How to Bridge the Gap Between Blog Traffic and Lead Generation
In a Dynamic Duo combination at Inbound 2020, two HubSpot experts came together to teach us how to bridge the growing gap between blog traffic and lead generation. They promised that their tips could help marketers increase organic views, content leads, and business revenues.
AJ Beltis, marketing manager at HubSpot, and Braden Becker, Senior SEO Strategist, explained in their talk that marketers don’t have to choose between growing traffic or generating leads. They can optimize both to work together in synchronization!
How can you do this?
Well, in one sentence, instead of taking a linear lead generation approach, Beltis and Becker recommend creating a cyclical model – which continues to bring your business returns on investment throughout the long term. But we’ll talk more about that later.
Meanwhile, this dynamic duo came up with a 4-step success solution for their content strategy, that you, too, can implement to increase your traffic-to-sales conversion rate.
So, let’s get right into it!
4 Steps HubSpot Took To Bridge the Gap
1. Group Similar Posts Together (Pillar Cluster Model)
You may have heard of the topic/pillar cluster model before. In simple terms, a “topic cluster” is multiple pieces of content banded together under one webpage by a shared topic and related subtopics. So essentially, these pages offer comprehensive coverage of a specific subject. And as a result, it allows visitors to satisfy their search queries while visiting your website.
So, the first step would be to determine what topic clusters you want to focus on. And next, by evaluating which topic clusters are converting well, you can choose to invest in them. You can compile your traffic, lead generation, and conversion metrics for each post to identify commonalities between different blog posts. And you can then optimize this data to allow posts that share one common topic under one authoritative web page!
By writing cluster content – other posts with similar topics – readers and search engines can understand what you’re trying to accomplish. When people search for a particular topic, and your website has good quality and quantity content on the topic cluster, your page will rank high in the search results.
2. Gather Your Data
After determining what topic clusters you want your brand to target, you can group all your posts via that cluster and see how much traffic they generate. How well is each topic cluster converting to leads?
You can only move forward when you stay up-to-date with data on your current performance metrics. So the second step that Beltis’ team took in their lead generation approach was to collect data. And you can do the same to understand your metrics better.
3. Align Creators with this Data
Based on what’s driving traffic and conversions, you can then create and optimize content accordingly. A lot of these posts are likely to share similar conversion patterns.
In an example that Beltis shared, in the search category of account-based marketing, people were mostly interested in things like “planning,” “strategy,” and “guide.” It was evident what they were interested in. And since traffic numbers already existed for this topic cluster, the HubSpot team increased their conversion rates by taking advantage of this data.
Similarly, you can use your current webpages’ traffic data to identify which subjects are people searching the most and then use this to create content that converts to leads.
4. Analyze, Refine, and Repeat
Based on what’s ranking and converting, you can then keep creating and optimizing content.
In this way, you have a new operating model with a cyclical process. Or at least, that’s what Beltis and his team did. But apart from that, they also used and relied on historical conversion metrics, which, as he emphasizes, is key to success. These performance metrics can show you how your traffic and leads are connecting, and you can refine this process as you go along.
Cyclical Method of Lead Generation
So, before we dive into more specific steps on how you can generate more leads for your business via your content, let’s talk about what a cyclical method of lead generation implies.
The cycle should go something like this: SEO to Blog Writing to Acquisition to SEO, and so on. In other words, when there’s not a consistent link between these components, you’ll keep losing out on conversions. Lead generation can’t be a linear process; it must fall back into itself so that you have an automatic system that operates on its own.
For example, topic clusters with high search volumes and relevancy should also have a reliable connection to what a blog post is about to the ultimate goal of becoming a blog reader and then finally to becoming a customer.
The process should look something like this:
- List relevant blog posts and topic clusters to give to the SEO team.
- The SEO team can then give this data to the blog-writing team (to write high-value content on the subject matter).
- It increases traffic on your webpages.
- Traffic should convert to leads.
By using this new model, the HubSpot team was able to turn their blog readers into leads more reliably, all the while using historical conversion metrics. By now, you may be feeling anxious to get your team on board with this new model. So, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to bridge the gap between blog traffic and lead generation.
Steps You Can Take
Find Potential High Converters
For starters, you should lean into topics that already generate leads, recommend them to the SEO team, and then create posts that generate even more leads via that content.
Here’s a 3-part approach to organizing your web traffic in such a way:
- Maintain the already existing traffic by identifying the right keywords and incorporating them in the high-traffic clusters
- Add posts to small, low-traffic, high-converting clusters (maintain traffic but add more quantity of the content)
- Omit additional effort for high-traffic, low-converting posts (stop protecting traffic for blog posts that don’t convert)
So now that we’ve talked about how to attract and maintain traffic, let’s discuss how to convert it into leads through SEO.
