Blog Optimization Guide – How To Get Nearly 10% Email Conversions on Your Blog

blog optimization
You’ve seen it all before. Blogs that appear to be brand new and the blogger is actively adding content, but he forgot one thing…The blogger didn’t think about blog optimization.

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

If you read my guide on how to start a blog, then you surely know that I have a complete blog optimization plan ready, before I even published my first post.

It makes sense right?

The moment I publish my first posts and start promoting them I’m ready to add subscribers to my list and make sales.

Sure, some bloggers add an opt-in form in their sidebar, or at best use a popup to collect emails, but those aren’t very good tactics.

In this post, I’ll show you 2 things:

  1. A case study I did a couple of years back when I was more of a hobby blogger (but which yielded great results).
  2. How I’ll set up Bloglivin to maximize results using parts of the case study I did earlier.

In case you didn’t realize it yet, if you want to start a blog, building your email list is crucial for your success, so I’ll spend a lot of time optimizing and tweaking my campaigns.

And obviously, you can watch over my shoulder as I move forward.

So let’s first check exactly what I did 2 years ago with a blog in the “make money online” niche, and how I’ll put my own twist on things with my new blog here.

Blog Optimization By Defining My Target Audience

Get this wrong, and you’re bound to fail, period.

Most people that want to start a blog get started the wrong way. Sure you need to blog about something you’re passionate about or you’ll get bored and quit, but that speaks for itself.

Before you even write your first post you have to know one thing: Where do the people that will find my posts helpful hang out?

Just think about it, why would you write amazing content if nobody will ever see it?

And if you want to rely solely on search engine traffic, you’ll be very disappointed initially.

Why?

Because it will take weeks, if not months to rank for keywords that will bring in a decent amount of visitors every day.

So what was my first focus back in the first months of 2015?
blog optimization

I figured that before I write a single word of content, I need to know WHY to write that content.

So my blog optimization plan back then was to:

  • Find out what problems my target audience was having
  • Create content that solves those problems
  • Reach out and genuinely help people with their problems

Thinking back, that was a pretty solid approach. 🙂

Doing Research On My Target Audience

This was a fairly simple but crucial step to take before you I even got started writing content.

So what did I do?

I checked out what people in my niche are talking about, and more importantly, what questions they have and base my content ideas on issues.

So for my internet marketing blog that was fairly easy:

  • People look for ways to make money online
  • People want to grow their email list
  • People want to get more traffic
  • People suffer from shiny object syndrome
  • People buy one WSO after another

Back then I was an active member of the Warriorforum for a long time already, and I pretty much knew what people that are just getting started to try to make money online want.

Many people are looking for help, and because the information they can find on the main forums is too limited to get started, they head over to the WSO section to buy a report.

define target audience
I did a lot of research on this, and something I noticed was that there was a huge shortage of actionable guides which are provided freely on a blog.

So with this in mind, all I needed to do was to create these guides and engage the audience which was hanging out on the Warriorforum.

You know, the people that are looking for the next best $10 report until the end of time.

So coming up with a strategy was fairly simple:

  • Create posts that are the same (or better) quality than paid Wso’s
  • Drive Wso buyers to my blog posts
  • Build an email list to update my audience about new guides

I figured that it will be very easy to turn repeat Wso buyers into repeat blog visitors if the quality of my free guides exceeds the quality of the average Wso.

Did this approach work?

It surely did!

Here you can see the result of the 2 first days I started promoting my blog:

blog traffic first days
As you can see, my blog went from practically no traffic to nearly 300 visitors in just a couple of days.
Without creating high quality content and engaging my audience where they hang out, this would be pretty much impossible.

The Blog Opt-In Conversion Booster

So without traffic, your content is worthless.

But by the same rationale, if you don’t have an optimized blog and funnel in place to make sales, your content is worthless too.

The problem back in 2015 was simply that I didn’t have a decent product to sell.

I made affiliate sales and sold a lot of $10-$20 products, but the fact remains that I didn’t have a great funnel that would make me a full-time blogger.

However, I did have a great converting blog!

My blog optimization strategy to ensure that as many people as possible would sign up to my email list was versy solid.

And obviously it worked!

I’ll first explain what the method is about and how it can be used, and then I’ll show you the little twist I used to really kill it.

The Content Upgrade Method

First of all, I learned this method from Brian Dean from Backlinko.com, so all credit goes to him.

