re a group that’s very likely to spread the word about your content.

That’s why Jimmy sent out a blog post announcement email to Vero’s 8,000 email subscribers:

vero email

As you can see, his email doesn’t look like a stuffed shirt corporate newsletter.

In fact (besides the big green button) the email looks like it could be from a friend. This is exactly how you want your emails to look.

How did it do?

Well that single email attracted 733 visitors in 48-hours.

(Try getting that from Facebook)

Side note: If you’re struggling to build your email list, then you definitely want to check out this post.

2. Jimmy pinged his expert contributors.

Remember how Jimmy collected quotes from a bunch of email marketing experts?

Well, after his post went live, he sent his experts a quick heads up to let them know.

outreach email

Because the experts felt like they were part of the guide, they happily shared it with their audience.

outreach reply

3. He pitched his guide to link roundups.

Next, Jimmy promoted his guide to people that run link roundups.

In case you’re not familiar with them, link roundups are posts that curate (or “roundup”) awesome content from the week.

The best part? There are roundups in almost every niche.

For example, this is a roundup from the parenting niche:

link roundup example

Here’s why promoting your content to link roundups works so well:

Your pitch actually makes their life easier (yes, really).

I’ll explain.

Roundup curators struggle to find content to include in their roundup. But when you suggest your new post, you deliver content for them on a silver platter.

In other words, there’s no arm twisting required to get your link.

Here’s the search string Jimmy used to find active link roundups:

link roundup screenshot

When he found a roundup that looked like a good fit, he reached out and suggested his guide.

Here’s an actual email Jimmy sent that resulted in a link from Marketing Land’s daily roundup:

marketing land outreach email

(And here’s the link from Marketing Land):

marketing land link

If he wasn’t able to find an email address, he used Twitter.

content promo tweet 1 content promo tweet 2

(Both of these tweets resulted in links)

4. He internally linked to his new guide from older posts.

I probably don’t need to tell you that internal linking can add some juice to your on-page SEO.

But that’s not the only reason to do it…

Internal links also get more eyeballs on your new content.

That’s why Jimmy added a bunch of internal links to his new Email Marketing Best Practices Guide.

Here’s an example:

internal link example

Internal linking is one of those things that takes 7-minutes but can make a HUGE difference in how your content performs.

5. He included “Click to Tweet” buttons for every single tip.

This happens to me at least once a week:

I read an article, think it’s cool, so I decide to tweet it…

…only I can’t find a tweet button.

So I say “oh well” and close the tab.

Bottom line: You want to make sharing your content on social media extremely easy.

Jimmy’s took this to the extreme. His guide contains a “Tweet this tip” button to go along with every tip.

For example, when you’re reading tip #3 (“Ask for feedback”), a “Tweet tip 3″ button appears on the page:

click to tweet button

When you click on that button, a filled-out tweet appears that’s specific to that tip.

pre filled out button

Because that “click to tweet” button makes tweeting the guide so darn easy, lots of people used it:

example tweet

6. He scheduled tweets to promote each tip.

As you know, you should always (as in every single time) tweet your content multiple times…

…even if it’s the exact same tweet.

That way you get your content in front of people that are on Twitter at different times.

Makes sense, right? Right.

But here’s the thing:

SEEING your tweet is only half the battle.

For your tweet to work, people need to click on it.

That’s why — to maximize clicks — you want to mix up the format of your tweets.

For example, Sally may like the copied-and-pasted blog post title…

…but Mark might like a big ol’ information gap.

Here’s how Jimmy applied this approach to his campaign:

I wrote 20 tweets, one for each tip, and cycled each one through our Buffer feed. I made sure to @mention people and businesses in the tweets.

Jimmy Daly

Here are two examples:

twitter tip tweet twitter tip tweet 2

7. Jimmy reached out to .edu sites (this didn’t go so well)

Like any content marketing campaign, Jimmy’s content promotion wasn’t all puppies and rainbows.

Unfortunately, despite a solid approach, Jimmy wasn’t able to get any backlinks from .edu sites.

Here’s what he tried:

Jimmy found 25 .edu sites that had a page about email marketing. For example, here’s a page he found on Kent.edu:

email marketing edu guide

And here’s the email he sent to the person that ran that page:

edu outreach email

Unfortunately, Jimmy hasn’t received a response so far.

Most people wouldn’t have mentioned this. But I did.

Why?

To show you that your content promotion doesn’t have to be perfect.

As you saw, Jimmy’s guide performed GREAT…even though this particular technique didn’t happen to work out.

8. Jimmy reached out to people he mentioned in the guide (this worked great).

Here’s a mistake I see a lot of people make:

They mention an influential person in their content…

…but they don’t give that influencer a heads up to let them know about it.

Biiiiiig mistake.

Jimmy knew that influential people are busy. Too busy to notice they’ve been mentioned in a blog post (crazy, I know).

So he sent emails to all of the people and companies that he mentioned in his guide:

heads up outreach email

Most of which were happy to share his guide with their social media followers:

outreach email response

Now It’s Your Turn

Ready to rock with The Skyscraper Technique content strategy?

Then click on the image below and enter your email.

When you do, you’ll get access to a free downloadable PDF Skyscraper Technique checklist.

Skyscraper Technique Checklist

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Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques: The Complete Listhttp://backlinko.com/conversion-rate-optimization http://backlinko.com/conversion-rate-optimization#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:15:30 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=5307 This is the most comprehensive list of conversion optimization techniques on the planet. Whether you run an ecommerce site, a blog, or a brick and mortar business, you’ll love this guide. Before “Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Techniques: The Complete List”, these techniques were scattered across the internet. Now, with the help of Devesh Khanal of... Read more »

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This is the most comprehensive list of conversion optimization techniques on the planet.

Whether you run an ecommerce site, a blog, or a brick and mortar business, you’ll love this guide.

Before “Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Techniques: The Complete List”, these techniques were scattered across the internet.

Now, with the help of Devesh Khanal of Devesh Design, we’ve put them all in one place.

And you can easily sort through the 100+ techniques based on your individual conversion goals.

Enjoy!

Free PDF: Get access to a free downloadable PDF version of this guide. Contains all 100+ techniques and resources found here.

Click the buttons to find the best CRO techniques for you:

I want techniques that help:


  1. list building
  2. e-commerce
  3. Saas and web apps

I want to optimize:


  1. copy
  2. design
  3. call-to-action
  4. pricing
  5. funnels

Also show me CRO best practices:


  1. yes
  2. no

copy techniques

Sweeten the deal with bonuses

e-commerce, Saas and web appspricing, funnelsno

A product+bonus has a higher perceived value than the same two products bundled together. This is backed by science: Research by Dr. Jerry Burger found that people preferred to buy a cupcake that came with two free cookies over a bundle that contained a cupcake and two cookies.


Sources:
http://www.scu.edu/cas/psychology/faculty/upload/Burger-JPSP-1986.pdf

Increase the quantity of your landing pages

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsfunnelsyes

As Hubspot reports in the linked study, companies with 10+ landing pages generate 55% more leads than companies with 5 fewer landing pages.

landing pages lead gen

More landing pages means you can make more personal offers and search engines can send more targeted traffic. But be careful: this doesn’t mean just take the same offer and make 30 different designs. You should aim to make each landing page 90% unique: different offers, different customer segments, different leadmagents, you name it.


Sources:
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33756/Why-You-Yes-You-Need-to-Create-More-Landing-Pages.aspx

Test upsells, downsells and cross sells

e-commerce, Saas and web appspricing, funnelsno

It’s no secret that when someone is ready to buy item X, they’re much more likely to buy item Y.

