If there’s one thing I hear all the time, it’s this:
“Neil, I just want to get more conversions from my website.”
That’s it. That’s the big one.
I get it. Conversion rates are notoriously low.
By vertical. Low.
By channel. Low.
By device. Low.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking with a group of startup entrepreneurs in San Francisco, a meetup of marketers in Sao Paulo, or a team of e-commerce geeks in Seattle, everyone wants more conversions.
Heck, I want more conversions too!
Are there some simple ways to turn up the conversion juice and make more money from your blog, e-commerce site, startup, or landing page?
Yep, there are.
And I’m about to show them to you.
First off, though, why did I write this article? For whom?
Because tactics. Simple, practical, easy tactics.
Most people I talk with are just looking for a few plug-and-play tactics—things they can do on an average Tuesday afternoon to get more conversions and make more money.
These are two that I recommend.
“What?! Only two?”
Yes. The reason I’ve given you only two is because I don’t want you to be distracted by stuff that doesn’t work!
These two CTA-boosting techniques will work. And if you implement them this Tuesday, I guarantee you’ll have more conversions the following Tuesday.
It’s time to open the proverbial can of worms.
Yes. It’s time to talk about popups.
When you visit Teachable.com, you’ll see this:
And after five seconds, you’ll see this:
What just happened?
A timed popup.
Popups are synonymous with pull-your-hair-out levels of frustration. It’s accepted as absolute truth that popups are bad.
But are popups bad?
According to some people, yes.
Jakob Nielsen surveyed users on their responses to popups: 95% of them rated the experience of “pop-ups in front of your window” as negative.
That survey of 605 respondents was conducted in 2004.
In Internet epochs, 2004 is the equivalent of the paleolithic era.
And back in 2004, popups were pretty bad.
I mean, look at this. Really?
But today, popups have matured into an art form: they are helpful, compelling, useful, and valuable.
The real truth? Popups are not bad. And if you want to increase conversions on your long-form content, I strongly suggest you use popups.
Derek Halpern says it like this,
If you don’t use popups, you’re an idiot.
I try not to call people idiots, but I do agree with Derek’s point: you should use popups.
Popups are a useful, powerful, in-your-face technique that can skyrocket your conversions on long-form content.
On his blog, Derek himself uses this popup on the article discussing popups:
Think about it like this. Users who don’t like popups may not be your ideal customer anyway.
Never thought about it like that, did you?
If you lose a reader for disliking your popup, you have not lost a customer. You’ve just lost a visitor. And that’s okay. In fact, it might be a good thing.
I will always counsel you to make website improvements that enhance the user experience. Some may argue that a popup is detrimental to the user experience.
We need some balance between the perceived tension of UX and marketing goals.
To help achieve this balance, take a look at a handful of representative statistics:
- Using the List Builder popup, Sumo Me collected 23,645,948 email addresses in 24 months.
- One marketer instantly doubled his conversion rates by using an exit overlay popup.
- Derek Gehl reports a conversion boost of 162% after adding a popup to his website.
- A recipe blog experienced a 10x boost in conversions after adding a popup.
Most online marketers I know would love to see a bar graph like this for list growth:
Growth like that came as a result of using popups.
Considering the issue from a data-driven and results-oriented perspective, you’ll see popups work.
But before you rush to install a popup creator, listen to this:
- The average popup converts at 3.09%
- The best popups convert at 9.28%
That’s a huge difference!
My guess is, you want the conversion rate of the best converting popup, right?
Sean Bestor’s guide on the subject shares all the juicy details.
To sum it up, here are the eight elements of ultra-converting popups, as explained by Sean:
- Popups with more context have higher conversion rates.
- The highest-converting popups don’t appear immediately.
- Being unclear with your headline and offer will sink your conversion rates.
- Personality creates interest.
- The best popups offer something of value.
- Popups shouldn’t appear immediately after a visitor closes out.
- Calls to action need to match the offer.
- Exit popups need an overwhelmingly valuable offer.
Let me show you four examples of effective popups.
This popup is from Authority Hacker:
Here’s one from GetRooster:
This popup is from AmbitionAlly:
Here is one from Convince&Convert:
All the best-performing options have a clear ask and an obvious next action, and they provide obvious value to the user.
Keep in mind there are different types of popups. Here are a few of the popular ones:
- Timed popups. The popup appears after the user has been on the page for a certain amount of time.
- Scroll popups. The popup appears when the user scrolls to a certain point on the page.
- Slide-in popup. Instead of offering an intrusive popup experience, this popup slides into the user’s view, only partially obstructing the content.
- Entry popups. The popup appears as soon as the user lands on the page.
- Exit popup. The popup appears when the user is about to leave the page. The technology is a bit complex, involving cursor directionality, velocity and timing to determine whether the visitor is about to bounce.
Today’s popup technologies are advanced enough to keep you from having to do any programming or complicated jiggering.
Most popups allow you to customize them to your heart’s content. The framework and structure, however, are completely primed for popup success.
Instead of distracting yourself with issues of UX or conversion rate increases, ask yourself a simple question: How can I give the greatest value to my readers in the most obvious way?
If popups aren’t the answer, don’t use them.
But if popups can deliver value on that level, use them without regret.
