As a content marketer by trade, two of my core business goals are without a doubt, increasing the size of my email list and driving more revenue into my business.
Building an audience from scratch can be a serious challenge, and it helps if you understand exactly where your ideal customers are spending their time online. That way, you can target other sites that you should be publishing content on, and over time—make their audience your audience. If you’re creating valuable content, you’ll be in a great position to add value to these other websites by offering to guest post. It’s a win-win for both the publisher and your business.
By getting in front of your potential customers with relative frequency on other websites with established audiences, you’ll be able to piggyback those existing audiences to drive in highly qualified traffic to your website. Once you identify your target list of other websites your customers spend time on, you need to formulate how you’re going to get published. For a more detailed look at various audience acquisition tactics, check out the Digital Marketing Circuit.
I’ve personally used strategic guest posting to build my own audience to just under 10,000 email subscribers and 21,000 average monthly pageviews in a little over 6 months. In that period of time, I’ve learned a lot about the types of content that perform best for different publications and brands where I publish my works. Sometimes there’s a ton of traffic with a very low email signup conversion rate. Yet, others have netted a much lower volume of traffic with an extremely high conversion rate.
While there’s obviously numerous potential factors that can influence guest post conversion rates, the one I pay attention to most is making sure that links in my guest posts are hyper-targeted to content on my website that’s contextually relevant and conversion-optimized.
On the morning of August 18th, I published 10 Steps to Starting a Business While Working Full-Time on Inc, as a guest post through a contributing editor whom I’ve developed a good relationship with over the years. During the next 5 days, that post drove 625 new email subscribers through my online course waiting lists, content downloads, and blog subscribe widgets.
I’m a huge proponent of making data-driven marketing decisions in my business, so using tools like Mixpanel and Optimizely that can help me track the effectiveness of my landing pages and conversion funnels are essential to optimizing and improving my business.
Here’s a screenshot of my Mixpanel event tracking from visitors coming to my site from Inc when this guest post was published. The first column is how many page views (2,652) were driven directly from Inc, over the course of the 5 days after my post was published, and the second column is the number of new email subscribers from Inc (625), that I generated within that same time frame.
What’s even more important to note, than just the number of email subscribers I acquired, is the extremely high conversion rate (23.57%) for the new visitors that Inc was driving to my website.
I’ve been guest posting for quite a while, but no single guest post had ever elicited that strong of a return on my email list building in such a short period of time. So, why was this post so particularly powerful?
In short, there was a very clear match for the content I had created for Inc’s audience, and what was being represented on the pages I was driving visitors back to on ryrob.com. There was high intent from the visitors that were clicking over to my website, and I was delivering on their expectations.
My guest post chronicled a brief overview of my 10 steps to starting a business while working, that I developed from my experiences starting 4 different businesses while fully employed or in school.
Within that post, I frequently linked back to a more in-depth version of each of those 10 steps, within content that lives on my blog. Each person who was interested in learning more about a particular step in my process to launching a business while working, was able to very quickly and easily get more actionable insights for free on my blog.
I also linked multiple times, directly to highly targeted landing pages for my online course, Starting a Business While Working, and the free downloadable PDF worksheets available on my blog.
Those who were clicking through to download my PDF worksheets were clicking on text links that promised very quick self-assessments that would point them in the right direction for how to get started with their business ideas. Here’s a screenshot of my landing page for the Entrepreneur’s Skill Assessment Worksheet that drove just under half of those new email subscribers from Inc.
This page is designed to do one thing, and one thing only: convince a visitor that exchanging their email address for this downloadable PDF will be a worthwhile investment.
You’ll see I reinforce at the top of the page, that this is a free download, and that you’ll be able to get instant access to it once you enter your email address. For social proof, I include the number of others who’ve downloaded this worksheet (6,785+ as of this week), and reinforce what they’ll learn from downloading this sheet. Finally, an image of the actual worksheet is visible, showing people exactly how close they are to picking this up.
By shortening my conversion funnel and sending traffic straight to this email opt-in page, rather than dumping them on my homepage and hoping they’ll magically sign up for my content, I’m significantly maximizing the mileage I get out of a guest post. By setting very clear expectations of what visitors get in exchange for entering their email address, I’m consistently able to achieve these high conversion rates across the board on all of my signup pages.
What’s even better about this guest post, is that it took me about 30 minutes to put it together, a great utilization of my time as a content marketer.
With this particular guest post on Inc, it was a shortened version of my 5,000-word post on the same topic, which lives back on my personal website. Because the post had done so well with my audience, and it was evident from the 765+ social shares displayed at the top of the article, my contact at Inc knew that it would go over well with their audience in a more shortened form since their audience has much shorter attention spans.
I’m a huge proponent of repurposing my blog posts and getting as much out of them as possible. Once I publish an in-depth blog post (several thousand words in length) on my website, I’ll start breaking down each section of that long post, and crafting smaller, uniquely written individual blog posts to seed out through my contributor networks.
This is a win-win, because the publications and blogs I write for are still getting unique, high-quality SEO-driven content, and it’s lower effort for me because I’m simply building upon content & concepts I’ve already created.
So, if guest posting isn’t yet a large component of your content marketing playbook or you’re not quite doing it right, now is the time get serious about it. Pick a strong piece of content you’ve already created, rewrite it with the same basic principles (or peel off one or two core points from it), and try pitching it to some contributing editors of publications where your audience spends time online. It’s well worth the time investment.
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