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.”



Facebook Comments


  1. SvenGeorgiev says

    Hi Jay, just a compliment. I enjoy your relaxed and honest style a lot. That might not be that special among you guys over there. But I am European. The Social Media people here do not write as openly as you do. You say exactly what you do and why you do it. Social Spirit at its best! I enjoy your blog and your podcasts. And I am not the only one here in Berlin. The Start-Up city Nr. 1 at the moment (ask the U.S. investors and Ashton Kutcher specifically :-)
    Keep it up!

    • says

       @SvenGeorgiev Thank you very much Sven. That makes me happy. That’s what I’m going for here – honesty and hype-free truth. I’d love to get out to Berlin to see the scene. Some day (I haven’t been there in 20 years)!

  2. says

    Really like the look of the new blog. I can’t wait to see it live! Re-designs aren’t for the faint of heart. They’re a lot of work, but if done properly, it can really pay off.
    Also, thanks for the sneak peak behind your blogging process. I’m glad mitchjoel prompted this series – it’s been really interesting to see how everyone approaches it differently. It’s proof that there’s no one right way to do it!

    • says

       @lauraclick  mitchjoel Definitely. Mitch is a machine. I think I could get to the point where I write as much as he does, but I just can’t justify that kind of time right now. 

  3. annemccoll says

    Jay, thanks for sharing the insides of your writing process, thought process and your bounce rates. I’ll be interested to see how those changed after the redesign!

    • says

       @nickcicero Thanks Nick. I need to write a bunch of new pages about the consulting side, which will be a bit of a one-time hassle, but I’ll make it happen.

  4. says

    Jay, kudos on your transparency in this process. Lifting the veil on our own sites, examining the whys and hows of revamps and redesigns, explaining the process behind each decision – this is the stuff that’s truly valuable to folks in this profession. I for one am grateful and can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

    • says

       @Annie Sisk Thanks Annie. I figured if we’re going to do this type of analysis internally, we might as well write about how and why we’re doing it. 

  5. says

    Great information here!  I love that you shared how your target audience is changing for your content and how that is affecting your transition.  Often when a company changes something as important as their target audience, they don’t necessarily change elements such as blog layout and schedule.  
    Really love the the Desired Behavior benchmarks~thank you for being so transparent.  So many of us can learn from what you are going through in terms of business development with Convince & Convert.  Kudos to you and your team~look forward to the official launch!

  6. says

    Jay – great post. One comment on the redesign is that with your image being so prominent on the top right, it might go against your goal of readers thinking that Convince & Convert is a company with more than one employee. -Josh 

  7. philsimon says

    Looking forward to the redesign, Jay. I’m with you that your site has to evolve or face extinction. At the same time, substance matters more than style.

  8. Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

    “I wish I could write every day” – Jay, I think you overlook a very important part of your written realm – the vibrant community of turkeys that dwell below the ‘rock solid content’.
    This may sound odd, but half the reason I visit here is to participate in this very comment section. Want more income? Charge me to do that! (Wait a minute…give the content away and monetize the discussion? hmmm).
    While your content is fantastic on its own, the community it curates is just as gratifying. Especially for a visionary non-marketer like myself.
    PS: Genesis does rock.

    • Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett says

      PS – My point in this comment (which clearly failed to materialize) was to not discount all the time that goes into writing responses to us, your loyal subjects of this wonderful domain. (Sorry. Too much Game of Thrones). 

      • says

        @Juan DCAutoGeek Barnett I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, but it’s on the list. It’s good, yes? I’ve heard it’s complicated.

  9. says

    Good stuff Jay!  Thanks for exposing your bounce rate…I’ve been really dissatisfied with mine too, but after you told us what your is, maybe I shouldn’t be quite as unhappy at 68%.  I have a client with comparable traffic to and his bounce rate is only 28% (amazingly low, eh?).  My goal for my site is to get it under 60%.

    • says

       @MikesRoadTrip You might see if you or he have significant differences in landing page destinations. The first page people see has of course an enormous impact on bounce rate, and if that’s the home page vs. a collection of inside pages, causes could differ. 

  10. KellyeCrane says

    Love that you pulled back the covers here, Jay! I find it especially interesting that you’ve defined what you want from the blog first, and then you look at the audience. Having a laser focus on one’s audience is critical, but taking a step back to ensure you’re doing it in a way that gets you where you want to go is what determines success. I can do a better job of the latter, so thanks for the guidance!

