The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List Bloggers

blogging-website-secrets“Always Be Closing!”

Does this age old sales adage sound familiar?

It’s been a salesperson’s creed for many decades, and fortunately for buyers, it is fading away, however not quickly enough!

I’m sure you can rattle off at least 3-4 “old school” industries that still employ this aging dinosaur of a sales method.

Why is it dying?  The sales landscape today is drastically changing.

Consumers don’t need to rely on fast talking, bad tie wearing, used-car-like salespeople.

Why?

Because the speed of communication and the accessibility of information: i.e The Internet.

Back then when we had to rely on salespeople, they were there to educate, because information wasn’t widely available.

Today consumers self educate…at the speed of web content creation.

Today, the sales paradigm has shifted.

Instead of messages being screamed at consumers with a hope that they will have a need, today’s consumers search when they actually have the need.

It’s a concept known as inbound marketing.  It’s also known as content marketing and it’s changing marketing as we know it.

If the internet is the new wild west, then inbound and content marketing is the new sheriff in town.

It’s also changed the rules of who can compete.  No longer do big business and big wallets rule the roost.  Today, individuals and small businesses are staking their claim along side the big boys and succeeding.

How do I know this?

Because I’ve built a small business website into one of the largest B2B custom sign and graphics websites on the net today.  Oh by the way, in the worst economy since the Great Depression and with tons of competition.

Why do I tell you this?  It’s not to brag.  I tell you this as an example of the success any small business owner can have with inbound marketing.  If I can do it, anyone can.  I didn’t have a computer science degree, a brother-in-law who does website design and dabbles with SEO, or more importantly an internal or external marketing department.  What I have is a passion and motivation to build my business, and to help people to succeed.

A-list bloggers also have this passion and motivation.  Their posts are brimming with the stuff.  But what’s truly magical about their websites it that they get it.  Whether they realize it or not, the A-listers are experts at inbound and content marketing.  For them, it’s not “always be closing”, it’s “always be creating, converting, cultivating, communicating, and checking”.  These are the 5 website secrets of A-list bloggers.  Let me break it down for you in more detail.

Always Be Creating

A-list bloggers are always creating content, and not just any type of content; they create compelling content.  They create content that is screaming to be read; an aspiring writer’s dream.

For some A-listers, they post a couple blog articles a week, and for others it is practically daily.  In either case, it is just the fact that their websites are always in motion, and constantly expanding.  As I’ve written about on many occasions, the search engines love new content, and every page of new content is another lottery ticket to page one of the search results.

The thing that I’ve also really taken notice to is that their content is much less keyword and SEO driven than being content and topic driven.  When it comes to small business blogging I would say that the reverse occurs.  The focus is much more on on-page SEO best practices such as keyword inclusion in the title tags, URL, meta’s and such.  For the A-listers, they might not rank for a particular high-traffic search term, but their content is so compelling on a consistent basis that they draw thousands of visitors to their websites, week in and week out.

Example: Danny Brown.  Danny’s blog content is a very smart look at all things marketing, social media and public relations.

Key Takeaway: Post at least two articles per week that are really something worth writing about.

Always Be Converting

Traffic is great, but leads are better, right?  Unfortunately this is probably the largest area of opportunity for the thousands of websites I’ve visited.  The problem is the “always be closing” mentality.  The only contact these sites offer is for when the visitor is ready to purchase or request a quote.  That is “bass ackwards” in the age of consumer self education.  There are statistics that show only 2% of website visitors are there to purchase or ask to be contacted.  So what about the other 98% of visits???

Websites that do this right, especially A-listers, are always offering at least one call-to-action offer, but typically more than one.  The idea behind this offer is a mutual exchange between site and visitor.  The visitor is in search of education and the website is offering some type of premium, or also known as “freemium” educational content.  That content is exchanged for the visitor’s email address.  From this a conversion and website lead are born.

At a minimum, the call-to-action offer might be signing up for a weekly newsletter or other type of email marketing communication.  Advanced versions of a call-to-action offer might include a whitepaper, e-book or guide.

Example: Mark Schaefer’s Businesses Grow blog.  Mark has an outstanding blog, and some top notch offers on his site!

Key Takeaway:  Always include at least one call-to-action offer on your website, and especially on each of your blog articles.