Place CTAs everywhere
One major reason why most blogs aren’t as effective as they could be with their conversions comes down to one simple thing:
They don’t have enough CTAs.
Wait, what? CTAs?
CTA stands for call to action. It’s marketing jargon for asking the user to do something or to respond in a certain way.
It’s easy to think of the CTA in a simplistic way.
Buttons, right? A CTA is a button. Like this…
Whether or not you use the dreaded “submit” button copy is entirely up to you.
A CTA can be a button, but a CTA is a whole universe of things.
My point is this. Your CTAs should be more than just buttons. In fact, your CTAs should be everywhere on your page.
Let me be entirely transparent with you. I love blogging. I love the written word. I love content.
And when I feel as if my content is being crowded out by a bunch of rude CTAs, I get a little nervous. I might even get a little defensive.
If you’re feeling that right now, I understand.
But I still want you to consider the following statement: for your long-form blog to be effective, you should always be presenting the user with your call to action.
Let’s take a look at a few examples, and you’ll see what I mean by this.
Here’s a blog article from Hubspot.
At the very top of the page, before we read beyond the title of the article, we see no less than three CTAs.
(You could make a reasonable argument that the social sharing icons are also CTAs, but I’m not counting them.)
As you scroll down the page, watch what happens. It’s subtle, but you’ll notice how the top navigation bar fades into a persistent header.
Watch the gray bar at the top of the page:
Now, no matter where you’re reading on the page, Hubspot is presenting you with a CTA:
When you reach the end of the article, you are presented with three CTAs:
These CTAs are not intrusive or over the top. They are simple invitations to the user to take things to the next level.
As a long-form content creator, I am not bothered by it in the least.
Instead of distracting the user from the valuable content, it is inviting the user to go deeper.
Let me show you another example, this time using a mixture of two content types—video and text.
Squarespace’s blog features this account of John Malkovich:
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this content is its visual appeal. CTAs are visually understated, but they are still there.
One invites the user to read more articles. The other points to newer and older articles. And the most important CTA of all prompts the user to play the video.
Now that the user’s attention is focused on the video, a CTA is placed in their line of sight:
For users who are on the full video page, the CTAs are still there. Although obvious, they do not detract from the immersive visual experience of the video:
A business like Squarespace is focused on visual excellence. They have to be. User experience is paramount.
Their CTAs do not impair the visual appeal of the website at all!
One of my favorite examples of CTA is Buffer.
Why? Because Buffer, a social media SaaS, is recognized for extraordinary content.
When you land on any of its blog articles, you’ll see this CTA:
The CTA is always in your line of sight.
In the gif below, you’ll see me scroll through the entirety of the the main blog page and then navigate to one of their long-form articles.
Don’t worry about catching the content I’m scrolling through. Instead, keep your eyes on the blue CTA at the top of the page:
Let’s take a closer look at one of their long-form articles.
The layout, formatting, and presentation is a paragon of design simplicity. Even so, there are two powerful CTAs:
The CTA “Share with Buffer” is particularly powerful. Its intent is to share the article socially, but the actual event prompts the user to sign up for the service.
The article itself is 2,500+ words. That quantity speaks to the value of the content and suggests its high quality.
When you get to the end of the article, you’re again presented with several CTAs, not counting the social sharing icons:
If you continue scrolling past the comments, you’ll reach the end of the page.
Even at the bottom, you’ll see more CTAs:
I think you’ll agree that Buffer has outstanding and valuable content. Its CTAs do not in the least detract from its quality content.
Want another example? This time, take a look at this massive 11,715-word magnum opus from AudienceBloom.
My red circles destroyed the visual appeal of the page, but I wanted to point out the four CTAs at the top of the page:
There are seven CTAs at the bottom of the page:
The reason I showed you each of those examples is to demonstrate that conversions depend on CTAs.
Instead of hiding your CTAs or consigning them to a button or two, put them out there—everywhere!
According to the principle of least effort, users are not going to work hard to respond to your CTA.
The principle of least effort has its most profound applications in information-seeking contexts and behavior.
An information-seeking client will tend to use the most convenient search method, in the least exacting mode available. Information seeking behavior stops as soon as minimally acceptable results are found.
What does this psychological factoid have to do with your CTAs?
This: Make your CTAs easy and available for the reader to access.
By virtue of their activity, your blog reader is an information-seeking client. Your CTA is designed to secure some level of commitment from your readers before they leave.
If you have clear CTAs distributed throughout the blog, you stand a greater likelihood of engaging their attention and securing their conversion.
You have a simple goal: get more conversions.
I wish I could say, “Yes, getting more conversions from your blog is easy!”
And it isn’t.
- Creating long-form content is not easy. At least not in my experience.
- Launching a comprehensive content marketing campaign is not simple.
- Hiring growth hackers, developers, marketers, and writers isn’t a breeze.
- Designing a compelling landing page and blowing it up with value isn’t a cinch.
- Conducting months of split and multivariate testing is complicated and time-consuming.
But boosting your conversion rates?
It doesn’t have to be that hard!
I’m not trying to end on a false happy note either. The fact is, with the right tools, you can get a lot more conversions from your blog.
Sprinkle in some popups, hand out CTAs like beers at happy hour, and you’ll get instant improvement.
I guarantee it.
Implement these tactics, and report back here next Tuesday. I want to see what you’ve done.