How To Maximize Conversions from Your Guest Post Traffic

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guest post traffic conversion

Make’em come to you…

If you’ve been blogging for even a little while, you definitely know about the immense power that guest blogging has when it comes to increasing your blog traffic.

The thing is, most new bloggers approach this amazing strategy with what I like to call the “spray and pray” method.

What they do: find a couple of random blogs to post for, write a variety of miscellaneous articles (topics varying wildly) and then… hope for the best.

As many “tips” as there are out there for blogging and marketing, you’d think the big bloggers would give better advice than just “guest blog lots and lots”, but it generally doesn’t go much deeper than that.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about using the “priming” to maximize conversions from all of that traffic you’ll be getting from your future guest post endeavors.

What is Priming?

In a nutshell, priming is showcasing a “stimulus” to someone which then impacts their reaction to another (different) “stimulus”.

Sounds like goofy science, but it’s a real phenomenon, and it’s not hard to understand in the guest blogging context.

Say you are reading a marketing blog, and you click on a post entitled ‘Increase Your Conversions With These 5 Consumer Psychology Studies‘.

“I like this,” you say to yourself, “I would like to read more about using psychology to increase conversions and interest on my blog.”

Then, you decide to check out the author’s site, and you see he has a recent post about blog psychology, outlining 7 more studies and how you can apply them to your blog.

Do you think you’d be inclined to subscribe?

I think you would.

You know why?

You were primed by the content of the guest post, and when you landed on a blog about a similar topic, you were ready to devour any information that came your way.

The above example (even the post I linked to) is the exact way I used priming on my guest post for the KISSmetrics blog to increase my own conversions on Sparring Mind.

In fact, many people in the comment section of that post mentioned how they were excited to see my blog talk about the topic, and how they were going to subscribe to my feed.

Bottom line: It was, by far, my most successful guest post to date, and brought me over 200 subscribers from a single guest post.

How You Can Utilize This

Okay, so you’ve probably heard enough about my experience (and I’ve had enough talking about it), let’s get to how you can use this strategy to maximize the effectiveness of your own guest blogging endeavors.

Largely, the types of priming that are possible come in 3 separate forms:

  1. Prime people for your blog’s unique topic (described above)
  2. Prime people for a freebie on your blog (opt-in required of course  ;))
  3. Prime people for your product or service

As mentioned, you’ve already seen the first of these 3 types in a specific example, but I’d like to go over each one separately so you know exactly how to implement them for your own knockout guest posts.

1. Prime Readers for Your Blog Topic

Your blog likely has a very unique value, something that makes it stand out among all the other blogs in your niche, a “twist” that sets it apart.

At least it should.

For instance, Ana’s Traffic Generation Cafe is certainly a “marketing” blog in that it addresses internet marketing topics.

Her “twist” is that the content is largely focused on traffic generation in particular, leading to more interested readers and to better blog posts.

What’s your unique selling proposition?

When you guest blog, be sure to write about something related to it, and you can start priming readers of other blogs to be interested in your content before they even hit your page.

After readers saw my guest post on KISSmetrics, they were primed for more content marketing & conversion info that also had a little psychology tied in.

They then hit my blog homepage, which featured a recent post on that exact topic, and saw that my blog generally dealt with that topic as well.

It’s no surprise that conversion rates from that post were sky high.

If you are a blogger who writes specifically about web design, and you were going to write a guest post on Problogger to build your subscribers, what then would be a wise choice?

As the priming technique has shown us, it would be to write a guest post that was on web design, but that also catered to Problogger readers.

That is, it wouldn’t dive into really technical details of web design – that’s not what the Problogger audience cares about.

What a good guest post would be in this instance is the one that discusses how even a regular Joe can implement good web design on their blog.

Readers on Problogger would relate to that kind of post far better, and if they were interested in learning more (priming in action), heading over to the guest blogger’s site and seeing it’s all about web design would make it a no-brainer: they would subscribe.

This way, you also get people who are actually interested in your topic to subscribe, and will have much less “unsubscribes” as a result.

The rabbit whole goes deeper with this technique though, and there are ways to prime your reader for content directly related to opting in to your mailing list

2. Prime Readers for an Opt-in Freebie

This is one of the most effective methods of priming.

