At awarenow, we often see coaches, consultants, and coaching organizations creating great content for their blog and promoting it well - but failing to get results. Ultimately, unless it’s a labor-of-love, time spent on a blog has an opportunity cost and needs to be justified with a return on your investment.
This article focuses on that problem: Turning Blog Readers into Paying Clients. This is the third and final entry in awarenow’s series on blogging for coaches and consultants. Part 1 covered 5 key considerations when creating blog content and Part 2 contained a 3-step system to promote your blog and attract readers. Now it’s time to turn those readers into clients.
Step 1: Have a Call to Action
Every piece of content that you create should have a call to action associated with it. You don’t want someone to read your blog post (that you invested so much time or money into creating and then marketing) and think ‘nice post’ and move on. Since you’ve started your blog to attract clients, you need to push the relationship forward.
This does not mean trying to sell high-priced coaching services on the basis of a single blog post. That would be like asking someone to marry you after meeting them for ten minutes. In dating, a good first ten minutes might get you another ten minutes, and in blogging, a good blog post might get a reader wanting to read another. In both dating and blogging, the next step after the initial conversation is to exchange contact information, and in both dating and blogging, for this to happen, someone needs to ask. When it’s your blog, you’re the one who has to ask, and that’s usually the first call to action: give me your email address to continue this conversation.
While we don’t need to stretch the dating analogy to the breaking point here, there is one last analogy to draw. In dating “let’s talk more” might be effective, but “let’s go to this great show that we’re both interested in” is likely to be even better. In content marketing (of which blogging is a part), “give me your email address so we can stay in touch” can work, but “give me your email address so I can send you this really valuable thing” works much better.
So, what is this “really valuable thing”? Professional marketers call this a lead magnet, and it can really be anything that has value to your target market, is on-brand for you, and leads to readers subscribing to your mailing list. As Dayane Mayfield of StoryChief puts it, “you should create a downloadable freebie so you can collect email subscribers.”
Jeremy Harrison of Hustle Life explains further:
Once you have their attention, you need to establish a relationship. Getting their email is one step towards that goal. How? You give freebies. For example, I provide them with free tutorials and seminars in exchange for their email address. I give away free ebooks to increase their knowledge. In short, I provide valuable items to get their email.
Think strategically about how and where to frame your call to action. Charles Camisasca of The eCommerce Boardroom suggests using “a mix of landing pages, popup forms, and embedded forms in the header/footer/sidebar of your site to capture email addresses”, while freelance writer Elna Cain specifically recommends “including a call-to-action button or link above the fold. You don't want leads scrolling to find where to contact you”.
Step 2: Have an FAQ Page
This is a fairly simple step, but an immensely valuable one. Take common questions that you get from leads and followers, and answer them on your FAQ page. Use this as an opportunity to raise, and defeat, other barriers that someone might have to continuing the conversation with you. For example, you might ask yourself on your FAQ page if you would ever share or sell a subscriber’s email address and then answer that you never would. You might ask yourself whether your content focuses only on big (or small) players in your field, or whether it is appropriate to other segments, and then answer accordingly. The aim here isn’t necessarily to convince the largest number of readers to subscribe to your list as it is to convince the largest number of readers who represent your ideal customers subscribe to your list.
As Wesley Oaks, Founder of Oddly Cute Pets, explains: An FAQ page “will develop and change throughout your business but make sure to have one. Answer the repetitive questions you receive to save time. The FAQ can also be a great way to add information to questions of potential clients that brings them over the edge and converts them.”
Step 3: Build a Relationship
To return to the date analogy earlier, getting someone’s email address and adding them to your mailing list is like agreeing to go on a date. This isn’t the end of the process; it’s an invitation to begin it. Don’t make the mistake that a lot of businesses do of just using their mailing list to pitch offers.
Of course, for potential clients who are already bought in - usually because of your reputation, or the reputation of someone who referred the potential client to you - you want to provide them with a shortcut if they want to cut to the chase and start working together. However, in a coaching or consulting business, that likely won’t be the majority of your leads.
Use your mailing list to continue to “warm up” potential prospects. When you create new content for your blog, send it to your list. Take your best content and create an autoresponder sequence, so that new mailing list signups see the right content from you in the right order to make the best impression and lead toward a sale. Marketing expert Doug Noll of Noll Associates recommends that coaching businesses “set up a 5 email autoresponder to onboard new subscribers. No selling; just build a relationship.”
Part of warming up potential prospects comes in the form of your reputation. Liz Froment, a content marketing consultant, emphasizes that coaches should “think about trust signals and social proof. So get reviews and testimonials from past clients. Video reviews are great too. They don't have to be long; even just two minutes is perfect. The more your potential clients see you have a record of success and you have already helped people who are just like them, the better.”
If you are dealing with relatively small volumes, you can also reach out directly. This can accelerate the lead qualification and sales process, as well as providing detailed insight into the needs of your potential clients. Kyle Vamvouris of Vouris.com recommends the following approach:
In exchange for an email and phone number, offer a resource that is specific to the topic and makes things easier (templates, frameworks, etc.). When someone opts-in, give them a call.
Here is a sample script: Hi [name], I noticed that you downloaded [name of resource]. I have some other resources I can send you to help with that but I was curious, what motivated you to download that in the first place?
Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the awarenow “Blogging for Success” series for coaching and consulting businesses. If you missed previous parts, check out Part I on writing a great blog and Part II on how to market your blog, applicable whether you are blogging on the awarenow platform or on your own website, or both. Now it’s time to take action!