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Building a Magnetic Blog: How to Keep Your Readers Coming Back for More

This post is from SpecificFeeds.

As bloggers, we tend to be a little obsessed with numbers – we check our stats compulsively to see how many more hits we got today than yesterday and freak out if we lose a couple of followers on Twitter or Facebook.

However, most bloggers are focusing on the wrong numbers. Having a highly trafficked blog sounds great and it may well be, but what’s even more important that having lots of visitors to your site is ensuring that a high percentage of them are recurring visitors.

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to improve your blog’s SEO to bring in more search engine traffic, how to get more likes on Facebook and so on. All of this is great advice but a web visitor who clicks through to your site, stays for five minutes and leaves forever is probably not very valuable to you.

What we really should be concentrating on is encouraging our readers to come back to our site and read our content on a regular basis.

Why Recurring Readers Are More Valuable

Blogging is not so different from any other business – to be successful it’s important to gain a sufficient number of customers (readers). As with many other industries, selling to pre-existing customers is not only easier but is also likely to be more successful.

A high customer retention rate means that you don’t need to spend as much time and effort in trying to win new customers, as you can spend most of your energy focusing on your existing clientele.

Your regular readers don’t need any convincing to click through to your content. They are eager to read anything new you publish and they value your opinion and recommendations. A blog’s subscribed readers are its most valuable asset.

How to Encourage Subscriptions and Recurring Blog Visitors

Creating a blog that people want to come back to time and time again always comes back to the keystone of excellent content. If you’re not producing content that is helpful, entertaining, easy to read and interesting, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start again.

That being said, there are a number of ways that you can encourage first-time visitors to your blog to become regular readers. Human beings tend towards laziness so you need to make things as simple and accessible for your readers as possible. If you don’t make it easy for people to access your content on a regular basis, the chances are they just won’t bother.

To encourage casual visitors to become regular readers, you should offer a number of different ways to follow your blog that are clearly visible within the design:

1. RSS Feeds – Still Alive and Kicking!

RSS is not dead, despite what the naysayers may claim. After Google Reader closed, the most popular alternative RSS reader, Feedly, gained an additional 3 million new users. If your blog doesn’t have a working RSS feed, you’re forcing your readers to come directly to your site to read your content and for many people, that is more effort than your blog is worth.

2. Email Opt-in Form – The Money is in The List!

In general, email subscribers are worth much more than RSS subscribers as there is a higher likelihood that they will read your posts. People tend to dip in and out of their RSS readers for entertainment and it’s easy for them to skip over posts when they’re busy. Emails have a higher perceived importance and are much more likely to be read.

Emails also feel a lot more personal than blog posts and allow you to customize your messages to each individual reader (e.g., by addressing them by their name). This can really help your followers to feel like you are talking directly to them and can help to increase your conversion rates.

3. Social Networking – The Future Present is Social!

Since Google Reader bowed out, its former users have had to hunt out alternative ways of keeping up with their favorite blogs and some have abandoned RSS readers altogether. Publishing links to your blog posts to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ provides an easy way for people to follow your blog, as well as encouraging reader interaction.

Like email, posting updates to social media has a more informal feel than using your RSS feed and people are more likely to read your posts when they’re mixed in with other updates from their friends and family.

Having social media accounts for your blog and making your posts easy to share is also an excellent way for growing your fan base. When someone likes your page on Facebook (or Google+ or whatever) it acts like a recommendation from one reader to all their friends and followers. This is a great way of getting new readers who are interested in what you have to say.

And if you’re a site where users can sign up as members, social media integration is a no-brainer anyway. Signing up through an existing social account takes much less time than filling out a form and avoids the problem of lost login credentials – that’s why the majority of social media users prefer this option.

4. New Emerging Technologies – Keep Your Finger on the Pulse!

Internet technologies go in and out of fashion extremely quickly and it’s not always possible to predict what will be the ‘next big thing’. However it’s never a bad idea to experiment with a couple of newer subscription technologies, particularly if they make life easier for your blog readers.

There are a couple of interesting options that are starting to make a name for themselves since the demise of Google Reader. One of these is SpecificFeeds which resolves many of the weaknesses with RSS by allowing users to customize feeds to their individual needs. Check out the Problogger specific feed to get an idea for how the service works.

The Pros and Cons of Pop-up Opt-in Forms

Pop-up windows went out of favor in the early 2000s but they are now back with a vengeance as technology has allowed them to be more user-friendly and they’ve been proven to improve conversion rates by an impressive amount.

There’s still a fair amount of controversy surrounding pop-ups – some people say that you should always use them in order to maximize your newsletter sign ups, while others claim they are an abomination that should be struck from the internet.

