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How to Win Readers and Make Them Stick

This guest post is by Gabrielle Conde of Mission Engage.

“Create a memorable experience.”

That’s great advice for businesses and large retail chains, but you’re wondering how it applies to your blog. You probably started blogging because you know something about an industry like technology or writing. You want to share your information with the world and they certainly need it. In today’s blogosphere, there are hundreds of blogs for readers to visit and read about those subjects.

What makes your blog so special?

You do—and the experience you create for the reader. It’s not really about you. It’s about them.

What if visitors land on your blog and read one post? They not only read it, they gobble it up. They read another and another and soon, they’re hooked. You, your blog is feeding them the information they want. They wantto connect with you on the major social media networks to get more from you. And when they go and find you, you’re telling them about your cat or complaining about the weather … again.

experience

Image is author's own

How do you create a memorable reader experience they’ll enjoy and keep them coming back?

Much of what we read about creating the memorable experience ties into technology. A few years ago, Flash videos were the attention-grabbers for visitors to websites. As a result, companies spent fortunes producing new videos each week—and still do.

Readers have gotten smarter. They demand good content, inspiration, tips, advice, and more. If your blog doesn’t have that overall experience they’re looking for, you’ll lose readers.

I’d like to change that. After working with clients’ websites and paying attention to other sites I enjoy reading, I’ve made a list of nine ways to create an experience for readers on your blog. There are plenty more, but this list should give you enough impetus to make the changes that will see readers stick to your blog.

1. Have them at hello

Give readers a headline that promises to deliver information about what they want. If you read Reader’s Digest online or just visit their website, you’ll find some of the most eye-catching headlines geared toward health and family.

Headlines are everywhere. Pay attention to the ones that catch your attention and try them on your blog to entice readers to click through to read the story.

2. Listen to them

The customer is always right. People complain about problems in person, on a blog, in a forum—anywhere they can speak freely. They’re putting their problems out to the world, and want someone to help solve them. Be the person who helps them through your blog, on social media, and in person. Say what you do for them in your blog’s header, so they know what to expect as soon as they land on your site.

3. Walk them through it

We, as bloggers, are sales people, writers, webmasters, and marketers rolled into one. We have to remember what our readers want and walk them through the steps to achieve it. If you’re showing someone how to do something in a blog post, walk them through it step by step, and make the action clear during each step.

4. Be a part of their daily lives

Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media, Inc made this point in a recent article, and she’s right. Do you check your daily horoscope on your favorite magazine website or the news in the New York Times? If so, then you’d know each of these companies have found a way to be part of your daily life. How can you make your blog a part of your readers’s daily lives?

5. Speak to their highest desires

Everyone wants something. Understand the one reason why people come to your blog. If you blog about marketing, your readers want you to help them get more clients and customers. If your blog is about blogging, your readers might want to know how they can monetize theirs. Everyone wants to pursue their dreams and know they’re needed.

Be indispensable. Remind readers of their desire. Then help them achieve those goals.

6. Be you

You don’t have to be anyone else—you’ll just waste everyone’s time and look like a fake. With billions of people in the world, and over 25 million of them online, you’re bound to run into at least 10% of readers who get you. They’ll love your humor, products, and inspiration. Mix authenticity with a little writing practice, and they’ll love you for the experience.

7. Make top-of-page navigation easy to understand

Here are some tips to keep top-of-page navigation simple for your readers.

  • Keep navigation tab wording as simple and to the point as possible.
  • Line up navigation tabs in order of importance to help readers find what they need quickly.
  • Direct users to a few pages, not twenty.

8. Let them contact you

If you’re for hire, give users the easiest ways to contact you—including phone number (even if it’s a cell), a contact form (that works—test it), plus social media buttons and links to accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and YouTube. Have accounts created across each relevant channel to make it easy for your readers to find and communicate with you.

9. Write good content

Think of your readers when you write. What do they need to hear? If your readers aren’t sticking around, then try practicing with a few techniques to help you write better and keep eyes glued to the page.

Most of all, you want your readers’ experiences to reflect you. Some people will disagree with your points of view and that’s fine. Everyone has a right to be heard, and you’ll have to make a stand on some issues. However, if you’re having a bad day, your car is leaking oil, your computer keeps crashing, or the neighbor’s dog won’t let you off the front porch, then the last thing you want to do is go postal on your readers.

Creating that experience

You want to win readers.

You want readers to stick with you.

