Backlinko Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:49:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Want More Traffic That Actually Converts? Follow These 4 Steps… Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:52:16 +0000 traffic stats

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?


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.


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):


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.


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.


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.

Note: There are several Share Triggers that I use in my content. And I’ll cover more of them in detail over the next few weeks.

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.

]]> 379
How To Generate 36,282 Readers — and 1,000 Email Subscribers — From Your Next Blog Post (Case Study) Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:23:55 +0000 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 success, and show me exactly how he did it (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 Process=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 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


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 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 strategy they could leverage for content marketing and 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 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 :-D ):

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”?


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.


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 Facebook or Twitter.

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


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.


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 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

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.


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?

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

]]> 221
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Techniques: The Complete List Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:15:30 +0000 conversion rate optimization techniques banner

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 calls these “Click Triggers”. Mention free shipping, a money back guarantee, your privacy policy, or a key benefit. is the king of Click Triggers. They sprinkle them everywhere. I count 4 of them on this single hotel listing:

click triggers


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.


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.


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.


Feature high-revenue products above fold


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Lies, your social proof can actually work against you. So make sure you hide any indicators of negative social proof that appear on your site.


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


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.”


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.


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


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


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.


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”


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.


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.


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


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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


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”.


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.


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 :-D )


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.


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.


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. 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


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.


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).


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.


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.


Show multiple high-quality product images


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 :-)


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.


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


Allow customers to zoom in on your products


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%.


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


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.


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


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?


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.


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


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?


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


Add auto-complete suggestions in product search (with images)


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


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


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.


Use BIG product images


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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:


Not too shabby, eh?


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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).


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%.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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 homepage has used brilliantly for years: homepage

Use directional cues to point users towards where you want them to focus (for example, to important forms or buttons).


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.


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, uncovered several landing page ideas from their competitors…many of which boosted conversions significantly when they used them on their site.


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.


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


Use heat map tools

list building, e-commerce, Saas and web appsdesign, call-to-actionyes

Heat map tools 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 A/B testing hypotheses on a silver platter.


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.


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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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”.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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%.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Anything I Missed?

Shout out to Jon Cooper for the guide that inspired this one.

Now it’s time to hear from you:

Are there any CRO techniques that I missed?

Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make the guide even better.

Either way, leave a comment and let me know.

]]> 207
Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors In One Day Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:03:52 +0000 viral marketing case study image

Today I’m going to show you how one entrepreneur used The Skyscraper Technique to generate 17,584 unique visitors to a brand new blog.

In one day.

Oh, and he accomplished this despite having:

Zero connections.

Zero Twitter followers.

Zero marketing budget.

In this case study I’ll walk you through the EXACT step-by-step process that he used.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus: Click here to get access to a free bonus area that will show you how to get more traffic using The Skyscraper Technique.

How The Skyscraper Technique Generates Links, Traffic and Social Shares

Let me break this down for you:

The Skyscraper Technique is about publishing content based on a PROVEN framework.

In other words:

Find old content that did well…and crush it with something even better.

If you want the full story of how I generated traffic with The Skyscraper Technique, check out my post,”Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days“.

skyscraper technique post

As a quick recap, here’s the 3-step Skyscraper Technique process:

1. Find content that’s performed well in your industry

2. Identify gaps in that content…and make something that fills in those gaps (today’s post has INSANE detail on how to do this)

3. Promote your content like a madman

The best part?

This strategy works even if you’re in a super-competitive industry.

Just ask Chris Gimmer…

How Chris Gimmer Used The Skyscraper Technique to Get 17,584 Visitors (In One Day)

Chris Gimmer is the founder of BootstrapBay, a new marketplace for themes built using the popular web development framework called Bootstrap.

bootstrap bay homepage

Make no mistake:

The Bootstrap theme niche is REALLY competitive with dozens of entrenched competitors.

We’re talking keywords with search volumes like this:

keyword search volume

And this:

keyword search volume 2

It gets worse:

Chris wasn’t some hotshot startup founder with years of experience under his belt.

In fact, Chris recently left his 9-5 gig in the finance world to start BootstrapBay.

But he did have one thing going for him:

Chris realized that his competitors were sleeping on content marketing and SEO.

In Chris’s words:

Even though our competitors had huge user-bases, they weren’t actively marketing their sites with SEO or content. I saw this as a golden opportunity for BootstrapBay to quickly grab some market share.

Chris Gimmer

That’s when he decided to try The Skyscraper Technique

Here’s what happened…

Now, Let’s See The Results…

Before I reveal the step-by-step process Chris used, I want to show you his results.

To date, Chris’s piece of piece of Skyscraper Content has been shared over 240,000 times on social media:

social share count

That content also brought in 17,584 visitors in one day (more on that later):

traffic spike

Chris’s Skyscraper content has generated over 204,000 total visitors over the last 4-months.

total traffic to a landing page

Here’s what’s interesting:

That huge traffic spike never fully died down.

Before the massive traffic surge, BootstrapBay was averaging around 150 visitors per day.

Now they average over 2000 visits per day.

Here are the traffic numbers from last month:

monthly traffic stats

Bottom line: One piece of viral content can make a huge long-term difference in your site’s traffic.

IF you have a system in place to turn that traffic spike into evergreen traffic.

It can even turn a past spike (something went viral months ago) into more traffic today and the future.

You’re probably wondering:

“OK, so how do I do that?”

It’s a little thing called SEO…

It Gets Better…Here’s How SEO Kept the Party Going

Because Chris got so many eyeballs on his content, he inevitability generated backlinks to it.

Here’s a graph of the links pointing to Chris’s Skyscraper Content:

backlink graph

As you can probably guess, these were grade-A contextual backlinks, like this:

image of a backlink

And this:

contextual backlink screenshot

These contextual links bumped up BootstrapBay’s domain authority….

…which boosted the rankings for every page on Chris’s site.

