Issue #66

Sent to members on January 22, 2018

Buh-bye blog sidebar (again)

Sometimes, I change my mind.

Like, this weekend, I set out to buff/polish the motorhome and remove oxidation off the fiberglass. I got into it about 45 minutes and realized…. I should just pay somebody to do this. 😉

But, I change things on my website all the time, too. To try things out. For instance, you may have noticed how the Blog Marketing Academy website had comments, then it didn’t. Then, it did. Then, it didn’t. Oh…. and now it does, again. Once I discovered Thrive Comments, I decided to re-enable comments on the blog because it fixes a lot of the issues I had with it before.

I also did it on my sidebar. Like most blogs, I had a sidebar. Then I didn’t. Then I did.

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And, late last week, I removed the sidebar yet again.

No, I’m not nuts. Let me lay it out for ya…

Most blogs have a sidebar. Most likely yours does. But, have you ever actually looked at how much activity it actually gets?

The most productive thing you can put in a sidebar is an email opt-in form. In my experience, a conversion rate on that opt-in is typically 1% or less. Well, most recently, I had an opt-in form in my sidebar for The Daily itself and the conversion rate on that was much, much less. Sadly, it barely even registered.

Aside from that opt-in, I had a little section for happenings inside the Lab. And a call to action to check out the Lab.

I didn’t want to put much in the sidebar, so that was it. But, none of it moved the needle. It was simply taking up space.

I could have (and probably should have) moved to a contextual opt-in form. With Thrive Leads, you can do that where the lead magnet being offered in the sidebar is specific to the post being viewed. If I used targeting like that, I have no doubt I’d get the opt-in conversion up. But, it would never compete with the in-post opt-in forms across my site, where I get conversion rates on the low-end at 2.76% all the way up to 37.64%.

Nothing competes with a content upgrade in the middle of a blog post when it comes to opt-ins.

So, there I am on Friday looking at this again and thinking…. “Why am I even bothering with this sidebar?”

Obviously, when you do good content, the emphasis should be on that – the content. And, when the content is proven to be the biggest lead source, I should have people consuming that content without distraction. And… the sidebar is one huge distraction.

Plus, when you back up and look at it, the contents of your sidebar are really only relevant to first-time visitors. Maybe the second visit. After that, readers go blind to the sidebar because it usually never changes. It’s just… there.

And most bloggers clog up the sidebar with useless garbage like tag clouds, dropdowns, recent posts and anything that has a widget. Makes the site look busier, I suppose. But, that’s not effective for solid content marketing.

So, on Friday, I removed the sidebar from the Blog Marketing Academy blog.

And this week I’m going to go around the site and tweak some things with the opt-in forms inside the posts to maximize things there. In terms of The Daily, I’m going to test out a retargeting ad on Facebook for any visitors to the site and see how that goes.

A blog with no sidebar is clean. It has no clutter. And it puts emphasis right on your content, which… if you’re doing your job right, does all the heavy lifting for your marketing anyway.

Are you still running a sidebar on your blog?

Ever thought about whether you really need it?

– David

Tech Talk

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