Always Be Cultivating

To cultivate is to grow.  It is also to nurture and foster.  In the case of highly successful business websites and A-list bloggers, it is the use of lead nurturing and email autoresponders to nurture the relationship with leads.  The main goal being to help a lead down from the top of the sales funnel, where the lead realizes that they have a problem to be solved. Then through the middle of the funnel, where the lead recognizes the need for a solution, and finally the bottom of the funnel, where they are ready to buy.

This type of cultivation is accomplished with a series of emails that are custom tailored to the initial content-email exchange.  Some popular software programs which include this feature are Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Aweber, Mailchimp and many other email marketing programs.

Example: Kate Buck at KBJ Online.  Kate is an excellent marketer and really knows how to engage and foster relationships.

Key Takeaway: Use a lead nurturing autoresponder campaign to help automate the process of consumer self education.

Always Be A Community

If there is one aspect of content marketing that I’ve recently realized that is a huge, if not the largest reason for A-list blogging success, it is their sense of community.  It’s that they truly care about their readers.

They write to help their readers. Every post is founded upon the idea of helping someone, and not just to be a self serving monologue.

They write to help other bloggers.  You’ll find that the bulk of the links in their posts are not pointed towards their own material, but rather another blogger which they are reading and enjoying.

They respond to all blog comments.  The key here is that not only do they respond to comments, but they actually take the time to get to know the person behind the comment, and respond with a meaningful thought.

Example:  Marcus Sheridan, aka The Sales Lion.  Marcus embodies community like no other blogger I know or have read.  He’s been a true mentor for me in this area.

Key Takeaway: Think of who and how you can help someone with every article idea, and every comment posted.

Always Be Checking

What good would any of this be if we weren’t monitoring the results.  Which articles really touched your readers?  Which were duds?  Why were they duds? Which calls-to-action are converting and which aren’t?  Which lead nurturing emails are getting the highest click through rates?  Are you testing and measuring the results by A/B testing your call-t0-action buttons and landing pages to maximize your conversions?

Those are just some of the website analytics that the most successful small business and A-list bloggers are checking.  They know how important it is to growing their community.  Look at it this way.  If your email list is made up of 10,000 people, a 10% improvement would mean another 1,000.  What if you grew that list to 100,000 with a 10% improvement?  10,000 more is nothing to shake a stick at!

Example: Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers.  Derek is a true master of tracking and testing for maximizing conversions.

Key Takeaway:  Always test and measure your results.

The Bottom Line of A-List Blogging Success

If I were to name one more secret that would tie together all the other website success secrets, it would be CONSISTENCY.  The unfortunate fact of blogging is that most people give up before the third month.  They write a few posts, don’t get the desired results, and call it a day.

Consistency is doing all of the above, even when there are no readers or traffic to your site.

Consistency is continuing to do the right things when you start to see a hint of traffic and conversions.

Lastly, consistency is not forgetting where you came from when success kicks in, traffic is through the roof, and your list is growing fast!

Batter Up!

If you were to self-reflect on your website, how would you grade yourself on using these strategies?  I would also love to hear your thoughts about this site, what you like and what you think might be improved upon.

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18 Responses to The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List Bloggers

  1. Deeone August 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Hiya Adam,
    Well, if nothing else I can say I am consistent. I’ve been blogging now for about 6 months, but have only recently in the last two weeks had my own self hosted site. I went from doing OK, to not so well.

    However, I feel it’s just beginning. In time, (because everything takes time) I hope to be apart of the elite group of blogger’s. No hurry though, I’ve made comments on many blogger’s pages who have been doing this for years; so overnight success isn’t what I’m looking for.

    All I know is that I have finally found something that I really enjoy doing, has helped me out of a bad place in my life, and I’m not to bad at it. That’s good enough for now.

    But I thoroughly enjoyed this post, because it gave me a list of things to work on and work towards. I’ll be adding your site to my blogroll, so that I’ll be able to keep up my progress.

    The best of luck in your endeavors my friend and thank you for the follow back. I really appreciate it.

    Enjoy your weekend. :)
    Deeone recently posted..Kingskidd Minute 53My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 27, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      Hey Deeone, great to connect with you! I am often amazed at how well some of those non-selfhosted blogs are doing. I’m sure it can be a tough transition, but looking at your new blog, I am sure you will be very successful!

