How to Convert New Visitors into Returning Readers that Act

47 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours.

Santiago, Chile: Books for Sale
Creative Commons License photo credit: babasteve

You’ve written some good posts, got your blue-shirt trust happening but you still can’t make your new readers stick around. It is an extremely frustrating feeling.

In just 20 posts Blog Tyrant has got over 1000 comments, several thousand subscribers and has an amazing community of intelligent, patient and extremely good-looking readers. The post in the link above got close to 250 comments in around 12 hours!

In this article I am going to talk about a few things I did to convert new visitors into loyal readers that participate and get involved with my blog. Hopefully you will be able to take some of these lessons and start growing a community a lot quicker than normal.

The percentages and why returning readers matter most

I just had a quick look in my Google Analytics account and took a screenshot to show the statistic about the new vs returning visitors here on Blog Tyrant.

new vs returning visitors

As you can see, 55% of visitors are new-comers who arrive at the site through Google, referral sites, social media and so on. In the green you’ll see that 45% of my readers are returners meaning that the have visited the site more than once in one cookie period. Delving deeper in to my stats I discovered that around 30% of traffic visit the site 10 times or more with an average time on site of around five minutes.

Of course these figures would be pretty lousy if I was only getting a few hits a day. But after guest posts on Problogger, Copyblogger and hitting the front page of Delicious a few times the levels of traffic have been quite high. Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Why it matters
If you have been here for a while you will know that I place a lot of importance on capturing email subscribers and creating a website that has loyal followers. The reason for this is simple. Over the life of your blog you will find that it is your loyal readers who link to you from their websites, leave comments on your posts, bookmark you on social media websites and, most importantly, buy your products when you launch them.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Some people make a lot of money selling products with Google or Facebook ads having never written a blog post in their lives. That is a different animal (which I am going to write more about later). But for the most part you will find that it is your repeat and returning visitors who help you grow in to an authority blog that has high levels of success.

How to convert new visitors into returning readers

city markets
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dave_B_

As always I love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Blog Tyrant is fast becoming a site that is not only about my ideas and tips but also the ideas and tips of some really cool bloggers who get together and have a good chat in the comments section. I really enjoy seeing that happen. But seeing as you came here to read about how I did it I suppose I should share a few things.

1. Challenge your readers
One of the most important things you can do if you want to get a good community brewing is challenge your readers. This type of challenge is not necessarily an overt, chest pumping, bar fight style of a challenge but rather one that encourages everyone to starting thinking.

The last post on how to increase conversions was a pretty good example of how I like to challenge people on my sites. At the start of the article I left a little baiting statement saying:

Oh, and make sure you read all the way to the end as there is a nice little surprise at the bottom.

This is designed to get people interested, involved and to plant the seed that something a little bit different is going to happen. Network TV stations do this all the time when they show you just a few seconds of the next big show without even advertising the name. Once the suspense is built I closed the article by saying:

Are you concerned that maybe you have become too familiar with your blog or website and no longer know whether it appears safe, strong and successful to outsiders? Leave a comment and tell us what is worrying you and we’ll see if the Blog Tyrant community can offer their initial impressions on your site.

Beware. Once you ask you have to be brave enough to handle the criticism.

This challenge is complete with a call to action that asks the reader to step up and be brave and see whether your pride and joy (blog) is up to the task of criticism by strangers. Funnily enough it was an extremely popular idea; people loved being judged.

2. Make it all about them
Something else that I have been really trying to do on Blog Tyrant is make it all about you guys. As you have noticed, I don’t make any money off the site yet but am instead focusing on giving away my “secrets” and experiences and ideas. Sure, I plan to make money on this site in the future but I will never do it at the expense of helping you all achieve success of your own. In fact, the monetization of Blog Tyrant is going to mean a lot of amazing new stuff in your blogging life. As I say in my About page:

I believe that a true leader gains power by giving power to others.

I don’t always hit the mark with this one but I honestly do try to aspire to it. If you aren’t interested in helping people then you can look at helping others as a marketing method. If you read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People you will see that the section on how to make people like you says that you should always:

Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

and

Talk in the terms of the other person’s interest.

If you make your blog completely about your readers and less about yourself you will find that people naturally become loyal. This is particularly true of niche blogging where you are talking to a very specific set of people who are interested in a narrow field. In these cases it is quite easy to talk in terms that other people are interested in.

3. Use your real face
A few weeks ago a lady on Twitter was gossiping about me to one of her followers (who was also one of my followers). In the Tweets she was saying that she would never trust me because I don’t use my face on my blog. I decided to check out her website to see what she was all about and found a post on the front page about how gossip is really something to avoid in the blogging world.

How ironic.

I had to laugh. Here I am trying to provide quality content, answer every comment and every email and because I haven’t revealed my identity yet (yes, yet) I am not trustworthy. But the person who uses their face, writes about not gossiping and then carries on gossiping is supposed to be more trustworthy? I’m a little confused about that.

