Building an e-mail list has been likened to fishing more than once. As in, just as you need to know where the fish are if you hope to catch anything, you need to know where your target audience is and what type of content they like if you hope to entice them into signing up for your list.
I grew up on Lake Erie. During the summer we would watch the fishing boats travel up and down the lake setting their nets. It was always fun when they came in close to shore and set a net close enough to swim to (not that we ever got that close). It meant there were fish in our little corner of the lake, and that we could go sit on the end of our dock with a fishing pole and maybe catch enough for dinner.
The fishermen we watched set their nets in a different spot every time. They were smart enough to go where the fish were. As my Dad used to tell us, it doesn’t matter how pretty a fishing spot might look, if there are not fish there, you’re not going to catch any fish. That’s why the successful fishermen find out where the fish have been hanging out, and then go there. And why my dad would head out to the end of the dock when he saw a fishing boat close to shore.
This concept can also be applied to marketing and list-building. You may have created an amazing opt-in gift that you know is going to help people. But if you’re not getting any traffic to the site you put it on, then you’re not really going to help anyone.
What you need to do in order to get the most traction out of your blog posts is find out which ones are most popular, and where the traffic you do get is coming from.
A quick way to determine which posts are most popular is to see how many comments they are getting. A general rule of thumb is that the posts with the most comments are usually also the ones with the most traffic.
There are also plug-ins you can use on a WordPress blog that will help you with your analytics. This list from the team at Elegant Themes is a good place to start searching for a statistics plug-in that will get you the data you need. Choose a plug-in and install it (most are free), and then watch to see which posts are get the most traffic. You may have to install Google Analytics as well, since many stats plug-ins rely on Google’s data. Or, you can just log in to your Google Analytics account and use the data directly.
Another way to determine where your traffic is coming from is to use a link redirect tool. I like to do this because sometimes the referral data in Analytics and other stats programs can be pretty thin.
A link redirect tool (the one I use is called Simple Click Tracker) lets you create a separate link for each place you promote your blog post, so you can see exactly where your traffic is coming from.
Knowing where your traffic is coming from can have a direct impact on how well your content performs, because audiences on different sites have different needs. For example, a person coming to your site from Facebook might have a completely different expectation than someone hangs out on Twitter.
So now that you know which posts are your most popular and where the traffic is coming from, what will you do with it?
The short answer to that is you create a content upgrade (aka the “bait” in our fishing analogy, or the “opt-in gift” in marketing terms).
What is a Content Upgrade?
A content upgrade is an extra piece of content you offer your visitors at the end of a blog post, which dives deeper into the content and gives your readers something they can use to take action on what they’ve just read. It’s most often used as a lead generator, as the reader is required to opt-in to your list to receive the additional information.
That’s the short version.
How do I know what to give away as a content upgrade?
Coming up with content upgrades is a rather easy process if you know your audience well.
The first step is reading your post as if you were a new visitor who had never seen your content before.
As you’re reading, ask yourself questions about the content:
- What is the topic?
- What is the message it’s delivering?
- What are the values and benefits someone receives by from this content?
Make notes of ideas as you are reading, and be thinking about what type of resource or content would be a useful addition to what you’ve read.
Here are a couple of examples:
Your most popular blog post talks about the benefits of walking for a healthy heart. A useful content upgrade could be a short checklist that promotes walking more each and every day. You can also offer a 10 day email challenge that moves readers off the couch and gets them working toward 10,000 steps a day in just 10 days.
You can see an example in action on my Editorial Calendar post. The post goes through several reasons why you should be using an editorial calendar to plan your content. At the end of the post, there is a place to sign up for a checklist that walks you through some of the questions you need to answer before you can begin planning your content calendar.
The idea is to think of an upgrade to your popular blog posts and web pages that your reader can take action on and is interested enough to opt-in to get it. Keep it short and easy to digest, and your readers will see some quick value in the content you provide. Examples of content that works well as an upgrade includes:
- Resource guides
- Quick start guides
- Short reports
Get the complete list of “Content Upgrades that Work”
Having relevant and useful content upgrades on your blog posts gives you multiple ways to grow your list. The reader has to opt-in to get the extra content, and this works well for two reasons: it lets you know which of your readers are action-takers, and it also enhances your reputation as a go-to person in your market. If your readers like and use your content upgrades, you can be sure they’ll tell their friends about them as well, helping to grow your list even more.
What do you think? Does this sound like a viable way to generate leads and grow your list? Do you use content upgrades? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget to grab the checklist here:
This is part 1 of a 5 part series on Using Content Upgrades
- Is List-Building really like Fishing? (this post)
- Are Content Upgrades Right for You?
- Short or Long: Which Works Best for Content Upgrades?
- Make It Easy for Readers to Find Your Content Upgrades
- 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Content Upgrades