That’s why upselling is a classic sales strategy that still works. As you can see in the PDF link below, scientific research backs this up. On the flip side, downsells offer a cheaper option for people that say “no” to the original offer.


Sources:
http://www.lehigh.edu/ise/documents/06t_003.pdf
http://conversionxl.com/upselling-techniques/
http://www.mindvalleyinsights.com/how_to_optimize_your_upsell_flow/

Use inline validation

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Inline validation=awesome. Ever spend 10-minutes to fill out a form, only to see a “You need to accept the terms of service” error message?
#annoying

Instead of making a user submit the entire form to see if they’ve made a mistake, inline validation give them a heads up as they work. Here’s a real-life example:

inline validation

Several case studies (including this one) found that inline validation boosts form completion rates.


Sources:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/06/27/form-field-validation-errors-only-approach/
http://www.getelastic.com/real-time-inline-validation/

Test free trials vs. freemium

Saas and web appspricing, funnelsno

Consider testing freemium vs. free trial pricing models. Depending on the product and industry, one or the other could make a HUGE difference in overall paid conversions.


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/ab-testing-free-trial-versus-freemium/
http://www.layeredthoughts.com/startups/the-psychological-difference-between-freemium-free-trial-plans

Show the work that went into creating your product

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

With more and more products becoming commodities, how can you possibly stand out? Instead of packing in more features, why not tell a story? But not just any story: the story of how your product went from idea to a real-life thing. Here’s an amazing example of this strategy in action:

Telling your product’s story builds credibility and trust. It also adds a sense of romance to you and your business.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/100-year-old-persuasion-strategy/

Get new users engaged immediately, even if they don't buy right away

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsfunnelsyes

If your site only has the options to “buy” or “not buy”, you’re alienating customers that need more time to make a decision. Get customers to engage with you immediately in some way – even if they don’t “buy” or “sign up” at first. This could be using a free trial, watching a video, or uploading a file. However, make sure that you carefully measure whether more engagement=more sales. There’s a fine line between engagement and distraction.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/photoshelter-case-study/
http://unbounce.com/landing-page-articles/the-benefits-of-using-video-on-landing-pages/

Show why you're better than competition

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

When the benefits of using your product are abundantly clear, you don’t need to woo potential customers with fancy copy. Instead, make a direct comparison to your competitors. That way, people can quickly see why they should choose you over the rest.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/sunshine-case-study/

Use weird call to action copy

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Standard CTA copy=”Sign Up” or “Join”. Weird call to action copy=“Join now and get access to our app”. You may have noticed that I use weird CTA button copy on my homepage:

call to action button

Several case studies have found that non-standard CTAs convert better than the tired “learn more” and “sign up” . But, this is CRO, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that everything needs to be tested.


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#18
http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/

Remove your coupon field

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, pricingno

When you see a coupon field on a checkout page, what do you do? You go to Google and search for coupon codes of course! Unfortunately, you may never go back to that checkout page. Removing (or hiding) the coupon field on your checkout page can slash shopping cart abandonment significantly.

 


Sources:
http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Sad-Tale-of-Abandoned-Shopping-Carts/1007156
http://www.uxbooth.com/articles/stopping-shopping-cart-abandonment/

Add reassurance copy

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Add little bits of copy around your CTAs that make the user feel comfortable about their decision. Joanna Wiebe of CopyHackers.com calls these “Click Triggers”. Mention free shipping, a money back guarantee, your privacy policy, or a key benefit. Booking.com is the king of Click Triggers. They sprinkle them everywhere. I count 4 of them on this single hotel listing:

click triggers

Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/cro-tips/
http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/

Give people more information

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

Landing pages for email opt-ins usually don’t need to give you a lot of information to get you to convert. A simple ebook offer usually does the trick. However, sales pages for complex or costly products usually require more information. Information product sales pages are notorious for insanely long sales letters. Why are they so long? Because people need a lot of convincing to invest in a pricey online course.

So if you have an expensive or complex product, don’t be shy about providing people with A LOT of information.


Sources:
http://contentverve.com/how-long-should-a-landing-page-be-simple-tips/
https://signalvnoise.com/posts/2991-behind-the-scenes-ab-testing-part-3-final

Persuade with image captions

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

According to the excellent copywriting manual, Cashvertising, captions get read twice as much as non-headline copy. Don’t waste that precious real estate with a boring description. Instead, put key persuasive information in your captions.


Sources:
http://www.amazon.com/CA-HVERTISING-Ad-Agency-Psychology-Anything-ebook/dp/B002AP9GRG
http://writtent.com/blog/20-killer-web-copywriting-tips/

Clearly mark your top sellers

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

Making a product as a top seller demonstrates social proof, which can often boost conversions. Here’s an example:

best sellers ecommerce

Want to take this to another level? Personalize your best seller list by customer segments or purchase history.


Sources:
http://www.widerfunnel.com/proof/case-studies/e-commerce-product-category-page-ab-test-example
http://www.retailtouchpoints.com/shopper-engagement/1987-loccitane-increases-conversions-37-with-personalization

Feature high-revenue products above fold

e-commercedesignno

Put your best-selling, most profitable products front and center in the ‘above the fold’ area of your site. This applies to your homepage and product and category pages.


Sources:
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/comprehensive-guide-e-commerce-conversion-strategy/112791/
http://www.slideshare.net/JoelAdamSmith/8-musthaveecommerceproductpageelementsabovefold

Replace blocks of text with bullet points

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

No one likes to read huge blocks of text (especially in a mile-long sales letter). Instead, break things up with bullet points.


Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/100-conversion-optimization-case-studies/4/
http://www.freshconsulting.com/homepage-ui-design/
https://www.instapage.com/2014/02/14/landing-page-case-study/

Replace the word "Buy" with benefit-rich CTAs

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

The word “buy” increases your customer’s feeling of commitment. Not good. Instead of “buy”, use benefit-oriented terms like “Reserve My Seat” and “Send Me My T-Shirt”.

Here’s an example from Unbounce:

button copywriting
Instead of “Buy Plan”, they say “Start My 30-Day Free Trial”, which is much more likely to get clicked.


Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/100-conversion-optimization-case-studies/3/

Don't show the number of people already on your email list (yes, really)

list buildingcopy, call-to-actionno

Social proof is tried and true sales tactics that works every time….Or does it? Derek Halpern found that removing the text, “Join 15,000 people already subscribed” actually improved conversions. We’ve found similar results at Backlinko. Why? It could be that people want email lists to feel small and more intimate. Advertising your giant list makes it sound like someone is going to get slammed with impersonal sales emails.


Sources:
http://diythemes.com/thesis/increase-conversions-split-testing/

Test first and second person copy in CTAs

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Several CRO case studies show first person in the call to action (“I want to try it!”) works well. However, some people have seen a higher conversion with the second person “your” (“Get your free quote”). Try both to see which gives you the best conversion rate.


Sources:
http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/
http://contentverve.com/case-study-31-03-increase-in-sales-by-tweaking-the-call-to-action-copy-on-a-payment-page/

Evoke emotion

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

There’s no way around it: emotions sell. This is true even if you’re in a so-called “boring niche”. Whether you sell weight loss products, business courses or parenting books, use copy that evokes emotion. This can increase brand recall and (if you trigger the right emotions) boost sales.


Sources:
http://contentverve.com/conversion-optimization-helped-a-nonprofit-increase-donations-274/
http://www.copyblogger.com/emotional-copywriting/

Hide negative social proof

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

You probably already know that social proof can skyrocket conversions. But if you have 10 customers and 50 Facebook Likes, your social proof can actually work against you. So make sure you hide any indicators of negative social proof that appear on your site.