      Jeff Goins wrote a fantastic article on influence and success. I suggest you check it out. http://goinswriter.com/biggest-lie/

      Looking at your new site, if you asked my opinion, I’d love to see more space dedicated to your articles. They stand out on their own, but almost seem hidden. Another must read is an article by Derek Halpern on website design. http://socialtriggers.com/conversion-killer-web-design/

      Deeone, so glad you stopped by and I look forward to you seeing you here again!

      Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..When Disaster Strikes Your Small Business: The Power of Persistance, Community, and your Network.My Profile

      • Deeone August 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

        Hey Adam, Thanks for the kind words bud. I also thank you for the helpful links you shared with me. I’ll definitely be looking into those.

        I’m very appreciative that you gave me your opinion about the site. That’s exactly what I seek whenever people come by for a visit. I know that I will never get better unless constructive criticism comes my way. So I double thank you for that.

        I’ll certainly be stopping in more often, you’re on my blogroll. So you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. Thanks again. :)
        Deeone recently posted..Another Rumor Bites the DustMy Profile

  2. Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion August 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Adam, hey brother, thanks so much for the mention here but more than that, thanks for another awesome bog post. I smiled as I read this because each one of the bloggers you mentioned really do show such great examples of these key attributes. It’s amazing what strategies one can learn if they truly watch and study other successful bloggers.

    Marcus
    Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..Timing: The Secret Ingredient of Viral Blogging and Building AuthorityMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

      Marcus, you are so very welcome. Thanks for providing such a inspiring example of community!

      It’s funny how many times I changed the title of this post. It started as the 5 C’s to Content Marketing Success, and kept transforming to what I ended up posting. I had realized that it wasn’t just what I knew already, but what I had seem repeating itself time and time again on awesome blogs.

      Even though we’ve been there and done that, there is still so much that others have to offer. I often find myself saying “Wow, that’s a great point. I never thought of that!”
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..When Disaster Strikes Your Small Business: The Power of Persistance, Community, and your Network.My Profile

  3. Adrienne August 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Hey Adam,

    I agree, great post and great exampled of some bloggers that are doing each step that you mentioned.

    I do a good bit of it but I always admit I’m still a work in progress. There is huge room for improvement with me but I’ll carry on.

    I appreciate you sharing all of this with us Adam. I’m going to have to come back over here when I have more time and actually go visit these other blogs you mentioned and see where I’m lacking.

    Now, enjoy your day!

    Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Are You A CommentLuv Fan?My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff August 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Hey Adrienne, glad to see you here! I think you definitely hit the nail on the head by saying that your site is a work in progress. That’s a good thing! Most sites are redesigned and then left stagnent for many years. The beauty of a “wordpress” type site is the ability to test, measure, and make those progressions on the fly.

      Let me know if you have any questions once you get a chance to browse the other sites. I’d be happy to help you out :)

      Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..When Disaster Strikes Your Small Business: The Power of Persistence, Community, and your Network.My Profile

  4. Stuart August 31, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Adam, this was quite the blog post amigo! Amazing stuff, I’d never have thought that ‘ABC’ could have so many different versions!

    I’d love to be a ‘pro blogger’ one day, and I like to think that my website is working it’s way towards that over time. But I also know that there’s more that I can do to push this along, such as converting traffic into clients, and generating revenue from it.

    I’ve got e-books in mind, as well as coaching/consulting, so I know what I want to do, it’s just a matter of actually ‘doing it’.

    Still, we must always have patience, and I’m prepared to be patient here. I’m in no rush. Why try and rush along when I can stop to have a chat with awesome people like you Adam? :-)
    Stuart recently posted..The Incredible Benefits Of Saying NoMy Profile

  5. Adam Sokoloff
    Adam Sokoloff August 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    It’s okay Stuart, there are incredible benefits to saying no to change! ;) Sounds like you have a lot of great ideas, and feel free to run them past me when you are ready to get ‘er going! I’d be more than happy to help you. One last ABC…. always be collaborating!!!

    As always great to have you here! -Adam
    Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Who are my Biggest “Business Building” Role Models? My Kids of Course!My Profile

  6. pea September 2, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Adam this an excellent post. As I am enjoying visiting many sites I find myself mumbling to myself about a lot of these things and also reviewing the decisions I am making.