If you want new visitors to become returning readers you need to inject your real self in to everything that you do on that blog. Write honestly, react in a way that you would if you were talking to someone in real life and don’t try to manufacture a voice. Be conversational in your tone. People become loyal to other people. Show them your human side by being yourself.

4. Use specific calls to action
A call to action is a piece of text that tells someone what step to take next. We see them so often that we often stop noticing them. Think about the last late night fitness commercial that you saw – I bet it ended by telling you to call NOW for free delivery or something similar. That is a call to action.

This sounds so horrible but you have to assume that your readers are dumb. That was one of the first things they taught us in Marketing at University. Personally, I don’t think my readers are anywhere near dumb but at the same time I learned a long time ago that you can’t expect people to know what to do next. Perhaps the marketing guys should teach teach their students that they are dumb unless they educate their target market?

If you want people to come back to your blog then tell them how to do it. Give them clear calls to action about why they should subscribe by email, add your feed to their feed reader or bookmark your posts for later. Go even deeper in the process by telling them how to do it; don’t assume that everyone has as much knowledge as you do about posting schedules or how email subscriptions work.

A good call to action should:

  • be clear
  • educate about the next step
  • direct users to a relevant secondary page
  • use scarcity (limited time, only 100 available, etc.)
  • have social proof attached

The last point is extremely important. People hate to be first. They want to know that they are part of a group and that that group is a special one. A good call to action will make people feel like they are about to become part of something quite rare.

What have you discovered?

If you have found anything works well for converting new visitors into loyal returning readers I would really like to hear about it. If not, please try implementing some of these techniques and then stop back in a few days and let me know if you have noticed any differences.



Ramsay WROTE THIS

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47 Comments... Leave yours.

  • Peggy Baron

    Thanks for the informative post, Blog Tyrant. I must admit I sometimes forget the call to action and I’ve got to work harder on doing that 100% of the time.

    I’ve found that it greatly matters *what* your post is about. Some posts lend themselves better to commenting than others. I like to post my results from case studies as those seem to get the most people commenting and interacting.

    Cheers,
    Peggy Baron


    1. SmartAboutThings

      Well, we are lazy sometimes, we must admit Peggy. What Tyrant has told us is just a way we can choose. You can call to action using different ways


    2. the Blog Tyrant

      Why do you think that is Peggy?


      1. SmartAboutThings

        Forgetting the call to action is somehow an act of laziness…Or isn’t?


  • Dwayne Huggins

    BT

    I haven’t been here long but I have picked up some awesome tips from you and I have witnessed first hand how powerful your lessons are. Your last post was off the charts.

    The BT community are a collective bunch of helpful like minded people. This in itself is huge for you and for everyone in your community. We all got a helping hand from your last post.

    I will definitely be implementing these tips.

    Thanks

    Chat soon
    Dwayne


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Dwayne.

      Yeah that last post got out of control fast didn’t it? ha ha.

      Thanks again.


  • Marcus Sheridan, The Sales lion

    Love the tips and value here Tyrant, as always. When I look at this list, I think the biggest one I need to work on is ‘challenging’ my readers. Although I’ve been doing that some, I haven’t done it nearly to the degree you’ve done it.

    Thanks for keeping it strong every time.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Marcus! Thanks for stopping by.

      I reckon you do it well when you do do it. That post about facelessness was a good one – made me comment.


  • Rachelle

    In my blog, I give the very best information I can about what I know, managing properties and renting them out. People call me and I help them out for free all the time. So much so that people in the industry have commented, why do you do this? My reasoning is simple.

    1 – Passion I don’t want any landlord to get ripped off by some of these horrible tenants

    2 – Social Good I want everyone to do well regardless of how much money they give me.

    3 – Even with explicit instructions people will hire me because they don’t have the time, confidence or experience to do what I do. Or because they like me or because they hate doing it.

    4 – I like writing

    5 – Blogging is a very cheap and easy advertising method compared to traditional methods.

    The paralegal on my site was complaining that people call him and want free advice, he asked me what my conversion rate is once people call, I told him about 80-90% The people that call have preselected themselves to be the perfect customer for me, they know what I’m about and they like it. He’s in the idea that he sells his information for money. I sell me and my awesomeness. Tons of people provide the exact same services I do, I’m cooler, nicer and I like people and I’ll help them out for no pay even. People like that. People don’t like… give me your money and that’s as far as I like you.

    Yes, I want to earn a living… but I also choose add to the world, rather than just live for what’s in it for me.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Love it Rachelle. Thanks for adding all that.

      I think your site is really starting to move to the next level the last week or so.


      1. Rachelle

        Thanks for the help actually… it was you who came over and told me to work on my branding, I still don’t love it but it’s much better.

        You also inspired today’s new post “how to increase rents”, most people got into this business to try and make some more dough.

        I’ve also started responding more to comments and thanking readers for coming by I’m not sure where I got that idea :)

        Next Facebook page… then a major social media campaign.


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          How to increase rents. As a long time home renter you make me ill.