For a compelling argument of why you should use pop-ups, have a read through this article right here on Problogger, in which Darren illustrates how using a pop-up signup form caused his daily subscribes to shoot up by over 800%, overnight.

Pop-ups are of course intrusive by nature, and you do run the risk of annoying your readers and causing the opposite effect to what you intended. This article at Copyblogger discusses the downside of using pop-ups, ponders whether it is worth the risk, and offers some viable alternatives.

In the end It comes down to personal preference whether you use pop-ups or not, but there’s no denying that they are incredibly effective when it comes to increasing your email signups.

Perhaps an acceptable compromise is to make use of the sophisticated pop-up technology that is now available for blogs and show pop-ups only to first-time visitors or have the pop-up appear only when the user has read an entire article and scrolled to the bottom of the page.

Growing Your Subscribers is The No.1 Way to Grow Your Business.

The arguments for focusing on your existing readers are compelling. It’s said that a business needs only 1,000 true fans to be successful. What is a true fan? Someone who wants to consume everything you produce, whether you are an author, singer, artist or blogger.

Rather than focusing on trying to increase your blog traffic, instead shift your focus to converting your existing occasional readers into subscribers. If your blog can manage to obtain 1,000 truly engaged subscribers, you can safely call yourself a successful blogger, whatever niche you write in and whatever your method of monetization or business model you use.

Growing your subscribers is not something that happens overnight but with consistent effort and a well-thought out plan, it is possible.

To sum up:

Publish excellent content

Engage with your readers and be approachable and friendly

Offer a highly visible link to your RSS feed

Include an email subscription form

Add sharing buttons for the social networks you want to focus on

Look into new subscription technologies like SpecificFeeds

Consider a popup signup form.

Do you have any other tips for optimizing your blog subscribers? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the importance of site traffic versus RSS and email subscribers so join the discussion in the comments if you have any opinions or further points to add.

This post is from SpecificFeeds, which also has a blog on the topics of productivity and managing information overload.

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Comments

  1. Wasn’t familiar with specificfeeds so thanks for the tip. I definitely prefer to read posts rather than just see an RSS feed being fed via facebook.

  2. Melissa says:

    It is a slow, but steady way but I’ve found that interacting on other websites helps to not only build a community with other bloggers in my niche, but expose me to readers who may also be interested in the content of my blog. I’ve been considering a pop up form and you’ve persuaded me!

    Thank you for this post; a wonderful collection of growing our blogs and businesses.

  3. Nick,

    Repeat business is THE business to focus on. Repeat customers come back for more, for free, sometimes for a while. Then one day they buy. They spread the word. Relationships are our most preferred currency.

    Smart share Nick, thanks man!

  4. Hey NIck
    Amazing post… I really like the way of explanation of this post. This post is so inspiring for me. Wanna know what’s your future post schedule??? so that I can read your future posts. Thanks for sharing. :D

  5. Alex Ivanovs says:

    Nick,

    great tips! I’m sure many new members will find them useful. :)

  6. gobizen says:

    Opt in email forms thump up your conversion. I always prefer these settings on my site and RSS feed still play a major role since I published single content my first reader is coming from RSS. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Avinash says:

    Ya, I agree with above comment comment of Ryan`s. Repeat customers helps us a lot to make our site to get published among new people, just like giving mouth publicity which makes new readers to gonna visit our site.

    Great share Nick, Thanks.

  8. sheik says:

    Hai,

    Nice Post. Its Very Useful Thanks!

  9. Robert Smith says:

    Now the blogging is more effective to reach the people. Now the unique article is more important to get the top rank in google search engine. Thanks for the article.

  10. sameer says:

    Hi,
    Now days social networking play very important role in coming back audience. BDW very useful tips indeed.

  11. Angus Pryor says:

    Hi Nick

    I have to admit I never looked at the popup for increasing engagement or capturing casual blog readers. I guess if they’re looking at one of your posts, they are more open to seeing more of what you’ve got to offer.

    Regards

    Angus

  12. Sunday says:

    Yes, there is a difference between getting a traffic and getting a recurring traffic to a blog. The latter is readily more important and should be craved for by marketers.

    If a blog is going to get recurring readers, then it must be providing valuable contents and making it easy for visitors to navigate and take action.

    I agree with the ways to encourage recurring readers described in this post. More specific, the ideas shared on:

    - Publish excellent content, and

    - Engage with your readers and be approachable and friendly

    This comment was shared in kingged.com where this post shared and bookmarked for Internet marketers.