You want to help people.

So give them an overall experience of you. It’s the right thing to do. Because there are so many people out there that need your help. And they’re looking for you.

Are you creating that experience for your readers right now? Tell us how you’re doing it in the comments.

Gabrielle Conde is an online marketing strategist in social media, copywriting and search engine optimization at Mission Engage. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to get found online, check out this free video and report on internet marketing strategies and social media marketing.

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Comments

  1. Good stuff, Gabrielle, and nice to see you here on Problogger!

    I’ll add a tip to yours: Remember that your customers don’t know what you know. So many times, I see websites and blogs that assume readers know what their exact problem is and know what they need to resolve it.

    They don’t.

    Throwing up 50 words of assumptive web copy that talks about what you do, thinking the customer already knows who you are and wants what you have is a sure recipe for darned slow sales.

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thank you, James. I appreciate you leaving the great tip and checking out the post. I’m glad you mentioned that because research is definitely where website owners need to start to get into the shoes of the customer and know what keeps them up at night. Once website owners know and use that information, they’re able to convince and convert more.

      I’ve seen others (myself included) start websites with no direction before and have to start all over again after realizing it wasn’t serving others because it wasn’t well thought out in the first place. Thank you for bringing up this point.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      Good point James – It’s like when people use their industry jargon as if it’s everyday vernacular…super annoying and a good way to get me out of the conversation.

    • Ian says:

      Totally agree, I’m actually really bad for this in real life, but hopefully not as bad on my blog. You just assume people understand what you are talking about, especially tech people. I write tutorials and sometimes I wonder if I’m being too basic, but I think that’s more important, because the savvy readers can still skim to the part they need, and the less savvy ones will still have the information they need.

    • Interesting that you should say that James, whilst I’ve never had 50 words on my about page, I’m starting to add much more to it, especially since it’s one of the most visited page on my site.

    • James,

      That is brilliant advice.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

      Krizia
      Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

  2. #6 took me a long time to figure out. I knew I wanted to blog – I love writing regularly and connecting with strangers from all over – but it took me way too long to figure out what I wanted to write about. Instead of “being me,” I would consider topics based on what I thought people might want to read.

    Then, my husband told me to just write, and the topic would end up revealing itself. So, I worked backward. I just wrote what was on my mind, then later decided how my collection of Word documents fit together. I noticed a pattern, and a blog was born.

    When you consider the 25 million people online, you’re right, someone somewhere is bound to “get” me. That’s an encouraging way to look at things!

    And if not, I’m just writing what’s fun to write, which is valuable in and of itself :)

    • Gabrielle says:

      I’m with ya, Courtney. It took over 2 years and way too many websites to mention for me to figure it out. I love your husband’s approach to figuring it out. Autowriting is used in healing from past experiences also. Thanks for sharing your story and your blog, Well Wise Happy, is needed by so many readers out there. Make it live!

      • Kevin Kimes says:

        Tying into number 6: On the topic of choosing topics, there’s no problem in doing what other people are doing. Most people already follow other blogs or websites. If you find yourself commenting a lot on the posts of particular topics, then those are the topics you should try writing about.

        As I’ve started blogging, I find my inspiration in the discussions that already exist. Don’t be afraid to post about the same thing somebody else has posted about.

        The key here is to let your personal thoughts and point of view show. Don’t repeat what others already said, tell your readers what *you* think about the object of discussion. If everybody is saying Hooray for the new Google +1 button, but you don’t like it, tell them you don’t like it it and why.

        Be careful with the idea of “autowriting”. Letting yourself write about whatever comes naturally, to figure out a topic is a great idea, just so long as the thoughts remain your own. If you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about, Google that term.

        • Gabrielle says:

          Great information, Kevin. Thanks for sharing! There’s nothing new under the sun so we’re essentially all talking about the same things, but express the ideas differently. Thanks for bringing up that about autowriting. It would be good to clarify that autowriting is meant to be used for brainstorming or getting to the root of an idea, but not necessarily used as the finished post.

          It can be used as an outline and then shaped into the finished post. For anyone who wants to use autowriting to find ideas, make sure to still edit and ensure your post has a central idea. Thanks, Kevin, for bringing that up and for your excellent tips.

  3. Sara says:

    I just started writing a blog, which has led me to reading your blog. I know what helps me whenever I’m venturing on any artistic adventure is writing about what I like. If it’s interesting to me, then others might feel the same.