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/social-proof-decreases-conversions/
http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/social-proof-proving-the-wrong-things/

Directly counter objections

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Don’t be afraid to put customers’ barriers, doubts, and hesitations, on your site…and directly counter them.

Common barriers include:

  • You don’t understand my unique problem
  • Why should I believe you?
  • What if it doesn’t work for me?
  • It’s not worth the money

Try to counter objections at different points in your funnel. You can find these objections by surveying visitors (another technique from this guide).

Here’s a brilliant example of this technique in action:

countering objections

Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/sunshine-case-study/
http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/exit-overlays-make-your-landing-page-offer-more-persuasive

Replace jargon with plain English

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

When it comes to writing sales copy, leave your MBA or PhD at the door. Hyped up jargon like this doesn’t work: “We are a enterprise software company that focuses on providing customers with revenue-driven solutions throughout the sales cycle.” Blah. Instead, use copy anyone can understand: “We’re a CRM that will get you more sales.”


Sources:
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/claritytrumpspersuasion.html

Leverage loss aversion

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

“Loss aversion” is a powerful psychological motivator. In other words: “Don’t lose customers” is usually more convincing than “Get higher conversions”. Research shows that people are MUCH more motivated to avoid a loss than to gain something new. Incorporating this into your copy can boost conversions.


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#30
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion
http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.5.1.193

Use specific statistics and numbers

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

Looking to add credibility to your copy? Sprinkle in stats and figures. For example, “works 52% better than our competitor” is much more powerful than “best product around!”.

Here’s an example from the HubSpot homepage:

hubspot social proof

Sources:
http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/statistics/

Add urgency to your CTA

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Add a sense of urgency to your call to action and watch your on-the-fence visitors whip out their wallets. To up the ante, add specific numbers to your urgency CTA. For example: “Order in the next 2 hours for delivery today” or “Only 2 left” work better than “Supplies are limited”.

EasyJet does something pretty creative. They actually show you the number of other people looking at the same route. This makes you think “I better get this deal now before someone else does”:

easyjet page

Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/daflores-case-study/
http://blog.sendblaster.com/2011/07/25/designing-a-call-to-action-that-customers-can%E2%80%99t-resist/

Use price anchoring

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, pricingno

Want to make your products seem dirt cheap…without slashing the price one red cent? Try anchoring.

Here’s how it works: When you show someone a certain price, they’re “anchored” to that price for a short time (that’s why infomercials show you higher prices before they reveal the actual price). Williams-Sonoma anchors like a boss. 5 out of the 6 products on this category page have a price anchor:

price anchoring

Even if you’re current price isn’t a “discount”, try anchoring with a higher price first. That will make the real price seem like a sweet deal.


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persuasion
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/eye-tracking-studies/
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/ab-testing-price-discounts/

Add a benefit to your call to action

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Replace boring calls to action with CTAs that show people what they’re going to get. For example:

  • Instead of  “Sign Up ” try “Spend less time with CRM”
  • Instead of  “Learn More” try “Yes, I want a diet that works”

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/call-to-action-increase-sales/
http://contentverve.com/case-study-31-54-more-conversions-signup-form-copy/

Test different prices to maximize total revenue

e-commerce, Saas and web appspricingno

You can test headlines and button colors till you’re blue in the face. And hey, you’ll sometimes see a lift on conversions. But you might find yourself with a HUGE conversion win by lowering or raising your price. Obviously, a lower price can boost conversions but hurt profits. Sometimes the lift in conversions from a lower price will outweigh the lower margins you’ll get. Other times, it won’t. So you’ll need to run revenue numbers to make the math work.


Sources:
https://vwo.com/blog/saas-pricing-ab-test/

Use guarantees

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-actionno

Risk reversals have worked well for centuries. And they continue to work like gangbusters today. Guarantees demonstrate credibility and reduce risk — two things that get potential buyers to pull the trigger.


Sources:
http://michelfortin.com/risk-reversals-role-reversal/
http://conversionscientist.com/ecommerce-optimization/using-risk-reversal-increase-ecommerce-salesif-youve-got-flaunt/

Use no-nonsense headlines

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

The purpose of your headline isn’t to sell…it’s to show people the benefit of using your product. And an overly salesey headline (“We can get you more sales. Call us today!”) can turn people off.

What should you do instead? Use copy that clearly tells people about the #1 benefit people will get from your product or service. Optimizely has one of my all-time favorite no-nonsense headlines:

optimizely homepage

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/using-ab-split-testing-to-refine-your-startups-positioning-90-increase-in-conversion-rate/
http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1525-writing-decisions-headline-tests-on-the-highrise-signup-page

Make your headlines super-specific

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

It’s a fact: vague headlines don’t sell. Don’t be afraid to be insanely specific about what your product or service does. Yes, you may turn some people away. But your target customers will eat it up.

For example: instead of “Our app helps your business”, try “Our app has helped 35 businesses double their sales in 6 months”.


Sources:
http://www.widerfunnel.com/proof/case-studies/the-sims-3-doubles-game-registrations-by-identifying-the-most-compelling-offer
http://marketing.linkedin.com/blog/make-the-headline-better-advice-from-6-copywriting-legends/

Show where your product was made

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

If you want your product to appear less generic, show where it was made. Even a simple “Made in San Francisco” label can help you stand out.


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#12

Use scarcity

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Scarcity is one of the oldest persuasion techniques in the book. Why? Because it works! As long as your scarcity is legit, don’t be afraid to flaunt it. Copy like, “2 seats left”, “price going up soon”, and “3 days left” move products like wildfire.


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini
https://goodui.org/#36

Use the same language customers use

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-action, funnelsno

People click, sign up, and buy when they feel like you understand them. The best way to do? Use your customers’ exact words. Not the words you think they use…literally the exact words they use to describe their problem. You can get these magical words via email replies, surveys, blog comments, and forums.


Sources:
http://www.problogger.net/archives/2012/01/26/ramit-sethi-exposed-how-he-earns-millions-blogging/
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/understanding-your-customer-copy/
http://businesscasualcopywriting.com/buzzstream-webinar/

Ask for micro-commitments

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-action, funnelsno

Micro-commitments let a visitor “date” you before getting married.

In the world of conversion rate optimization, micro-commitments can be used in two ways:

First, you can include tiny commitments at the top of your sales funnel. For example, you could offer a free trial or a monthly membership over a pricey annual plan.  You can also emphasize smaller commitments in your sales copy. For example, use a call to action like “See a sample” over the high-pressure “Get a free quote”.

CrazyEgg does an awesome job with this technique. Instead of asking you to signup, they let you take their software for a spin:crazyegg homepage


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#44
http://preneurmarketing.com/essays/micro-commitments/

Test negative words in your headline

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

Outbrain discovered that negative words in headlines like “never” and “worst” outperform positive words, like “always” and “best”…by 63%.

outbrain negative positive words

For example, a headline like “5 worst foods for losing belly fat” will grab more attention than “5 best foods for losing belly fat”.


Sources:
http://www.outbrain.com/blog/2013/07/headlines-when-the-best-brings-the-worst-and-the-worst-brings-the-best.html

Add numbers in your headline

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

There’s a simple reason that “top 10″ articles dominate the internet: they attract clicks like a moth to a flame. Add numbers to your headlines to increase engagement and conversions.