  11. says

    I have a lot of respect for your willingness to change and update the blog site, Jay. Always seeking to improve. So many businesses fail to pay attention to their online useability and traffic, and so many tend to build what THEY like rather than what the audience will use. You’ve always been about great content, usability and appeal. Hats off to the coming new changes. And thanks for sharing the strategy behind it all. Another great teaching (learning) opportunity!

  12. says

    Your site looks awesome and your lucky to have Rafal working on it… I had the chance to meet him in person at WordCamp Chicago.
    And I am so with you on the case for redesign. As our businesses change and evolve, so should our sites. I cannot tell you how many times over the 20+ years I have changed mine, but I know i have done it 3 times in the past 12 months, and just recently, about a month ago. Love the Genesis themes, and you picked a great one. My last three redesigns have been using one of their child themes!

  13. says

    The design looks great (that’s a given when it’s Rafal doing the design) and thanks for talking about  the reasoning and goals behind the new design. It’s a good example of what to think about when considering a redesign. A visually appealing site is worthless if it isn’t functional as well!

  14. says

    I love all the upcoming changes to the C&C brand and blog. Thanks for letting us view the upcoming changes from your lenses on why and how you plan to improve the community you’ve built. Keep it up, Jay and team! :) 

  15. willsmith says

    Love your thought process Jason. I tend to write whenever i feel the itch to do it, and usually just bust out something in the 1000 word range all at once. Its strange, but I prefer writing on the iPad and using dictation. I find that easier for some reason (hearing how it sounds out loud as opposed to just writing and reading it back).
    Also like the new design. I had no idea that C&C was more than just you, so that is definitely something your new design should convey 😉

    • says

       @willsmith I am with you on dictation. When I am done with my first draft I usually read it out to see how my draft sounds. If it is stilted, or awkward odds are that the reader will also find it to be stilted and awkward. Cut out the middlemen and start with dictation, I say.

  16. pbj says

    I’d definitely be interested in seeing how the new layout performs. Curious to see if a relatively templated theme will bring the desired results. Seems as though your objectives aren’t actually related at all to the blog redesign itself but rather to the action of users. You want more clicks, essentially. So showcasing content may or may not provide you with that result. 
    Regardless, the new page and results will be interesting. 

      • pbj says

         @JayBaer  @pbj Any reason for not choosing a custom theme that integrates with Genesis? Another question, are you familiar with D Curtis? If not I’d definitely recommend reading his ideals on content and it’s value. Very good stuff. 

    • says

       @pbj Since installing on my blog with a more defined subscription box on both the home page and blog index, I’ve seen an increase of over 600 subscribers in around a month or so. 

  17. says

    Am really curious why you decided to try and point people to for speaking. Is your speaking talents not a ‘menu item’ for Convince & Convert customers? Why send them away to another site? I know it’s on a best practice list somewhere (and rules were ,eant to be broken in most cases) that you should have 1 site and 1 site only. Even a company that directs blog readers somewhere else should re-think that..

    • says

      @C_Pappas Because I work with about a dozen speakers bureaus and they prefer to send meeting planners to speaking-only sites. Also, easier to SEO them separately, as the desired keywords are much different.

  18. says

     @JayBaer I really like the specificity of thinking with regards to objectives, i.e. “behavioral objectives”. That’s a much clearer way to think about it. I look forward to reading about some of the results.

  19. says

    Great stuff Jay. Love the changes. One question… What is your strategic goal of having a better “related posts” option at the bottom of posts? Is it awareness/thought leadership? The idea being that keeping them reading longer will make them more likely to close on one of your products (speaking, consulting, etc)? My suggestion would be to drop that and make it all about converting to email at every rest point. Getting the email is way more valuable then getting them to another post. At every step you will lose a good chunk of people, so getting the email is better early on. And the end of a blog post is a great place to do this.   

    • says

      @jasonkeath Agreed, but the thinking is that they’ll be more likely to sign up for email after reading more than one blog post. I see it as first post, second post, email or RSS.

  20. ColinStorm says

    I like the different approaches to the editorial calendar you mentioned. Personally I fall somewhere in between the two. I schedule the days I want to post, then hope I have some form of inspiration when it comes time to put pen to paper. 
    Curious to see how the redesign plays out. I am constantly looking to tweak my layout to line things up with my priorities. I am also grappling with this when it comes to content in general. My top performing posts over the longterm have absolutely nothing to do with my business aspirations or my professed purpose for my blog. :)

  21. says

    Jay, this was really fun for me my man–looking at the way you’ve done things, where you’re going, and the “why” behind the changes. This might come across as odd sounding, but when you were talking about the changes to your site, and the header, and your “team”–I thought to myself, “What Jay is doing here is exactly what you’re going to have to start thinking hard about over the next year or so….”
    Anyway, I deeply respect you and your work my man and appreciate the value you bring—whether you see it always or not.