It works great when you combine the freebie method with your blog unique offering as mentioned above.

So what exactly do you do here?

The idea is to offer a freebie that directly relates with your guest post(s).

I use an ‘s’ there because you can guest post on a similar topic (covering different) aspects over and over and have it be a great lead generator.

In fact, it’s the exact method that the BlogTyrant uses in his guest posting strategy as revealed on his blog.

He offers a free e-Book after you opt-in that talks all about increasing your email conversions.

To promote this e-Book (and to prime people to subscribe to his mailing list in order to get it), he typically writes guest posts that pertain specifically to list building like he did with his Copyblogger guest post.

The key aspect to remember here is that you are giving readers of your guest post a really good taste of the topic.

The full course meal, however, comes in the form of the e-Book (or other freebie) that you’ve prepared, and an opt-in is the only thing required to get it.

That’s how you really make readers hungry to subscribe to your list.

3. Prime Readers for Your Product or Service

I had to add this one because I know in the content marketing & traffic generation world, some of you are more interested in selling your product or affiliate marketing rather than getting more email subscribers for your blog.

To learn how to do this effectively, check out a mastermind of this process, Leo Widrich, the content manager of the incredibly awesome BufferApp.

Leo has actually posted on Traffic Generation Cafe before, including a recent post on increasing your Twitter exposure.

The difference: Leo isn’t interested in building up a personal blog of his; what he wants is for you to try out the BufferApp.

In my interview with Leo, he stated that of there 70,000+ users, as much as 70% came from content marketing up until the last 2 months.

That’s huge!

You’ll find Leo all over the place, but there is always a common factor in his guest posts…

He primes people with Twitter tips, so that when they check out Buffer, they are already thinking about improving their experience on Twitter.

It seems too obvious, but this simple trick is exactly why you’ll find Leo posting on some of the biggest marketing blogs in the world, discussing  Twitter strategies: he wants to peak your interest before you hit Buffer app homepage.

With an already profitable business of paying customers and making huge waves in 2011, I’d say Leo and the Buffer team have their act together when it comes to guest posting.

For your business, think about how you can add value to your typical customer (the kind of person who buys your product).

You then need to focus your content marketing, specifically your guest blogging strategies, around this person, creating content that they will enjoy, so that when they hit your homepage…

It’s game on.

Gregory Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti is the founder of Sparring Mind and the marketing guy at Help Scout. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout blog or add him on Google+.

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32 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hey Mark, essentially you are correct, I just prefer the word “priming” for guest blogging because you don’t always have a “sell” in mind as the end goal.

    Really glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. The best thing about priming is that it’s an ambiguous method which few readers notice when it’s used. Not saying it’s bad to use it. But readers have a tendency to do the opposite of what they think you want them to do. For example, i know of people that don’t click on ads simply because they know the webmaster makes a few cents from them.
    But priming is perfect in this matter.

  3. Phil

    Hi Ana,
    I love the pic on this topic, my worry is how would a newly started blog find guest posts, as people wont wont to guest post on a site that has no traffic. so i find myself in catch 22.

    • Actually, Greg was talking about your guest posting on other blogs, Phil.

      However, you are right; it’s just about impossible to get guest posts for a blog with little traffic – understandably.

  4. Bellaisa

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me!

    I’m just getting into guest posting and I was aiming to write my posts more for SEO than ‘priming’ and gaining subscribers, but now I see that I can get a much bigger benefit from writing posts that lead to something of parallel interest for the reader. Seems silly I didn’t see it before.


  5. Gregory, thanks a lot for your amazing article. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I’m just in the process of getting my guest blogger “career” started and I’m looking for good tips and advices. By the way, I really like your author box at the end of your article.

  6. Happy New Year Anna, this article feels me with great optimism. I can see great value in this idea of guest posting to high conversion. One question though. When linking visitors from a guest post to your site….do you provide further relevant content combined with freebie squeeze page?

    • Hey Shefiu, this one was actually by me, but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      As for you question, yes, a landing page can work really well, but I would wait until your 2nd guest post on the blog before doing so, as you need to let people be familiar with your site.

  7. Big love for the mention Greg my-man!

    Always writing guest posts close to my heart.

    I’ve got one coming up at Copyblogger soon that is pretty similar to this but with a little difference here and there.