Sources:
https://signalvnoise.com/posts/1525-writing-decisions-headline-tests-on-the-highrise-signup-page
http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/06/headline-click-through-rate/
http://goinswriter.com/catchy-headlines/

Use information gaps to create curiosity

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopyno

When your get a little bit of information — but not the whole thing — you’ll do almost anything to close the gap. Information gaps are especially powerful for email opt-ins and lead generation.  For example, let’s say you were giving away a weight loss ebook as a lead magnet. You could use this copy to create an information gap: “Research shows that this seemingly ‘healthy’ food actually slows down your metabolism”.  I know I’m curious about what that food might be (and I made that example up 😀 )


Sources:
http://copyhackers.com/2014/04/curiosity-gap/
http://socialtriggers.com/power-of-curiosity/

Use action-oriented copy

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, call-to-actionno

Instead of highlighting facts (“Our product helps people lose weight”), use active-voice copy (“Lose that stubborn belly fat”). Copywriters have long known that this action-oriented copy is more persuasive and powerful.


Sources:
http://www.designtoads.com/blog/what-is-a-b-testing-part-2
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/research-topics/response-capture-case-study.html

Make your About Us page more human

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, funnelsno

If you’re like most people, your About Page is one of the top 5 most-visited pages on your site. Don’t waste the opportunity to show people that you’re company is made up of real, likable human beings. Wistia’s About Page is a perfect example of this in action:

Wistia About Page

Instead of stiff headshots, Wistia lets their employees show off some personality.


Sources:
http://diythemes.com/thesis/amazing-blog-about-pages/
http://shawngraham.me/blog/how-to-write-great-about-us-page-content

Turn a boring form into a fill in the blank

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Let’s face it: no one likes filling out forms. That is, unless you make them fun. Vast.com found that replacing your typical boring forms with a”Mad Lib” style boosted form completion rate by 25%-40%. Here’s an example:

Mad Lib Style Form

Sources:
http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1007
https://goodui.org/#48

Use a long-form sales page for pricey products

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, funnelsno

You’re not going to get many people to shell out $4000 for your online course with a 150-word landing page. For larger commitments, complex software, and expensive products, try a long-form sales page. That gives you the opportunity to explain details and benefits in-depth.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/seomoz-case-study/
http://conversionxl.com/how-to-design-kickass-long-form-sales-pages/
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/crazy-egg-case-study/

Add number of likes, users, followers or customers as social proof

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

Whether we admit to it or not, social proof has a strong influence on what we do. In the world of CRO, you can easily leverage this by featuring Facebook likes, number of customers, number of users, number of downloads, or any other indication of the number of people that trust your brand. Like anything in CRO, it won’t work in all cases. So if you already have social proof on your landing pages, you may want test removing social proof from your landing pages (or using a different form of social proof).


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/call-to-action-increase-sales/
http://blog.wishpond.com/post/98235786280/50-a-b-split-test-conversion-optimization-case-studies

Use qualitative surveys to get breakthrough insights

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Qualtitative surveys give you copywriting gold:  the exact words customers use to describe their struggles, fears, and desires. Qualitative survey not only hooks you up with compelling copy, but can help you build a better product.


Sources:
http://okdork.com/2013/10/14/how-to-use-surveys-to-get-insane-results/
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/magic-of-qualitative-data/

design techniques

Optimize your site for mobile

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignyes

If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile screens, you need to hop in your Delorean and leave 1998 in a hurry. Check out the case study below to see how ProFlowers increased their conversion rates by 20-30% simply by making their site mobile friendly.


Sources:
https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/case-studies/proflowers.html

Show multiple high-quality product images

e-commercedesignyes

You probably already know that, when it comes to ecommerce conversions, product images are HUGE. Before you throw up a grainy iphone photo, check out the linked studies. You’ll learn how multiple high-quality product images (taken from multiple angles) can significantly boost conversion rates.


Sources:
http://conversionxl.com/how-images-can-boost-your-conversion-rate/
http://blog.ablecommerce.com/increasing-e-commerce-conversion-ratios-with-multiple-product-images
http://blog.woorank.com/2013/12/boost-product-page-conversion-rates-with-examples/

Prominently display your phone number

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

A phone number is a sign of trust and reliability. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find a 1-800 number on a shady affiliate site.

In one case study, LessAccounting saw a modest increase in conversions after they added a big ol’ phone number to their homepage.


Sources:
http://lesseverything.com/blog/archives/2011/02/17/adding-a-phone-number-to-lessaccounting-increased-our-paid-user-base/
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/results-from-flowr/

Show off user reviews

e-commercecopy, funnelsno

Countless case studies have shown that user reviews increase conversions (especially for ecommerce sites). But don’t just let people choose 3 stars and call it a day. Let them wax lyrical about your products. As Unbounce reports in the case study below, conversions increase if user reviews have meaty content.

In other words, users want to read what people have to say about the product…not just how many stars they gave it.


Sources:
http://unbounce.com/photos/customer-reviews-impact-conversions.jpg

Ruthlessly remove useless links

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-actionno

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked on an Adwords ad and landed on a page with links to pages like “About Us” and “Our Mission”. If you’re serious about conversions, your landing pages have to give visitors ONE or TWO options. Every additional option eats away at your page’s conversions.

Bottom line: Remove distracting links from your landing pages. This can often lead to a bump in conversions because more visitors will do what you actually want them to do.


Sources:
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/landing-page-navigation-ht
https://vwo.com/blog/a-b-testing-case-study-navigation-menu/
http://www.sparkpage.com/no-navigation-more-conversions/

Remove graphics or images near or touching your CTA

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

You may want to draw attention to your CTA with arrows or other fancy graphics. And that can work. However: If your button already contrasts with the rest of the page, you may not need potentially distracting images around it. Your visitors will find it on their own, thank you very much :-)


Sources:
http://blog.crazyegg.com/2014/07/22/call-action-buttons/

Make call to actions look like buttons (instead of text or pictures)

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

When it comes to call to action links, traditional-looking buttons tend to work best. That’s because people have been trained to click on buttons.

If your CTA look like a text link or an image, fewer users will recognize it as a call to action. You guessed it: that means fewer people will click.


Sources:
http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/

Pimp expert social proof

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, designno

Show testimonials from prominent people in your industry, logos of well-know companies you’ve worked with, and awards you’ve won. Expert social proof (“Our clients include Microsoft”) can be more powerful than sheer numbers (“We’ve served 876 clients”).

You may notice that I use this strategy here at Backlinko. I include a prominent testimonial from the well known SEO expert Neil Patel on my homepage:

expert testimonial

Sources:
http://www.salesnexus.com/blog/sales/the-importance-of-using-testimonials-2/
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/voices-case-study/

Allow customers to zoom in on your products

e-commercedesignno

Allowing customers to zoom in and see your product’s up-close is as close as you can get to an in-store shopping experience. In the case study below by Ecommerce Partners, an interactive zoom boosted sales at an online shoe store by 51%.


Sources:
http://conversionxl.com/how-images-can-boost-your-conversion-rate/
http://www.ecommercepartners.net/blog/use-product-zoom-to-increase-conversion.html

Use image testimonials

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Imagine if had a picture of Brad Pitt holding your product in his hands. Don’t you think that would be a powerful testimonial? I guess it would depend on what you’re selling…but you get the idea :-)

Images of recognizable people and industry experts work great. You can also show images of your customers with smiles on their satisfied faces. In fact, the weight loss/fitness industry relies on image testimonials to move their products off the shelves:

before and after weight loss images

Sources:
http://conversionxl.com/how-why-you-should-invest-in-getting-good-testimonials-w-examples/

Use a large font for your headline

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Don’t be afraid to make your headlines HUGE.