  22. friendsofsocial says

    The redesign and the concepts behind it look great, Jay! I can’t wait to see it in action!

  23. Anna Gervai says

    Love the new design @JayBaer  – looking forward to seeing it live – I’m mid redesign of my / my company’s blog and had a giggle when I read about your post writing times, it’s the weekend when I tend to write mine also and unfortunately I don’t follow a schedule but that’s on my to do list! Thanks for sharing not just the design but also your reasoning behind it. Our design is a good 2 years old now and with the growing amount of content it was long overdue to reorder to make it more user-friendly for readers.

  24. SvenGeorgiev says

    Hi, how do I keep the email updates of your blog posts but wont get an email for every comment?

    • says

       @SvenGeorgiev Hi Sven
      Because @JayBaer uses the Livefyre system, you’ll automatically get both replies to your comment, as well as notifications of any Likes or new comments in general. :)

  25. mitchjoel says

    Thanks for sharing, Jay. Whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s working. I’m with Scott. I stop everything too and read what you’re doing :)

  26. shitanshuraman says

    <a href=””>IT Consultants</a>Thanks for the informative information keep it up…..

  27. says

    Hey there mate,
    Haha, not sure about forgetting about blog customization – I think I’m just forgetful, full stop. The curse of middle age. :)
    The new design looks like it’s coming along really nice, mate, and great choice – I already mentioned how many increases in subscriptions I’ve seen since installing, and I’m sure you’ll rock your boat on that front. I also love that it’s a true responsive design, as more than a third of my traffic is from mobile browsers.
    Here’s to your new look, mate – and looks like I need to go back and optimize my widgets into the bargain! :)

  28. markwschaefer says

    A plan. What an interesting concept. 
    Terrific to see this evolution Jay.  Way to keep pushing it.

  29. markwschaefer says

    A plan. What an interesting concept. : ) 
    Terrific to see this evolution Jay.  Way to keep pushing it.

  30. says

    Thanks for sharing Jay! When I replied on this post in G+ I missed this link back to your blog post. I like the transparent picture you share regarding your blogging efforts, how you structure your editorial calendar etc. I agree that iPad is a bit odd to write blog posts on. 

    • says

      @Mattias Gronborg Thanks much. Sat next to a guy on a plane Tuesday who was writing on an iPad FAST! Really fast. I can’t do it. The lack of tactile feedback slows me down.

  31. says

    The achievements of a blog is proportional to quality of articles, if the articles are not worth a bit of time, visitors will absolutely keep the weblog and wouldn’t like to visit aging because the articles that actually allows in developing the weblog. Secondly comes the excellent and unique weblog design enhances the weblog content. An excellent weblog design always helps in leaving the impression on people as an excellent blog content supported by good design will always leave a mark in visitors mind.

  32. says

    The achievements of a blog is proportional to quality of articles, if the articles are not worth a bit of time, visitors will absolutely keep the weblog and wouldn’t like to visit aging because the articles that actually allows in developing the weblog. Secondly comes the excellent and unique weblog design enhances the weblog content. An excellent weblog design always helps in leaving the impression on people as an excellent blog content supported by good design will always leave a mark in visitors mind.

  33. says

    I have tried writing to a schedule but it has never worked for me. Nevertheless I seem to have a pattern although it is not dictated by a set schedule. I tend to write more late at nights. I guess this is to do with being caught up with web design projects during the day.

  34. says

    This is  very nice concept that you have shared in the article. The design of the blog also plays an important role in reader’s behavior. I myself have admired many blog designs and have stayed in the particular website for more than 20 minutes. As you say, this relates to more sign ups, more visits, etc.

  35. says

    This is  very nice concept that you have shared in the article. The design of the blog also plays an important role in reader’s behavior. I myself have admired many blog designs and have stayed in the particular website for more than 20 minutes. As you say, this relates to more sign ups, more visits, etc.

  36. says

    Great post! You have very well explained the importance of blog design. A blog with a good design can have more benefits, compared to other. It will attract more customers compared to an ordinary blog.

  37. Felix Brown says

    Very Informative Tips for Bloggers. I think I would only change designs
    if it’s desired by the community

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