We’ve been talking a lot about guest blogging being a fine marketing method lately, so I guess it’s about time we should list some possibilities regarding the things you can promote from within your guest posts (or the bio boxes of your guest posts).
Let’s just get right down to it and start with the biggie …
Free vs. paid
Like with most marketing methods, guest blogging can be used to promote both free and paid products. However, it won’t be equally effective at both. This has a lot to do with what the reader expects.
Consider the following example. When you see a standard ad online – be it an AdWords ad or a banner on some site – you expect the thing being promoted to be a paid product. This is natural, and it’s what years of advertising exposure (via TV, radio, newspapers and so on) has done to us. This works almost on a subconscious level. (Actually, when you find out that the thing being promoted is a free offer, it’s only a pleasant surprise, not much more than that.)
With guest blogging it’s different. The blogging medium is new and the readers haven’t had the time to develop any larger expectations yet.
So here’s what happens (or at least what I presume happens). When a person stumbles upon an article, which is free, they immediately go into a “receive” state of mind. They remain in this state throughout the article as they continue consuming line after line and paragraph after paragraph. So once they finish, they are still in the “receive” mindset.
If at that point you step in and try to sell a product, it’s always going to come off as a shock to the reader. And don’t get me wrong, pure math works here too, so you will always have some conversion and some buyers, but the results won’t probably be stunning.
Therefore, with guest posts, it’s a lot more natural and reader-friendly to offer something free.*
* That is if you’re hoping for a direct response on the reader’s part. If you’re about branding and getting your product out there, building awareness and getting into your customers’ minds, you can very well go ahead promoting a paid product/service. Just don’t count on much direct response.
So in a sentence. I’m all for using guest posts to promote free stuff.
Actually, I would take it even further. If you don’t have a free product in your portfolio currently, I’d advise building one just for the purpose of using it for guest posts.
Now moving on to the actual things to promote …
1. Free downloads
This works great for apps, online tools, desktop software, icons, resource packages, PDFs and whatever else you can put a download button on.
“Free” is actually the most powerful word in the English language as explained by Dan Ariely in his great book Predictably Irrational.
People have very little willpower when it comes to resisting things that are free. And I’m sure you can relate. Be honest, when was the last time you took something you didn’t even need or want purely because it was free?
Not recently? Really? … And what about those yoghurt samples in your local supermarket? Those count too.
So yes, people love them some free stuff, and we really should capitalize on this as much as we can.
If you manage to offer a free download that’s related to the blog that the post has been published on, plus related to the topic of the actual post, that’s a home run.
2. An opt-in offer
The idea of an opt-in offer is very similar to a download, however, it’s centered more around the reader becoming a subscriber rather than just getting a free download they desire at the moment.
By stating clearly that what you’re offering is opt-in-required, you will get people ready for more communication coming their way in the future, so they are a lot less likely to be surprised and end up marking your emails as spam.
The offer itself can be anything, and the most common way is to justify the need for a subscription by saying that you need the data in order for the whole free offering to be delivered.
For instance, a very common practice is to offer free training, advice, online courses, or other online education packages this way. The reader can clearly understand that if they want to get the complete course, which can be, say, 12 parts long, they need to leave their email address for that.
As I said, this works great for all kinds of education. I would even advise to take your single piece of content (it has to be quite sizable though) and split it into three or more parts. That way you can justify the opt-in offer and get more leads.
3. A giveaway
Everybody loves giveaways! The difference between the two kinds of offers described above and giveaways is that the latter are usually being held on an external platform, so you’re not directing people to your own site.
This might sound counterintuitive at first, but modern giveaway platforms like KingSumo Giveaways give you a lot more possibilities than you could offer from your site. For instance, participants can have more than one entry by performing some of the actions you’ve listed. Some common actions include things like Liking your Facebook page, tweeting out the giveaway to their followers, following you, and also subscribing to your email list.
The tough part is that the thing being given away has to be attractive. It has to be something of real value that people would otherwise have to pay for. It can’t be fabricated value, so to speak.
For example, if you’re giving away your own digital product that you’ve never attempted to sell before, and you’re saying that it’s worth $99 then it’s fabricated value.
4. Free consultation
This is one more variation of the free offer, but this one is more direct in nature. In this case, instead of offering something digital, you’re going out there and putting your time on the table.
For example, you’re offering X number of spots for people to book a free consultation with you (limiting the spots is the important part here).
Now, this can end up consuming a lot of your day once the requests start coming in, but it can also be a great boost for people who were previously not sure if they wanted to work with you to finally give it a try and reach out.
The simplest way to implement this is to direct people to a page where they can book a call with you over Skype. This can be done pretty simply by creating a new landing page on your site and using an appointment plugin on it.
(I recommend WordPress Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Plugin by vCita for that.)
I encourage you to test these methods out and see which one gives you the best return. With guest blogging, much like with any other marketing method, nothing beats doing your own testing. Just one last thing though. Keep in mind that it will probably take a while before you get a significant amount of data, and that in order to be really sure, you should test multiple methods on a single site.