In fact, Numara boosted clicks by 334% when they made their headline shorter and bigger:

larger headline case study

 

Bottom line: Make your headline big and bold.


Sources:
http://www.clicklaboratory.com/case-studies/increasing-sales-pipeline-with-adaptive-web-design/

Use a single column layout

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

For pages where you want to present information in a specific order, move from a multi-column layout to single column. That way you can lead users by the nose to the bottom of the page. In fact, a case study via Marketing Experiments found that shifting to a single-column layout boosted conversions by more than 600% for a software company:

single column layout

Sources:
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/research-topics/landing-page-optimization-research-topics/how-many-columns-webpages.html

Use hand-drawn visual cues

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-actionno

Want to draw attention to a certain area of your landing page? Try hand drawn arrows and copy. This won’t always work, (sometimes cleaner designs convert better) but it often does.

Here’s an example from the real world:

hand drawn images

See how the hand drawn elements grab and direct attention?


Sources:
http://www.90percentofeverything.com/2009/08/25/some-fun-eye-tracking-heatmaps/

Encourage customers to share their puchase on social media

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, funnelsno

Encourage users to share (and brag) about what they bought on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. This will not only bring you some referral sales (“Those shoes look so cute. I want those!”), but will brand awareness to boot.

For example, here’s what happens when you buy a bottle of wine at InVino:

after purchase social share

Another example: EventBrite recently started to encourage customers to share their purchase on social media. They found that the average return on a share was $4.15 for Facebook and $1.85 for Twitter. I’ll take that ROI any day of the week.


Sources:
http://blog.sumall.com/journal/integrate-social-media-e-commerce.html
http://blog.eventbrite.com/social-commerce-a-global-look-at-the-numbers/

Keep the number of items in the cart visible

e-commercedesign, funnelsno

People on a shopping spree can lose track of what they put into their cart. You can easily sidestep this issue with an item tracking feature that shows people how many items they have in their shopping cart.

Here’s an example from Keurig:

ecommerce shopping cart items

Sources:
http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/03/31/don-t-go
http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/08/14/decrease-shopping-cart-abandonment/

Add product filters

e-commercedesign, call-to-actionno

If you have a category page with 1001 products on it, add a product filter. That way, people can choose to see only items that fit their style and budget.

Kilt ecommerce site Buy A Kilt saw a massive 76% increase in revenues when they added a simple product filter to their category pages:

product filter

That means 76% more men wearing kilts. That’s a good thing, right?


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/product-filter-ecommerce-ab-testing-revenue/

Use real faces instead of icons or stock photos

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

No surprise here: people respond to human faces. As in, real pictures of real people (not lame stock photography).

Case in point: a case study published by Visual Website Optimizer. They found that replacing a stock photo with an image of a real company moving crew boosted conversions by 45%.

stock photgraphy case study

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/human-landing-page-increase-conversion-rate/
https://vwo.com/blog/stock-photos-reduce-conversions/

Add auto-complete suggestions in product search (with images)

e-commercedesignno

You may have noticed that Amazon gives you product suggestions while you type:

amazon suggestions

They do that for a reason: it works! Less typing=more time to spend money.

Even better, try adding images to those suggestions. LEDHut doubled their sales after they added images to their ecommerce autocomplete search functionality:

search suggest with images

Sources:
http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/04/29/product-images-site-search-window-boosts-conversions
http://www.digitaltrainingacademy.com/casestudies/2014/02/search_case_study_led_hut_revamps_site_search_to_boost_international_appeal_and_double_sales.php

Slap a discount sticker on your products

e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, pricingno

Test what a big ol’ discount sticker does to you sales. In one case study, a wine ecommerce sites skyrocketed conversions by 148.3% with the simple addition of a “15% off sticker”.

discount sticker conversions

Sources:
http://www.abtestingexperts.com/ab-testing-case-study-the-corkscrew-wine-merchants

Show your product in context

e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Cigarette advertisers have used context to sell for decades. That’s why almost 100% of their ads show hot people smoking instead of a close up of the product itself.

No matter what you sell, show your product in the environment people will use it. Ikea is the grand master of this technique. You’d be hard pressed to find an Ikea image of a pot NOT in a kitchen or a shower curtain NOT attached to a bathtub.

I mean, look at how cool they make this silverware organizer look:

product images context

That’s context, baby.


Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/presentation-and-context/

Use BIG product images

e-commercedesignno

If you think your product images are too small, you’re probably right.

When people shop online, they’re drawn to images, not sales copy. In one case study, an a Czech online retailer saw a 9% boost in conversions when they switched to bigger product images:

large product images

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/larger-product-images-increase-conversion-rate/
https://econsultancy.com/blog/62391-do-bigger-images-mean-improved-conversion-rates-three-case-studies

Use short landing pages for small commitments

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

For small initial commitments — like an email opt-in or lead gen form, — try a super-short page.

HubSpot’s lead generation pages are extremely short and (I can imagine) convert well for them:

hubspot landing page

Sources:
https://vwo.com/blog/short-landing-pages/

Follow traditional design conventions

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

There’s nothing wrong with going against the grain. However, people have come to expect your website to have things in certain places. For example, when you visit a homepage you expect navigation at the top, the cart on the upper right-hand corner and back buttons on the left side. If any of these conventions are broken, user experience suffers.


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#29

Make your load time lightning-fast

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignyes

Amazon once reported that one second of load site delay can cost them over $1 billion in annual sales. Needless to say, they don’t let that happen :-)

No matter what conversion you’re looking for — whether it’s an email signup or a big-ticket purchase — site speed can boost conversions.


Sources:
http://blog.mozilla.org/metrics/2010/04/05/firefox-page-load-speed-%E2%80%93-part-ii/
http://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost-amazon-16-billion-sales
http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2012/02/28/4-awesome-slides-showing-how-page-speed-correlates-to-business-metrics-at-walmart-com/
http://velocityconf.com/velocity2009/public/schedule/detail/7709

Use a smaller button

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

9 times out of 10, bigger buttons increase conversions. That’s because they stand out more.

But in certain cases, a smaller button works better. That’s what Michael Aagaard found when he used a smaller button on one of his client’s signup pages. The smaller button converted 10.56% better than the larger one.

larger button conversions

Sources:
http://contentverve.com/case-study-31-03-increase-in-sales-by-tweaking-the-call-to-action-copy-on-a-payment-page/

Replace dropdown menus with other options

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Dropdown menus are a huge pain. Personally, I’m cursed with a birthday of August 31st. That means I have to scroll to the very bottom of a dropdown menu to choose my birth date.

Try replacing cumbersome dropdown menus with visible options or autocomplete fields.

 


Sources:
https://vwo.com/blog/removing-drop-down-increased-conversions-on-ecommerce-website/

Use a slider at the bottom of your pages

list buildingdesignno

A slider is an awesome way to grab someone’s attention…without annoying them with a popup. You can use that attention to get someone to visit another page, complete a form or collect an email. I personally use the excellent SumoMe Scroll Box here at Backlinko. Here’s how it looks:

sumome scrollbox

Here’s how it converts for me:

scrollbox

Not too shabby, eh?


Sources:
http://sumome.com/app/scroll-box

Use a notification bar at the top of your pages

list buildingdesignno

Think pop-ups are too intrusive? No sweat. Try a notification bar (like Hellobar) at the top of your site. Two of the services we’ve linked to here work well.

