Anyone who pours sweat and tears into their blog, and actually succeeds in getting new readers as we discussed last week, should make sure it's not all wasted by finding ways to get those readers to come back! You can only do so much to build a solid, consistent and growing readership by constantly chasing new readers — you have to make sure you're keeping the old ones.
Of course that starts with having good content, and many of the techniques we discussed for getting new readers will also help you keep the old ones because some of your existing readers will be found in the places you're looking for new readers.
But you need to find ways to turn new readers into loyal readers, and then turn loyal readers into a real community.
So today we focus on loyalty — how do you get people who liked your content once to remember you and come back? Well actually, you don't. Just like it's hard to break through the noise with new readers, it's also really hard for people you've already convinced! So you have to help them out...
Building Your Blogging Tribe
For those of us who sometimes like being predictable, here our chance to shine! Making regularly timed posts, at a frequency your readers can come to expect is a great way to get readers loyal by helping them make you a part of their daily/weekly/monthly routine. It also builds a certain trust with your reader knowing that s/he can always rely on getting new content from you.
Cross Promote in your "Owned" Venues
- Email Signature - list your blog address amongst other details but avoid putting the list of "100+ ways to reach me on every communication tool known to man" (you know who you are!). In case you were wondering, yes, it's definitly overkill.
- Your Non-blog Web Site - whether you include a link in the main navigation or a prominent callout on the Home page make sure it's there if it's appropriate. Also consider linking to your blog posts within the content areas of other pages of your site or through callouts to *specific posts* in the left or right sidebars
- Offline - remember the real world? Make sure it and your blog are not strangers. While it's much, much easier to get people to visit your blog when they're already online, don't miss in-person opportunities to build your brand. Tell people at your events or bring some printouts of your most popular post to distribute. Add links to specific posts to your existing marketing collateral as appropriate.
- Your Email newsletter
- Your Business Card (Duh right? But it's so obvious it gets forgotten!)
Cross Promote in Your "Outposts"
Another great place to cross promote is — you guessed it - Social Media.
Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse (of ProBlogger) have a name for this which they call "creating outposts". It starts with having a presence in a few social sites (I would suggest picking 1-2 social sites until you get your bearings on how to do this well) and it can grow to creating entire online communities around your brand and your work within these venues.
Jacob Morgan of The Social Media Globetrotter confirms that "to this day twitter is one of the largest traffic drivers to my site".
Fatemah Khatibloo of TimesTwoMarketing was surprised to find that "Facebook Fans drive a substantial amount of our blog traffic."
For Chris Clark of The Senior List his Facebook fan page has made it to his "top 5 tactics" list.
A key tactic with social media is being able to automatically feed your blog posts to sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Delicious. Two popular tools that enable this automation include FriendFeed and Ping.fm. Even previously Twitter focused tools like Hootsuite are starting to add this functionality.
At the end of the day, every business is as different as is the community of people who follow it. You must identify which methods will actually work well for your business as well as for your resources. Also keep in mind that until you have significant numbers of followers you will be using these tools slowly but surely to build your numbers over time.
Keep Your Inner Circle Updated
There will definitely be moments when a post you've written deserves it's own mini-audience among people you're connected to. Don't deny them! Send individual posts in response to questions, to relevant clients, or to friends and family. Email certain relevant posts and be careful you don't spam them with content that doesn't interest them.
Diane Menke of Myers Constructs, Inc. takes a good approach "We send relevant posts to people we speak to on the phone or in emails if we think they may find it interesting. For example last week I sent an architect we want to work with a link to a post about bids and why we do not do bids." When considering who to send to, specific groups can include:
- Potential and Current Clients
- Your groups, networks, professional and alumni associations
- Your friends and loved ones (hey what are friends for!)
- New contacts you meet at networking events - sending a link to your blog can be a great way to follow up with someone you just met in a professional context so they can learn more about you and you can begin a conversation. Try to think of something they'd be interested in when you meet them and if possible link them to a specific, relevant post.
Email is Still Critical
These days, anyone who volunteers to give you his/her email address, requesting that you add yet another piece of email to their ever-unmanageable inbox has really got to love what you're saying.
These people are gold. Do not leave them hanging by not providing an email subscription option. Feedburner and Feedblitz are the two most popular tools that enable your visitors to get an email each time you add a new post. It's a great way for them to stay up to date with your new content and it's wonderful for you because it's fully automated! Feedburner is very easy to use and is free.
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Feed Me Baby!
In last week's 13 ways to drive new readers to your blog, we mentioned RSS as a "find new readers" tactic by getting other Web sites to publish your feed. But RSS is traditionally known for it's ability to send content directly to an individual. For those of your readers who know what RSS is, it's a great tool for getting them to stay abreast of what you're writing about and click whenever a headline appeals to them.
Cross Post Linking
One of the best things you can do is encourage visitors to get more of what they already like. Linking *within* your blog is an important way to increase "stickiness" (the amount of time visitors spend on your site) and encourage visitors to read more content or save content they find and want to come back too. Andrea Toochin of Trendcetera Magazine uses a tool called LinkWithin to automate this process for her blog and confirms that it has increased the time people spend on her site.
Monitor your traffic
- Referral Source - find out which sites & sources your readers are already coming from. Leverage your success by finding ways to repeat it.
- Click Streams - use CrazyEgg to see where visitors click
- Time of day/Day of week - try posting at different times of the day & different days of the week to see if it affects traffic
- Post Page Views - know which posts are the most popular to learn more about the audience you're attracting and how to keep them coming back.
Take Care of Your Voice
Your blog is an excellent way to build your brand (see my discussion of blogging goals and strategies) and as such you want to be careful about the brand you're inviting people to engage with.
I really like the way blogger & filmmaker Hugh Rhodes put it:
"A blog conveys a voice, a visual aesthetic, and a record of opinion, all in one. I don't write about my film exclusively - I write about movies I have seen, filmmaking strategies, and personal issues related to my career."
Be conscious of the overall presentation of your blog. In addition to making sure your content is useful & relevant you also need to:
- include compelling headlines
- include people or products that will attract attention.
- define what your "voice" or "brand" is
- make sure your site is visually pleasing and easy to read/use and looks clean and professional, it helps with trust and credibility.
- and as Brock Green of JustinAamir.com reminds us "Stay true to what interests you! This will help to develop your core/niche following."
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Read Related Articles by Maisha:
- Top 13 Ways to Drive New Blog Readership
- 13 Must Have Blog Techniques & Tools
- 8 Basic Blogging Features You'll Actually Use
- Blogging for Coin