This post is based on episode 112 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Today I’m kicking off a series of blog posts designed to help you move your readers from feeling cold towards you, your brand and your blog, to being fully engaged and becoming raving fans.
I’m going to talk about the benefits of getting your readers warmed up, and then walk you through a series of steps to actually do it.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be giving you some exercises that you can do to help you move your readers through the various stages. And then I’ll wrap things up with some case studies.
Most bloggers dream of having fans raving about them and their blog. Chances are it’s your dream too. And you’re certainly not alone. When I started blogging in 2002 I was a complete unknown, and the only people who knew about me and my blog were my real-life friends and the people I worked with.
But since then I’ve gradually reached the point where four or five million people a month read my blogs and have warmed up to my brands. They may not all visit every day. And I doubt they’re all raving fans. But a growing percentage of them are.
So how do you go from having lots of cold readers to having a bunch of raving fans? Well, that’s what I’ll be focusing on over the next few weeks.
Why audiences start out cold
One reason your readers may be cold to begin with is you’re trying to attract people who are incredibly distracted. Even if they find their way onto your blog, they might be doing other things at the same time—watching television, answering messages on their phone, or contending with kids asking about dinner. It’s the reality of the world we live in.
They might also be a little bit suspicious of us and what we’re saying. They might be sceptical about what we’re talking about and whether it’s relevant to them. Again, it’s the reality of the world we live in. With so many ‘experts’ making false claims, it’s natural to be suspicious at first.
Of course, they may be at the other end of the attention spectrum where they’re just clicking one link after another. I don’t know about you, but looking at the links whizzing by on my Twitter stream it’s easy to fall into a zombie-like state of mind when I start following them all.
And then there’s the short attention span a lot of people seem to have these days. How can they possibly warm up to your site when they’re only there are a few seconds before moving onto the next one?
Whatever the reason, many of us have cold readers. So how do we ‘warm them up’? By going through the same four stages you go through whenever you warm up to someone else’s blog, brand, podcast or whatever.
Stage 1: Let people know you exist
When we start our blogs, no-one knows they exist. And if it’s our first blog may not know we exist either.
When I hit ‘publish’ on my first post, no-one knew it was there. I had to email my wife and say, “Hey, check out this link. It’s my new blog.” (And then I had to explain what a blog was.)
Later I sent the link to friends, colleagues and other family members. But I quickly ran out of people to send it to.
I then faced the massive challenge of going beyond my circle of influence and telling more people about my blog. (And years later, when the first episode of the ProBlogger podcast went live in iTunes I had to do it all over again.)
And in next week’s blog post I’ll be giving you some tips on how to do it.
Stage 2: Get people interested in what you’re saying
Getting people to your blog or podcast is one thing. Keeping them there is another.
Sure, you may have their attention. But because of the reasons I mentioned earlier, you probably don’t have their full attention. And so they may not be all that interested in what you have to say.
And so that’s your next challenge: getting them interested. Because unless they become interested in what you’re doing and what you have to say they’re never going to connect and become engaged.
(I’ll give you some tips on how to do it in a couple of weeks’ time.)
Stage 3: Make a connection
So you’ve managed to get them interested enough to listen to what you’re saying. They may even be thinking, “Wow, that’s really interesting”. But now they’re done, and ready to leave your site. There’s no incentive for them to stick around because they haven’t connected with you on any level. And if the statistics are anything to go by, chances are they’ll never return.
You need to make a connection with them. It could be through email, through social media, or even by accepting their business card at a real-life event. But what you’re really getting, as Seth Godin says in Permission Marketing, is permission to contact them again.
(I’ll be giving you tips on how to do this as well.)
Stage 4: Get your readers/listeners engaging with you
Congratulations! You’ve started making connections with your readers/listeners. But while getting permission to contact them is great, you want them to be contacting you as well.
In other words, you want them to engage with you.
Those of you who’ve been blogging for a few months and have only a handful of subscribers know how hard it is. You send an email to your subscribers, and despair at the small percentage of people who open it. (At this point you try not to think about the even smaller percentage of people who have verified their subscription.)
Or you look at your Facebook stats and compare the number of people who like your page to the small number that receive your messages, and the even smaller number that share it or post a comment.
And while it’s great to see how many people are reading your blog posts on Google Analytics, comparing that figure to the number of comments each one gets can be quite depressing.
But don’t worry. In a few weeks’ time I’ll be sharing some strategies we use on both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School to build that engagement.
The weakest link
I’ll be talking about each of these four stages in depth over the next four weeks, and giving you tips on how you can:
- get people’s attention
- get them interested in what you’re saying
- get them to connect with you
- get them to engage with you.
But in the meantime, let me ask you a question: Out of those four stages, which one do you think is your weakest link? Is it spreading the word about your new blog or podcast? Is it getting people interested in what you’re saying? Is it making that connection with your readers/listeners? Or is it turning that connection into a two-way exchange of ideas?
Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Waldemar Brandt