    Sunday – kingged.com

    http://kingged.com/building-a-magnetic-blog-how-to-keep-your-readers-coming-back-for-more/

  13. Nikhil says:

    Great Post Nick,

    A must read article for those, who want to be successful in blogging.
    Thank you for this great content. : )

  14. This is indeed a very precise and elaborate way to have a “magnetic blog” set up Nick and must say – Not just me, but surely many other readers would be truly impressed.
    On same regards, i would like to throw some light as to the fact that one could as well have a few methodologies and techniques implemented from the Online & Digital media marketing where-in one of their aspects to attract and in most ways allure readers and target audience would be from the implementation of Content writing and strategy and also with their other online marketing tools.
    Its one hell of a competitive worlds we live in these days, more blogs and writings like yours are something we could definitely benefit from.
    Thanks for a great post.

  15. Samuel says:

    Emails are the key to getting the most out of your blog’s visitors.

    They are the ultimate cash you need to be looking for out of your blog.

    Pop up forms may become a nuisance, and I learned to ignore them.

    That’s what might happen to many visitors that come to your blog. They learn to click that “X” button real fast.

    Thanks for the article!

    - Sam

  16. Thad James says:

    This should be the “go to” check list for blogging! Excellent tips and ideas. Especially the part about checking out new technologies. No single venue should be be 100% of the way to reach your audience. Thanks for the great article.

  17. Julius says:

    Is a good peace of article. i will really love to know more about blogging cause i am a first timer on it.

  18. Heri Sudiana says:

    It is good post. Just share !!. give comments on relevant blogs. By writting comments on related blogs can also drive good traffic to our blog.

  19. I’ll go with #3 which is social networking. We’ve seen a lot from Facebook and Twitter already and I strongly believe it’s a great way to attract readers. And since you’re posting to Facebook, make sure you post relevant things, not just something you heard from your neighbor. :)

    Thanks for sharing this!

  20. metz says:

    The knots and bolts? Be competitive, craft a compelling and persuasive piece, never lie, be a writer that your readers can trust, provide them the information that they wanted to know and be creative and witty.

    Give them a reason why they should come back. I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  21. Jiu Jiu says:

    I LOVE RSS feeds now. I literally had no clue about them until a few months ago. I was never able to keep up with blogspot or blogger – I had bloggers whose sites I enjoyed, but I would forget to check them. I heard about Feedly, and now use it even for wordpress sites – I like to save the articles that I plan to comment on or write about on my own blog. It’s a really wonderful way to keep all my blog reading in one place.

    I keep people coming back because of both content AND community interaction. I’ve created a really amazing comment space on my blog because I heavily moderate. People feel safe commenting, and they do! It’s really wonderful – and I engage with readers by replying to them. I recently started doing commenting contests – the person with the highest number of comments at the end of the month wins a prize. My plan is to do this every month, and it’s quite exciting seeing some folks come out of the woodwork to participate.

  22. toukir says:

    I am having 30k to 40k pageviews monthly and before i used to have more then 100k monthly but i don’t have much back to my blog i don’t know why that happen i have everything like facebook likes share subscription but still not much subscribers

  23. MizTia says:

    hey :)

    great!
    It is good post.. This post is so inspiring for me,
    I could learn a lot from here
    thank you so much.

  24. Lee Cole says:

    Really glad to see the feedback about RSS feeds. I’ve been wondering about that. Back in the day..yeah, but now? Didn’t know they were still viable.

  25. Lara Mealor says:

    Thanks Nick! Returning visitors are like having close friends. We can strongly influence those closest to us. Aquaintances are great, but you won’t change the world that way. Great share!

  26. Faust says:

    Ive already put in place the needed stuff but getting much traction is quite hard.

  27. The information in this article is very precious matter and it is very useful.
    Thank you.

  28. orangbiasaji says:

    for my reader, i tell them to add my facebook or my fanspage to get my update and make social contact with me, i must to be more engaged to my reader by communicating via socmed ..

  29. Chris Davis says:

    We try to build a community of followers for our blog by simply continuing to post quality content about topics related to our business and how we can help people who are searching for topics related to personal injury and law in general. They are more likely to join us on social media as well, which obviously improves our exposure.

    Good blog post!

  30. Kalen Bruce says:

    I agree that the money is in the list.

    I think it’s a great idea to provide something free, like an eBook, to get people to subscribe, then once they are subscribed, your newsletter can keep them coming back.

    Don’t forget the TITLE of the newsletter!

    It doesn’t help to have 1000s of subscribers if nobody ever opens you emails, so make sure you come up with a newsletter title that makes them want to open you email and not just press delete.

    Thanks for sharing!