How well do they work? Jason Acidre boosted his conversions by 532% after he added a notification bar to the top of his blog:

notification bar

Sources:
https://www.hellobar.com
http://sumome.com/app/smart-bar
http://kaiserthesage.com/email-list-building/

Use a popup to capture more emails

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

People love to complain about popups. But the reality is: they convert. Like any marketing tactic, the devil’s in the details. In the case of popups, the better your make your offer, the higher your conversion rate will be. Try offering exclusive tips, or better yet, pitch a Content Upgrade bonus. Here’s an example:

content upgrade popup

See how laser targeted that is? As you can probably guess, that popup coverts better (and annoys less) than your a generic “sign up for my newsletter” popup.


Sources:
http://blog.videofruit.com/spike/
http://socialtriggers.com/annoying-popups/

Avoid false bottoms to keep users scrolling

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Long form pages can convert like crazy (especially for pricier products). However, large gaps (especially around the fold) can fool people into thinking that they’ve reached the end of the page.

Here’s an illustration of a false bottom via GoodUI:

false bottom

Align your content so that white space and gaps aren’t near the fold. That makes it very obvious there’s more content to be found.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/scrolling-tips/

Reduce the number of fields and options a user has to sift through

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-action, funnelsno

Lots of choices makes people anxious. And unless you sell bomb shelters, an anxious user isn’t likely to convert.

Cutting out just a single field can make a huge difference. For example, Expedia boosted annual sales by $12 million dollars by removing a “Company Name” field from their signup process:

expedia form removal

 

Bottom line? Destroy all unnecessary options on your site.


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/remove-product-filter-increase-site-engagement/
http://www.conversionvoodoo.com/blog/2011/11/expedia-deletes-one-field-from-their-registration-process-increases-profit-12m/
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/career-advice-and-ab-testing/

Incorporate video in your sales funnel

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

You can’t go 5-minutes in the conversion optimization world without reading a case study where video boosted conversions. That’s because video sells. (Like anything, video doesn’t work 100% of the time, so you’ll need to test it).

For example, Grow Your Own Groceries saw a 12.62% lift after they added a simple video to their info product sales page:

video sales letter

There are many different types of video you can use in your marketing: Demo videos, explainer videos, case studies, testimonials, you name it. The only downside of videos? They’re harder to product than writing out a few bullet points. See the case studies below examples galore.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/voices-case-study/
http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/case-study-using-video-to-lift-landing-page-conversion-rate-by-100/
http://blog.treepodia.com/2011/11/product-videos-boost-jewlery-conversions-by-247-case-study/
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/a-b-testing-free-trial-button/
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/voices-case-study/
https://vwo.com/blog/replacing-image-video-landing-page-increases-conversions/

Prominently display social sharing buttons in blog posts

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

In the case study below, AMD saw their social shares increase by 3600% after adding social sharing buttons to their sidebar:

amd social sharing buttons

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/amd-3600-social-sharing-increase/

Remove trust symbols

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Conversion rate optimization is funny. Sometimes so-called “best practices” fall flat. Case in point: the case study linked to below. When Bradley removed a security symbol from a coupon site, conversions went up. Was it because his security symbol looked cheesy? Possibly. The big lesson is that you should test the influence your trust symbols have on your conversions. They may be doing more harm than good.


Sources:
http://www.bradleyspencer.com/2010/5-surprising-lessons-from-user-testing/

Add trust symbols

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Several case studies show that trust symbols — like association memberships and security icons — boost conversions (especially at checkout).


Sources:
http://www.conversioniq.com/ecommerce-trust-seals-optimization-case-study
https://vwo.com/blog/increase-conversion-rate-with-trust-badges/
http://www.bluefountainmedia.com/blog/verisign-seal-increase-conversions/

Use image sliders instead of video

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

9 out of 10 CRO experts will tell you that image sliders don’t work. But like most things in conversion rate optimization, it’s something worth testing. For example, an interesting study by VWO found that a homepage image slider  outperformed a video by a whopping 35%.


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/video-or-image-slider-ab-test/

Add (awesome) site search

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

As Amazon will be quick to tell you, site search can make a HUGE difference with your conversions. Why? Because you’re showing people exactly what they want to find! Pro Tip: Pay attention to what your users search for the most. Make those sought-after products and pages easier to find (for example, feature them on your home page).


Sources:
http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/sitesearch/pdf/waterfilters.pdf
http://www.branded3.com/blogs/site-search-generates-3-times-as-many-conversions/

Test different colors for call-to-action buttons

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

It’s impossible to predict which color will perform the best for your site. So don’t be afraid to try a bunch. In the case study below, a projector ecommerce site increased conversions by 21% with a red button. Even though web design textbooks will tell you that red is for errors, don’t be afraid to test it.


Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/blue-link-vs-red-link/

Use images that represent your USP

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

In the case study referenced below, a security company changed their main landing page image from a generic globe to a padlock. The padlock — because it represents “security” — caused a 25% conversion bump. If you use images because they look cool, consider swapping them out for something that represents what you do.


Sources:
http://blog.hawkhost.com/2010/02/21/multivariate-testing-a-real-life-example/

Test button size

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Larger buttons usually get more clicks. Usually. Take a break from button color testing and test button sizes instead. Sometimes a tweak in button size can attract more clicks.


Sources:
http://www.widerfunnel.com/proof/case-studies/sap-landing-page-optimization
http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/design-call-to-action-buttons/

Use photos of real people

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

We’re hard-wired to look at images of other people. And dozens eye tracking studies have backed this up. Here’s an example (courtesy of Business Insider):
heatmap face

So if you want to grab your users attention (which I’m sure you do), include images of people on your landing pages. To take this to the next level, test different people, genders, shapes, sizes.


Sources:
http://blog.topohq.com/how-images-drive-conversions-15-ways-images-can-improve-conversion-rates/
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202080809.htm
http://www.jeremysaid.com/the-jaw-dropping-effect-that-images-can-have-on-your-conversion-rates/

Reduce distractions

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

I probably don’t need to tell you that distractions are conversion killers. But how do you know what distracts people from your offer?

And here are a few examples of what you can test to find — and eliminate — distractions.

  • Reduce the elements in your sidebar (especially for blogs)
  • Remove as many elements outside of your CTA as possible (for example, a navigation bar)
  • Use heatmap software tools to see if certain “deadweight” elements on your page steal attention from CTAs

Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/eye-tracking-studies/
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/case-study/how-to-convert-225-more
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/abtesting-increases-lead-generation-rate/
http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/08/12/google-website-optimizer-case-study/

Update your outdated design

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

I know:

It’s tempting to focus your conversion elements on the little things (“OK, we fixed the headline, now let’s start with button colors!”). But the design of your site looks outdated or messy, you’ll have a helluva time getting users to convert. And no amount of button color testing is going to fix it. If you suspect your site may have an outdated design, it probably does.


Sources:
http://99designs.com/designer-blog/2010/10/26/how-cloudsponge-increased-conversions-33-using-99designs-case-study/

Remove visual deadweight

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

If a lot of your users’ attention gravitate to non-clickable items that don’t boost conversions, cut them out. Heatmap studies are awesome for finding  out what gets between your users and your call to action.


Sources:
http://www.techwyse.com/blog/website-conversion/using-heat-maps-for-improved-landing-page-conversion/

Guide users with directional cues

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesignno

Directional cues guide your users in a certain direction. For example, if we see an image of someone looking to the right, we’ll look there to. This is a straetgy the Chemistry.com homepage has used brilliantly for years:

chemistry.com homepage

Use directional cues to point users towards where you want them to focus (for example, to important forms or buttons).


Sources:
http://usableworld.com.au/2009/03/16/you-look-where-they-look/

Put key information on the left side of the page

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Heatmap studies confirm what you probably already know: people tend to browse the web an F pattern (the same way we read a book).

f pattern heatmap

(Image source)

Bottom line: put important content on the left side of your landing pages. Otherwise, people may miss it.