Retire Empty Traffic
Let’s get down to business. The truth of the matter is that you should stop wasting your time and effort on non-converting content or “empty traffic.” Because even if it’s getting you significant traffic numbers, there’s no point to it when it doesn’t convert to leads, which explains the name.
Empty traffic means:
- Low to non-converting traffic
- Content that targets a keyword with high search volume
- Traffic from a broad audience who has no intent to take further action
According to HubSpot SEO Expert Braden Becker, this becomes an issue because it’s easy to fool you when it brings a high search volume. It comes from a broad audience, and even though that may consist of many people, they’re not looking to develop a transactional relationship with you! So, stop investing in maintaining those numbers when you could be focusing on generating real leads from other content instead.
To do this, you can ask yourself: what’s your traffic doing for you?
Because your blog traffic to leads conversion rate is essential. Traffic numbers don’t amount to anything if they’re not converting.
Don’t Sleep On Your Images
As content creators, we may often look at images like a complementary subject to other content, but this makes us miss out on the incredible opportunity they can offer us. As Becker suggests, you can turn google images into a lead machine by taking an intentional approach with it.
And Google Search Console is one of the tools you can use to help you with this. You can research to find out where keywords drive traffic in image search and then use that information to integrate relevant images into your content.
People often look for pictures of information, and you can easily convert this into leads by leaning into the right image optimization tactics! Becker recommends that by optimizing things like alt text, file names, and about everything else associated with an image, you can ensure that your pictures are in the right image gallery (online). As a result, people will be more likely to stumble upon your content when searching for specific images.
Find Your Low-Converting Bylines
Sometimes, you may have your entire plan set and ready, but there can be a gap between your team and your content strategy. In other words, freelancers may have assumptions about your content goals and end up writing content that’s not valuable for lead generation. So, as you can realize, it’s a smart idea to realign your team with your content strategy regularly.
It’s also essential to determine which of your writers are writing effective lead-generating content (or whether they even are). If someone doesn’t seem aligned with your content goals, it doesn’t necessarily mean cutting them out (or maybe it does). But even if you invest some time to educate or train them about optimizing content to increase lead generation, you can make a big difference! It’s all about communicating what you expect of them and ensuring they understand your content strategy.
Focus on Journey Gaps Over Content Gaps
A compelling concept, a journey gap is a missed opportunity to gain traffic throughout the stages of a buyer’s journey. When you focus on content gap – competitive analysis – you’re essentially focusing on competing publishers that may be generating more traffic than you. But if you take this a step further, you can also start looking for gaps in your buyer’s journey instead of gaps in your content.
For example, you can also provide content to potential buyers when they’re researching for prices, issues related to a product or service, substitutes, best-of, or reviews (otherwise known as “the big five”).
By mapping out keywords to each stage of your buyer’s journey, you can realize what they’d be searching for at different times. Because when it comes to keyword research, it’s not just about search volume or traffic; it’s also about leads, customers, and ways to generate revenue.
Moreover, you can also take an approach where your marketing team, sales team, and customer service team come together to be there for your potential buyers every step of the way. According to one theory, the three groups are classified as follows:
- Attract (marketers drive demand)
- Engage (sales team uses that demand to nurture customer relationships)
- Delight (service team satisfies customers and aims to makes them as happy and loyal as possible)
Unfortunately, with this model, traffic usually stops at the “Attract” phase, and you’re not doing your business any favors by ignoring your sales team. You must understand that traffic rates don’t have to stop at marketing or advertising content. You can also help potential buyers while they’re making buying decisions.
No matter where buyers are in that process, you can use “the big 5” – cost, benefits, substitutes, how to fix or use your product, etc. – to convey relevant information to them. It won’t only increase your traffic numbers, but as customers begin to rely on your brand as a trustworthy source of information, they’ll also be more likely to purchase from you (lead generation).
These days, content teams can often be under the impression that high blog traffic numbers are enough to signify business growth. But the reality is that unless your blog traffic is converting to leads, it’s only “empty traffic,” i.e., it’s not benefiting you in any way! So, bridging the gap between blog traffic and lead generation is crucial.
By taking advantage of content strategies like grouping topic clusters, finding potential high-converters, exploiting images, retiring empty traffic, and finding journey gaps, you can reduce the gap between your blog traffic and leads. And solidifying that connection is essential to generating sales and achieving true online business success.