7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them

By , October 8th, 2012 in Conversion | 25 comments
smart blog design

Your blog could be a huge revenue generating asset to your business. Your blog, could be smarter.

When it comes to designing for conversions, you shouldn’t just stop at your landing pages or your website. You put blood, sweat and tears into your content marketing, your blog, with the right design, can lead to conversions as well.

Start by deciding what your blog conversion goals are. Three of the most popular goals for any blog or business looking to make money with content marketing are: obtaining leads, building a mailing list, and promoting products or services.

If you have similar goals and need a little inspiration on how to achieve them, in no particular order, here are seven blogs designed for lead generation and conversion and why they work:

1. SEOmoz

SEOmoz offers a powerful toolset for SEO professionals to use for keyword research, link building, on-site optimization, and much more.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the SEOmoz blog include the following.

  • Drawing attention to the SEOmoz Pro toolset.
  • Encouraging people to join the SEOmoz community.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The navigation bar includes everything: SEOmoz pro toolset features, pricing, and resources for Pro members.
  • A call to action to try SEOmoz Pro for free.
  • An invitation to join the community for free to like and comment on posts.

Why It Works

Obviously, if they can get people to sign up for a free trial, then they are set. But by also getting people engaged in the community with registration, they are capturing leads and making sure that one-time visitors become regular ones.

» Subscribe to the SEOmoz blog

2. Copyblogger

Copyblogger Media offers products made for WordPress including premium theme designs, a WordPress-optimized hosting solution, a powerful SEO plugin, and a landing page plugin.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the Copyblogger blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to Copyblogger Media products.
  • Obtaining leads via email list signup.
  • Demonstrating the power of their own products.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The navigation menu includes a link to their software page.
  • Before the content, there is a section that draws attention to Copyblogger’s WordPress solutions for design, hosting, SEO, and conversions.
  • Visitors can sign up for the mailing list in the right sidebar.
  • An introduction to StudioPress themes is shown beneath each post.
  • The footer includes a list of their own products used for the blog including the template, hosting, and SEO plugin.
  • A mobile-friendly design displays the same conversion elements on smartphones with the sidebar items displaying beneath the content.

Why It Works

If you can showcase the power of your own products with your blog, then be sure your visitors notice as they are reading your content. In this case, you can see their theme design in action as well as note the speed of their website thanks to optimized hosting.

» Subscribe to the Copyblogger blog

3. Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner began solely as a blog for expert social media content and within just a few years expanded to include conferences (both online and in-person) and a thriving forum community.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the Social Media Examiner blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to upcoming conferences.
  • Obtaining leads via email list signup.
  • Encouraging people to join the Social Media Examiner Networking Clubs.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The navigation bar includes links to the networking clubs and events page.
  • The header includes a banner for the latest upcoming event with a call to action to learn more.
  • There is an email sign up box in the sidebar for more updates plus a free marketing tutorial.
  • Additional banners are placed in the sidebar for upcoming events.
  • A banner for the networking club and a leaderboard of the most active networking club members is included in the sidebar.
  • Each year, SME publishes a social media marketing industry report, a link to which is in the sidebar. It is free in exchange for an email opt-in.
  • Visitors can sign up for email updates at the end of each blog post.

Why It Works

Social Media Examiner demonstrates their expertise in social media marketing for small businesses on a daily basis with their articles. Their conferences continue offering quality social media education, so it’s a perfect fit to advertise to their blog readers and mailing list subscribers.

» Subscribe to the Social Media Examiner blog

4. CrazyEgg

Crazy Egg offers heatmap analytics for your website so you can see the areas people are most likely to interact with. This can help increase conversions dramatically if you place high-converting elements in those hotspots.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the Crazy Egg blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to the their heatmap software.
  • Obtaining leads via email list signup.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • At the top of the page, visitors can sign up for email updates.
  • A graphic in the header invites visitors to a free trial of the heatmap software.
  • A call to action in the sidebar invites visitors to a free trial that includes the benefit of increasing conversions and revenue in 30 days with heatmap analytics. As you scroll down the blog, this sidebar ad stays at the top of the page.
  • Visitors can sign up for newsletters at the end of each blog post.