  4. Manesh says:

    Nice post. In short Gabrielle clearly described “how to make a customer friendly blog”. Inspirational.Thanks

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thanks, Manesh. Glad it inspired you. It’s definitely about the customer, what they want and how you solve it for them.

  5. Okechukwu says:

    Nice post by Gab, he has really marshalled out the points to keep readers coming back to read blog post.

    Readers are the reason we blog and to achieve the aim of blogging which is oftentimes monetization, we need to keep them coming back with ”quality contents”. Content is king.

    I must also add that that most readers are netnewbie, they are new to the world of www and may not know how stuff works, so they’ll appreciate if you can ‘hold them’ by the hand and show them what to do. For instance, they’ll appreciate if you remind them to bookmark your site, share the post with friend via fb, twitter, linkedin, do this, do that etc.

    Keep it up, you are doing great.

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thanks for bringing up those points, Okechukwu. You’re right, they won’t sign up unless bloggers and website owners remind them and make it easy to do. I’ve noticed a lot of sites going back to using pop ups with their Facebook pages or email list sign ups lately. Very good points.

  6. Stefan says:

    I particularly like opening with questions, It’s a great way for readers to question themselves

    • Gabrielle says:

      Took a course from a journalist that writes for Reader’s Digest and using questions and quotations are among the top ways they start many of their stories…

      And you’re right, it works to help readers get in the right frame of mind to learn from you. Thanks for your tip, Stefan.

  7. There are several factors that cause me to like someones blog. One is their own uniqueness and the other is the content. I like blogs that can answer my questions and entertain me at the same time.

  8. Eva says:

    I’m a ‘beginner blogger’ so this article is actually quite valuable to me. Thank you for writing a clear, informative article!

  9. Gabrielle, the RD tip is EXCELLENT. Also making sure to be a part of their daily life. I will implement them immediately. Nice list!!

  10. Hey Gabrielle,

    Congrats on getting the guest post and thanks for sharing your (great) ideas with us. I noticed you didn’t say anything about using images or optimizing for SEO. I always insert an image or two, tagged with my keyword, and then with a link back to my homepage or to the post. Doing so gives me a chance it more traffic and as it only takes an extra minute of two, it seems very worthwhile to me.

    cheers,
    Trent

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thanks for those excellent SEO tips, Trent. You’re saying you add the image in the post and link it to the post. Is that for when the image comes up in Google images search, the person who clicks it will automatically be taken to the post?

  11. Marvellous, Gabrielle. Here’s no. 10: Lead.

    • Gabrielle says:

      Thanks, Demian. That’s definitely what’s needed in our entrepreneurship world today where so much is changing.

  12. Graham Lutz says:

    #4 is interesting – can anyone else think of any examples on a smaller scale of blogs finding ways to become part of everyday life for their readers?

    • Gabrielle says:

      Yes, Graham. I’ve seen bloggers use everything from motivational daily quotes sent everyday to their readers’s email to daily tips on sales, marketing, how to cook or daily blog post links. I especially love my daily read from Sylvia Hartman, a transformative energy healer. She writes these little paragraph stories where each one is meant to give a gift of learning or an action to do for healing. I love getting them.

      But it depends on what your readers want. I’d suggest starting with reading their comments and just like Courtney mentioned in the comments above, find the pattern for what they keep asking for or stating they need. You may have to start a new list for them to sign up for, but your core readers will sign up and enjoy your daily writings.

  13. Very motivational post! A true reminder that a successful blog is more than just words on a screen.

  14. Excellent post, Gabrielle! This has been a major focus for me lately – how I can make A Leader Quotes Success more valuable to my readers. Your tips have gotten my creativity buzzing…

    I’m interested in your experience on one point – being a part of the readers’ daily lives. The trend lately has been to use social media as a regular outlet for this, sharing odd tidbits between posts to stoke an appetite. What are some other ways you (and other commenters) have approached this?

  15. Stacey says:

    Thanks for a great post!

    I recently listened to a call with Seth Godin and he said “How many people would actually be distraught if your organization disappeared?”

    It’s hard to imagine anyone being distraught if my blog disappeared, but I would love for it to be something that people find interesting and engaging, thoughtful and thought-provoking. I’m still working to create that happy mix, and your article gives a lot of great suggestions to help.

    Thanks again!

