How to Turn Traffic into Sales

Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. I’ve read (and written) so many posts about traffic that I sometimes forget that all of this blog traffic doesn’t really matter. You want to focus on traffic numbers? Great. You’re really lucky that your landlord accepts hits and pageviews as rent payments every month. Mine…well she prefers a check, so it’s up to me to make sure that check doesn’t bounce. And I can’t do that with an awesome bounce rate.

Blog zombies focus on traffic, but survivors focus on the bottom line. I really like advice on how to get more traffic, but you have to be able to convert those readers to buyers if you actually want to make money as a blogger. You need quality traffic.*

The Emotional Call to Action

You may have heard that you need a call to action if you want to convert your blog readers to buyers. I do agree with this idea somewhat, though I’ll take it a step farther and say that you need an emotional call to action.

The call to action (or CTA) is basically what you want people to do when they’re done reading your blog post. Maybe you want them to purchase a product right now. Maybe you want them to share your post, so you reach a larger audience that you can convert. Maybe you want them to sign up for your mailing list, which puts them into the sales funnel. Maybe you want them to leave a comment, making them feel like a part of your community (and be more likely to buy something from you). Whatever it is, you need to make it easy for readers to see your call to action – the next step they need to take on your blog. It can be as simple as adding share buttons at the end.

The more emotional your CTA, the better. This comes down to one thing: good writing. Can you make your readers cry? Laugh? Nod their heads in agreement? Feel frustrated toward the villain of your post? Feel relieved that they can do something? Feel…well…anything? Bring out emotions and they’ll be more likely to listen to whatever your CTA may be.

 Where’s your mailing list?

Well? Where is it? I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I know who, when asked about their mailing lists, sheepishly hang their heads and say they’ve been meaning to get around to creating one of those.

What is wrong with you people?

Seriously, stop reading this and go do it RIGHT NOw. Use Aweber, use Mail Chimp, use Constant Contact, use whatever the hell program you think is best. You don’t even have to have a plan for it…just set it up so people can subscribe for you upcoming emails. Those are the people who really care about anything you’re selling. That’s how you can measure convert-able traffic. You don’t have to give away free shit or have a newsletter or anything. Just set it up so you can use it someday when you’re ready for it.

When people subscribe to your mailing list, there is a shift in their mind. Something clicks and they begin to trust you. If you don’t have a sign-up on your site, that mental turn-over never happens. They’re less likely to buy anything you’re promoting. Being on your mailing list can actually turn someone into a buyer when they weren’t before even without you saying a word because they make that change in their own mind. They start to consider themselves a fan of yours, someone who is devoted.

I can’t stress enough the importance of a mailing list. You can set them up for free and in under 15 minutes, so there’s no reason to continue putting it off.

Stop Focusing on Traffic Spikes

I love sites like StumbleUpon and Digg, but I have to be honest…I only really love them as a reader. As a blogger, they don’t make much sense to me. I’ve had some really popular hits on StumbleUpon, for example, but that traffic doesn’t convert for shit. It’s a spike in traffic for a few days and maybe even over a longer period of time, but who cares? Those readers are staying on my site for literally three seconds. It certainly doesn’t hurt your blog to have a social bookmarking hit, because one in ten thousands might stick around, but if you’re focusing your time on these traffic spike sites, you’re doing it wrong.

Spend your time wisely.

Okay, now it’s your turn. I’d like to hear your thoughts on traffic and how you turn your readers into buyers…so leave a comment!

*The exception to this rule, perhaps, is if you make money by selling ads on your sidebar and are able to charge more if you get more traffic. If that’s your game, it doesn’t much matter whether or not your traffic is “quality.” It only matters that you have the big numbers.

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Why I Don’t Give Away a Free Ebook

You can’t go two virtual steps in the blogging world without something trying to throw a free ebook or report in your face, typically in exchange for signing up for their mailing list. It’s a solid strategy. Although it gets a little zombie-ish when you have a million pop ups all over your site punching people in the face with your free ebook, I can hands down admit that this is a great way to get people signing up for your mailing list or promoting your content or doing whatever the hell you want them to do.

People love free.

But if you notice, I don’t give away a free ebook on my sidebar. I would almost certainly entice more people to sign up for my mailing list or follow me on Twitter or whatever if I did. It’s not laziness. I’ve made the conscious decision not to give away a free anything in exchange for anything. And here’s why:

  • My focus right now is quality.

If I have to entice you with something free, you’re probably not that interested in what I’m doing. Let’s say that if I added something free in exchange for being on my mailing list, I’d get ten new sign ups per day. Of those sign-ups, one would have signed up anyway (hooray) because he likes what I’m doing and one, although was convinced to sign up because of the ebook, actually also grows to really like what I’m doing. The other eight are just there for the free shit. They either unsubscribe really quickly or stay subscribed but never open my emails.

Now, by giving away a free ebook, I’m getting two new quality sign ups every day. Without the free ebook, I would have only gotten one. So I am definitely growing my list. But now I’ve also let the riff raff in – people who are just there for free shit. One additional sign up per day is not good enough for me to justify giving away something cool that could be content on my site or a paid product. Notice I said “for me.” Your stats could be different and it could make sense for you. Right now, I’m just instead focusing on that one guy who would have signed up anyway, the true blue fan of my work.

  • I do give away free stuff.

The fact of the matter is that I do give away tons of free stuff. You just don’t have to do anything to get it. This entire blog is free content that will hopefully convince you to want more from me. I also have a free preview section of my membership site – and you don’t have to do anything to gain access. You just get free shit. Woo!

You also get freebies for being on my FRONT LINES mailing list (sign up is available here). You just have to actually be a member. When you join, you don’t automatically get free downloads and such. If you stick around, though, you get stuff like free access to parts of my website that are usually pay-only, free sneak previews of stuff I’m working on, discounts, etc. Like I said, though – you have to actually stick around, because you’re also going to get emails about other stuff too.

  • If I’m going to give something away, it’s going to be awesome.

Right now, I’ve got laser vision. I’m putting every waking moment into making sure that the Blog Zombies membership site and this blog are awesome. I don’t have time to create a free giveaway as well. Sure, I could churn out some kind of free report or something in a few hours, but I don’t want to do that. I think that everyone I write, be it a blog post or a free product or a full-length book, is a reflection of me. I don’t want you to get some flimsy three-page glorified blog post as your “free gift” because frankly, it’s going to disappoint a lot of people. That’s not a good way to convince you to buy stuff from me later. So if I ever do give away something for free, you can be sure it’s going to be super high quality. I want it to represent me well.

  • I don’t want to condition my readers to get free stuff.

Online, people are pretty demanding. We’re used to getting stuff for free, so we get offended when people ask us to pay for things. The more stuff you give away fro free, the more free stuff people demand. I don’t want to condition my readers – you guys – to always get stuff for free. Frankly, I believe that my courses and tutorials and other content are worth paying for! This blog will always be free to read, but I think giving away tons of other free stuff left and right might hurt my overall brand…because I want you to actually consider some of my paid products in the future. I know there have been times where I’ve seen bloggers trying to sell something and I think “Nah. They’ll give away some free stuff next week.”

I’m not saying that I’ll never give away something in exchange for mailing list subscriptions (or whatever I want to achieve). I’m just saying that right now, it doesn’t make sense for me. I think too many bloggers are giving away free stuff without first evaluating whether or not it makes sense for them. I know it’s trendy to have a free gift, but it might not be right for you – and that’s okay.

I’ve love to hear from you about your experience giving away free products. Why do you do it (or not do it)?

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