    “…every page of new content is another lottery ticket to page one of the search results.” This is a great line and often the winning lottery ticket post is completely unexpected by the webmaster, who was gambling on another.

    I re-visited your business site and I was mildly surprised to not see record labels or more entertainment biz stuff? (Not that you don’t serve enough industries as it is!) But that was my first most vivid realization of your industry whilst driving around. When an artist is promoting some labels often send out their van(s) with say Britney Spears and the latest album design all over it which always caught my eye.

    I don’t know if they do that in US but might be something worth looking into and getting a presentation together for, especially as it is repeat business, (many artists per label and many releases per year). And I’m talking major labels doing this with large ad budgets, not small indie (read: less money) labels.
    Great post.
    pea recently posted..SlowMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff September 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

      Hey Pea,

      Thanks so much for taking such an in depth look at my business website! We were just laughing at the number of industries we serve! There probably isn’t one we don’t serve, and it is good for visitors as well as getting found.

      Wow, yes entertainment might be a terrific industry to write about and go after. They are always doing very creative promotions, which definitely include vehicle advertising and the like!

      Thanks again for stopping by! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The #1 Overlooked Small Business Website Traffic and Conversion Opportunity (You are Kinda Already Doing)My Profile

  7. pea September 2, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Oooops! This should have a comma in it to make sense:

    When an artist is promoting (their new material), some labels often send out their van(s) with say Britney Spears and the latest album design all over it which always caught my eye.
    pea recently posted..SlowMy Profile

  8. Jack@TheJackB September 3, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Very nicely done. I liked that you had examples for each point and takeaways. It made the post resonate a little bit more for me than it would have without.
    Jack@TheJackB recently posted..Bald Is Beautiful & Other Things You Need To KnowMy Profile

  9. J.D. Meier September 4, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    > “it’s ‘always be creating, converting, cultivating, communicating, and checking’. These are the 5 website secrets of A-list bloggers.”
    Beautiful insights in a nutshell, and the great thing is that we can see examples of this in practice.

  10. Jimmy October 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi Adam,

    I have been engrossed in reading your articles about inbound marketing over the last 24 hours. I find the concept fascinating. It will be the linchpin for most business successes in our modern age. This is what Sed Godin is preaching about all this while right? How customers have changed. Now it is about them finding you not us finding them.

    My site is new. I hope to be personal development authority someday. I am blogging consistently over the last two months. I know the 3 month give up timevframe is coming up. But I am confident about my prolonged involvement in this business and blog. I have content lined up for weeks. The only thing I would like is to have a variety of content medium instead of just writing. I guess my learning curve have to be steeper.

    I have also just started the CTA thingy. I should be doing more of that but getting my aweber up has been monumental for me. I never knee I could do it previously. Now I would need to really issue CTA aggressively withbeach post.

    I learnt something really valuable from youbtodsy. That is the need to link to others other than to link internally. It might sound contradictory, but reaching out will definitely pay huge dividends in the long run.

    Thanks for the great articles on inbound marketing. Would love authority glance at my site if possible. Give me your comments to
    improve my site.

    Cheers
    Jimmy recently posted..45 Secret Presentation Tips for a Powerful Impression – Part 1: Powerful Presentation Tips While Planning and PreparingMy Profile

  11. Adam Sokoloff
    Adam Sokoloff October 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Jimmy, so glad to have you here…welcome! I think Seth is right, it is now about customers finding us, and not screaming messages hoping that someone will listen.

    I think what we have to be careful with in this regard is that we know who our customers are, and what are they typing to find us. Our industry lingo is sometimes very different from customer-speak.

    For instance, at Sunrise Signs, my sign and graphics company, we specialize in vehicle wraps. Many people find us that way, but others have no idea what they are called, and may search for “shrink wrap a car” or ” car signs”.

    Congrats on the 3 months. Stick with it! 3 months is just the beginning. I tell people not to expect any results for at least 3-6 months, and that all depends on their blogging frequency, and other inbound strategies.

    I’d be happy to check out your site for you. Give me some time and I’ll get back with ya.

    Thanks for coming by Jimmy. -Adam
    Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

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