Sources:
http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

Use competitive intelligence

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Don’t be afraid to borrow conversion strategies from your competitors. In the case study below, sunshine.co.uk uncovered several landing page ideas from their competitors…many of which boosted conversions significantly when they used them on their site.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/sunshine-case-study/

Run surveys to figure out what your customers really want

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Surveys can give you incredible insight into what’s working, what’s not, and (most importantly) why. Also, don’t forget to survey visitors that don’t convert. Sometimes non-buyers give you your most valuable insights.


Sources:
http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/rulebook/
http://conversionlove.com/how-to-use-surveys-to-get-a-64-8-increase-in-completed-purchases/

Do usability testing (with real users) to get live feedback

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Usability testing means getting feedback from real users as they use your site. That way, you so you can see which features slow them down, hang them up, or are hard to use. It’s a great way to decide where to focus your conversion optimization energy. You can get usability testing done on the cheap from sites like UserTesting.com.


Sources:
http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/
http://conversionxl.com/website-usability-testing-a-must-for-boosting-conversions/

Use heat map tools

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionyes

Heat maps easily answer questions that would otherwise remain clouded in mystery: “Where are people focusing?” “Why doesn’t anyone scroll down?” “Are people clicking where I want?” The answers to these questions will hand you split testing hypotheses on a silver platter.


Sources:
http://www.businessinsider.com/eye-tracking-heatmaps-2012-5?op=1
http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

call-to-action techniques

Add countdown timers to time-sensitive offers

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-actionno

Scarcity is one of the most powerful motivators on the planet. And a countdown timer is one of the best ways to dial up scarcity for time-sensitive products. In the ConversionXL case study below, Marcus Taylor saw a 147% increase in conversions by adding a countdown timer to his landing page.


Sources:
http://conversionxl.com/creating-urgency/

Use anchor text navigation links

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

For long sales pages, create links that will take users directly to different sections of the page. Wikipedia is a master at this strategy:

wikipedia click to scroll

Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/scrolling-tips/

Explicitly tell users to scroll

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-actionno

There’s nothing wrong with explicitly telling people to scroll down. Here’s an example:

scroll CTA

Sometimes it may not be obvious that there’s more information below the fold. This little “scroll for more” CTA will clear up any confusion.


Sources:
http://www.infiniteconversions.com/so-you-want-users-to-scroll-down-your-page
http://www.imarc.net/blog/625-scrolling_clicking_and_the_fold

Generate email subscribers from your About Us page

list buildingcopy, design, call-to-action, funnelsno

No one clicks on your About Page because they hate you (that is, unless they’re looking for a place to send hate mail). In general, people that go to your About Page like what you have to say and want to learn more. So give them an opportunity to do that: include email opt-in forms on your About Page.

How well does this work? These two dead-simple forms on Backlinko’s About Page convert at 6.18%:

about page forms

Sources:
http://backlinko.com/list-building

Repeat key benefits during checkout

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, funnelsno

Shopping cart abandonment rates are around 68.08% (according to The Baymard Institute). Not good.

That’s why this is one of the most important conversion rate optimization tips from this guide. How can you prevent people from jumping ship at the last minute? That’s easy: remind them why they should complete their purchase. This means re-iterating key benefits and including “Best Price Guarantee” seals on the checkout page.


Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/cro-tips/

Show a bigger phone number on mobile sites

e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

If you’re running a business where phone calls = leads = revenue = a good life, turn your tiny phone number into a large, clickable phone number. A promintent phone number can also boost credibility and trust.


Sources:
http://conversionxl.com/optimize-mobile-pages-drive-phone-leads/
https://blog.bigcommerce.com/how-to-optimize-your-online-store-increase-conversion-rates/

Use a 2-step opt-in

list buildingdesign, call-to-action, funnelsno

Instead of using a typical opt-in form, try a two-step opt-in. Here’s an example:

two step optin

Leadpages saw an 60% increase in conversions when they replaced their email forms with a 2-step opt-in process.


Sources:
http://www.conversionvoodoo.com/blog/2010/07/11-conversion-rate-increase-with-a-%E2%80%9Ccommitment-checkbox%E2%80%9D/
https://vwo.com/blog/signup-conversion-rate-ab-testing/
http://blog.leadpages.net/two-step-opt-in-process-list-building/

Use a 1-step opt-in

list buildingdesign, call-to-action, funnelsno

According to the linked infographic from Quicksprout, in one test, having a 1 step opt-in on the landing page performed 166% better than a 2 step opt-in.


Sources:
http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/08/22/how-to-optimize-conversions-for-the-3-major-website-types/

Place your CTA above and below the fold

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Sometimes it’s best to put your CTA clearly bove the fold. In other cases…not so much.

Michael Aagard found that a below-the-fold CTA actually boosted conversions by 304%.

below the fold cta

Bottom line: Test the positioning of your CTAs.


Sources:
http://contentverve.com/10-call-to-action-case-studies-examples-from-button-tests/
http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-mistakes/
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/analytics-testing/web-usability-long-landing-page.html

Put a CTA in the top right corner of your page

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

People are used to seeing login and navigation buttons in the top right corner of a page. So why not pop a CTA there too?

Visual Website Optimizer boosted conversions by 9.6% by adding a free trial button to the top right corner of their homepage.

top right button

In fact, the button in the top right corner of the page above got 3x more clicks than the button smack dab in the middle of the page.


Sources:
https://vwo.com/blog/headline-test-increases-clickthroughs/

Put your button in a more prominent place

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Keep in mind that your visitors read your page in an “F-shape pattern” (top to bottom, left to right).

That means that a CTA on the left will get more views than one on the right. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more conversions. Test your CTA between different positions to discover which location converts best.


Sources:
http://www.blastam.com/blog/index.php/2009/06/google-website-optimizer-increases-conversion-591/

Use multiple CTAs on a single page

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

Why stop at one call to action? Just because someone didn’t pull the trigger on your first CTA doesn’t mean they won’t take action further down the page.

 


Sources:
http://blog.crazyegg.com/2014/08/14/unconventional-landing-page-techniques/

Use a contrasting color for your CTA

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionno

The last thing you want is for your CTA button to blend in with the rest of your page. Fortunately, you can easily get around this issue. How? Make your CTA color contrast with the rest of the page. When you do that — BINGO — you have a CTA that instantly stands out.

For example, in a case study published at Hubspot, Performable saw a 21% lift in conversions when they switched to a high-contrast red button:

button contrast case study

 


Sources:
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/20566/The-Button-Color-A-B-Test-Red-Beats-Green.aspx
http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/design-call-to-action-buttons/

pricing techniques

Split up a larger product into individual products

e-commerce, Saas and web appspricing, funnelsno

Sometimes several bundled products can be sold separately for more total revenue. Research by Pepperdine University found that people will often pay more for 2 individual products than for the same products bundled together.


Sources:
http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/bundling.htm
https://hbr.org/2012/06/customers-will-pay-more-for-less/

End your prices in "7" and "9"

e-commerce, Saas and web appscall-to-action, pricingno

If you aren’t already, test ending your prices with a “7” or a “9” (for example, “$599″ instead of “$600″). These tend to perform slightly better than prices that end with a “0” or “5”.


Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/5-psychological-studies/
http://conversionxl.com/pricing-experiments-you-might-not-know-but-can-learn-from/

Test lowering AND raising your prices

e-commerce, Saas and web appscall-to-action, pricingno

Many people try to boost sales volume by slashing prices.