Here’s what I mean:

Not only does the Skyscraper content rank #7 for the keyword, “free stock images” (18,000 monthly searches)…

google search results 2

Thanks to its ramped up domain authority, the BootstrapBay homepage is ranking #9 for “bootstrap themes” (12,100 monthly searches)

google search results

(The site also ranks for dozens of long tail keywords, like “best stock photo sites”)

All of these first page rankings led to a 457% organic traffic increase in only 30-days:

organic traffic increase

Now that you’ve seen Chris’s amazing results first-hand, it’s time to walk you through the 3-step process that he used to dropkick his competition.

Step#1: Find Content With a Proven Track Record of Success

The secret to publishing content that people want to share is this:

Base your content on something that’s already proven to work.

That may sound intuitive. But I see lots of people publish content that they THINK will do well.

Sometimes it does…

…but more often than not, content that’s not based on a framework proven falls flat.

Fortunately, Chris had already read about the Skyscraper Technique before starting BootstrapBay.

And when he stumbled upon a post on called, “Stock photos that don’t suck…

medium dot com post

…he knew he just struck gold.

Despite being a bland list of links to stock photo sites, that post racked up an impressive number of social shares.

social shares

It also received more than 290 upvotes on Reddit (r/graphic_design):

reddit thread

Chris knew that his target audience of graphic designers, web designers and bloggers hang out on that subreddit.

And they were freaking out about the post:

reddit comments

After reading that post, Chris thought to himself:

“If that list of links got people that excited, what if I made something way better?”

And that’s exactly what he did…

My 3-Step Workflow for Finding Proven Content Ideas Every Time

You may be thinking: “How can I find content that’s already done well in my niche?”

Here’s the exact 3-step workflow that I use. And it works like a charm.

1. First, I head to BuzzSumo and enter a VERY broad keyword.

Let’s say you had a fitness blog. You’d want to use a general keyword like “weight loss”, “burn fat” or “dieting”.

buzzsumo search

Then I look for content that’s racked up a lot of social shares.

social shares in buzzsumo

I add those to my list.

2. Next, I find the words and phrases in the results that people might use in a Google search.

For example, here are some potential keywords in the BuzzSumo list:

keyword list

Then I mash those words up into Google searches.

google research

I add any promising results from Google onto my list.

3. Finally, I enter a few of my competitor’s homepage URLs into OpenSiteExplorer.

Open Site Explorer

And click on the “top pages” tab (this shows you their most linked-to content):
top pages

And I throw those pages onto my list.

Now you have a long list of proven content ideas.

Nice! Give yourself a high-five (and move onto step #2).

Step 2: Improve On The Content That You Find

This is important:

The idea behind the Skyscraper Technique is to make strategic improvements to the content you found in Step #1.

It’s the same approach that pioneers like Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Henry Ford used to build their empires:

Take something good…and make it great.

But the question is:

HOW do you make good content great?

Here are the 6 techniques Chris used to dramatically improve the base content he found:

1. He turned the content into a full blog post with an introduction, body and conclusion

The article lacked the meat that makes a blog post great.

In fact, it was really just a list of links:

Medium Blog Post

Chris rounded out his content with a strong intro and conclusion that made his blog post feel more like, well, a blog post.

Blog Post Intro

Here’s what he did next:

2. He outlined the different types of licenses (in plain English)

Because Chris works with a lot of graphic designers, he knew that the same question about free images popped up over and over again:

“What do all the different licenses — like creative commons and copyright restriction — actually mean?”

This isn’t trivial stuff. If you’re going to use a free image on your site you’ll want to know what license it falls under.

That’s why Chris added a section that outlined the different licenses in words anyone could understand.

Blog Post Section

3. He indicated which license each website used

I’m going to tell you a little secret about link building:

Forget link bait.

The fact is, people love to link out to insanely useful stuff.

Believe it or not, but creating something super-useful isn’t that hard.

You just need to give your content that extra umph that most people are too lazy to add.

Case in point: Chris’s post.

Chris told people the exact license each free stock photo site had:

liscence info

That way you don’t have to hunt around to find that info.

It only took Chris an hour to figure out which license each site used. And it made his content 10x more useful.

4. He wrote a brief description of each free photo site

Chris added a brief description of each stock photo site, like this:

Blog Post Descriptions

Obviously, all this meaty content helps with on-page SEO.

But it also saves people precious time.

Chris’s to-the-point descriptions tell you whether or not a stock photo site is right for you QUICKLY.

Don’t want nature photos? Then you should skip

On the hunt for vintage pictures of people doing old-timey things? is right up your alley.

This is a super-helpful feature that the post didn’t have.

5. He added sample pictures from each resource

A text description is nice and all, but nothing beats seeing the images in action.

That’s why Chris included a sample image from each stock photo site.

Sample Image

Adding images seems like a no-brainer. But a fair share of “here’s a list of free stock photo sites” articles don’t feature images (including the post).

6. He curated a better list of resources

Chris realized that bells and whistles — like descriptions and images — weren’t going to put him over the top.

So what did he do?

He put the stock photo sites listed in the post to the test.

Then he weeded out any that weren’t up to par.

He also added a bunch that weren’t on the original list…including a few left by people that commented on the post:

Blog Comments

The result? 12 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos.

post screenshot

At this point, you’re probably wondering:

How long did all these improvements take?

Chris must have handcuffed himself to his laptop and worked non-stop for 87 days.

Actually…it took Chris a grand total of 6-hours to create his epic resource.

Here’s the breakdown of those 6-hours:

  • 1.5 hours to search the web for additional resources
  • 1 hour to determine which license each site falls under
  • 1.5 hour to gather all the pictures
  • 2 hours to write the post and put it all together

So at this point Chris had an epic piece of content live on his site.

But with no following and no connections, how could he get the word out?

Keep reading…

Step #3: Promote That Content

I’ve written about this before:

If you want your content to get results, you can’t rely on the ol’ “Publish and Pray” approach.

The fact is: there are 2 million blogs posts published everyday.

