social media how toDoes your business have a blog?

Would you like your blog to bring in more leads for your business?

You already know you need to create awesome blog content, but there’s more to business blogging than just that.

You also need to include a few tactics to help you bring in the leads you want.

Here are some useful tactics to entice and capture leads used by top marketing business blogs!

#1: Place Opt-In Forms Around Your Blog Content

There are several areas on your blog that you can use to introduce visitors to calls to action such as free trials, free consultations or a simple mailing list opt-in form. These areas include your header, sidebar, the end of blog posts, your About page and your footer.

Unbounce, a landing page software creator, encourages people to try their software or sign up for their mailing list in their sidebar and post footers.

unbounce options

Unbounce has lead generating calls to action in their sidebar.

KISSmetrics, a web analytics software company, uses their blog footer along with the sidebar and ends of posts to encourage subscriptions and free trial signups.

kissmetrics footer

KISSmetrics has lead generating calls to action in the footer of their blog.

While it might seem like overkill to put lead capturing options in so many places on your blog, it’s really not if you consider the fact that a visitor may only notice them at certain points during their visit.

While reading a blog post, for example, readers may ignore your header and sidebar. But if they are impressed by your blog content, then they will notice a subscription option at the end of the post.

Alternatively, if they make it to the homepage of your blog and scan all the way down the latest post titles and summaries, they might be interested in subscribing in the footer.

The key is to place your opt-in form in various locations on your blog where you have captured your readers’ attention.

#2: Regularly Create Free, Downloadable Content

HubSpot has the leading inbound marketing blog to complement their marketing platform. If you follow their blog, you know that they are constantly creating free, downloadable marketing content in the form of ebooks, whitepapers, templates and other valuable digital material. They not only promote their free content on their blog, but on their social networks as well for additional traction.

hubspot free ebooks

HubSpot markets free content on their blog and social networks.

In exchange for all of these downloads, people must provide their name, email and additional information about their business. Free content is the perfect lead generator!

The key to getting the right kind of leads with your free content is to create content that will attract your target customer base. You don’t want to capture just any subscriber—you want to capture someone who will want to learn more about your products and services.

#3: Incentivize Sharing With a Referral Program

What’s better than offering free content to capture leads for your business? Offering more free content to those who help you build leads.

Marketo, a marketing automation software business, created a free coloring book for marketers. Their incentive offer was a free hard copy coloring book—and crayons—for each person who referred five people to download the digital copy.

referral for free content

Using referral incentives to generate leads.

Now, instead of just one new lead from their blog, they have the opportunity to capture five more!

Consider ways you can incentivize your readers to refer more leads to your business.

#4: Try Hello Bar

Hello Bar is a simple script that places an attention-grabbing bar at the top of your website. You can see this tool in action on The Daily Egg by CrazyEgg, a heat map reporting tool.

hello bar on crazy egg

How Hello Bar looks on the CrazyEgg blog.

You can use Hello Bar to create a call to action linking to anything on your website. This includes your new free content, webinars and other pages devoted to capturing leads.

Use the call to action most relevant for your audience and your marketing needs.

#5: Use a Popup

You’re probably not going to like this one, but it’s pretty much a fact that if you have a popup opt-in form or call to action, you’re going to draw more attention to it. Popups are not just for Internet marketers anymore either. Many businesses are using them.

Last year, Dan Zarrella, social media scientist, did a study that showed the bounce rate on his site (the rate at which people left his site after looking at only one page) did not change when he had a popup versus when he didn’t. But subscription rates fell when the popup was removed.

popup study

Results of a study on popups and bounce rate.

While you may have to deal with a few complaints here and there from those who despise popups, the truth is, most people are used to them now. As long as you don’t create one that is hard to close, the people who are uninterested in signing up will likely just close it and continue to read your content.

So who is using popups? For starters, Social Media Examiner has a simple popup from AWeber for their mailing list.

popup opt in form

Popup opt-in form on Social Media Examiner.

Jay Baer uses a popup on the Convince & Convert blog for his social media and content consulting business.

popup opt in form

Popup opt-in form on Convince & Convert.

You’ll also see popups on blogs by Chris Brogan, Neil Patel, Amy Porterfield and many more well-known names in the social media industry.

There are several ways you can create popup functionality on your website. Some mailing list services like AWeber have their own popup forms. WordPress users can also take advantage of plugins like Popup Domination, WPSubscribers and many others.