Sure, this can work…but it can also backfire. For many products, a higher price can lead to more total products sold (and obviously, more revenue). This is because price is mental shortcut people use to assign value to something. For example, an ebook that costs $299 has a higher perceived value than an ebook that costs $5.


Sources:
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S1069-0964%282012%290000019012

Show your price on landing pages

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appspricingno

If your price is lower than average, don’t hide your price. When you hide your product’s price, people instinctively think “Where’s the price? This thing must be crazy expensive.”

Market Dialer found that including a price of “$75 per seat” boosted conversions by 100%.

price ab test

Sources:
http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/prominent-price-display-increases-leads-generated-by-100/

Remove hidden fees

e-commerce, Saas and web appspricing, funnelsno

No surprise: people hate hidden fees. In fact, a study by Webcredible found that 49% of users abandoned their shopping carts due to unexpected fees. Bottom line: Removing hidden fees can reduce shopping cart abandonment.


Sources:
http://www.bizreport.com/2010/05/webcredible-consumers-hate-surprises-at-checkout.html

funnels techniques

Autofill fields at checkout

e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

It’s no secret that more fields=less conversions. But what if you need to have a ton of fields? Try autofill fields.

For example, if the user enters their ZIP code, automatically pull in their city and country info. It’s less typing for the user (especially on mobile), which can increase your conversion rates.


Sources:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/1step-checkout-right-way/

Test different payment options

e-commerce, Saas and web appscall-to-action, pricing, funnelsno

There are a 1001 payment options out there, from free trials to monthly installments.

Some of these can add serious meat to your bottom line. Here are a few to test out: free trial length, different payment plans, longer commitment, shorter commitment, auto renewal, etc.


Sources:
http://sixteenventures.com/seven-types-of-freemium

Segment by different user types

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsfunnelsno

Many businesses have two (or more) different “types” of users (renters vs. landlords, drivers vs. passengers, freelancers vs. clients, etc.).

If so, you have the impossible task of selling to both groups at once. Instead of smashing your sales messages together, separate the two groups and place them into different funnels. How? Let them identify themselves on your landing pages.

For example, check out this page from Zipcar:

zipcar landing page

Sources:
http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/voices-case-study/

Test the number of pages in your checkout process

e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

The more pages you have in your checkout process, the more opportunities you give someone to abandon ship. In some cases, minimizing the number of steps in your checkout process will push more people to the end of the funnel. However, this is something that needs to be closely tested. Having 50 forms on a single page will overwhelm people and can increase abandonment. It’s a balance.


Sources:
http://conversionscientist.com/case-studies/many-steps-online-checkout-case-study/
http://www.getelastic.com/single-vs-two-page-checkout/

Show progress

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-action, funnelsno

Use a progress bar for multi-step funnels and form submissions. It sounds simple, but a progress bar motivates people to finish what they started. Here’s an example from GoDaddy:

godaddy progress bar

Pro tip: don’t start the progress bar from 0%.


Sources:
https://goodui.org/#42
https://vwo.com/blog/ecommerce-shopping-cart-abandonment/

Use a Social Squeeze Page to capture emails

list buildingdesign, funnelsno

No one wants to join an email list just to get their hands on another ebook. Instead of your typical “give me your email or get out” squeeze page, try the “Social Squeeze Page”. With the Social Squeeze page, you give a tremendous amount of value first, then ask for an email. Here’s an example from Backlinko (converts at 21.7%):

social squeeze page example

Sources:
http://backlinko.com/social-squeeze-page

Use The Content Upgrade to capture more emails from blog posts

list buildingcall-to-action, funnelsno

The Content Upgrade might be the best strategy for turning blog readers into loyal subscribers. How does it work?

You simply offer a valuable piece of bonus content that is on the exact same topic as your blog post. Readers can get the bonus in exchange for their email (as opposed to a generic ebook that’s offered sitewide). Many bloggers have seen very significantly high conversion rates with this strategy. Check out the case studies below for more examples.


Sources:
http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions
http://blog.videofruit.com/how-to-build-upgrades/
http://blog.leadpages.net/content-upgrade/

Let buyers checkout as a guest

e-commercepricing, funnelsno

Yes, capturing emails is wonderful. But if you force would-be buyers to “register for an account”, you might be losing out on some serious revenue.

Yes, Amazon and other giants can get away with it

registration stats

…but if you run a mom and pop Ecommerce site, it’s best to let your users buy without creating an account. In fact, 26% of people say they wouldn’t complete a purchase if they’re forced to register for an account.


Sources:
https://econsultancy.com/blog/7730-why-do-consumers-abandon-online-purchases

Give people a product tour

Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

I know, your app is easy to use…for you!

Because your spend all day with your product, it’s easy to overlook roadblocks people have when they sit down with it. Instead of using screenshots, guide users through a demo tour of the product. That way, you hold their hand throughout the process, which makes it more likely they’ll stick with you.

In fact, ThetaBoard boosted their conversions by 46% when they replaced a video tutorial with an interactive product tour.


Sources:
http://www.thetaboard.com/blog/how-we-improved-our-conversion-rate-46-in-one-hour?r=400

Add live chat support

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, funnelsno

For expensive or complex products, live chat can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. In fact, consumers rate live chat as the most satisfying customer service channel.

That’s nice in theory, but does the cost of live chat pay off?

Well…does a 211% lift do anything for you? That’s the boost Intuit found from adding proactive live chat to a product page. Pro Tip: Read the chat transcripts to discover questions that you can address earlier in your funnel.


Sources:
http://www.proimpact7.com/ecommerce-blog/how-intuit-increased-conversion-rate-by-211-just-by-using-proactive-chat/
https://vwo.com/blog/live-chat-increases-signups/

Keep your message and design consistent through your entire funnel

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, funnelsno

Consistency is HUGE. Sending 5 different Adwords ads to the same landing page is a sure-fire way to kill conversions. Instead, use the same copy and design from beginning to end.


Sources:
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/landing-page-continuity-congruence.html

Offer free shipping

e-commercepricing, funnelsno

Sites that offer free shipping generate 30% higher orders than those that make their customers pay for shipping out of pocket (source). You’ll need to do the math to see if free shipping makes financial sense for your business. But oftentimes the tiny cost of free shipping is well worth the boost in sales.


Sources:
http://blog.rejoiner.com/2012/05/free-shipping-online-retail-sales/

Collect emails and nurture (instead of trying to sell immediately)

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscall-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Let’s face it:

Expensive products take a long time to sell. There’s just no way an ice cold visitor is going to fork over 2 grand for your online course without A LOT of nurturing. And the best way to do that? Email. Bottom line: instead of going for the hard sell, focus your marketing on email collection. You’ll sell more in the short and long-term.

 


Sources:
https://econsultancy.com/blog/64614-email-remains-the-best-digital-channel-for-roi

Test the weakest links of your funnel first

e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

Let’s say you have a funnel with 7 steps. How do you know which step you should optimize first?

That’s easy: start with the bottlenecks. First, outline each step of your funnel. Then use your Analytics to measure the conversion rate at each step. Finally, zero-in on the worst performing steps first. These are usually steps where people “fall off” your funnel.


Sources:
http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/sales-funnel/

Use A/B testing

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appscopy, design, call-to-action, pricing, funnelsyes

When it comes to conversion optimization, you can’t beat A/B testing. Without A/B testing, everything is a shot-in-the-dark an educated guess. If you’re serious about increasing conversions (which you must be if you’re reading this guide) you need to invest in a) a quality A/B testing tool and b) a smart person to run it.

 


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A/B_testing
https://vwo.com/ab-testing/

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