And NO ONE will see your content unless you get off your butt and promote it.


How did Chris promote his Skyscraper Content?

I’m glad you asked…

First, Chris submitted his post to a place that his target audience hangs out

Web designers make up a huge chunk of Chris’s target audience.

And where do they hang out?

The web design sub-reddit on Reddit. So he decided to share his content there.

As you can see, his Reddit thread quickly racked up 180 upvotes:

subreddit screenshot

Upvotes are great and all…but what about TRAFFIC?

That single Reddit thread drove 2,168 visitors to Chris’s content overnight:

reddit traffic

It also generated some early buzz and traffic from social media:

Social Media Traffic

Next, Chris shared a link to his post on StumbleUpon.

This is where things REALLY took off.

The StumbleUpon community went absolutely nuts over Chris’s post.

To date his StumbleUpon post has over 242,000 views and 16,000 likes:

stumbleupon screenshot

StumbleUpon is largely responsible for the 17k traffic spike I talked about earlier.

And get this:

Even though that spike was over 3-months ago, StumbleUpon STILL sends over 22,000 monthly visitors to BootstrapBay:

stumbleupon referral traffic

I should point out that StumbleUpon traffic isn’t super duper high-quality traffic.

For example, Chris’s StumbleUpon traffic has a bounce rate of 95.61%.

And time on site is what you’d expect from a bowl of goldfish:

Average Session Duration


What’s the point of all this traffic if no ones buys anything…or even reads the article?

Because a good chunk of those people will share your content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

(And if they write for a blog, they’ll link to it too)

Chris’s StumbleUpon traffic started a wave of social shares and links from platforms that DO convert, like Twitter.

Including two tweets from people with over 100k followers…each.

Twitter tweet

Twitter tweet 2

Finally, Chris submitted his content to a bunch of web designer communities

Chris realized that the web design subreddit was just one of MANY places that his target audience hung out.

So he submitted his content to web design communities, like (basically for web designers):

LayerVault Screenshot

That single LayerVault submission has brought in 1,915 visitors:

sessions in google analytics

Not bad for a 11-second submission to one community.

Your Content Can Go Viral Too…

…but you need to take action on what you’ve just read.

Fortunately, I’ve got just the thing for you.

A Skyscraper Technique bonus area.

In this bonus area you’ll get instant access to 3 awesome resources:

1. 9 “plug and play” strategies that make your content stand out from the competition.

2. A comprehensive checklist that walks you through the critical points from this post.

3. The exact email outreach template I use to promote my Skyscraper content (and get links).

Click the link below and enter your email for instant access:

skyscraper bonus area

Now I want to hear what you have to say:

What’s the #1 takeaway point you got from today’s post?

Leave a comment below right now.

]]> 316
How To Boost Conversions by 529% in 45-Minutes (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:19:16 +0000 content_upgrade_case_studies

conversion optimization blog post imageThere’s a ridiculously simple way to increase your blog’s conversion rate by 529%.

And once you know what it is, and how it works, you’ll want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner.

In fact, this technique (The Content Upgrade) has flooded my business with thousands of new subscribers every month.

And today I’m going to show you how two Backlinko readers  — a pro golfer and a life insurance agent — used this strategy to boost their blogs’ conversion rate by an average of 529%.

I’ll also reveal the two bizarre twists they added to The Content Upgrade that made this strategy (somehow) even more powerful.

Free Bonus Section: Learn how to dramatically boost your blog’s conversion rate with The Content Upgrade. The bonus section includes a PDF checklist, 17 templates and 5 real-life case studies. Click here to get access.

But First, a Quick Backstory…

A few weeks ago I cleared my calender so I could focus on ONE thing:

Implementing The Content Upgrade on every post at Backlinko.

The result?

I added Content Upgrades to 15 blog posts.

And — BAM! — my site-wide conversion rate increased by 185%.

(From 1.19% to 3.34%)

Conversion rate in GA

And when you look at the conversion rate of some of the blog posts that I added Content Upgrades to, we’re talking even crazier numbers.

Like this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

And this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

Here’s the 3-step process I used for every post…

Step #1: I Used Google Analytics to Identify Blog Posts that Brought In the Most Traffic

To do this yourself, just go to Behavior–Site Content–Landing Pages in the Google Analytics sidebar:

Google Analytics Landing Pages

Your pages will automatically be sorted by sessions (also known as unique visitors)

Top Landing Pages

I recommend starting at the top and working your way down the list.

Step #2: I Created a Resource that Would Make Each Blog Post Even Better

My go-to Content Upgrade resource is the trusty checklist.


Easy to make.

High perceived value.

For example, you may have seen my post from last year, YouTube SEO: The Ultimate Guide.

YouTube SEO Post Screenshot

Like most of my guides, this one has A LOT of information. I cover keyword research, video development, video SEO and more.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s where my checklist comes into play.

The checklist cuts out the detailed descriptions and gives you ONLY the critical action steps.

Here’s what the checklist looks like:

YouTube SEO Checklist

Looks pretty nice, right?

To sweeten the deal, I included two bonus YouTube marketing strategies at the end of the checklist.

checklist bonus materialSo you have a Content Upgrade ready to rock.

Nice work. Give yourself a high five.

Now it’s time for THE most important step in the process:

Turning your Content Upgrade resource into more subscribers.

Here’s exactly how to do it:

Step#3: I Offered the Checklist In the Post

This one-two punch converts beautifully:

First, I added a yellow box after the post’s introduction that pitches the checklist.

Blog Post Box

(As you can see, I mention the two bonus strategies in the yellow box. More on that later.)

Then I turn my blog post conclusion into a description of the checklist.

Blog Post Graphic

If you click on the link in the yellow box or the big cloud download image, a LeadPages box appears.

leadpages in action

With an insanely-targeted offer like a YouTube SEO checklist, it’s no wonder that my post converts 3.3% of it’s visitors into subscribers.

