content marketing

Conversion is when the right customers land on your site and find what they’re looking for.

A blog is like a volcano.

A blog is like a volcano.

Google keeps tweaking its search algorithms to help them do just that. And you can help Google direct customers to your site by thinking like a blogcano.

What’s a blogcano?

It’s a site that spews lots of red-hot, relevant content the same way a volcano spews lava. People—and search engines–lose interest in a dormant volcano, just like a dormant site. But a volcano with lots of fireworks, pouring forth lots of lava is going to stay on Google’s radar, which will keep it on your customers’ radar.

Active volcanoes grow bigger. So do active websites. Treat your blog as a landing page, because that’s what it is: the place where conversion-ready customers land.

Read the complete story in Blogs, Volcanoes, & Your Conversion Rate Calculation.

This is a guest post by Susan Lahey of Fishpond Content.

Surprise, baby

Susan Lahey got a surprise when she saw how Google interpreted her About Page. Photo by mokra

Anybody who’s installed Google Analytics on his website can tout all the cool insights it provides: Who visited your site and how they wound up there; which pages they lingered on and which ones send them packing. It’s almost voyeuristic. Every morning with my coffee I troll my email, social media sites, and my Google Analytics religiously.

But yesterday I discovered another really crucial aspect of Google Analytics: It can tell you if net surfers think you’re a porn site.

It started like this: You know how you’re supposed to make your personality really clear in your content; how it’s important to brand yourself thoroughly, differentiate yourself and use strong language?

In the spirit of thorough branding, I wrote on my About page that, because I was trained as a journalist, I am really anal about deadlines, research, accuracy and making sure the content is sexy enough to land on the front page.

Potent language, right? It says I’m a professional and I write content people are almost irresistibly drawn to.

Then, I was doing my daily Google Analytics check to see where my content was performing well and where it could be strengthened, I clicked the link that shows what keywords people were using to find my site.

Guess which ones? Anal and sexy, and a few other, similar combinations.

Not exactly the branding message I was aiming for. Not really targeting the customer stream I was hoping for either. I’m sure the porn surfers were even more disappointed than I was.

So I rewrote my About page. But because I abhor boring content, I refused to make it milquetoast just to avoid a similar incident. Wonder what they’ll do with the word “badass?”

Editor’s Note: I’ll watch this page to see if I start getting the “wrong kind” of traffic.

Photo by mokra

What makes people trust your Website more? As you know building trust with your visitors is critical to maximizing conversion. Here is some research that helps us to understand what makes visitors trust our site.
Here are some highlights.

An 11-minute Summary of Webpreep’s Research on the Web

1:43-People trust more attractive websites.
2:21-Attractive websites are those that follow conventions.
3:05-Biggest source of frustration? Ability to find relevant information.
3:31-Website owners must increase the relevance of their information.
5:00-The best way to retain customers is to provide relevant information.
Why Relevancy is dropping across the Internet.
6:10-How an Internet store is different from a physical store.
8:02-People who are on Facebook are more likely to recommend companies that they see on Facebook.
9:30-Satisfaction is what it is all about, affecting conversion and referral behavior.
10:00-Clam chowder

It’s out there: the article with the answer to your online marketing question. All you have to do is find it.

For-Further-Study.png As it turns out, I’m looking for answers to a lot of questions. It’s my job as the Conversion Scientist.

When I find a good checklist, best practice or how-to, I save it to my personal library. When my clients hit me with a question, this library offers a treasure trove of answers written by some of the smartest people in the business.

“But why wait for a call?” I thought. “Why not share this with my clients every week?”

Thus is born “For Further Study,” a scannable, quickly digested weekly email created exclusively for my clients.

I promise:

  • Quality sources
  • Conversion-enhancing content
  • Scannable emails with a short commentary by me to help you decide if you should read an article.

Here’s a sample of what to expect each week.

Blog SMO Guide: How to Apply Social Media Optimization to Your Blog in 33 Steps – Search Engine Watch (#SEW)
Jul 21, 2011 09:39 am

This is an incredibly comprehensive yet accessible guide to social media best practices.