Why It Works

As you might notice, the common theme of the blogs here is to make sure visitors know that the company has a product to offer, what the product can do for them, and how they can get started with it easily.

» Subscribe to the Crazy Egg blog

5. Unbounce

I always believe that you shouldn’t publish something on your blog if you don’t do it yourself. Unbounce does a great job at letting visitors know about their landing pages software. (I included an image just in case you’re reading this in your RSS reader as a part of your 75 Must Read Marketing Blogs collection.)

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the Unbounce blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to the Unbounce Landing Page software.
  • Obtaining leads via email list signup.
  • Generating leads with free content.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The bright red strip at the top draws your attention to new product features for the Unbounce Landing Pages product. This message is created by Hello Bar, a nifty add on that allows you to direct visitors to your most important content, perform A/B testing, and analyze click through statistics.
  • The main navigation menu from the website is also displayed on the blog so visitors can learn more about the product, benefits, features, pricing, and even a 1-800 number to contact Unbounce.
  • The sidebar includes a call to action to start a free 30-day trial of Unbounce and a simple email opt-in to subscribe to the blog.
  • Between the posts and the footer, there is another call to action to sign up for Unbounce.
  • At the end of each post is a footer promoting a free ebook. In order to download it, you can send a tweet or enter your email address giving Unbounce either a social mention or a new lead in exchange for valuable content.

Why It Works

Altogether, it’s hard to ignore tie-ins to the Unbounce product throughout the blog. If your goal is to get more people to try your product, then you have to make sure that anyone who arrives on your blog can’t miss the fact that you have a product and can easily figure out what your product is and how it could help them.

» Subscribe to the Unbounce blog

6. Convince & Convert

Convince & Convert offers social media and content consulting services. Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert, is also a social media speaker and author.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the Convince & Convert blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to consulting services and speaking.
  • Obtaining leads via email signup.
  • Increasing book sales.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The red strip at the top of the blog encourages visitors to learn more about an upcoming webinar and register. This message is powered by Hello Bar.
  • The header includes an image to take visitors to The Now Revolution book information website.
  • The navigation menu includes links to working with Convince & Convert and speaking.
  • Beneath the navigation bar there are clear sections highlighting consulting services offered by Convince & Convert as well as Jay Baer’s speaking availability.
  • The sidebar has a nice mailing list signup offering a free eBook.
  • There is also a YouTube video in the sidebar showing Jay Baer delivering a keynote speech with a link below to learn more about his speaking schedule.

Why It Works

Convince & Convert does a great job at making sure both their company’s consulting services and president’s speaking schedule and book sales are presented in a seamless manner to visitors of their blog. The best part? Speaking at events is also a killer way to convert conference goers into consulting clients.

» Subscribe to the Convince & Convert blog

7. KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics is an analytics software that helps you increase conversions and customer retention, hence it makes sense that their blog is another good example of conversion-oriented design.

Conversion Goals

Notable conversion goals of the KISSmetrics blog include the following:

  • Drawing attention to the KISSmetrics software.
  • Obtaining leads via email list signup.
  • Getting attendees to the webinar as part of the sales funnel.

Areas of Conversion

You can see a number of areas which are geared towards accomplishing the conversion goals including the following:

  • The branded strip at the top entices people to learn more about KISSmetrics software by offering two results: increasing conversions and improving customer retention. This message is created by Hello Bar.
  • The navigation menu offers visitors three options including one to check out their software.
  • There is a call to action in the left sidebar to reserve a spot in an upcoming webinar.
  • Visitors can sign up for email updates quickly using the form in the sidebar.
  • The conversion areas are fixed in the design so that when people scroll down to read the post, they can still see the bar at the top, navigation bar, and sidebar items.
  • At the end of each post, there is a banner for a free trial of the KISSmetrics software, also highlighting benefits like getting to know your customers and your business.

Why It Works

Just like Unbounce, it’s almost impossible to miss out on the fact that KISSmetrics is not just a blog full of great information, but one that leads to a powerful analytics tool.