Fun fact: That’s 3x higher than before I implemented The Content Upgrade.

At this point you may be wondering:

“Sure, Brian, The Content Upgrade works for you. But will it work for me?”.

Well you’re in for a real treat.

Because today I have not one — but TWO — step-by-step case studies for you.

Both case studies will show you how Backlinko readers used the this conversion rate optimization technique to dramatically improve their site’s opt-ins.

Let’s jump right in.

Case Study #1: How Josh Used The Content Upgrade to Boost Conversions of by 459%

Josh Thompson is a former pro golfer with several tournament wins and course records under his belt.

Josh Playing Golf

He’s also the co-founder the golf blog,

My Golf Tutor

Josh’s traffic was growing steadily.

But he was having a REALLY tough time turning that traffic into email subscribers.

Or as Josh put it:

Even though’s traffic was growing fast, we struggled getting that traffic to convert. We tried popups, popins, sidebar forms, featureboxes. You name it, we tried it. But nothing worked as well as we had hoped.

Josh Thompson

Keep in mind that Josh was throwing the kitchen sink at his conversion problem.

He had a very nice FeatureBox on every post:

website featurebox

An opt-in form in his blog’s sidebar:

Sidebar Optin

And an attractive squeeze page:

Squeeze Page Example

He also used the excellent Sumome popup:


Despite all that effort, his average blog post conversion rate was stuck at .59%.

Blog Post Conversion Rate

That’s when Josh decided to give the Content Upgrade a shot.

How did it go?

His most popular post’s conversion rate went from 0.64%…

Conversion Rate in Google Analytics

to 2.94%.

after conversion rate

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a 459% lift.

After about an hour.

(Yes, you read that right)

Here’s exactly how Josh did it:

First, Josh used Google Analytics to find the post on his blog that brought in the most traffic

That post happened to be “How to Hit a Draw in 3 Simple Steps”.

Golf Blog Post Screenshot

For those of you that know nothing about golf (like me), a draw is a type of shot. Who knew? :-)

Anyway, once Josh identified his top post, Step #1 was officially in the books.

Next, Josh created a valuable Content Upgrade resource specific to that post

I can’t emphasize this enough:

The Content Upgrade works well for one simple reason: It offers your readers something intimately related to what they’re reading.

Josh could have offered a generic free report, like “10 tips to lowering your handicap”.

And that probably would have helped…a little.

But Josh realized something important:

Someone that reads a post about hitting a draw wants more information on (wait for it) hitting a draw.

So he fired up Google Docs and created this simple, yet high-value checklist:

Golf Checklist

The checklist gives golfers the core info they need to remember when practicing their draw. Nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, Josh offered the checklist to readers of that post.

He followed the same 1-2 punch that I outlined earlier.

A yellow box at the top of his post…

Yellow Box

…And a download image at the very end.

End of post pitch

As soon as the yellow box and cloud image were live, conversions increased by 459%.

How long did that entire process take Josh?

  • Creating the Checklist: 30-minutes
  • Uploading checklist to Leadpages: 5-minutes
  • Creating the Leadbox and Implement on Blog: 10-minutes

Grand total: 45-minutes.

Stop and think about that for a second:

Josh was able to increase his conversion rate by 450+%…from 45-minutes of work.

That’s how insanely effective The Content Upgrade is.

Pro Tip: Create a Mental Movie of Your Content Upgrade Resource in Action.

For example, you may have noticed that I say “Easily save as a PDF or print for daily use” in all of my LeadBoxes.

leadbox screenshot

I do that so potential subscribers picture themselves printing out the checklist and using it as a reference.

(Shout out to Noah Kagan for that specific wording)

Josh brilliantly uses the same technique in his Content Upgrade pitch.

Note how he says: “This is great to take to the driving range and practice”.

top of blog post pitch

When you read that sentence, a little mental movie plays in your head.

You can actually picture yourself taking the checklist out of your pocket before your next shot.

It’s a powerful mental image that makes the checklist seem more real.

Trust me, this little trick increases conversions A LOT.

Since the massive success of The Content Upgrade on his “hit a draw” post, Josh has added The Content Upgrades to several other posts.

And the boost in conversions have been just as substantial.

So that’s Josh. A relatively green internet marketer who tripled his conversions in 45-minutes.

Not too shabby if you ask me.

Next up we have Christopher Huntley, a life insurance agent based in San Diego.

I’m going to show you the creative approach Christopher took to The Content Upgrade…

…an approach that turns over 6% of his blog post readers into loyal subscribers.

Case Study #2: The Step-By-Step Process Christopher Used to Turn His Blog Post Into a Lead Generation Machine

Christopher isn’t your average life insurance agent.

Sure, he can give you a quote on a policy just like any other agent. But what sets Chris apart is the fact that he’s a razor-sharp internet marketer.

In fact, his site teaches life insurance agents how to get more business from the web.

ElifeTools Homepage

As you can see in the screenshot above, Christopher’s homepage was optimized REALLY well for conversions.

He had a strong offer, with his “New Agent Guide”. He also threw in a nice testimonial from the founder of

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his homepage converted at a hefty 5.5%.

There was only one problem:

What about visitors that didn’t land on his homepage?

In other words, traffic that came from Google, social media and email newsletters and landed on one of his blog posts.

In Christopher’s words:

My homepage was already converting really well. But I wasn’t having much luck with my blog posts. It seemed that
most people would read the content and then click away.

Christopher Huntley

When Christopher says he wasn’t having much luck with his blog post conversion rate, he wasn’t kidding.

His average blog post conversion rate was around 1%.

Christopher isn’t alone here. As you’ve probably seen firsthand, most of your visitors probably land on one of your blog posts.

And VERY few of those blog post readers ever go to a high-converting homepage or squeeze page.

Bottom line: Squeezing more conversions from within your blog posts should be a top list building priority.

Fortunately for Christopher, he realized the same thing. And it made a big difference in his conversions.