So how do you get the most out of your popup opt-ins? The best converting popups are the ones that offer free content, a clearly defined goal for what the subscriber will receive and a one-time only display. If you have opt-ins in other areas of your blog, then people can always choose to subscribe at another time.

Use These Lead Generating Tactics

Be sure to set time aside to review your marketing strategy and see how some of these tips can help generate leads. If you are not happy with the leads you are getting from your business blogging, some of the tactics mentioned above are sure to help you.

What do you think? What ways do you use your blog to generate leads for your business? What works best for you? Please share in the comments section below!

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  • Great post! Right now I’m working on my sales funnel and writing content for an optin – when I am ready I will consider a popup optin. However, for those who do have a popup – make sure that it is disabled on mobile devices or is mobile friendly – I have tried to visit many pages on my phone but couldn’t because there was a pop up that I was unable to close on my phone.

  • Overall an interesting post. Some of the points mentioned are really key. However, I am not very much convinced with the idea of having a pop-up. I do use this feature for my personal blog (Social Marketing Ideas), but now I am planning to do away with it. Is there a special tactics that can be used to make this feature effective and efficient. Generally, this is not considered as a user-friendly. Would love to see some in-depth info on the same.

  • Kelsey

    Great article!
    One thing to note Social Media Examiner, is to make sure opt-in forms with the same call to action have the same statistics. I noticed the opt-in form in the top righthand corner of the page is stating “205,000+ peers”, while the one at the end of this article states “195,000+ peers”. Consistency is key!

  • Kelsey

    And now it’s fixed. Nice turnaround!

  • I’m currently working on #1. Thanks for writing about the key is to place your opt-in form in various locations on your blog where you have captured your readers’ attention. time to execute.

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  • Great post Kristi! Every blogger will find these tips incredibly useful!

    Stay inspired
    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Great post! I just downloaded “ANOTHER” ebook from Hubspot, of which I had to enter my name and email >> strong!

  • Useful tips. Between all of them the #5 I think is the most effective!


  • Kristi, you rock! We actually use Hello Bar to promote our lead magnets and it works like a charm.

  • Cam Wears

    Helpful tips, especially for those in the early stages of building a blog. Though I’m not a big fan of the pop-ups. I find they get super annoying when they pop up every time I visit.

  • You should call pop-ups what they really are, whack-a-moles. I hate having to whack them all the time, and automatically won’t support anything they’re advertising, although I might make an exception if it’s only a request to join an email list and it doesn’t show up again after I join. There’s plenty of other ways to put ads onto a page without resorting to this stinker, I don’t care what your surveys say.

  • Venkat

    Great Post….

  • Studies have shown that most mobile subscribers don’t mind the pop-up if it only requires the email.

  • You can set it to appear 2 times in a week max. That way it won’t be a big annoyance to your readers.

  • igor Griffiths

    Well hello Kristi, thanks for sharing these 5, I have just added a pop up onto my blog on the advice of a mentor, despite the fact that I really hate them. Yet as you point out it does not matter what I think or what people say, they are used to them and of course if the offer is right they will use them.

  • Loved this, Kristi. Working on setting up a new site (it’s been a while since I’ve done this) so really appreciate the tips. Hubspot is one of my favorite sites, mostly because of their great free content. And I know pop ups have been shown to increase conversions, but I still find them so obnoxious 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Dan

    Great article, but I have to question the pop up to subscribe when I clicked on the article from my email. Obviously I am a subscriber, so I wonder if people are annoyed when asked to subscribe and they already are. Is there a way to tag a person who clicks from the email the eliminate the pop up?

  • Great point about popups on mobile Carlie!

  • I know that someone was working on a plugin that uses the popup from the bottom right of your page instead of the lightbox that completely covers the page for those not comfortable with the front and center popup. I’ll post the link as soon as I can confirm if it’s still in the works.

  • That’s one of those things that’s hard to keep up with. The counter on the Aweber popup automatically updates when new subscribers are added vs. the number in the sidebar that has to be manually changed. Woo hoo that they broke 10K in new subscribers since their last manual update. 🙂

  • You’re welcome Patrick! You never know where someone will be ready to subscribe, and you want to make sure your opt-ins are waiting for them!

  • Thanks John! 🙂

  • Yep. They not only get your information, but they keep it updated by continuously offering more free content. 🙂

  • Thanks Leo! 🙂

  • Thanks Steve! I just need to re-install mine – I lost it when I changed themes.