Tags: social media blog twitter facebook search engine watch
read more

Seth’s Blog: Articulating your preferred use case (what’s it for?)
Jul 17, 2011 03:36 am

What Seth calls a “Use Case” we call Personas in the world of conversion. Otherwise the benefits are the same: understanding your most important visitors, ending bad relationships with poor customers, and getting everyone on the same page.

Tags: seth personas use case
read more

The Junta 42 has published their annual (and last) list of 42 top content marketing blogs. The Conversion Scientist is #24, and honored to be among some great sites.
We have been following most of Junta42’s top 10 including Convince and Convert (#1), Top Rank (#2), Brian Solis (#3), Marketing Experiments (#5), Copyblogger (#6), Social Media Examiner (#7), Heidi Cohen (#10), and Duct Tape Marketing (#14).
We are actively exploring the others, and you should too.

I was on the hot seat at the Austin Content Marketing Meetup.

This isn’t your “play nice and listen while the guy reads his slides” sort of presentation. In the hot seat, the room is actively trying to destroy you, lobbing lit questions from across the room and questioning your every word.

Yes, it even got a little ugly. I think I held up OK.

You’re invited to sit back and enjoy the occasionally heated conversation on how to make your content convert visitors into sales.

Landing Page Basics: Don’t let your content go out without a strategy to draw readers back to your site and a landing page to get them to convert – even if that conversion is to get your next content offering.

In this article I’ll show you an example of how content can drive a reader to action. I also talk about landing page basics like these five important landing page strategies:

  1. Pitch the offer, not your company
  2. Remove distractions
  3. Let the visitor know where they are in the process
  4. Make forms the right length
  5. Only ask for information you will use

Content marketers sometimes focus on the content and forget about the marketing.

Yes, we want to inform.

Yes, we want to educate.

Yes, we want to be seen as the thought leader in our space.

But, we also want more traffic to our website, more leads and more sales.

One of the easiest yet most often overlooked marketing tactics is the call to action. I recently gave you ideas on how to include calls to action in your content marketing, but where should you send people and what do you say?

Landing pages: Where visitors like to land

A landing page is a page on your site dedicated to delivering on promises made by the offers in your content. The goal is to get a consumer of your content to take another step toward becoming a customer.

Your home page is not a good landing page. Instead, you want to send your prospects to a page where they are asked to do something specific and logical.

So what makes a good landing page? Reader Sarah Mitchell responded to my last call for samples with a web page that illustrates how to integrate content marketing and landing pages.

She wrote the product page for I like this example because businesses tend to use this space to talk about themselves and their products. They forget about the visitor.

A visit to your product page is a “buy sign,” making it a great place for calls to action. Mitchell does a good job of keeping the copy focused on the prospects, their businesses and their customers. She is also not shy about giving the prospect opportunities to take action.

Landing page basics: ezytire about page with markup.

ezytire about page with markup.

Landing Page Basics: Calls to action

In 12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action, I implore content marketers to put calls to action, also called Conversion Beacons, in their content marketing. Mitchell’s ezytire page is the poster child for in-content and ad-based calls to action.

Notice that there are not one, not two, but five calls to action on this page to start a free trial. In addition, she has secondary offers to start a chat, “register your interest,” and watch a how-to video.

The bottom line is this: You never know when a prospect finally gets enough information to feel comfortable taking action, so you must always be offering ways for them to do so.

Is this a bait and switch? It isn’t, and we should never attempt to mislead our prospects. The page offers details on the product. Contact information has been moved to a dedicated “Contact” page.

Mitchell’s links go to a landing page that starts the trial enrollment process right away. It should be obvious that sending visitors to the home page here would have been disastrous for ezytire.

ezytire landing page trial. Landing page basics.

ezytire landing page trial.

We know this page is working. The bounce rate is very low, with only 14 percent of visitors leaving the page immediately. That means the page isn’t scaring people away despite having a total of eight primary and secondary calls to action.

