This is a guest entry by Jonathan Beebe is an online entrepreneur and writes at MMO Work.
One day, a man—let’s call him Jack—was having a nice relaxing day at home, away from the office. Suddenly, he remembers that he wanted to look up this interesting thing he’d overheard one of his co-workers talking about earlier on that week. It was a strange word, “blogging”, which didn’t tell Jack a whole lot in itself, so he decided it was time to “Google it” and off to the computer he was.
Jack types his search in and scrolls down the listings a little until he finds one that seemed to just “call out” to him. Lo and behold, it was YOUR blog that he found! He took the time to read your entire article, learned a lot, but was craving more—needless to say, his interest was officially peaked and you’ve done your job perfectly thus far.
But then, just as Jack was getting ready to click on one of the “Related Articles” at the bottom of the page, his cellphone rings. He see’s it’s from work and immediately answers. As it turns out, Jack is needed at an important meeting that just came up. He then shuts everything down, gets himself ready, and heads off to his “surprise” work day.
Hours later, Jack arrives at home. Exhausted, he immediately hits the bed. The next day, he decides to do his “blogging” search again, only THIS TIME he lands on a different website… Okay, I’ll stop there.
What’s the Big Deal?
You may be thinking, “So what, I got a new visitor… that’s a good thing! I just need more ‘Jacks’ to come along and a certain percentage of them will click on my ads, or buy some of my affiliate products. So what if I lost that one guy, he’s only ONE visitor anyway”. Fair enough. That’s basically correct as most bloggers do see things that way… but it’s also worth mentioning that according to a 2009 report from the NY Times, most (95% to be exact) bloggers end up failing.
Unfortunately, that’s not a coincidence. So maybe we should start looking at the situation a little differently. Sure Jack visited your website, and was very happy with your content. He was even engaged enough to wanna stay awhile. But something outside of his control came up and he left, never to return.
Your content is useful to your visitors, and that’s great, but what did Jack actually do for you? He took up your bandwidth, that’s it. Hit and run, plain and simple.
How many “Jacks” do you want to go through before one finally goes through your intended course of action—whether it’s to get him to click an ad, to make a purchase, or to simply leave a comment. Instead, wouldn’t you like to “keep” all the people who like your content? To somehow give them an opportunity to follow you, to come back again without having to “bookmark” or remember you?
Well you can’t rely on bookmarks (most people have too many to keep up with anyway), and you certainly can’t rely on their memory… so what CAN you do?
Focus on Visitor Retention
Retaining your visitors is simply the art of drawing people BACK to your website. It has been proven time and time again that repeat traffic is much more valuable than first-time visitors, especially those who never come back (e.g. “hit and run traffic”). So there’s no arguing that it just makes sense to retain your visitors no matter what angle you look at it from.
But how do you do it?
Well, there are three ways you can go about retaining your visitors, and I recommend incorporating all three into your blogging strategy:
- RSS Subscriptions. Blogs have RSS feeds that allow your visitors to subscribe to your content by using their feed reader. The downside to this is that if you do get a visitor to subscribe, they have to be the type that checks their feed reader regularly—but unfortunately, most of your visitors don’t do this (and they might have hundreds of other blogs loaded into their reader as well).
- RSS to Email Subscriptions. Feedburner offers this service, which sends an email to your subscribers on the days you post a new update to your blog, for free.
- Mailing List Subscription. This one costs money, but is the most powerful of the three. Through an autoresponder service, your visitors give you their email address (usually in exchange for some kind of freebie) and you have permission to remind them to pay you a visit again.
The reason why I recommend all three is because the first two are free and are very easy to set up. The third option is the most important, however, because the fact is, most of your visitors simply don’t know what RSS is, and many will be way too lazy to “Subscribe to Email Updates” (not enough of an incentive). Being able to offer something valuable, such as a free report in exchange for their email address is usually enough to get any interested person to subscribe, which makes option #3 a clear winner.
The good news is, you can get started easily at MailChimp, which offers a free service for your first 500 subscribers (which is perfect).
How to Harness the Power of Your List
Now that you’ve got a valuable free report to “retain” your website visitors, it helps to know what to do next. Now just because they gave you their email address doesn’t mean you need to blast offer after offer at them until they buy something—that’ll cause them to unsubscribe quicker than anything (or falsely report you for spamming).
The easiest way to take full advantage of your list is to send them to your best blog posts whenever you write them. Say you post to your blog everyday, but only 1-2 of those every week can be considered some of your “best” articles. Simply send an email telling them about your best stuff, and presto! Repeat traffic. You can also promote products to your list, but I recommending sending at least two valuable emails (no promotions) to them for every one promotion you send, minimum. You want to let them know that you have their best interest in mind.
Do you think Jack would have come back if at the end of the article he saw a free offer for a report that helps him get started blogging in exchange for his email address? You bet… and it wouldn’t matter that he had to suddenly leave, because you’ll be in his inbox in the coming days, weeks, months, and possibly even years to come.
Imagine if there was money falling from the sky, but you were only allowed to keep whatever hadn’t yet touched the ground…
Would you want to be limited to what you could only catch with your bare hands, or would you rather be covered in glue so that as much as possible could stick? The answer is obvious—and likewise—when it comes to blogging, you’re missing out on WAY MORE traffic, loyal followers, comments, and SALES by not doing everything you possibly can to get YOUR visitors to stick.
Work on retaining your visitors starting today and in just a few months time, I guarantee you’ll see a significantly better return on your blogging efforts.
…Besides Jack, what else do you have to lose?
Jonathan Beebe is an online entrepreneur who writes at MMO Work. Visit his blog for more articles on how to make money online and a FREE report that details the exact method he used to quit his day job FOR GOOD.
Author: Franky Branckaute
Franky is CEO, Editor and Muppet on Duty at Splashpress Media and sporadically blogs about the professional online life at his personal iFranky blog, when he isn’t annoying his colleagues or blog software evangelists. He also is regular Guest Lecturer on all things New Media and ‘blogging’. Stalk him on Twitter or on Google+