I hope you enjoyed Derek Halpern's critique of my site in the last post on Conversion Optimization. There were lots of tips in there that will absolutely raise your conversion rate – you'll see me implement many of them in the next few weeks.
Of course, converting visitors to subscribers is great – but it's just the first step. Next you need to convert subscribers into clients.
In truth, I feel this is the area where the accumulated wisdom in online marketing for consultants and coaches is at its thinnest. What I'm going to talk about is based primarily on my own experience, because I've not seen an awful lot of codified best practice out there.
Now there are really two ways to to win high paying consulting or coaching clients online from your blog.
The first is to keep turning out really valuable content for your blog and email newsleter. Content that convinces your readers of your credibility and your ability to get things done. Over time, this ongoing drip-feed will eventually tip over many potential clients from uncertainty into deciding that they should be working with you.
Or sometimes, a problem or opportunity will hit them in your area. And if you've done your job, you'll be the first person they call.
For me, this is what provides the core, steady flow of clients into my business. my visitor and subscriber levels are high enough that I can rely on this to fill my pipeline.
The other method of converting subscribers into clients is more proactive.
This involves promoting your services more visibly to your visitors and subscribers.
It could be very subtle. A short PS at the end of your email newsletter. An in-passing mention in a blog post covering a related topic.
Or it could be more overt. An email to subscribers offering a free coaching session, for example.
Personally, I've found that overt promotion works better for specific, time-limited products and programs than it does for your regular services. An email promoting your normal everyday coaching or consulting services falls down on two counts. Firstly, it doesn't offer anything new, any value over and above what they could find on your website services page. It's all about you wanting to sell. Secondly, you risk sending the message that you're struggling – you're not busy and are sending an email out in desperation.
An email sent out to promote a specific new or time-limited product or service is different though.
It's new information. Something readers can't find every day on your site. And often a new product or service launch comes complete with extra free content as a preview.
And because it's new or only available for a limited time, there's a logical reason why you're contacting them to promote it. You can often generate a degree of buzz around the new product or service with other sites or bloggers linking to the new free content associated with it.
Think about having an entry-level service too. For people who've built their relationship with you online without ever meeting you face to face, it's a big step to hire you for a large conslting project or long-term coaching program. So make sure they can take baby-steps to build up their confidence and experience of you. Perhaps a short diagnostic assessment, or a group coaching program or paid membership site they can join.
Once they've built up conficence via your lower-level service, they'll take much less persuading to hire you for the big stuff.
There's a fine line with overt promotion between effective showcasing of your service and your emails becoming seen as purely promotional – and hence likely to end up in the trash folder. Always make sure you're balancing giving value with the promotional side. Overall your emails and blog posts should be 80-90% content, and at most 10-20% promotional.
Having said that, while many in the internet world over-promote – the reverse is usually true of consultants and coaches. Our natural aversion to being seen as salesy means that most of us don't promote our services enough – me included if I was honest. We like to think that our wonderfulness will shine through and clients will drop in our lap without having to actively promote.
That may happen to some. But for most of us it's a surefire route to the poorhouse.
We need to grit our teeth, plan out how we can actively (yet gently) promote our services through our blog and our newsletter – then do it.
The next article looks at the best sources of traffic for a blog.