» Subscribe to the KISSmetrics blog


What It All Boils Down To

If you want your blog to lead to conversions, here’s what it all boils down to. You must:

  • Make your products and services known to your blog’s visitors, from your blog’s main homepage down to individual posts.
  • Include strong calls to action that are placed in high converting areas such as above the content and in sidebars along the content.
  • Convey the benefits of your products and services along with your calls to action when possible.
  • Capture leads via mailing lists, newsletters, webinars, and free products.
  • Encourage visitors to return to be a part of your community or at least subscribe to your articles.

With a great design, clear presentation of your products and services, strong calls to action, and lead-capturing opt-in forms, your blog will become a huge revenue generating asset to your business.

– Kristi Hines


This is a guest post, all opinions are those of the author.

Kristi Hines is a social media enthusiast and blogger at Kikolani which focuses on blog marketing topics including blogging tips and social networking strategies. She also contributes to many other sites as a freelance writer covering online marketing topics for businesses including search and social marketing optimization. When she's not on the computer, her personal hobbies include photography, tennis, and salsa dancing!

Comments

  1. Bryan Eisenberg says:

    These are all blogs I feature in my upcoming webinar on converting blog visitors into customers. After testing conversion elements on blogs since 2001 i figured it was time to document my findings in a presentation, The other one that has done some amazing conversion design elements is the Monetate.com/blog. Let me know what you think.

    • Kristi Hines says:

      Thanks for the suggestion on Monetate – they do have a nice design with lots of conversion opportunities! Also, especially glad to hear from you that I picked some top blogs from my analysis.:)

    • Hi Bryan – we’re in the midst of overhauling the TechSmith blogs and I’d love to hear your insights. Do you have a date and details posted for the webinar?

  2. Kylex says:

    I LOVE Examples and I LOVE Kristi Hines (I mean her writing)!
    Really great post, Kristi, especially how you nailed down those examples so easily. No doubt, you’re a Great observer.
    (For now) My goal is to Capture leads and upon your advice I had already added an opt in on the sidebar.

    Got a QUESTION!
    I got many messages asking that to remove the landing/squeeze page since they were not able to see the blog.
    I did add a Huge SKIP TO BLOG button and also tried and tested all places but really visitors were still finding difficulty, so obviously I have removed it completely.
    But my question is Was it a WISE step? Further, how do other bloggers find success through landing pages or is it just me having my bad luck with these complete noobs?

    • Kristi Hines says:

      Hi Kylex,

      I’ve seen a few successful landing pages that still got people to the blog quickly – Famous Bloggers (http://www.famousbloggers.net/) is one. I think the only thing I would do differently on theirs is have a link to the blog in the top menu bar too for people with lower screen resolutions that might not see past the opt-in to the big circle for the blog.

      Also, you could try the big opt-in at the top of the page like Social Triggers (http://socialtriggers.com/) does. I think it’s only on the homepage and then the rest of the pages you depend on the sidebar.

      Hope those examples help you get more subscribers! :)

      • Kylex says:

        Thanks for the reply, Kristi. Going for the a opt-in below the header will be really great for my readers who don’t like dedicated landing pages. I wish Kim Roach had bothered to share a tip.
        Thanks again :D

  3. Carol Lynn says:

    Great examples of pages that are “doing it right”. Oddly enough, I always found the Copyblogger site (sites?) to be a bit confusing. They have a lot of products and a bunch of services and somehow I can never seem to find what I want or get back to the blog when I do. It feels a bit like a maze more than a funnel but clearly they have the power of the name behind them.

    I especially love the “Convince and Convert” page. Having a signup or product boost somewhere is one thing , but really taking advantage of that funnel approach is another. I like how they split people up by group so they can really focus on a segment of their audience. It’s a lesson I’ve been wanting to copy for a long time :)

    • Kristi Hines says:

      I guess the difference with Copyblogger is that their products are all on different sites vs. the rest of the examples that I think are all on one main domain. I know they acquired StudioPress, so that’s why that is on it’s own domain – not sure about the other ones though. :)

  4. Helen says:

    Thanks for the article, Kristi! A few ideas on how to orginize content on my site to reach my convergence goals came to my mind. Great! Oh, I do like reading that puts me on thinking!!!