What it comes down to is that you offer the readers of your blog posts an upgrade to that particular post.

This upgrade can be a:

  • Bonus video
  • Bonus report
  • Checklist
  • Infographic

I’m sure you get the idea.

Brian actually adds a content specific upgrade to each one of his blog posts. That’s a great idea because it’s very targeted, especially if your content is of the highest quality already. (and this is something I’ll do on Bloglivin too)

Here you can see an example of how he does it:

content upgrade special bonus
When you click the “Download a free checklist” link, a popup appears where you can subscribe to his list as seen here:

free checklist as upgrade
This is pretty ingenious.

The first thing you need to understand is that a regular blog converts at about 1%.

This is even when you add all the bells and whistles everybody else is adding such as an opt in form in the sidebar, in your posts and even an exit popup.

Brian created a little case study about a guy’s blog about golfing. As you can see, this person’s blog wasn’t converting at all:

content upgrade upgrade before
However, after implementing this technique his blog conversion rate increased by a stunning 459%:

content upgrade case study after
That’s a huge improvement don’t you think?

And to make things even better, he achieved this with a simple little tweak which doesn’t take too much effort.

Creating a checklist of your blog post only takes about 30 minutes, but it can add hundreds, or even thousands of extra subscribers to your list every month which you wouldn’t have got otherwise.

My Tweak To The Content Upgrade Method

So Brian teaches you to add a content upgrade related to the post. And as you saw, this works awesome.

I was thinking of doing something similar, but I came up with a great variation of this method which did even better.

So while I was contemplating the things that what would benefit my audience the most, I made a summary of a possible scenario:

  • I write high quality guides related to making money online
  • I add 2-3 new guides every week
  • I add all reports in a collection of high quality reports

With this in mind, I came up with the idea to create a PDF of each one of my blog posts.

So instead of adding post specific upgrades, I used one global update.

When people subscribed to my list they got instant access to ALL my guides in PDF format.

Each time I created a new post, I will add it to a special download page that people can access after subscribing to my list.

Pretty cool right?

And what makes it ice-cold is the fact that it works. 🙂

These are some stats from the third day of using this method on my blog:

blog case study subscribers one day
These are stats from a blog that had zero traffic 3 days earlier!

Do you think I would have gotten an 8,81% conversion rate and have added 31 subscribers to my list without super high quality content and using the content upgrade method?

You think a simple free report and an opt in box in the sidebar can achieve this?

I don’t think so…

Opt-In Box Placement

The little case study you just saw is pretty much the same tactic I’ll use on my blog here.

But, with a few tweaks.

First of all let me show you the final part of this case study which is the opt-in box placement I used on my blog to get these type of results.

After that I’ll show you an overview of all the opt-in boxes I use on Bloglivin and how I’ll use a couple of twists.

Opt-in form on the homepage

I’ve seen these opt In boxes on other blogs which actually fill up your entire screen. I didn’t really want to use that so I added an opt in box just above the most recent posts:

homepage opt in box
This way I could introduce myself to new visitors, and the links to my money making guides were visible to increase conversions for the opt in box.

Back then I didn’t consider this to be a very important box.

You’ll see later on why I was probably wrong about that.

Sticky opt in box in the sidebar

On all pages except the homepage I added an opt in box which scrolls down too as the visitor scrolls down the page.
Here you can see that:

sticky opt in box in sidebar
So no matter where the visitor is on the page, the opt in box remains visible.

And of course, he can see the links to the money making guides below too.

Creating a sticky widget is super simple actually. You can do this with a simple plugin, and all you need to do is mark a box to make the widget stick to the page.

To get the plugin go to the “add plugin” page in your WordPress dashboard and type “fixed widget” in the search box.

And this is the plugin I’m talking about:

wordpress fixed widget lugin
After that you can mark the box in the widget area to make whatever widget you want stick on posts and pages. in this case the opt in box widget:

fixed widget area
This is also a great method to use when you got a special announcement or promo or whatever you want to get noticed, because there’s no way visitors won’t pay attention when they scroll down the page.

Attention bars inside blog posts

This is the content upgrade method I referred to earlier, for which we need to add a clickable link in the blog posts (as you saw in the example).

I did something similar but my blog optimization strategy contained an attention bar. The one’s you sometimes see on top of a website.