Here’s what he did:

Step #1: Christopher Found His Highest-Trafficked Blog Post

Like Josh, Christopher had a post on his blog that brought in the lion’s share of his traffic.

That post was: “How My Sites Generate 700 Leads Per Month Using Compulife’s Quote Form”.

elife tools blog post

This post reviews a piece of life insurance quote software called Compulife, which insurance agents use to generate leads from their site.

Christopher’s post provided a ton of value for agents that were on the fence about buying Compulife.

But his post was lacking something BIG.

Something that people were desperate to know more about.

What was it?

Keep reading.

Step #2: Christopher Created a Killer Content Upgrade Resource

Christopher’s post talks about why insurance agents might want to use Compulife on their site.

But Christopher realized that his post didn’t outline the very important next step…

…a step that a most readers would want to know:

How to actually USE the software.

So Chris created a killer, 7-page PDF tutorial that teaches people how to set it up.

compulife checklist

This is the type of high-value Content Upgrade that put a huge grin on my face.


Because it makes subscribers absolutely LOVE you.

Sadly, most marketers treat their email lists like a piggy bank. They hit them up with offer after offer.

But when you send people something outstanding like Christopher’s checklist, you’ll turn skeptical subscribers into raving fans.

Pro Tip: Give People 100% Exclusive Content in Your Content Upgrade Resource.

A checklist or a PDF of your post is nice and all…

But it’s NOTHING compared to exclusive content that readers can only get from your Content Upgrade.

For example, you may remember that I include two bonus YouTube marketing strategies in my YouTube SEO checklist.

Well it turns out that those two exclusive strategies make a MASSIVE difference in conversions.

According to LeadPages, my YouTube SEO Content Upgrade is the #1 best-converting on my entire site.

In fact, 76% of the people that click on my Leadpages link end up signing up:

Leadbox Conversions

Now compare that to my Social Squeeze Page Content Upgrade resource.
Content upgrade checklistIt’s a really nice checklist…
ssp checklist…but it doesn’t give you any brand new information.

That’s probably why only 52% of the people who see that Leadbox pull the trigger and sign up.
Leadbox ConversionsBottom line: Offer something exclusive — like a some bonus tips, a tutorial video or a template — that people can’t get from the post itself. More exclusive content=more conversions.

Step #3: Offer The Checklist

Like I recommend to everyone, Christopher leveraged the standard yellow box/download image formula in his post.

But he also tried something really creative that bumped up his conversions even more…

What was it?

Christopher mentioned his PDF tutorial inside of the post itself.

Here’s an example:

in post pitch

When you click on that link, you’re taken to the bottom of the post.

That’s where he has more information about his bonus resource (and a download link).

Cloud Download Image

That clever tactic is one of the reasons that this post converts at an incredible 5.9%…

google anaytlics blog post conversion rate

a 600% improvement than before The Content Upgrade.

In fact, Christopher’s post now converts better than his homepage.

Ready To Rock? This Will Help:

I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyway:

If you’re serious about building your email list you NEED to try The Content Upgrade.

To make the process super-simple for you, I’ve created a special bonus area just for this post.

The free bonus area includes:

1. A step-by-step PDF checklist that shows you EXACTLY how to implement The Content Upgrade.

2. 17 “plug and play” Content Upgrade resource ideas that you can give away on your site.

3. 5 more real world examples of The Content Upgrade in action.

Click below to access the special bonus area:
List Building bonus

]]> 155
17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:46:26 +0000 list building imageImagine if you could make one simple tweak to your website, and see an instant boost in email subscribers.

Or even better:

What if there were 17 of these tweaks…

…and each of them could generate more leads for your business?

You’d probably be pumped to read about them.

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you in this post:

17 insanely practical list building strategies that you can use to build your email list TODAY.

Get More Email Subscribers: Click here to download a PDF checklist that shows you how to quickly execute the 17 strategies from this post on your site.

1. Use Content Upgrade Popups


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, popups work.

For example, a few months ago I added the free SumoMe popup to Backlinko.

Here’s what the popup looks like:


That popup form may look simple, but it converts at an impressive 3.42%.

And it took my subscriber numbers from 35/day to 75/day.

In fact, that simple-looking popup has added over 3600 new subscribers to my email list over the last 3-months.


Although I’m happy with those results, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve discovered a way to make popups even more powerful.


By adding The Content Upgrade to the mix.

Never heard of the The Content Upgrade? No worries.

This post will show you how I used The Content Upgrade to increase conversions by 785%.

How I increased conversions

As you saw in that post, page-specific offers convert WAY better than something generic (like “free updates”).

For example:

In my Google Ranking Factors post, I give away a checklist that makes the information from that post much more actionable:

Content Upgrade Offer

And then it hit me:

Why would I offer someone something VERY specific with The Content Upgrade…

…and then turn around and make a generic offer in my popup?

That doesn’t make any sense.

So I decided to create a page-specific popup using Optin Monster that pitched my Google Ranking Factors checklist.

Ranking Factors Popup

The result?

A 65% increase in conversions vs. the generic offer.

Imagine how many A/B tests you’d have to run to increase conversions by 65% (hint: a lot).

Why would waste time testing button colors when you can do something like this that’s almost guaranteed to generate results right away?

Speaking of a strategy that gets results right away…

2. Hack Qualaroo To Build Your List Fast

Here’s one of the most creative list building strategies I’ve ever seen:

You may already be familiar with Qualaroo, a survey tool that asks live questions to visitors on your website.

Qualaroo Example

While Qualaroo is great at surveying your site’s visitors, you may not know that you can ALSO hack this tool to build your list.

In fact, The University of Alberta recently used this same hack to boost subscribers by more than 500%.

Here’s how they did it…and how you can do the same thing on your site.

The University was looking to increase conversions on their email updates page, which you can see here:


Instead of using Qualaroo to poll their visitors, they had the tool encourage people to sign up to their email newsletter:

Alberta Qualaroo

In fact, they set it up so you can literally subscribe directly through the Qualaroo form!

