This is a guest post by Laura Moisei.
Bounce rates are not a foolproof parameter for measuring exit stats and the effectiveness of your blog promotion. Even more important is the return rate, the number of loyal visitors that bookmark your website and constantly come back to spend some more time here. Do you work actively to improve return rates?
Returns can be monitored from the statistic of non-unique visits in your analytics, which can at times outstate the number of different people by two, three or even four. Say you have 150K views in a month out of which 80K visitors leave after the first page. That would make a bounce rate of 53%. But if you find that from the rest of 70K page views there are just 30K uniques, this is great news. It means half of your visitors have returned at least once in that time to check upon your blog. Sounds pretty nice, isn’t it?
When you manage to make people come back regularly to your blog, it means you have built your loyal public. It’s the sign that you are doing your job right as a blogger and you’ve won a king’s heart. After all, the customer is king, isn’t it?
If you wish to take action and motivate returns, you may need to adjust your content and the layout of your blog. However, less is more. The only tools you need would be:
- Custom web forms. You’ll have people sending you messages and maybe file uploads, so fully functional web forms with appealing design are a must.
- Social tools. It’s most important to synchronize your blog content to social profiles, so if you are on WordPress you might consider using Walleria or Sexy Bookmarks. Blogger too has a set of useful widgets for social sharing.
- Web analytics. Tracking your results are key to knowing what really works.
So how to make people return to your blog? It’s every bit a work of perseverance and creativity. Here are some ideas you can put into practice.
1. Create good newsletters + enticing landing pages.
This is an all-time winning combination. To entice discovery, have some partial articles in the newsletter body and links that invite readers to the website for reading the rest. The effect will be complete if people find an eye-catching design on your blog’s landing page too.
Pack your landing page (which often is the main screen of the blog) with interesting headlines, like Hubspot does for instance, so that visitors that come to read the rest of the newsletter story can also find other great resources and spend some more time on the page. They will surely have reasons to bookmark your blog.
2. Put up a friendly contact page.
People reach for people, so make it clear you are there and waiting for their messages. Display the contact tab somewhere visible and make the form slick and user-friendly. Encourage your visitors to write you a few words and engage in clever banters with them. Once somebody has dropped you a line, she is sure to return and check whether she has received a response. Unleash your creativity, like Loewy Design for example, who are glad to receive doodles instead of written messages.
3. Ask for content suggestions.
It’s a good idea to ask people to send you their ideas for future content. Kristi does a great job of this kind with the discreet pop up in the downward righ corner of the screen. Fromupnorth also calls for content tips. People feel replenished when their suggestions are taken into account. Even if you can’t serve everyone, you will still have a wonderful exchange of viewpoints which gives any reader enough reason to return.
4. Have a public queue for future articles.
If you write product reviews, you can involve readers in this endeavor in a similar way to the above tip, by asking for their ideas. To make it even more transparent, it would be great to announce your editorial calendar openly, so that people will know when the article they follow comes to turn. AppAppeal does a great job of this kind.
5. Run contests and giveaways.
Everyone is keen on freebies. A giveaway of popular products can boost traffic and subscriptions to your blog, increases sales and, of course, stirs high return rates. You can announce the progress of the competition gradually, so that people stay tuned until the final act is over.
6. Be a social networker.
Link blog content to your social profiles. This way, you will automatically have feeds everywhere for people to reach and share. Use Tumblr feed, Facebook Walleria or any other channel and plugin you feel comfortable with.
7. Number your posts.
That’s right, I’m suggesting to literally assign number to posts. If you follow Guy Kawasaki on Google+, you might notice he numbers his updates by Day01, Day02, and so on. This way, visitors can keep count of what they have already read or skipped and they will surely watch not to miss a thing. This works especially for tutorial-like blog posts.
8. Create your post trademark.
Have a special type of post that defines you and repeat it on a regular basis. It’s engaging, out of the box and A-list blogger like. For example, DailyBlogTips used to publish a face to face interview with two bloggers simultaneously. On ReplaceYourSalary you can find a monthly income report of the blog owner. And it keeps people returning.
9. Open a board for jobs and gigs on your blog.
Folks are in constant search for jobs, so here you have an evergreen resource pool. Find a field that relates to your niche and be open to mediate between those who offer jobs and people who seek for them, like on ProBlogger. You will surely have buzzing activity, as this type of content is enticing and not so common. Just make sure to keep content always up to date.
10. Have a resource center on your blog.
Inbound marketers know the principle of making yourself useful. It’s a lot to gain from offering a knowledge pool, even if it takes some time to set up. You can publish whitepapers, reports and factsheets, and even hold webinars if you have time and resources for. Professionals often cite these resources in their own materials, so you will have them follow your blog steadily.
Always provide great unique content. This is not even a secret. People will return to your blog if they have something interesting to read there, period. All the points above can be called mere tricks at some point, but you can’t claim success and public loyalty unless you deliver that awesome content that’s engaging, instructive and pleasant to go through.
High return rates are the result, not the purpose, and if you are on the path to quality blogging, results will definitely show up. Good luck!