    Thanks again.


  8. Hi Gregory,

    I haven’t been doing a lot of guest posting, but the posts I’ve written as been on blogs I read on a regular basis, and blogs that my readers are reading, and to me, that’s been important. But, in order to get more readers I think it’s important to start writing guest posts on more blogs as well (not only the ones my readers are currently reading).

    What you’re saying about priming makes a lot of sense. I have been using the analogy of “drive by shooting” in order to explain what most people are doing, and that if you shoot enough bullets you’ll eventually hit :)

  9. never thought much about priming but this makes a of of sense. One of my blogging goals for 2012 is to guest post more often so this post is very helpful to me.

  10. This is great insight Ana. I have mostly written guest post articles that relate to what is on my blog but not all of them. From now on I will always be writing on topics that can also be found on my blog.

    Do you have any tips for a great way to write a guest post that will entice more click throughs to your blog?

    • Hey Chris, this one was actually by me, but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      As for clickthroughs, the idea for ‘priming’ is obviously outlined above, but the other thing you want to do is to leverage your knowledge about the community of the blog you are guest posting for.

      What kind of posts would get them excited? What kind of posts would they find controversial? What kind of posts would provide them tremendous insight?

      Knowing your audience is key when selecting blogs to guest post on.

  11. Rizwan Sultan

    Hey Ana!!

    That’s a pretty awesome tips for make an income with guest posting.I start alter my blog and may be I also invite some bloggers for guest post in mid January.

    Well Happy New Year

  12. Great strategy Greg, it falls in line with having fresh and relevant blog content for list subscribers right after mailing them. There’s nothing worse than clicking over to a blog from a newsletter or ezine you just received only to see the same blog post you read a week ago. Big fail.

    Now I’m off to your blog because I can’t wait to see what you just primed me for. lol

    • That’s a great point, Brian. Man this blogging stuff demands so much fresh content. I was hoping to write about 10 timeless articles and then sit back and watch the ad revenue roll in.

  13. Hello Greg. I like this concept of ‘priming’. I have noticed since the Panda update that article marketing, or ‘bum’ marketing as some call it, have become less successful. With a proper marketing strategy leveraging relationships you’ve built with others and guest posting with a p[roper strategy will have better results.

    • Most definitely Brian, there is a lot of value to be had from guest blogging over just traffic and links, relationships can build long term traffic and support that you just can’t get with article marketing.

      Plus you get to meet smart people!

  14. Wow, Greg. This is one SUPER post. I have a similar strategy I’m going to try out. Instead of an ebook, I’m going to write a whopper post on a subject that delves deep into a certain subject. Then, I’m going to write guests posts around the web (around 10-12) that will focus on certain aspects of that topic (not TOO much of course), and then in the guest post have one anchor text link linking back to that post. The post could make an ebook eventually and my main post will have a couple affiliate links in ’em. Hope it works out and that strategy is sure the making of a viral post. Watch out for it in Jan!

    • Very, very good idea Ivin.

      Those are what many call “pillar” articles, and you would be doing a smart thing by linking to them.

      One thing I would recommend is to have these ‘super’ articles be pages instead of posts, and to include opt-in forms either in the middle or at the end of them.

      This helps them act like an informative ‘landing page’ (although not really) and will help boost your email conversions when people land on them from your guest post.


  15. That’s some really practical advice, Greg. Where were you when I wrote my very first guest blog just a couple of weeks ago? I could have used your clever strategy and primed my post properly. This makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing.

    Great site Ana. I’ve only just discovered it, but I’m loving the information already. Thanks!

  16. Greg,

    I really like this concept and they way you’ve laid it out. Guest posting is your first impression to a community that may not be familiar with what you do and what you offer. Giving them a taste and drawing them back to your blog or website is very important.

    I made the “random article” mistake quite a few times when I first started blogging. Once you figure out who you want your audience to be its so much easier to pinpoint them and speak directly to them.

    Thank you!

    Ryan H.

  17. Wow, this is such a great strategy you have described Gregory. I have never thought of guest blogging in that perspective. I remember reading the interview you did with Leo, and immediately tried out Buffer. Now I get what was happening…priming does really work. It’s definitely game on.

    Ana, am loving your new blog design :)