Here you can see the example of the attention bar on top of my post:

attention bar top of the post
And I also added one at the bottom of the post:

attention bar bottom of the post
When people clicked the download link, an opt in popup appeared like this:

attention bar popup
Do you think these get good conversion rates?

They sure do!

I have to be honest, I didn’t have much data up until the time I was writing this, as I only promoted my blog for 2 days and only had 3 guides.

That being said, the reason I included this little case study to increase website conversions is to show you what steps you should take BEFORE you get started promoting your blog.

So these stats are absolutely relevant.

Here you can see the conversion of these attention bars in just one day:

content upgrade attention bar case study
A conversion rate of nearly 10% isn’t bad if you ask me.

Remember that I mentioned the average blog only gets a 1% conversion rate or even less?

Because of multiple reasons I wasn’t able to stay focused on my blog so I haven’t got more info and stats than this.

But don’t worry, on Bloglivin I’ll keep track of everything and show you my results for a longer period of time. 🙂

Optimization Of Bloglivin

Now you have a clear view on the type of results you can expect when implementing the strategy mentioned.

So let’s take a closer look at how I optimized Bloglivin.

First of all let’s recap what we need to do:

  • Step 1: Define your target audience
  • Step 2: Create a conversion booster
  • Step 3: Add opt-in boxes in strategic places

So let’s take a closer look at those 3 steps and how I optimized Bloglivin, before I started driving traffic to the blog.

Please note: I will make a very extensive case studies about the results of this optimization campaign. Want to learn about that?

Sign up to my email list (and also discover how to drive unlimited traffic to your site in less than 30 seconds a day):

Defining Target Audience Of Bloglivin

This is pretty easy.

I divided the target audience of Bloglivin into 2 groups:

  • People interested in blog case studies
  • People interested in driving more traffic

No matter how you look at it, driving traffic to your blog will always be the biggest problem for beginning bloggers.

There are thousands of guides out there on how to build a blog (including mine) so that’s not an issue.

The issue starts when the site is set up and content is being added.

What then?

On Bloglivin I sell a product that will instantly solve the issue for bloggers and internet marketers, so that will be my main angle to get email sign-ups.

The second angle is the main topic of the blog, namely blog case studies.

Every blogger is curious about results of others.

That’s why content showing those results are immensely popular.

The second angle I’ll use is adding opt-in boxes in strategic places, and less than a minute ago you already saw how that works. 🙂

For now, let’s take a closer look at how exactly I optimized Bloglivin.

Software Used To Optimize Bloglivin

Because running a blog is such a complex business model, I like to simplify things as much as I possibly can.

That’s why I only use 1 software product to create every sign-up form on my blog.

What’s that software?

It’s called 1Minutesites.

Here’s a video showing you how it works:

I tried just about any software out there (like Clickfunnels, Leadpages etc.) and even abandoned 1Minutesites for a long period of time, but for a blogger this is probably the best tool available.

Why?

Because it has everything I need to optimize my blog the way I want in one place.

Sign-Up Form Placements On Bloglivin

Now that you know what tool I use to create the sign-up forms, let’s take a closer look at how I use it to increase conversions on my blog.

As mentioned, the moment I write this Bloglivin is a brand new blog without any traffic.

Here you can see that:

bloglivin traffic stats

So the case study I’ll be doing will be pretty cool because it will really show how a beginning blogger can instantly build an email list.

This simply means that you should get this done the moment you launch your blog, not in a few weeks or even months.

So let’s check the sign-up form placements.

Opt-In Box Above The Content

Every time somebody visits my blog, they instantly see the opt-in form above the content.

It explains who I am and asks them if they want to discover how to drive unlimited traffic to their site:

above the content optin form

Some bloggers use another plugin or script that automatically scrolls the page upwards so you have to click “no” or some other random sentence used by the blogger to go back down.

I don’t like this tactic and I doubt it works as good as an above the fold opt-in box.

I also chose to keep it very simple by just asking if you want to learn how to drive unlimited traffic in just 30 seconds.  The fact that it only takes 30 seconds (and this is true) makes it pretty intriguing.

However, I do think that this will probably not be the best converting box on my blog.

How do I add it to my site?