Qualaroo Email

Did it work?

In a word: YES!

This Qualaroo form pushed their signups from a sad 1-2/day…
to a respectable 12-15/day without making any other changes to that page.

3. Optimize This Often-Ignored Page and Increase Your List By Up To 25%

I’ve got good news and bad news…

First, the bad news:

If people double opt-in to join your list, up to 25% of your subscribers may be falling through the cracks.

Aweber Double OptIn

Leaving this button “on” may lower subscribers by 25%.


Sometimes your “Confirm your subscription” email gets caught in their spam filter.

Sometimes they change their mind.

Sometimes the dog poops on the rug and they forget to confirm.

Now for some good news:

You can significantly boost your subscriber numbers by getting more of your opt-ins to actually confirm their email.

How can you do that?

Optimize your confirmation page.

I’m happy to say that my confirmation page loses VERY few people. Here’s what it looks like:

Almost Done Page

Let’s break down the 3 reasons this page works better than most confirmation pages.

First, I re-iterate the benefits of subscribing.

I quickly remind you why it’s worth going through the trouble of confirming your email.

The second line on the page is:

Benefit Confirmation

Most people say something like, “in order to subscribe to our newsletter, you need to confirm your email”.

What’s more likely to motivate you to double opt-in?

Free updates, strategies and tips…or subscribing to a newsletter? Thought so.

Second, I include a strong call to action that asks them to confirm right away.

Time Specific CTA

This is HUGE. If someone doesn’t confirm right away they’re MUCH less likely to ever do it.

In fact, Ramit Sethi actually has a countdown timer on his confirmation page. Awesome.

Ramit Confirmation Page

Third, I visually walk you through the exact steps you need to take in order to confirm your email.

confirmation page

Even if you’ve already signed up to 100 lists, the visual cues reinforces what you’re supposed to do.

(It also shows that you’re a helpful person)

4. Make Users Feel Like Idiots for Not Opting In

Which sounds better to you?

Making millions from the stock market…

…or being lazy and eating Cheetos on your couch?

I know, it’s a silly question.

I only ask because those are the two options Timothy Sykes offers on his his squeeze page’s exit-intent popup.Timothy SykesYou may have seen other “Powered By Bounce Exchange” popups around the web.

Although each Bounce Exchange popup has a unique design, they have one thing in common:

They make you feel like an idiot for not opting in.

For example, here’s a Bounce Exchange popup from (note the “No thanks, I’m not looking to lose weight” option):

Bounce Exchange Example

You might be asking yourself:

“Why would they give someone a stupid option like that?”

The simple answer to that question: scientific research shows that two options convert MUCH better than one option.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Professor Daniel Mochon of Tulane University uncovered a phenomenon known as “Single Option Aversion“:

Single Option Aversion

Here’s what went down:

Mochon asked 3 groups of research subjects to imagine that they were in the market for a new DVD player.

Mochon gave one group of people information about JUST a Sony DVD player. Here’s what that information looked like:

Single Option Example

He gave a second group information only about a Philips DVD player (that looked similar to the above example).

And a third group received information on both the Sony AND Philips DVD player:

Both Options

What happened?

When presented with JUST the Sony or Philips DVD player information, approximately 10% of subjects said they’d be ready to buy right away.

Here’s the interesting part:

33% of subjects presented with both Philip and Sony DVD player options said that were ready to make a decision right then and there.

That’s 3x more than people that only saw one option.

conversion increase

Bottom line:

Including a second option (even a silly one) will convert more people into email subscribers.

5. Use This Simple Trick to Solve The “Social Proof Paradox”

There’s one piece of conversion advice that drives me nuts.

“If you want more people to subscribe to your email list, use social proof. Show people how many subscribers you already have.”

That sounds great in theory…

But what if you only have 354 people on your email list? How is that going to boost social proof?

It’s what I call the “Social Proof Paradox”.

You need social proof to get subscribers. But you need subscribers to get social proof.

It’s a classic chicken or the egg problem.

So what’s the solution?


Here’s an example from my newsletter sign up page:

Twitter Testimonials

And here’s another example from

Newsletter Testimonial

See that?

You don’t need a 30,000-strong email list to demonstrate social proof. A single testimonial is enough.

(In fact, I’ve found that a single glowing testimonial is often more powerful than “I already have 9,541 subscribers”)

6. Use To Steal Your Competitor’s Best Conversion Tools

What’s the fastest way to find the best conversion tools for YOUR business?

That’s easy:

Use the same tools that your competitors use everyday.

But how?

Well you could look at a competitor site’s source code and try to piece things together…

Source Code

(Good luck with that)

Or you can use this little-known tool called Built With that shows you the EXACT tools your competition uses to build their email list.

How does it work?

First, enter the homepage URL of one of your competitors into the tool:

BuiltWith Homepage

The tool will show you competitive information, like links and traffic sources:

BuiltWith Results

But you want to focus on the “Analytics and Tracking” section:

Analytics and Tracking

That box will show you every tool that your competitor’s site uses…including tools that they use for split testing and list building.

Pretty awesome, right?

7. Use The LPF Technique to Turn More Blog Traffic Into Subscribers

Quick question:

What’s the #1 page you want someone to visit to when they come to your blog?

If your answer is, “one of my best blog posts”, you’re missing out on HUNDREDS of potential subscribers.

So…what’s the right answer?

You want your visitors to go to pages designed to collect emails. In other words, landing pages.

As you may have read in my recent post, How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study), I recently created a Social Squeeze Page on my blog that converts at (you guessed it) 21.7%.

Here’s what the page looks like:

Social Squeeze Page

Problem is:

How do you get your site’s visitors to land on your best-converting landing pages?

It’s actually pretty simple: strategically funnel your blog’s traffic using the Landing Page Funnel (LPF) Technique.

The 2-step LPF technique is very simple.

