Content Marketing, Convince and Convert, Blogging and Content Creation

Redesigning Your Blog to Drive Reader Behavior

Soon, you’ll be seeing an all-new version of Convince & Convert.

It’s undergoing a full makeover, led by the amazing Rafal Tomal from Copyblogger Media. We’re of course staying with the Genesis Framework that provides enormous customization capabilities with unmatched ease-of-use. Here’s an almost-ready preview:

The design is based on the new Streamline child theme that is successfully being used by Danny Brown of Jugnoo – who has forgotten more about blog optimization than I’ll ever know.

The Case for Redesign

Even though WordPress (especially with Genesis) is exceptionally easy to work with compared to old skool Web design days, it’s still a major undertaking. Lots of blogs out there rarely if ever change their look and layout. Why bother?

In addition to the power of self-expression and the organization of your thinking it mandates, blogging for business has one primary outcome: it triggers desirable behaviors among readers. Identifying, measuring, and optimizing those behavior patterns are key elements of your blog strategy.

Very few bloggers (especially in the business category) are blogging strictly for eyeballs, as advertising revenue is typically a minor benefit, at best. Instead, the blog is an emcee, not just a vessel for your musings. It’s a public manifestation of your knowledge, and encourages readers to act in ways that help build your business over the long haul. It’s symbiosis. You trade what you know in exchange for readers’ time, attention, and advocacy.

Convince & Convert is growing and changing constantly, and the current design isn’t set up to emphasize the behaviors we are focused upon in 2012. The redesign is intended to address these informational and behavioral objectives:

Emphasize that Convince & Convert is a company, not a guy. There are 5 of us on the team, with a half dozen other collaborators.

Desired Behavior: Increase ratio of visitors viewing About Us.

Better explain our social media and content marketing services.

Desired Behavior: Increase ratio of visitors viewing services pages.

Showcase our new Social Pros Podcast.

Desired Behavior: Increase ratio of visitors viewing Podcast page and conversion rate for Podcast subscriptions via RSS and/or iTunes.

Increase Email Sign-ups. Considering many of us at C&C have a background in email marketing, our subscription rate is embarrassing. Time to fix.

Desired Behavior: Conversion rate for email subscriptions.

Spotlight speaking capabilities. My site is dedicated to social media speaking, and was also built by Rafal Tomal. It’s terrific, but we need to drive more referrals from C&C over there.

Desired Behavior: Increase referred traffic to

Increase depth of visits. High bounce rates are common on blogs, especially those that have a high ratio of new visits and visits from search. However, I want to see our bounce rate drop by making it easier to browse and by implementing a more compelling related posts feature. For the record, our bounce rate is 69%, our new visitors ratio is 70%, and our traffic from search is 29%.

Desired Behavior: Reduce bounce rate among new visitors (71% currently)


Once the new site rolls out and we have some data, I’ll write another post with some before and after statistics.

A New Target Audience and Approach

The presumed audience for this blog since its founding in June, 2008 was corporate and agency marketing professionals, with a side order of small business owners – especially on tactical posts. This year, however, we have tweaked the audience focus for Convince & Convert, and our objective is to write for social media and content marketing professionals. We don’t want to be Social Media Examiner, Social Fresh, or Content Marketing Institute and try to answer every conceivable question. Nor do we want to be a blog like, or SideraWorks that’s anchored in thought leadership and what comes next.  There is a content chasm between those two types of blogs, and we want to fill it (along with Social Media Explorer, {Grow} and SpinSucks).

With the blog and podcast, we talk about what all of this means in practice, and how you can leverage the constant upheaval in social media and content marketing to the advantage of your organization. We’re innovative, interesting, hype-free, and approachable. Our objective is to give you advice and opinion you can’t get elsewhere.

A New Editorial Calendar – and How I Blog

Last week, Mitch Joel wrote a fascinating post about his blogging process (read it) that stemmed from an equally interesting post from Chris Brogan (read that one, too). I discovered that I write almost precisely the opposite of Mitch. He writes every day, and publishes whatever and whenever the mood strikes him – which is pretty much always! I am far more structured. For years, I have written three posts per week here, and typically have topics (or at least ideas for topics, which I keep on the notes section of my iphone) set up weeks in advance.

I write on a schedule, not when I feel the need to write. I have come to the conclusion that this is somewhat unusual for bloggers. For at least two years, every post I’ve written has been done on a weekend or on a plane. When I have the luxury of not being interrupted by phone or email or DMs or SMS, I write. Sometimes, I’ll write five posts in a row. Other times, just one. Incidentally, I did The NOW Revolution the same way. I wrote 1,500 words per day for 21 straight days. Amber Naslund is more like Mitch, and is a “flow” writer. During the book process, she’d have nothing, nothing, nothing then bust out 8,000 brilliant words. Interesting (at least to me) how different these processes can be.

I mostly write in WordPress, unless I’m on a plane with no Wi-Fi, in which case I write in TextEdit and then move to the blog. I always write on my MacBook Pro. I once tried to write a post on my iPad, but it felt too foreign. A post usually takes me an hour or so.

I wish I could write every day like Mitch and Chris, but I can’t. Scott Stratten consistently pays me a very nice compliment in his speeches, saying that he stops what he’s doing whenever I publish something new, because every post is rock solid. He’s a liar. I came to the conclusion late last year that I was worrying too much about quantity, and quality was starting to suffer. The growth of the consulting side of the business was impinging on my ability to create truly first-rate content. So with encouragement from Ann Handley I made some changes and we have implemented a new editorial calendar over the past 60 days, which has the dual benefit of freeing up some of my time, and providing more and better content to our shifted target audience.

Here’s how it works now:

Sunday/Monday – Long post from me where I can dig deep and hopefully make you laugh, cry, think. It’s like Cats.: you’ll read it again and again.

Tuesday – Guest post from someone awesome. This piece from Anthony Juliano last week on 5 Reasons Linkedin is Boring – in a Good Way was delicious. Sometimes I write a second post (like this one) instead of a guest post.

Wednesday – Innovative post on tools and tactics from one of the members of the C&C team. Chris Sietsema’s post on content marketing Bricks vs. Feathers was rock solid, and clients are already starting to use the “bricks” and “feathers” descriptors.

ThursdaySocial Pros podcast. We run full-text transcripts of the podcast every week, so even if you’re not a podcast listener you can get all the insights from the weekly show I do with Eric Boggs from Argyle Social. that features real people doing real work in social media. (this week: Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, head of social for Hilton Hotels).
Saturday – (coming soon) One Social Thing digest. We’ve rolled out an all-new email product that brings you the single best thing in social media and content marketing every day (more on that next week). Soon, we’ll have a post every Saturday that recaps our picks of the
week – just in time for your weekend catch-up reading.Because we have more authors on the blog now, we’re also going to be changing the layout of individual posts. This is primarily to increase readability and to have more consistent real estate to describe and promote the authors, similar to how Social Freshdoes it.Traffic is up 20% since we moved to the new calendar, even though I’m writing less personally. That’s good news for business, and bad news for the ego. 😉 

So there you have it. That’s where we’re headed with Convince & Convert. In the immortal words of Spinal Tap, “We hope you enjoy our new direction.”