Attracting new visitors is hard. It takes creativity, a lot of effort, and the help of countless other site owners, if only to drop you the occasional link. Many people find at some point their traffic growth slows and their audience size plateaus. The number one reason for this is rather than having a growing audience, they continually have to attract fresh visitors to replace the ones they lose. Therefore by keeping more of the readers you have, you can make your growth far easier, and also make the whole endeavor far more rewarding.
The most important aspect involved in keeping visitors loyal is pretty obvious when you think about it; do you deliver on your promises? If readers get value out of your content then they will be more disposed towards returning.
Of course, if you absolutely delight visitors then they are pretty much guaranteed to return. Can you really wow your audience? I call this content “Flagship Content” because it goes beyond just creating good articles into the realm of making something that people will want to talk about and access over and over.
Obviously it would be hard work to make everything to this standard. The following content types are also known to keep a reader involved for longer:
- Audio – Podcasts, interviews and teleseminars. If your information is good then lots of people will listen right to the end.
- Video – Video is both excellent for holding interest, and for showing your personality and connecting with an audience.
- Series – Rather than one-off articles, create a series and keep people clicking for the next installment, and subscribing so they don’t miss anything.
Some other important factors that are worth considering:
- Time on site – How long do visitors stay on your site in an average visit? The longer they hang around, the more likely they are to warm towards you.
- Bounce Rate – If the majority of your visitors see one page and do not dive deeper into your site then you need to work on both your usability and encouraging multiple page views by interlinking articles.
- Interactivity – Ask questions, provide quizzes, get the visitor to interact rather than passively read all the time.
- Engagement – As well as interactivity, it also helps to engage the reader’s intellect and emotions. Tell stories, use humor, and create events.
- Conversion – You can measure engagement by looking at your conversion rate from visitor to subscriber in addition to measures such as how many comments or poll entries you receive.
With My Artisan Web, you have some powerful built in tools to make the site more sticky.
The main feature is the ability to have registered users. Visitors can register at your site and get private access to certain pages and content.
There are also other sticky features like our comments allow people to get email notifications when someone leaves a comment after they have commented. section.
Email is an excellent way to remind people to come back to your site. Almost everyone understands email as it is one of the first things people try to learn when they get online.
- Newsletters – The obvious starting point is a newsletter. Include articles, news, and anything else you can think of to keep the reader interested, and remember to link back to your site.
- Blog updates – Like a newsletter, this would send your reader articles, but unlike a newsletter it would just be the site content sent via email. You can of course mix and match formats.
- Alerts – While a newsletter or blog update would arrive on a predictable schedule, alerts are sent as and when you have something to, well, alert your audience about.
- Offers/Deals/Vouchers/Coupons – People love a bargain. Getting great deals is a good incentive to keep people returning. In fact there are sites such as http://discountvouchers.co.uk that are set up entirely to offer money off coupons.
- Segmentation – Segmentation is the practice of putting people into groups rather than one big list. That means you only send information that is of interest to the people who most want it, without sending stuff that people would not be interested in.
As we saw last time in "Promoting Your COntent" My Artisan Web integrates with most 3rd party email systems such as Aweber and Constant Contact. We also have a more sophisticated integration with icontact as we are a iContact Small Business Partner. We also have a number of detailed tutorials such as How to Offer Free Downloads After an Email Signup.
It was thought for a while that RSS feeds would replace email. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way that people can access your articles without visiting your site by using “feed reader” software to pull in your feed and show the content as it is published. As well as articles there are many services that give you other kinds of updates, such as fresh search results or customer service alerts. In this context we can think of RSS as an alternative to signing up for blog updates, alerts or newsletter content.
Encourage signup to your feed in multiple locations on your site, in the header, sidebar, right after articles – anywhere it makes sense. It also helps to tell your audience what RSS is and why they ought to care. Far fewer people use RSS than email simply because most people are unaware what it is.
Another form of syndication is RSS. With My Artisan Web you can create an RSS feed of any category/page/blog of your site by just adding ?format=feed&type=rss to the url.
Communities either through comments or full forums are an excellent way to keep people coming back and back. We want to see who has replied to our messages and what they have to say. People make friendships, get into arguments, are inspired, or just plain have fun.
As well as discussions you can help foster community by asking for feedback through Polls and Surveys, or by creating “events” around things like competitions.
If you manage to create a community then you may have the potential for not just having people stick around and hang out, but to create a revenue stream through a paid membership.
There are many different forms of paid membership and most will be familiar to you in at least an offline context. Think about things like clubs, societies, magazine subscriptions and even “Book of the Month” type deals. You might be billed on a regular basis or have a one-off “upgrade” fee.
Memberships do not have to go on forever, consider also training courses and classes that take place for a fixed duration.
In all cases with a membership, if you pay you get something special and extra. This can be premium content, which would be exclusive or extended compared to what free members get, it could be private members-only areas, or might be simply added status or abilities.
Some memberships even mix online and off, with either real-world meetups, or physical products sent through the post.
A membership of some sort is well worth considering, as it is an excellent way to get recurring revenue.
When it comes to community and Membership Sites, My Artisan Web offers one of the most powerful, and affordable, packages on the web. We have a special membership website package that is full of features and tools like forums, user profiles, social networking and paid subscriptions that can help you create a community or membership website quickly and easily.
It was developed in partnership with Teaching Sells and is recommended by Brian Clark of Copyblogger.
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Getting visitors is not enough for a long term successful site, you also need to get people to keep coming back, and preferably become so loyal that they bring friends too! Creating great, valuable and engaging content, along with a strong sense of community are the best ways to generate an audience that loves to hear from you day after day.