Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about warming up your readers and turning them into raving fans. So far I’ve talked about getting the word out about your new blog, and getting those first-time visitors interested in your blog and what you have to say.
This week I want to talk about how to connect with them. That is, getting them to subscribe to your blog, connect with you, follow you, and give you the okay to contact them again. Because let’s face it: seeing how many people leave your blog as soon as they arrive without doing anything can get a little depressing.
What’s the best way to connect with you?
The first thing you should consider is how you want your visitors to connect with you. With so many options available days, you may find it hard choosing one over the others. I still believe (and so do many of the bloggers I’ve talked to) that email is the best option. For both of my blogs it’s the main driver of both traffic and sales. It’s also how our most loyal readers come to us.
Yes, social media is important. But for me, it’s secondary. I think it’s risky to build your primary point of connection on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. They can certainly help you build engagement with your readers. But they all have one big problem: you don’t have any control over them.
So make a point of asking for their email address wherever and whenever you can. And you can ask in various ways.
Get those all-important email addresses
To start, you should have a subscription form (or a call to action asking them to subscribe) in your navigation or sidebar. It’s not the best way to get someone’s email address, but it’s a good place to start while you’re working out other methods.
And what other methods can you use to get someone’s email address? By far the most effective ones for me have been pop-ups and welcome mats.
The first time I used a pop-up on Digital Photography School our subscriber numbers increased tenfold. Just as importantly, it didn’t lead to a decrease in engagement or an increase in our bounce rates.
Of course, this may annoy some of your readers, especially if they’re bombarded with pop-ups whenever they visit your site. But if you set it up so your readers only see it once, they can be very effective.
We also use a welcome mat where all the content on the screen slides down, effectively being replaced by a full-screen pop-up. That may seem a little over the top, but our subscriber numbers doubled when we started using it.
Offer a reward for subscribing
Another option is to use a lead magnet: “Give me your email address and I’ll give you this free e-book/checklist/exclusive content”. You could even have lead magnets on multiple pages of your blog, each with a different offer. Think about creating a library of lead magnets that relate to your blog’s main categories so you can offer them relevant rewards for subscribing based on where they are. You can also create ‘content upgrades’, which are lead magnets for specific items or posts on your blog.
Of course, the best places to put these incentives is on the pages/posts that are getting the most visits. Look at your Google Analytics data and see which pages/posts are getting the most traffic. Could you create a relevant lead magnet or content upgrade based on that page or post?
I once did some analysis work on the traffic we were getting for Digital Photography School. Specifically, I looked at the pages people had viewed just before they subscribed to our blog. And I discovered something intriguing.
A lot of those pages didn’t have any prominent calls to action. But what they did have were images based around a photographic technique (e.g. using converging or leading lines) designed to inspire our readers and encourage to take their own photos using that same technique.
It made me realize that inspiring readers with images of what could be achieved in photography put them in a state of wanting to learn. And when they were in that state they were much more inclined to subscribe to our Digital Photography School site, which is all about help people improve their photography.
I went to those pages and started putting in stronger calls to action. And our subscriber numbers increased even more.
Set up a goal in Google Analytics to track when people subscribe. Then look at the pages they visited before they subscribed and add stronger calls to action to those pages – especially pages with inspirational content.
Create your own series
I’ve also noticed that more people subscribe to our content when we’re doing a series.
When I did the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog post series in 2005, our subscriber numbers really jumped. It happened again when I did it in 2007, and again in 2009. That series of blog posts really helped us to increase our subscriber numbers, not only to our email list but also our RSS feed and social media channels.
Think about how you might be able create a series based on your content. It could be a new post every day for a week or month. Or you might choose a particular day or the week or month where you write about a particular topic, or interview another blogger or influencer.
Your series doesn’t need to be long. But made it clear that it is a series, and that by subscribing your readers won’t miss any of it.
Don’t forget those other connection points
Earlier I said that e-mail was the best option for people to connect with me and my blogs. But that doesn’t mean I ignore those other connection points. And neither should you.
When I meet people in person who are fans of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, they often tell me they not only subscribe to our email list but also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the other places we have a presence.
So how do you build up those secondary points of connection? You can promote them in:
- your emails
- your blog navigation
- your sidebar
- your hello bar (if you have one)
- those other connection points (e.g. posting “I’m about to do a Facebook live here” message on Twitter, and including the link to Facebook).
Start making those connections
Those are just some of the ways you can make a connection with those first-time visitors before they disappear – possibly forever. Which ones are you going to try? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: William White