Create the form and get the embed code

1Minutesites makes it pretty easy to create a simple form like this because it comes packed with ready-made templates.

create form

After choosing one you can easily edit it until you get it the way you want, here’s a look at the editor:

1minutesites editor

When you’re ready you can just get the embed code here:

embed code

And then I head over to the theme options section of my WordPress theme (Schema theme, learn more about that here), and copy and paste the embed code inside the header code box:

header code schema theme

That’s it!

All pages on my blog will now have the sign-up box included.

This box has multiple benefits in my opinion:

  • It instantly shows who I am
  • It instantly gives people the option to sign up
  • It doesn’t takes the page hostage as other scripts do
  • The navigation of the blog isn’t disturbed and still visible

Opt-In Boxes In The Sidebars

None.

I don’t use opt-in boxes in the sidebars because I really want to give users the ability to scroll up and down the page to the section they want easily.

Why?

Because my content is so long and I have usually around 8 to 15 main headlines and several sub-headlines.

By adding a table of contents widget in the sidebar I increase the user-friendliness of my blog a lot.

Plus, sidebar opt-in boxes are outdated and don’t work very well.

Easy choice in my opinion.

Opt-in box in the footer

The only standard opt-in box you’ll find on my blog is the opt-in box in the footer.

The one here:

opt-in box footer

This is created with the same form builder in 1Minutesites as the bigger form, because the software gives you the opportunity to choose between a 1 or 2 column layout.

1 column opt in boxes

Perfect to add smaller opt-in boxes in a place like this.

In order to add the box in the footer I just copy the embed code as I did before and add it inside a regular text widget in the footer widget area:

add code inside footer text widget

Again, I don’t expect amazing results from this area but we’ll see how it goes.

Attention Bars Inside Content

Now we’re getting to the good stuff.

As you saw from the little case study on my previous blog, these converted really well.

The goal here is to make the attention bars appear naturally inside the content.

This can be:

  • Asking if people want to be informed about a future case study, the one you saw here before. Here is another example from the blog tools page related to a case study I’ll be creating about Ninja Outreach:

case study attentio bar

  • Near the end of the content so people can sign up after finishing reading a post:

conclusion attention bar

  • Related to specific content so the attention bar interacts with what people are reading. Here you can see an example of that when I talk about work ethic:

interactive attention bar

So these are just some strategic places I’ll be adding attention bars, and rest assured, these will convert up to 500% better than any other sign-up form on a site.

How To Add Attention Bars Inside Content?

The cool thing about 1Minutesites is that they have an option to easily create click-pops.

This means that whenever somebody clicks on the attention bar, a popup appears which is basically the sign-up form you find on top of every page:

attention bar click

Using the same sign-up form is a subliminal tactic because people will feel more confident signing up to something they already saw before.

That’s also why these attention bars convert so much better than regular sign up forms.

To create such a form I simply add the image link (of the attention bar) inside the 1Minutesites form editor here:

on image click sign up form

After that I copy the code and can add it inside any post or page and the attention bar will appear there.

That’s how easy it is optimize your blog posts for email sign-ups using ninja tactics! 🙂

Exit Popup

None.

I don’t use exit popups because my results in the past have shown that they don’t necessarily increase the quality of my email list.

If other marketers think that’s fine then that’s ok.

I want to mainly focus on high quality content and engage my readers.

When that is done, the conversions from the attention bars and other opt-in boxes will be so high that an exit popup will only have negative effects on funnel conversions rather than helping to build a high quality email list.

Comment Redirect

Finally, we will be using an amazing strategy to turn already engaged visitors into loyal email subscribers.

For this we will be using a cool plugin that the Yoast team acquired called “Yoast Comment Hacks.”

comment redirect plugin

After activating this plugin you can choose which page to redirect your first time commenters to:

yoast comment hacks dashboard

And on my blog this redirects to this page:

comment redirect page

As you can see this is a super easy way to engage your audience and get more subscribers.

Blog Optimization Conclusion

That’s it for now.

You have learned how I used some advanced tactics on my blog a couple of years ago, and how I’ll apply a similar strategy on my new blog now.

The exciting part will be when I release the case study.

I will be documenting all stats about the various places I have added sign-up forms, and let you know exactly how well my blog converts.

My aim is to get a consistent 5% opt-in rate, even though I know this will be hard to achieve.

I set the bar high because that motivates me to work harder and optimize everything even more. 🙂

And to conclude in case you forgot, make sure to sign up to my email list to be notified the moment I launch this case study:

Hope you enjoyed and all the best.

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