Could it really be possible that your blog is costing you sales?
Potential customers arrive at your site… and don’t find what they’re looking for.
They go back to Google and click the link to your competitor’s site, where the home page content promises them exactly what they want.
Sadly, it happens all the time. You look bad, and you lose sales to a savvier competitor.
Why? Well, one reason is that it’s hard to stand out in the blogging world today.
According to WordPress, the number of blog posts published each month has been trending upwards for over a decade.
In October 2018—the last month for which data is available—WordPress users published over 74 million posts. And that’s not even including posts on other platforms.
So how can you stand out? Well, it starts with getting the basics right.
Here are seven common mistakes businesses make, as well as advice on how to present your business website and blog in a way that helps you get customers and sales.
Mistake #1: Making your blog the first thing people see
Visitors expect to see a home page when visiting a business site, not a blog.
The home page tells them where they are, what the site is about, and what they’ll find if they hang around. In only a few seconds, they can decide if they’re interested, and if they are, the home page tells them exactly what to do next.
But a blog? It just confuses them.
Which post should they click? Where do they find the price? What do they do next?
Those aren’t questions you want your customers asking.
Take a look at website development app Sitejet. Sure, they have a blog. But their homepage focuses on their product, not their content. It’s clear what they do, and visitors stick around to buy, not just read.
So get your blog off your homepage and tell them what you want them to know: that you’re a business first, and your blog is just a secondary feature.
Mistake #2: Your blog isn’t integrated with your website
Sometimes you visit a business website that has “Blog” in its main navigation, but when you click the link, three common problems occur:
- You’re taken off the main site and sent somewhere completely different. You don’t expect it, and you wonder, “What happened here? Where’d I go?”
- The blog you land on doesn’t even look like the main site. It has a completely different design, which doubles your confusion about whether you are where you want to be.
- The blog is often on a free platform like Blogger.com or WordPress.com, and you can’t help but think the business is a tiny one that’s bootstrapping. Even if it isn’t.
Typically, these problems happen when someone started blogging before they got serious about having a business.
Their blog was on a free platform, but they knew they couldn’t have their business on the same site, for appearances’ sake.
So they built a business site elsewhere, had it professionally designed, and decided just to link to their blog.
Now, there is one exception to this that multi-million dollar Silicon Valley companies are using: Medium.
For example, Kickstarter has a company blog on Medium as well as their own site.
And Airbnb runs their engineering blog on Medium as well.
But with the exception of Medium, running a blog on a platform other than your own site is a mistake.
If you want to have a blog for your business, integrate both into the same site with consistent branding and design.
Keep visitors in one location, and don’t send them to a different URL.
Mistake #3: Your blog is cluttered
Another issue that makes visitors leave a site is visual clutter.
There’s nothing more painful to the eyes or harder on the brain than a blog all cluttered up with gadgets or widgets or too much information.
Overly busy sites get really overwhelming for visitors, and they can’t quickly and easily find what they want.
It’s the result of trying to do too much with your blog. You think you need everything in plain view, but the problem is it doesn’t work.
When visitors have too many choices, they slow down and get confused about what they should choose. Very often, they don’t choose anything. They just leave.
Keep your blog neat, clean and simple. Usually, less is more—and whitespace makes everything easier to read.
Instapage, for example, does a great job keeping their design simple, minimal, and easy on the eyes.
Give your text a nice, clear font for easy reading. Have a single sidebar if you want, though many of today’s blogs are removing that as well.
You want to give everything plenty of space and room to breathe.
Mistake #4: Hesitating to promote your products and services
Yes, blogging is a great way to showcase your experience and expertise.
And yes, educating potential customers can help create sales.
But it’s all for nothing if you don’t promote your products and services.
Talk about what you do. Add links in your sidebar to your services and products page. Blog about case studies or past clients you’ve helped.
Mention specials and promotions, or pitch new services.
App development company BuildFire is a great example of subtle blog promotion. They have a simple sidebar promoting their service, plus a button in the top right corner.
You don’t have to be pushy about it, but don’t be shy about reminding people that you have something to sell.
You have a product or service that you genuinely believe will help them, right? Then talk about it, shamelessly and without remorse.
Mistake #5: Getting sidetracked from building a business
This point is very important, which is why I left it for last.
I see so many business owners decide their blog needs to be a huge success. That’s fine, but then they make the mistake of pouring all their time and energy into their blog and completely neglecting their business.
They spend hours learning technical stuff they don’t need to know, worrying about how to get hundreds of readers, and writing article after article to feed the monster their blog has become.
Hey. You have a business. That business needs you. It needs customers and clients and prospects. It needs administration and management. It needs to be promoted and turned into a huge success.
But it will never be a success if you get sidetracked by your blog.
Sure, a blog can bring you new customers and clients. But until it’s actually doing that, don’t spend all your time writing new posts.
Start reaching out to leads, planning a marketing campaign, developing your product, or promoting the posts you’ve already written.
Sure, a blog is important, but what good does it do you if you never get around to developing a marketing funnel that turns readers into buyers?
If you’re looking to grow your business with a blog and content marketing, you need to start on the right foot.
Make sure your blog is integrated with your business, but don’t make it your business. Keep the two separate enough to keep generating income—without just acquiring visitors who read, but never buy.
Keep your blog on your site, and ensure it’s got an eye-catching design. Remember, the more minimal the design, the better.
But most importantly, remember you’re running a business. You can still promote your products and stay focused on earning money.
Don’t take your eye off the ball. Remember that business comes first.
How will you keep growing your business with blogging?
About the Author: James Chartrand is the owner of the leading copywriting and web design agency, Men with Pens.