How would you react if I told you the whole purpose of your blog or site’s navigation bar and sidebar is to maximize your conversions? Would you agree?
Well, I’m saying it!
Yes, navigation is for helping people get around to the different areas of your site but it is mainly for helping to funnel them towards your product or sign up form.
In this post I’ll be looking at why your navigation needs to focus on getting conversions and not just helping people browse around.
A quick look at website and blog navigation
Before I jump in an change it all up we should take a quick look at what is actually meant by the term “navigation”. Basically, I am referring to these things:
- Your menu
The menu is the part of the website, usually horizontal and across the top, that directs people to your main content. For bloggers this represents your PAGES as opposed to your POSTS.
- Your sidebar
The next part of your navigation is the sidebar and this includes things like your categories, recent posts and maybe popular posts. It also leads people off to your latest products, sign up area and so on.
- Your footer
Many blogs and websites now employ a super awesomely huge footer that contains a whole bunch of things including all of the above as well as social media, contact forms, etc.
- In-post navigation
This is all the hyper link you put in your post to previously written awesome posts like this one, as well as links to other sites and blogs.
Traditionally web designers and bloggers will design these areas with a view to helping people get around to different sections of the site. But, I would like to challenge that idea (a little bit) and suggest that maybe it should be also about converting those readers into subscribers, fans or customers. That is what this post is about.
So how should the menu and navigation work?
Okay so how should it all be working? Here are some ideas.
1. Make it a funnel where possible
Do you remember what a funnel is? I talked about it a few times both here and on Problogger.
Basically the idea is that you create a series of posts, guest posts and so on that funnel people back towards a sales page, squeeze page or sign up form. This would work best with in-post links and sidebar links and is done by a lot of really successful bloggers.
2. Have a specific goal
Your navigation needs to have a specific goal. Are you trying to get people to sign up for your mailing list or are you just trying to get them to browse all your content for no particular reason.
Everything you do on your blog has to be part of an overarching strategy. Sure, this strategy might change from time to time based on your ideas and innovations but it needs to be aimed somewhere.
In my opinion, all blogs and business websites alike should be aiming to get as many loyal email subscribers as possible. Its amazing what you can do with a mailing list.
3. Utilize landing pages
A landing page or a squeeze page or a splash page is any area of your site where you gently encourage people to move towards a sign up or a sale. Here is a good example from Darren’s Digital Photography School where he is trying to sell an eBook.
Your navigation should include regular references to your landing pages. You can do this in the middle of the content or you can add specific places for it in between content or on the menu itself. For example, if you drop down menu you might want to add links to your different landing pages for the relevant sections.
4. Keep it natural
The references and links should all be part of the blog’s natural flow. You aren’t trying to hard-sell anyone here, you are trying to get them to take one further step because they already really like what it is that you are doing. Make sure it flows.
One way to do this is to utilize plugins like What Would Seth Godin Do to leave a stylized message to readers at the top of each different category.
Can you think of any others?
The idea of making your navigation more about conversions than navigation is really interesting to me. Can you think of any other ways to enhance the “convertibility” of a navigation bar or menu on a blog or website. Please leave a comment and let me know.
Also read our guide on how to start a blog and make money.