    • Gabrielle says:

      That’s a thought-provoking question, Stacey. Seth is always great at getting business owners to think outside the box (purple cow). :)

      One thing to think about with your readers is how relevant can you be to them? Creating a reader profile will help you speak directly to your main readers every time to remember their core issues.

      And those coming into your organization on one level will eventually be at another next level of issues you can provide solutions and blog posts for when they achieve results with you.

      You’re already doing awesome and your bright personality is refreshing! :)

  16. Mode says:

    Totally awesome. Great Tips worth US$1000. Thank you

  17. Kevin Kimes says:

    Potential idea for number 4. Start all new email subscribers off on a 30-day auto responder. 30 tips for whatever, a 30 day introduction course, or 30 days in the life of a whatever-you-are. Try to draw the readers back to visiting your site through each email.

    This can form a habit where they become accustomed to visiting your site regularly, thereby inserting yourself into their daily routine.

  18. Adarsh says:

    Making our blog a part of readers life is important. But, its not as easy as it sounds. Neither is it possible for every blog out there.

    In the blogging industry, it’s definitely do able. Health and fitness, writing tips, copywriting are all fine examples. But in areas where the problem people have is not long term, it’s difficult to get people to make out blog a part of their life.

  19. Excellent post to remind us to remember our reader, what do they want. The biggest thing you mentioned is showing people step by step, I have learned reading many blogs, the writer knows their stuff, and can be very knowledgeable, have great info, but if people struggle to implement your info, then you are in trouble, they will look somewhere else. I see so many people ask for this type of help, I frequenty use step by step how I got an idea, how to start an article, keywords,..right through to marketing, …etc…
    the response from doing this is unbelievable, and many get the “lightbulb” moment. or have missed the little thing that is so important, becasue many bloggers forget to write, not realising that many dont know what they are talking about
    I just happened on this site, so I’m a fan already!

  20. alls says:

    for new blogger maybe dificult to do same. Need time and experience.

  21. Dheeraj says:

    All the aspects are covered for capturing visitors for long time very beautifully. But I want to know . Whether Blog Niche plays any role to keep visitors coming on a blog for long time.

    • Gabrielle says:

      I believe it depends on the blog niche and what results the reader wants and is willing to work toward. Readers come into a blog at different stages. They could be a newbie, an advanced learner or a customer needing your expertise. The trick is to educate your readers at each level.

      For your tech blog, news is one of the most relevant ways to inform and connect with readers. Everyone’s buzzing over Apple’s news and if you check TweetMeme, you’ll see plenty of blogs writing about the keynote and their thoughts on it.

      Was that the blog niche you were referring to?

  22. ace says:

    One of the best ways to do that is through short stories. Start with a fictional blog. Later on start with your social media networks.

  23. Rory Mullen says:

    Great Guest post,
    It is often the hardest part to get your readers to interact with your blog, and when you can grasp your readers attention one should never lose it…

    I love your Guest post and will be studying it inside out so I can better my blog and attract more readers

  24. Marie Noelle says:

    Awesome tips! And not the regular ones we see everywhere! Thank you so much Gabrielle for sharing your knowledge in this post! I’ll learn a lot by reading it! Now, I’ll try to make my readers stick!! hehe

  25. One of the key points ‘let them contact you’ – even if you want to share a story to a blogger via e-mail, it is the most annoying thing to hunt for their e-mail. For example, the other day I really wanted to e-mail a blogger as I missed her birthday…. i had to GOOGLE her e-mail address. What a bother. :/

  26. alls says:

    i m not webmaster and need exercise te be undestand

  27. This is definitely something I struggle with, especially when trying to turn search engine traffic into regular users. You really have to make your page enjoyable and sticky, but there are only so many people you can please. Blogging is definitely not easy, but the points you give are a solid foundation to win over new readers!

    • Gabrielle says:

      I hear you about search engine traffic. When a searcher finds your site, having your email sign up box in an easy to access location and having a popup helps to capture those leads. Also including your tagline in your header will help fresh visitors know what content you post about on your blog and know if it’s something they’re interested in.

      Granted it doesn’t always work with email signups, but those who resonate with your content and message on your website pages will stick. Make sure it’s consistent and on target with your audience.