  • You can set the time delay on them however you like Cam. If I ever use one, I think I would set it for 30 days.

  • That’s what I’m talking about – email opt-in popups. Although I think the advertising ones are starting to “popup” in more places now.

  • Thanks Venkat! 🙂

  • The only way popups will go out of style is if people stop using them. And from what I’ve read in various studies (not just by the popup creators themselves), they work more often than not.

  • That’s the unfortunate part of these Dan. They are based on browser cookies, and I don’t think you can configure a cookie that shows if someone opted in or not. The best you can do is only show the popup once and configure it not to come up for the same user again. Of course, if that user clears their cookies, they’ll still get it again.

  • I only find them obnoxious now when they are difficult to get rid of. There are a few out there that do a “good” job at hiding the close button or link. If I can easily close out of it, I don’t give it a second thought anymore. 🙂

  • I’m surprised that the pop up is as effective as it appears to be. It almost never works for me as a visitor. I always close the pop up and browse the site before deciding if I want to subscribe. But as it appears to work, I plan on using it on my sites. The only problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a good free option and on Aweber, it seems you cannot have the pop up and a sidebar form at the same time. Do you know of any decent free pop up plugins, or how to configure Aweber so that you can have the sidebar sign-up form and the pop-up?

  • Kristi,

    Your post centers around a blog but shouldn’t these same tips apply to almost any website?

  • Anna Pham

    Such a good job on tips that I havent thought about before, I am thinking about stuffs that can make my blog become more attractive. I wil definitely try the hello bar, it sounds just great for me. Thanks Kristi!

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  • Melissia

    Love the information! One question. Can mobile users get into a site that uses pop-ups?

  • Felicity Fields

    I’ve had mixed results with the Hello Bar. Some people don’t ever seem to look at the very top of a website (I know I don’t). That’s the main appeal of pop-ups – they’re impossible to ignore, even if you just close them out when they pop up.

  • Salmajane

    Thanks for the tips Michael. I used to dislike pop ups , however, now that they disappear easily and don’t keep coming back, they don’t annoy me any longer and I’ve actually given my email address after visiting the site a few times when one popped up again. I’m not sure how necessary they are though, but I suppose that if the statistics show that they work, it’s worth trying on my own site when I get it up and running. I always enjoy your blogs.

  • H Max

    You’ve got a very high batting average relative to actionable enhancements to social traffic-building. This is another high-value, value-added infoPost. Stelzer is lucky to have you in his repertoir.

  • Yes, thankfully most are easy to close now. I always appreciate the sites that “remember” that I’ve been there so I can read without popups interrupting. Would be an interesting post for how-to pop-up etiquette 🙂

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  • I sometimes don’t think that the popup itself gets my opt-in, but that it draws my attention to whether there is a mailing list and if they have a freebie. Then, if I do like the site’s content, I know I can sign up later.

    Not sure of a free popup plugin that works with the fancy designs that people are currently using, but Aweber has instructions on their site on how to create one using their platform:

  • Hi Chad! Yes, these same tips can be applied to the main website as well. I find that a lot of businesses outside of the online marketing industry do a heavy amount of conversion optimization on their main website, but not their blog.

  • You’re welcome Anna! 🙂

  • It depends on the software that the website uses and their configuration. Some websites have mobile-specific themes that will not have a popup at all. I have seen some sites where the popup goes really wrong and destroys a mobile viewers ability to browse the site. The key is to test your website on mobile after installing a popup to make sure it still works.

  • Hello Bar is a nice alternative for those who hate popups. I think you need to change it up often, otherwise people become immune to it.

  • Thanks Salmajane. Just goes to show how they went from absolutely hated to sometimes ok. 🙂

  • Thanks! I always feel lucky to be a part of the writing team. 🙂

  • Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for your feedback. It would be really good if you can post that link.I guess that will really make things easier for the readers. I am gonna definitely try the same with my blog. I will await your feedback. Thanks once again.

  • Very helpful and informative post indeed! Creating regular free and downloaded contents is tedious work but the results are tremendous, you should try it!

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  • Sadly, YouTube messed up the promo video, but they are working on it. This is the current landing page: 🙂

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • Salmajane

    Great point Carlie. The same has happens to me on my mobile device and that is not only annoying, I just end up abandoning the site.