Fully half of the visitors are starting a free trial, and 15 percent of them will purchase the service when their trial is over.

That’s a beautiful bottom-line conversion rate of about 6.45 percent. Many businesses are proud of a two percent or three percent conversion rate from landing pages.

Landing page basics

Here are five things this page does well, things that you should consider when you develop your landing pages.

Pitch the offer, not your company

The page is all about the trial, not about Ezytire.

No distractions

All of the content on this page is designed to help the reader get through the trial process. Ezytire should consider removing the top navigation as well to keep from distracting visitors.

The visitor knows where they are in the process

If it’s a pretty long conversion process, it’s considered a best practice to always let the visitor know where they are. You can see the “Step 1,” “Step 2,” etc. on the page that will provide the visitor with this feedback.

Forms are the right length

Long forms can be more daunting to visitors than multiple steps. For a “soft” offer like a trial, I recommend shorter forms and more steps. You should try different approaches with your audience.

Only ask for information you will use

The first step is pretty efficient: Name, email address, password. Ezytire could ask some qualifying questions, and may be tempted to ask for a phone number. Additional fields will, in general, decrease your conversion rates, so don’t ask if you won’t’ use the information.

The ezytire page Sarah Mitchell inherited only generated nine conversions in three months before Sarah reworked it. If you’re not thinking, “I need someone like Sarah to look at my pages,” you’re not really a business person, or your pages would have bottom-line conversion rates above 7 percent.

In my next post, I’ll share some ideas on how to find a great landing page copywriter.

Keep reading our article on landing page best practices.

Originally published article I wrote for the Content Marketing Institute

Readers may be involved in your content, like the chicken is involved in breakfast. How do you find the readers that are committed to your content, like the pig who is providing the bacon? Better yet, how do you get readers to take action?

The most common question I get from clients when I recommend a healthy diet of content is, “And how is giving away content going to increase sales?”

It can seem like content marketing finds a lot of chickens, those that are involved with a brand. But where are the committed pigs, the ones who will put some (pig) skin in the game?

If you see your content as a place to advertise, you can add some meat to your breakfast, generating traffic, leads and sales.

Conversion Beacons (or Bacon) and Calls to Action

To add some hickory-smoked goodness to your content breakfast, I recommend advertising in your own content.

I’m not talking about some namby-pamby “For more information on Company X…” message. I mean a meaty call to action, what Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg call a “Conversion Beacon.”

Press Button. Collect Bacon. Looking for committed readers. Conversion beacons and ways to get readers to take action.

Press Button. Collect Bacon. Looking for committed readers.

If you were to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to develop content or to advertise on someone else’s website, you wouldn’t create a call to action that said “For more information on our company call….” You’d create an ad that:

  • Gets the reader’s attention visually
  • Offers something of value (“learn more about our company” is not a valuable offer)
  • Includes a clear action for them to take: Call or click
  • Shows up in the part of the page that contains Grade “A” Choice cuts, the best placement that you can afford.

Since you’re probably spending hundreds or thousands of dollars creating reports, white papers, webinars, seminars, articles and videos, you should be using this same approach to point the reader/viewer/attendee to the next exciting thing on your content menu.

Better yet, ask them to buy or try something.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action.

Ion Interactive offers content marketing with their content marketing. Their content offers a white paper on the side. The folks at Ion Interactive know that the conversion process answers a series of questions, and each delivered answer should anticipate the next question.

In this example, Ion Interactive provides five tips for lead generation. Those prospects who are studying the problem will want to learn more. The report offers more detail, but asks for contact information.

Those prospects who aren’t really studying the problem can select to join Ion Interactive’s Twitter stream.

Ion interactive uses some best practices here as well, including:

  • Showing the product
  • Using the magic word “free”
  • Underlining blue text which is the international standard for “click here.”
  • There is little room for confusion about the next step.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action

Be bold. Be inline. Be shameless. Be frequent. Incentivize. Merchandize. Be mobile. Be creative. Be generous. Be miserly. Be a tease. Be exclusive.