  1. First, you identify landing pages that convert well on your site.
  2. Second, you design your site to funnel people to those high-converting pages.

Here’s an example of how I use the LPF technique at Backlinko:

As I mentioned, my Social Squeeze Page is the best-converting page on Backlinko. So that’s one high-converting page.

But I also have a newsletter sign up page that converts at 10%.

Newsletter Page

So for me, my Social Squeeze Page and my Newsletter page are my top 2 best-performing pages.

Step #1=done.

Next, I added links around my site that point to those two pages.

Like in my site’s top navigation:

Navigation Bar

And as a “Helpful Resource” in the sidebar:

Sidebar Banner

And a text-based link under the “Popular Articles” section of my sidebar:

Sidebar Links

Michael Hyatt uses the LPF Technique in his blog…

Michael deftly includes a “Learn more…” link inside of his blog’s sidebar optin form.

Michael Hyatt Sidebar Optin

That way, if someone isn’t sure about signing up, they can click on the “Learn more…” link to go to a page with more information.

It just so happens that the “Learn more…” link takes people to an attractive squeeze page that no doubt converts extremely well:

Michael Hyatt Newsletter page

Very smart.

8. Turn Your LinkedIn Group Into a List Building Fire Hose

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a brilliant list building strategy using the untapped power of LinkedIn.

Here’s what happened…

There’s this group on LinkedIn called the Sports Industry Network:

LinkedIn Group

Like most LinkedIn groups, the Sports Industry Network sends you a “Welcome to the Group” email after you join.

Here’s the email that they sent to me:

LinkedIn Group Welcome

As you can see, the group asks you to “confirm your membership” to access to exclusive content.

And where does that link in the email lead to?

You guessed it:

A well-designed landing page.

Landing Page


If you run a LinkedIn group, you can easily do the same thing by going to Manage–>Temples–>Welcome Message:

LinkedIn Group Message

And add a link to your squeeze page in the welcome message that goes out to new members.

9. Use These 8 Words to Dramatically Increase The Value Of Your Giveaway

I’m pretty sure you’re with me on this one:

“Featured Download” sounds MUCH more appealing than “Sign up for our newsletter”.

That’s probably why the HubSpot blog uses that exact pitch on their site (and has over 225,ooo subscribers to show for it).

If you read the the HubSpot blog, you may have noticed a banner that slides in from the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

Here’s an example:

Featured Download

And when you click the “Download Now” button, you’re taken to a landing page:

HubSpot Squeeze Page

What makes this approach so effective?

The simple answer: traditional pitches like, “Sign up to my list and get a free ebook” don’t get the job done today.

But when you describe your opt-in bribe (like a free ebook) with value terms, it adds rocket fuel to your offer’s perceived value.

Direct mail marketers have used these words for decades to increase the perceived value of their offers…

…and you can do the same.

Here are value terms you can use to make your giveaway more enticing:

  • “Featured”
  • “Exclusive”
  • “Advanced”
  • “Download”
  • “Secrets”
  • “Access”
  • “Special Offer”
  • “Limited Time”

In fact, I use several value terms on my newsletter squeeze page:

Value Buzzwords

Even though I don’t give anything tangible away on that page, these value terms bump up the perceived value of my newsletter.

A word of warning: you don’t want to use more than 3 of these in a single offer.

“Exclusive Access to a Featured, Limited Time Download” is a little overboard :-)

10. Giveaway a Bonus For YouTube Videos

When it comes to marketing on YouTube, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on:

YouTube click through rates are HORRIBLE.

In fact, some estimates put the average YouTube CTR at 0.72%.

Knowing that, how can you get your YouTube viewers to click over to your site and sign up for your email list?

The same thing you’d do on your blog: give something away!

Brandon from Sold With Video is one of the few people on YouTube applying the tried-and-true giveaway formula to YouTube.

For example, at the end of his video about getting more YouTube views, he pitches a free mini-course to help people with YouTube SEO.

YT Giveaway

And when you click on the yellow “Get Access Now” button you see above, you’re swept away to a squeeze page.

Squeeze Page

How can you do the same thing?

First, think of a giveaway that viewers of that video might be interested in.

For example, if you had a video about building bigger biceps, you could offer a free Excel spreadsheet that helps people track their workout.

Next, add a button to your video that stands out.

The big yellow button above works well, but I prefer to use something a tad more subtle:

Backlinko YouTube Video

Finally, add an annotation link that points to your squeeze page:

YouTube Annotation

And you’re set.

11. Use “Readers” or “Visitors” to Generate Social Proof

I already told you about the “Social Proof Paradox” and the dead-simple technique you can use to solve it.

Skipped that one? Go back and check it out. It’s #6 on this list.

What I haven’t told you is that there’s another easy way to make your blog look like a thriving community…

…even if you only have 134 email subscribers.


Feature your blog’s monthly visitors.

If you’re like most people, your total monthly visitor count is larger than your Facebook fans, email subscribers or any other traditional form of social proof.

That’s why you want to feature THAT number on your blog.

Here’s an example from Backlinko:

Monthly Readers

Even though Backlinko gets more than 60,000 monthly unique visitors, I first used this strategy when the site was averaging only 8,000 monthly visitors.

And it still worked.

The only time I wouldn’t use this technique is if you’re getting less than 5,000 monthly visitors.

In that case, you want to focus on reader and subscriber testimonials until your traffic climbs to 5000+ monthly uniques.

12. Pitch Your Email Newsletter to Twitter Followers

You may think that most of your Twitter followers are also on your email list…

…but you’d be wrong.

And if you don’t pitch your email list to your Twitter followers, you’re missing out on some of the easiest subscribers you’ll ever get.

After all, your Twitter followers are people that already like you. That makes your email list an easy sell.

For example:

Two weeks ago I tweeted this out:

Backlinko Newsletter Tweet

And that tweet very quickly added a handful of subscribers that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Because it’s so easy and effective, I plan on pitching my email list on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ on a regular basis from now on.

