SEO copywriting focuses on creating quality, relevant, and hopefully interesting content that attracts visitors to your blog again and again. You’re building rankings, authority and traffic, and encouraging visitors to share your content.
Conversion copywriting focuses on making a sale, or ‘converting’ your visitors into subscribers and customers.
In this article I will be discussing the former. A major mistake many business bloggers make is trying to sell before they’ve delivered on their initial content promise or demonstrated any value.
Visitors are persuaded to stop by the blog, through social media posts and mentions or Google search results, with enticing promises of valuable, useful information. It’s so disappointing and just plain annoying for visitors when every post is saturated with an extremely shortsighted, “buy now” message. It’s not what they signed on for when they clicked an inviting link to receive “help”, and they feel justifiably cheated.
Give your gift with no strings attached
Some thirty years ago, I was a 30% closer and the sales manager for a small TriStar vacuum cleaner sales outlet. The door-to-door vac’ business was reputed to be a very sleazy way to make a living, but I learned a lot about sales from my gritty years in the trenches.
Our “booking girls” would offer door opener gifts like free rosewood-handle steak and carving knife sets, or perhaps a hard cover dictionary/thesaurus combo in an attractive case, in order to book appointments. The gifts were useful, desirable items. Our booking strategy was to impress the person on the other end of the line with the high quality of the gift they had “won”, then book an appointment for delivery, with a quick demo of some new product.
Our closers would arrive at the door a day or two later, create rapport, start out with a light and very entertaining demo, build value, then high-pressure the bejesus out of the gift “winner”. We used to teach: there were only two ways our salesmen were leaving that house, with a signed order, or physically tossed out with the vacuum cleaner hurtling through the air right behind them.
If one of the booking girls was sick, I’d take over the phone at times, to make sure the guys had ‘dems’ to go to. I learned the hard way that selling too early just closed doors. I carelessly let myself enter into a mini presentation on the phone a few times. Big mistake! The only purpose of the phone call was letting the prospect know about the free stuff we were giving them. If we were ravenous direct sales wolves, they were Bambi, and we had to make sure we didn’t scare them away before we came anywhere near the jugular.
We were some of the most aggressive, high pressure salespeople on the planet, but we still realized there was a time and place for selling. Throw the pitch in with the gift, or begin selling before building rapport and demonstrating value, and we were dead at hello.
Some sales reps would only hand over the gift at the end of the presentation, and only if a sale was made. I made a point of giving them their gift before even entering the door, and I instructed my team to do the same. Once inside, I would spend a half hour getting to know my new friends. Here’s the thing… I wasn’t looking for “a sale”; I wanted several. These people had friends. It was important that they really liked me. Did I get burned a few times by people that just grabbed the knife set and slammed the door? Absolutely. We paid for these gifts out of our own pocket, so that hurt. I believed that we had offered them a free gift and that my new friends deserved more than just a pitch. I became the sales manager because of my closing ratio, and keeping the gift separate from the pitch has served me well over the decades that followed.
What is your gift: valuable information that improves the lives of your visitors? Your blog should be a welcoming place to share your free gift. There’s no way to be subtle about your agenda when you finish a blog post with an offer. Sprinkling your posts with links to sales pages will also send your quarry bolting for cover. Even affiliate blogs need to include a good percentage of useful posts that aren’t trying to refer business to another site for a commission.
If you’ve enticed visitors to your blog with the promise of valuable information, deliver on that offer; no strings attached.
Don’t give a crappy gift
Our local TD bank recently ran a promotion to attract new clients. I noted that they were offering an Apple iPod as a free gift, not a $5.00 toaster that was likely to catch fire the first time it was plugged in. Outsourced-to-the-lowest-bidder, automated or just plain crappy content = worthless gift. It sends a very negative message and is bad for business. Put your all into each post or hire someone committed to content excellence. Your content gift needs to be epic; that means better than any of your competitors are publishing.
Pitch too early and you may never be selling at all
Keep the “gift” — your informative blog posts, downloadable freemium item or something else of value — completely separate from your sales copy.
Of course you want them to check out your About Us page and what you bring to the marketplace. And once they’ve decided to look at the products and services you offer, it’s perfectly okay to “sell” them. I’m assuming here that you have a product or service your customers will genuinely benefit from, so do your very best to convert those qualified visitors into customers. On a sales page it may even be a sin not to ask for the order or include an information request form.
If your boss isn’t convinced, and insists you must sell in your blog, at least earn your readers’ full attention and loyalty in a dozen or more truly useful posts before slipping in a special offer. The same goes for opt-in email subscriptions. Live up to the value expectations of your audience.
Over to you
Would you agree with me that keeping the gift and pitch separate is a sound strategy? Perhaps you believe that “always be closing” is a better approach. Do you have a sales success or horror story to share? I welcome your comments.