  5. [...] Blogs Designed for Conversion - Sending people to your blog or landing page? Here’s how the experts get more conversions from their visitors. [...]

  6. Great post, Kristi. Thank you! We’re especially keen to examine your third example, Social Media Examiner, in much greater depth. Your inclusion of them is very helpful, because their primary product is a service–consulting services & speaking engagements.

    It’s easier to see the content logic for a “click, buy, implement now” type of web-based product like UnBounce’s landing page software, or a premium WordPress add-on or widget from CopyBlogger. But attracting, engaging, converting and retaining a following for a future service-related physical product–to ultimately funnel potential clients toward your (off-web) B2B product–such as Social Media Examiner’s consulting services, or our own real estate services, is clearly more comprehensive and less direct.

    It seems more like creating a parallel, but related internet product (let’s say virtual product “A” like SME’s web-based content) which would hopefully result in follower/audience migration from “Product A” to your primary product (say, physical world “Product B” such as consulting or real estate services.)

    Most of the web seems to be full of examples in which “Product A” is a useless ebook/pdf download or similar offer. Creating authentic, sustainable online-based value such as Social Media Examiner has done seems to be like creating a separate, but parallel community (difficult enough regardless of one’s bricks & morter business product) with the added challenge of also creating a compelling reason and a way to bridge the online conversions to actual face-to-face client customers.

    We have no illusions as to the time, effort and consistency required to build such legtimate content and resulting community/conversions. It’s just that the model and methods to differentiate ourselves via a genuinely valuable, legitimate online-product as the synthesis for building our traffic and conversions has elluded us.

    There’s an extra step (or three!) involved to pull this off for 3D, non-web based service and product sellers as opposed to the more directly linked process for a virtual, purely internet based product.

    Perhaps a more detailed analysis of Social Media Examiner’s model and success story might resonate with others as well? We’d love a future post related to such s topic from you.

    Thanks again for a well written, formative piece. Cheers, Steve & Sally Wharton – Seattle

    • Kristi Hines says:

      You’re welcome Steve & Sally! That’s precisely why I included SME – their business model is much different because they market and monetize social media education over selling a product or a service. And when they do release free content for their opt-in, it’s always great content!

  7. Yikes! That one got away from us there…sorry so long.

  8. [...] 7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them | Unbounce. [...]

  9. [...] Kristi Hines (guest) posts “7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them” at Unbounce. [...]

  10. Wayne Melton says:

    All of these blogs you covered are my heros along with twenty other great blogs I follow. Thanks for a great article that is almost a how to on making your blog great looking, easy to navigate, and high converting.

    Maybe you should do a follow up series on more of your favorites. Looking forward to reading that also.

    Wayne Melton

  11. [...] 7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them Another cracker of a post from the ubiquitous Kristi Hines. Every single blog she discusses here is essential for anyone working in or interested in the online space to keep a close eye on. These sites are some of the best and Kristi analyses why they are so effective and what you can learn from them. [...]

  12. [...] 7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them: The blog is often the hub for content marketing campaigns. With resources slowly shifting to content marketing, it is crucial to make sure that your blog is capable of converting visitors and readers into subscribers, leads or even customers. In this compilation post, Kristi Hines is kind enough to point out the conversion goals, areas of conversion and why the designs work for these 7 blogs. [...]

  13. Rob RS says:

    Every website on here is a market leader in their niche and it certainly shows why. Converting visitors to customers means you’ve got the funds to develop your business in the right way.

  14. [...] Kristi Hines takes a look at CopyBlogger, one of the leading blogs for both writing advice and lead conversion tips. She notes that “Before the content, there is a section that draws attention to Copyblogger’s WordPress solutions for design, hosting, SEO, and conversions.” [...]

  15. Emilie says:

    Hello,

    My favorite is of course seomoz (moz now). I like colours and love the way they do business.

    Copyblogger, changed they design recently. And analyzing what they do, is a good way to learn.

    Emilie

  16. Cornelius says:

    I have to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog.

    I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me
    to get my very own site now ;)

  17. […] that you understand conversion funnel basics, here are some classic examples of conversion funnels done well. Take some time to study them before you do a site […]

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