Here’s a little strategic exercise that I think is well worth doing as we approach the beginning of a new year. Ask this question:
What do you want your readers to do?
There are numerous levels you can ask this question on. Let’s explore one now (I’ll do another tomorrow).
What do you want new visitors to do?
What’s the number one thing you want a new visitor on your site to do?
The answer to this question will vary depending upon how you define success for your blog, what your goals are, and depending even upon your business model.
In most cases, I tend to advise bloggers to focus attention for this first visit upon hooking the user into your site in some way (subscribing, joining, following, friending, etc).
The thinking behind this is simple: if you don’t hook a new reader in, they’ll be gone and unlikely to return after they’ve read the post that they landed on.
The key with hooking readers is to find out what technologies and media those you’re attempting to reach are familiar with. Then, call them strongly to connect with you using those methods.
But there are, of course, other valid conversion goals for new visitors.
If your blog is less about getting repeat visitors, you might actually be more interested in getting people to buy a product, click an ad, donate, retweet a post … or achieve some other goal.
For example, on my first photography site (a camera review site which is no longer active), I wasn’t as interested in getting people to keep coming back as they were their with the intent of researching cameras (and once they’d bought one, they weren’t likely to return even if they had subscribed, as their need was met). So I was much more focused upon trying to monetize their first visit by getting them to click an ad or buy a product via my affiliate links.
As a result, there weren’t too many strong calls to subscribe. Instead, ads were prominent and calls to buy cameras in reviews via affiliate links were also strong.
There is no wrong or right answer to this question. However, knowing what you’re attempting to get first time visitors to your blog to do is important. Otherwise, they’re likely to blow in and blow out again.
The answer to this question should inform your blog’s design, and what calls to action you place in key hot spots on your blog (the places people look).
What do you want your first-time reader to do?
Stay tuned tomorrow! Tomorrow we’ll explore this same question on a deeper and more powerful level, as we ask what you want repeat readers to do after they’ve subscribed.