13. Surprise New Subscribers With a Free Bonus

Have you ever heard this classic business quote?

“It’s 5x cheaper to keep a customer than to gain a brand new one.”

Well it’s the same story with your email list:

It’s MUCH easier to prevent someone from clicking “unsubscribe” than it is to get a new person to fork over their email address.

But how?

That’s easy: give your subscribers an unannounced bonus for signing up.

For example, I used to give new subscribers a free unannounced ebook, “How to Get 25,000 Visitors Per Month” immediately after they confirmed their email:

Ebook Giveaway

Make no mistake:

This ebook was 25 pages of pure awesomeness.

Ebook Excerpt

The content in that ebook was as good — if not better — than anything I’ve published on the blog.

And I’ve received emails from (literally) hundreds of subscribers telling me that they’ve learned a lot from it:

ebook testimonial 1

ebook testimonial

Ebook Testimonial 3

Not only do these emails give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, but they let me know that my ebook is turning casual fans into lifetime subscribers.

(Unfortunately, I let the ebook slip out of date and removed it from the email confirmation page. I may add it again soon)

You can easily set this up yourself:

Just create a high-quality report, ebook or checklist.

Then, give your resource to subscribers right after they sign up.

And — KAPOW! — you’ll make an awesome first impression with everyone that signs up for your list.

14. Use a Blog Post Teaser

You probably already know that “fear of loss” is a HUGE motivator.

When you’re afraid of missing out on something it lights a fire under your butt that gets you to ACT.

The question is:

How can you leverage fear of loss to build your list?

After all, if someone doesn’t want to sign up today they can always come back and sign up tomorrow.

Well I’d like to tell you about something I tried last week that was a little bit weird…

About 2-months ago I published the first post in a new training series called “How to Increase Conversions (Without A/B Testing)”.

The post is called: “How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study)“:

Social Squeeze Page

Because I didn’t have a Content Upgrade ready for that post, I decided to let people know that this was the first post in a new series.

I had an announcement at the beginning…

Blog Post Series Box

…and end of the post:

Blog post Series 2

Those are LeadPages links. When someone clicks on them, an opt-in box appears that highlights the potential loss of not subscribing:

leadpages leadbox

So how has this strategy performed?

Well the two links from that one post very quickly added 37 new subscribers to my list.

Not as amazing as The Content Upgrade, but I’ll take 37 extra subscribers any day of the week.

And if you scale this to some of your most popular blog posts, you’re talking dozens of extra subscribers every month.

Not bad at all for a few minutes of work.

15. Use Weird Call to Actions on Buttons

How many times has this happened to you:

You’re about to enter your email address to get your hands on free report…

…and at the very last second, a voice in your head screams out “Don’t do it!”.

So you click away, never to return.

You’re probably wondering:

“How can I prevent that from happening to my potential subscribers?”

Here’s how:

You may have noticed that my SumoMe popup’s button says “Let’s do this!”

Submit Button

And my homepage form button says “I’m in!”

Homepage Button

Why don’t I use traditional button copy, like “join” or “submit”?

Two reasons:

1) Words like “submit”, “register” and “join”make you feel like you’re committing to something serious.

Not good.

2) Boring terms make your button blend in with the 256,000 other buttons online that use the same 5 words.

On the other hand, whimsical phrases like “Sounds good!” and “Let’s do this!” stand out and put people at ease.

Pat Flynn does a great job of this at Smart Passive Income. His email opt-in form’s button says “Get Started!”.

SPI Optin

“Get Started!” sends the message that you’re about to start something exciting…

…not just sign up for yet another email list.

16. Turn Blog Comments Into Email Subscribers

Did you know that there’s an easy way to turn blog comments into email subscribers?

Well there is. And it only takes a few minutes to set up.

In fact, it’s is something I’ve recently tested here at Backlinko:

Comment Subscribe

When someone checks that box and leaves a comment, they’re automatically added to my email list.

Although I’ve only had this feature live for a few weeks, it’s already added 214 subscribers to my email list.

Comment Subscriber Count

Why does this work so well?

When someone leaves a comment on your blog, it usually means that they enjoyed what they just read.

(Or it means they hated what they just read. But haters aren’t going to sign up anyway, are they :-) ?)

In other words, commenters are VERY primed to sign up to your list. They just need a little nudge.

If you’re a WordPress ninja, you can set this up manually. I personally use a plugin called Subscribers Magnet.

Turning commenters into subscribers works like a charm, but I’ve saved the best technique for last…

17. About Page=Squeeze Page

If you’re like most people, you think your about page is a place to tell the world who you are and why you started your blog.

And that’s it.

Well I’ve got news for you:

If you’re not using your about page to ALSO collect emails you’re leaving hundreds (if not thousands) of email subscribers on the table.

After all, your about page is probably one of the most visited pages on your blog (Skeptical? Check your Google Analytics right now).

Like with a blog commenter, someone that takes the time to read your about page is VERY likely to sign up to your list.

That’s why I have not one — but TWO — optin forms on my about page.

One smack dab in the middle of the page:

About Page Form

And another at the bottom of the page:

about page form 2

These two forms convert EXTREMELY well.

In fact, my About Page converts at 5.81%:

about page conversion rate

It converts so well that I actually use the Landing Page Funnel Technique (#7 on this list) to funnel more traffic to my About page:

Sidebar Funnel

Bottom line?

Sprinkle in at least two opt-in forms in your blog’s about page.

Here’s How to Get Even More Subscribers

You’re probably saying to yourself:

“Brian, this is AWESOME information. What’s the easiest way to put this into practice?”.

Well I’ve got something special for you.

A free step-by-step checklist that includes actionable steps for all of the 17 strategies here…plus a bonus list building strategy that I didn’t have room for.

Click the image below to download the free checklist:

List Building Checklist

Once you’ve done that, take a second and leave a comment.

I’d love to know what to you thought of the post.

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