  • Salmajane

    If the pop-up can be easily dismissed, this would work.

  • Salmajane

    That’s a great idea, Kristi, I’ve seen those and they are way less intrusive and yet, do get my attention. If you have the link, I’d love to check it out.

  • Salmajane

    Great post Kristi, my apologies, I did not see the author when I posted last night. I love your ideas here. 🙂

  • Dan’s data on the pop-up is very helpful. I think users are adapting to them.

    Related to data, any studies from the Hello Bar that anyone has seen that are recent?

  • Thanks for including our referral program Kristi! We had a lot of fun putting this one together. Using the app integrated into our overall campaign has added a significant social lift in addition to a plethora of actionable social insights that would not have been possible without it. Once the referral app is in place, the power of peer to peer takes. That’s the future of social for lead gen in my opinion and the technology is now in place to make every marketing campaign social, trackable, and ultimately fully integrated cross-functionally.

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  • I will assume most of us that follow SocialMediaExaminer on a regular basis find great value in learning more about lead generation. This was another great lesson from Kristi.

    I use 1, 4 and 5 on a regular basis. And most definitive need to work on 2 and 3. For my pop up I use the Scroll Triggered Box plugin. This is a awesome plugin, and best of all its Free. Works great with Aweber. And I set it to pop up on the sidebar area.

    Still will do more testing to learn what techniques generates the most leads.

    Thanks for sharing these valuable techniques.


    Are Morch
    Hotel Blogger

  • Thanks for sharing the link. I will definitely go through it.

  • ghandlin

    I don’t mind the javascript “popup” windows .. I wouldn’t really call them a pop-up. When I think of a pop-up, I think of a fresh new window that either pops up or under. The unders are incredibly annoying. Honestly, sites that still use a true pop-up, I avoid.

    And Carlie – definite good point on the mobile awareness. I’ve been caught in that same issue when browsing a site on a mobile.

  • ghandlin

    The complete cover lightbox is definitely annoying. It has it’s place, but not for an ad. I find it useful for actual applications – you have something that gets triggered and you want the user to know they definitely have to wait for it to complete, so you cover the page so they can’t interact. And that situation should be *very* rare. More for LOB apps.

  • It’s 🙂

  • No worries. 🙂

  • DIYthemes (the creators of Thesis) gained 1,180 email subscribers with theirs. 🙂

  • You’re welcome. I tried it out myself and thought it was fun, although I only made 4 out of 5. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing that plugin Are. I didn’t know there were free popup plugins out there. 🙂

  • Ah, i know what you mean. The ones I’m talking about are the lightbox popups that darken the screen behind them but come up in the same window. They’re actually built to bypass ad blockers.

  • Overall very interesting post with great marketing Tactics.

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  • Nilsko

    Is this a joke? This is the worst piece of advice I have ever read. I mean, come on, use a pop-up? Haha. There is one very easy way to generate leads from your blog. Write good posts that are relevant to the business that you are in. Very simple.

  • Rina

    Such Simple ideas that I think could really help our overall marketing strategy. Thanks for the great tips as always!

  • It’s not a joke. I wasn’t a fan of popups in the beginning, but they are obviously working towards generating leads for businesses on their blogs. Dan Zarrella isn’t the only person who has published stats on this.

  • Interesting that the “popup” option is actually effective. I find some people like it and aren’t bothered, while some hate the intrusion. Still great post, thanks for the tips!

  • Yvette Hayes

    Good point Carlie, not sure if website owners know the frustration we get when we can’t access a page due to a lurking popup – also try your site on various devices before rolling out your popup so you know how it acts in various environments 🙂

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  • Great post as always, these are really good list of popup plugins. We will try using the hellobar from crazzyegg looks really cool the one from convince and convert. These popups has high call to action.

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  • Nathan Brook

    I totally agree with you that we should always write the content which share our views. Content should always be innovative and your own creation..Good and effective contents can be written by a experienced content writer. It is nothing but the accumulation of important information about the topic so that the readers be able to gather infromation.

  • Yes great ideas.. I think we also can create some useful pdf files included tutorial and videos.

  • Having an opt-in form on your website is the single most important marketing action you can take if you want to capture online leads into your sales funnel.Thanks Kristi!

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  • Great post thanks i was searching some good points to improve our blog and i came here thanks

  • Edgy Veg

    What plugin are you using at the bottom of posts for opt-in?

  • InkThemes

    thanks for the tips..