Discover more in the Best of OPEN Forum series

Maximize Your Brand’s Hardest-Working Employee

Your business blog can do so much to help your bottom line—are you using it to its full potential?
January 15, 2016

If you’re interested in making your blog one of your brand’s hardest working (and most powerful) employees, there are some upgrades you can make today that will help you build your subscriber base, keep visitors on your site longer and make everything you create more sharable than ever.

Blog Upgrades to Build Your Email List

Admit it—you want the email addresses. When you’ve done what you’re supposed to do (sharing your brand’s blog posts), you’re hoping people will stop by, fall in love and type their @wherever-dot-com in that magical opt-in box you cleverly placed in a very conspicuous area on your website.

Let’s talk about the opt-in box. Don’t let it be an afterthought or buried somewhere out of the reader’s eye line. Try moving your opt-in box to the top of your blog’s sidebar so it’s one of the first things people see. For added wham-pow, add an additional opt-in opportunity. If you’re running a WordPress-powered blog, a free plugin called SumoMe can help. The plugin offers two apps designed to help you boost email subscriptions—List Builder and Scroll Box. (Disclaimer: I use List Builder on my website and have no financial relationship with the plugin developers.)

The longer you keep visitors on your site, the more they can get to know your brand.

Another email list building technique is to create what’s called a “subscribe bribe.” It’s exactly what it sounds like—an incentive offered to readers for signing up for your email list. Whitepapers, e-books, guides—here are some examples:

  • Copyblogger’s email marketing e-book in exchange for registering for their free online community.
  • Fizzle, an online membership community, lets you get started for only $1 and gives access to the entire “inner sanctum” during that trial period.

From there, you can develop your own subscribe incentive that answers pressing questions for your ideal audience.

Keep Visitors on Your Site Longer

Ah, the dreaded “bounce rate.” That’s the statistic that tells you if people are coming to your site to read one post and leave or if they’re viewing more than one page. The longer you keep visitors on your site, the more they can get to know your brand. Let’s look at two opportunities you might be missing to lower your bounce rate and delight your readers at the same time.

First, does every blog post you create link to another blog post? In the paragraph above, I linked to a previous article I wrote about Google Analytics. It’s relevant and gives you the opportunity to click through and get started using that tool directly. By linking to your previous content, you’re both giving your reader the opportunity to stay on your site longer and refresh something you might have written a moon or two ago. A good rule is to always link to at least one previous blog post—just don’t get crazy with the links.

Second, you can invite your readers to explore similar content at the end of your blog posts. WordPress users have a slew of related post plugins at their disposal. Zemanta also offers a visually appealing and more robust solution. You can also simply put a link at the end of your blog post referring readers to specific posts like this:

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

  • Article title with link

Blog Upgrades to Increase Content Sharing

People want to share, so why not make sharing easy?

One of my favorite blog upgrades is a floating social sharing toolbar that scrolls with readers as they read. They’re 100 percent customizable with the social media outlets your audience is most likely to use. Have a look at Floating Social Bar and these other floating social plugins for WordPress to see what will look the best with your blog.

Finally, there’s more to share on your blog than just the blog itself. Consider your images. Go back to SumoMe and activate the Image Sharer plugin (also free) and suddenly, all your post images will have a Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest button enabled on them. This is a good time to make sure your branding (URL or brand name) is included on every image you create so shared images can lead new visitors back to your site.

With a few ever-so-simple additions, you may find yourself on the road to more subscribers, more loyal readers and a broader brand reach because you made everything easy to share.

Read more articles on blogging.

This article was originally published on January 27, 2015.

Photo: Getty Images