If you are a content marketer and you’re doing the old palm-to-head routine right now, there is hope. Here are some tips for turning your content into sources for traffic, leads and sales through powerful calls to action:

  1. Be bold. Catch the reader’s attention. Offer something of value, even if it’s more content.
  2. Be inline. Put calls to action right in the copy.
  3. Be shameless. Let the reader know this content is part of a promotion for your products and services. Readers should get used to having promotional messages included in the excellent content you provide.
  4. Be frequent. Tease your “special offer” at the beginning. Include your pitch or insert an ad in the middle. Close with the “hard sell” even if it’s another piece of free content.
  5. Incentivize. Put a coupon on your print and digital offerings.
  6. Merchandize. Show the product.
  7. Be mobile. Add QR codes so your readers can go on a little adventure to your next offering.
  8. Be creative. Just like an ad in any medium, you want to create compelling calls to action for placement in your valuable marketing content.
  9. Be generous. Have great content.
  10. Be miserly. Hold something back that the reader or viewer has to click through to get. In the example above, Ion Interactive held back five of their ten tips.
  11. Be a tease. Put it on the cover. If you let the reader know there is a special offer inside your content, you’re going to get more people to dive in. How many unread white papers are on your hard drive right now?
  12. Be exclusive. Offer something exclusive to consumers in your content. In the example above, Hubspot doesn’t offer a free email and consultation to everyone. You have to be on the webinar.

Advertise Your Content in This Space

I’m going to give you a chance to advertise in this space.

Send me links to your content marketing and show me how you are advertising in your own content. Your content could be one of the examples I use in my next column when I talk about landing pages for in-content ads.

Present your content here or email me through my author page.

Originally published on The Content Marketing Institute

bacon and eggs bam signature

Here is a guide to how your blog can draw qualified traffic to your website via search, social media and email.

Does your blog squirt or erupt?

I got some inspiration from an unlikely place for my column on content marketing: the American Museum of Natural History in New York I was drawn there because I thought they were having an exhibit all about me. It turns out that the exhibit was called “Introducing the Brain,” not “Introducing Brian.” The exhibit did not have anything to say on what part of the brain causes dyslexia.

But, scientists love museums, and so I looked around. There was an entire room dedicated to the earth, from it’s heat-formed rocks to it’s carbon-choked atmosphere.

My next thought was “this is just like content marketing.” I’m sure you would have had the same thought. If you didn’t, you’ll soon understand.

Read my complete thoughts on the matter over at ClickZ to understand how a blog-cano can generate copious amounts of search, social media and email goodness for your business.

What does a geologist know about online marketing? Probably not much, but a geologist can give us a handy model for a content marketing strategy that is easy to implement and potentially explosive.

The Geology of a Content Marketing Strategy: How is a Blog Like a Volcano?

How is a Blog Like a Volcano?

How a Blog Is Like a Volcano

At the most basic level, a blog spews content like a volcano spews lava. The content typically emerges in pyroclastic flows fed from a content magma chamber deep inside.

It is the release of this magma – the content – that determines the pace at which the mountain grows. A mountain with a large magma chamber can be expected to erupt more frequently and more violently.

Like a blog, our volcanic mountain becomes more visible as it rises higher and higher into the top levels of the atmosphere. It can become visible very quickly to nearby villages, executive offices in neighboring cities…and to search engines.

Clearly, we can learn a few lessons from our geological friends. My question is, “How can we get our blog-cano to erupt more frequently and spread our content as far as possible?”

Have a Big Magma Chamber

You’ve got to have a plan for a steady flow of content. Your blog-cano is the heart of your content marketing strategy and can power your social marketing strategy, lead generation strategy, and search engine optimization.

The beauty of blogging is that it’s a more casual medium. Your blog content doesn’t have to be bibliographed articles. It doesn’t require your subject matter experts to be writing constantly. In fact, blog content can come from many sources: presentations, case studies, and even geology textbooks. Much blogging is simply commenting on others’ writing, which we call “curating content” for your audience.