  28. Amy says:

    This is great. My blog started out as one thing, but I think I’m going to need to re-frame it so that it’s more customer-oriented. Duh! :)
    You’ve got me excited to get started revamping!!
    How do you become part of their daily lives without being really irritating? :)

    • Gabrielle says:

      How do you know you would be irritating to the reader? I look forward to my daily emails with my horoscope and motivational quotes. I enjoy reading them and have bought from those companies and individuals before. One reason I enjoy receiving them is because I’ve connected with them. They made me believe in something they could offer me to help better myself. If you’re coming from a place of service to help your readers/customers, then you’re not being irritating. You’re providing solutions they need so they can sleep at night and move on with their lives.

      And each of those emails might have a link to your courses, books or programs to help you ask for the sale. And that’s perfectly fine (and encouraged). If you’re still working on figuring out your blog topic, try starting with a monthly newsletter and then work toward a weekly, then a daily presence when you start building readers. Take small steps and work on one thing at a time.

      • Amy says:

        That makes total sense–thank you! When I thought about it, my irritation with some daily e-mails was maybe more about the content than the frequency.
        This might be the world’s dumbest question, but do you have a separate list for an e-mail newsletter vs. blog updates, or are they the same thing?

        • Gabrielle says:

          You’re welcome, Amy. Yes, I have a separate list for my e-mail newsletter and one for blog updates. The blog updates are for anyone who wants to read a new post and join in the conversation. The email list is for anyone who needs the free stuff I give out and wants more info from the newsletter and information about products or services I offer.

          For e-mail newsletter, Get Response is easy to set up and has a free service: http://www.getresponse.com/create_free_account.html. You can always opt for Aweber, iContact, Mad Mimi and several others that are equally as good.

          For blog updates, install the Feed Smith plugin on your blog and figure it for Feedburner. Here’s a post Darren wrote that has a link to a plugin for Feedburner. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/01/26/wordpress-feedburner-plugin/

          Once you install Feed Smith on your blog, go to settings and configure your posts to allow your readers to sign up for email. Here’s an easy step by step from Google:
          http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=78978

          The Google post says it’s for a WordPress.com blog, but it should also work for WordPress.org. The settings should be the same and you’ll place the code in a widget on your sidebar so that sign up box will show.

  29. Chris Moon says:

    I really like the idea about becoming a part of reader’s daily lives. I’ve been blogging for about 6 months – my readership levels are still pretty pathetic, but it doesn’t bother me. I know I’ll get those readers eventually!

    I’m not finding a lot of success on Facebook however, so posting daily on Facebook is not going to get me anywhere at this point. At the risk of sounding ignorant, a daily entry into my reader’s view would be . . .through daily posts, even if they’re short paragraphs?

    Maybe I should start another Facebook account strictly for my blog readers?

    Thanks so much for a thoughtful article. All the best – Chris

    • Gabrielle says:

      Glad to see you’re enjoying blogging and the post helped you with ideas on enhancing your readers’s lives. Short paragraphs work. There are blogs across the web that use both long and short content. For short content, Seth Godin is the master. Whatever length of content you produce, come up with a “house” or editorial style and master it. Make sure your posts always have 1 direct point.

      If you want to get going on Facebook, Copyblogger just posted the Ultimate Guide to Facebook. I’m still a new kid on the block with Facebook too and just posting isn’t getting me anywhere either. :) Google Mari Smith because she’s an expert when it comes to Facebook marketing. The thing is to pick one marketing platform and master it first, then move to another one. If you try to do too many at once, you’ll get overwhelmed and not master anything except mental exhaustion.

      So, your take away – start with understanding Facebook from that Copyblogger post or a book if you decide to buy one and take it from there.

  30. Kendra says:

    #6 stands out for me. As a blogger and reader of other blogs, I often see the same things over and over again, and it can become dull very fast. I love originality, creativity and seeing other blogs that are genuine, with a real person you can connect with.

    Thanks for putting that in the blogosphere!

    Kendra

  31. When ever i start reading any of the articles here at Pro-blogger, or even at Copy-blogger, i cant pull out without reading whole bunch of that dose! Its just amazing.

    101 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Blog

  32. Hammer says:

    Funny – I just wrote my own post about creating expertise when you’re new to a niche. I like you’re take on becoming part of the reader’s daily routine.

  33. Audra S.M. says:

    I have found this blog to be pretty inspiring, and given me good ideas to implement in my new blog. I’m still pretty new to this but doing research and trying to get some experience.

  34. Donna says:

    very interested article keep up the good job.

  35. Great insights on how to win the attention of your readers. Think that opportunity only come ones so make the most out of it. Always aim for the best because there might be no more next time..