I’m not saying that your posts don’t have to be valuable. Lava must be hot to flow. But, it must flow constantly or your blog-cano won’t grow fast enough and you won’t be able to implement some of the more explosive strategies I discuss here.

Bringing Tourists to the Slope of Mount Blogitubo

All a blog is really going to get you is an RSS feed. While your RSS feed is going to power some very helpful strategies, there aren’t going to be a lot of people reading your posts via feed reader.

Search engines, however, love blogs.

With a little geologic surveying, we can help the search engines find our naturally keyword-rich content. They will, in turn, send us tourists.

Choose a blogging platform that is search-engine friendly. Don’t just use the content management system that your corporate site is built on.

Definitely put your blog on the same domain as your corporate website so both benefit from the search engine “juice” you create.

If you have the resources, you can identify your most valuable keywords and purposefully incorporate them into your blog posts and titles. Search ClickZ for search engine optimization best practices.

Eruptions Are Worth Spreading

With a little technology, you can rain content down on people far and wide. Your Mount Blogsuveous is capable of powering engaging social media outreach, drawing qualified traffic, and growing your social networks. This can be largely automated with services like and Twitterfeed. Tools like HootSuite and Spredfast will help you share your content on the most popular social networks. (Disclosure: Spredfast provides its service to the author at no charge.)

Because these posts, tweets, and status updates contain a link back to your content, you can actually measure the clicks and conversions generated by your social media outreach, and this can justify production of more magma.

Spreading the Explosive Energy of Your Blogatoa

Tourists coming from social media and search are nice, but they always go back home. What if they could take a piece of the mountain home with them?

It turns out that well-qualified tourists will want to continue to receive your blava (blog-lava) and you can easily deliver that with e-mail. Ask visitors to give you an e-mail address and you can automatically power an e-mail newsletter with remarkable frequency.

Here is where your RSS feed really comes in handy. There are services that will monitor your blog for the new posts arising from your blogma (blog-magma) chamber. On a set schedule, these services will pull the content from the feed, wrap it in a nice template, and send it to your list by e-mail.

Ask your e-mail service provider (ESP) if they have an RSS-to-e-mail service. MailChimp andAWeber provide such a service. Consider FeedBurner or FeedBlitz if your ESP can’t help.

This strategy is great for considered purchases or any product or service in which the need is unpredictable. It keeps you front-and-center when it’s time for the tourists to pick their next destination.

Flow Over to Your Corporate Website

The final place on which you can rain your explosive content is on the corporate website. These sites are typically designed like a brochure, written in a “me,” “we,” and “us” style.

Blava content is generally more educational, informational, and entertaining. It’s created for the reader, and will really grab the attention of someone who is early in their decision-making process.

There are a variety of widgets available to display blog titles on your corporate site, and visitors will find this content more compelling than your recent press releases. Make sure that your blog gives them an obvious way to get back to the corporate site.

The Center of a Hub

Once these parts are in place, our blog-cano has become the center of a powerful, largely automated hub of influence. However, the system is only as powerful as our blog content. Post frequency is the best predictor of blog readership growth that I’ve seen. You should post at least once per week, in my opinion.

Remember that your editorial calendar is your magma chamber, the source of all blog-cano power. Find the resources to post helpful content frequently and you will empower search, social media, and e-mail to drive more business to your door.

Brian Volcano


Content Rules. At least that is what a lively trio showed us at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum in Austin. C.C. Chapman, Ann Handley, and an as yet unnamed robot shared the rules and tools of great content marketing.

Content Rules

That is what a lively trio showed us at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum in Austin.

#9: Have Fun

C.C. Chapman, Ann Handley, and an as yet unnamed robot shared the rules and tools of great content marketing.

#6: Stoke the Campfire

Here is the Converison Sciences Instagraph of their presentation, captured in real time.


Content Rules + Content Tools: INFOGRAPH

Content Rules + Content Tools: INFOGRAPH


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