          ;-)


          1. Rachelle

            Well maybe I’m a little evil :)

            I wrote this post as well it should cure your nausea.

            http://landlordrescue.ca/10-tips-on-renting-to-the-worst-tenants/


        2. liz

          Hi Rachelle
          Do set up an FB Page. I have one that brings me over 50% of my traffic and the people that come back and stay longest.

          I don’t just talk about Life Dreaming … I have been putting up photos of the snow here in Ireland and adding cool sites and mentioning other Fans pages.

          It’s really like a baby blog in that people leave comments and ideas.

          You know how long it takes to write a blog post … adding an update on FB takes about a minute so I do it every day.

          It’s also a great place to remind people when you have a new post and I ask my Fans to Like and Share with their friends.

          We have a FB with Fans photos on our front page so people can see that we have a small but wonderful community growing in Life Dreaming … it’s all part of the social proof stuff and it makes me feel great to see people care enough to visit.

          I hardly ever use Twitter as it feels too much like people are connecting so I’ll connect back and not because they are interested in Life Dreaming.

          Goog luck with it all.
          Liz


  • Frankie Cooper

    Excellent points covered to help blogger’s get new visitor’s to be returning reader’s.


  • ideaSmile

    BT,
    again, very useful post with great tips. I don’t care what others are gossiping out there but even if you are a faceless, your language in the posts is very friendly, appealing and trustworthy.

    I speak at various events and one of the most important thing for any public speaker is “to call for action”. You may be a great speaker who enlighten, motivate, inspire, educate people, but if your speech won’t call for action, bet people forget you soon. I believe its the same for blog-posts too. I think you can “call for action” in two ways – Either as a User or as a contributor
    1. You give tips and example of how to do something and ask people, now go ahead use it (USER) and share the results.
    2. You share your experince and ask people to contribute their experience, expertise (CONTRIBUTOR).

    In both way, you are invoking their inner sense to act and participate. Great way to help people and build community.

    I use either technique to engage readers. I have seen you using both these techniques very effectly in your posts.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks for the kind words ideaSmile.

      Out of those two which do you think works better?


  • Brian

    “Over the life of your blog you will find that it is your loyal readers who link to you from their websites…”

    What if the vast majority of individuals of a target audience do not have a website? For instance, my main product is building WordPress websites and training people how to use them. My target market for this is people who do not have websites.

    My other service is WordPress coach-sulting. At it’s most basic, this is a conference call where I provide training on how to use their WordPress (themes, plugins, post/page templates, etc.) and recommend additional plugins based on what we talk about. My target market is generally outside of my niche for this product (musicians, engineers, ecommerce, manufacturing).

    What would you do to get more links back to your website in this case?


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Brian.

      I don’t think it matters. If you are doing good work and producing quality content you will get people linking to you. In your case I reckon you’ll get those people you are coaching linking to you as well as any big guys in the industry who like what you’re doing.

      You can always do link building in other ways though.


  • liz

    Hey BT boy
    I actually like the fact that your faceless [on this blog … if you’re faceless in real life then … bummer].

    So far, everything you have written has provided me [and heaps of others] with practical and thoughtful information and I have used many of the tips to make my blog a little more delicious.

    I like that you comment and chat back with everyone [something that a few other top bloggers aren’t doing so I’m less likely to visit]… and have started using your ‘trick’ of asking a question when I respond to comments.

    I now have very clear calls to action on my posts and can track increases in traffic.

    My wee blog has a small but very fab readership with around a 48% return of readers … and most of them stay from 10 to 20 minutes. Love them to bits.

    Given that you’re in Oz … you’re asleep now so I will look forward to hearing from you in your morning. It’s like Narnia here in Ireland … snow, ice and fog and we hit -12C the other night!

    Take care and keep up the excellent work BT.

    Best
    Liz

    p.s and to all the other regular commenters … I’m getting some great ideas from you all as well … many thanks.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Liz, you praise me and then talk about Narnia. I don’t think I could love you any more.


  • Kim

    I too disagree with the “you must show your face” spiel. I know a blogger who heard this at a conference and ran home and made a collage of 5 different facial pics of herself as her banner. And she’s constantly telling me I need my picture all over my site. I did have it on at one point and but honestly, what does it have to to with my content and the focus of my site.

    I love your ideas and it wouldn’t make a difference in my reading pattern whether I saw your smiling face on your site. Good content is just good content with or without artwork.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Kim.

      Do you find you have less loyalty since removing the photos?


  • Shaun

    I think that specific calls to action are really the key. Assuming people are dumb is the safest way to ensure you get as many of them to do what you want.

    I think that many bloggers fail to do this because they often hang out on sites about blogging, where the readers tend to be a bit more web savvy. This is fine if you are running a similar site, but if your site is about growing mushrooms, then the audience is probably less likely to know what to do – even when you ask them.

    Thanks for another great post!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      That’s exactly right Shaun.

      I was really worried at first about cracking the blogging niche but seemed to do it pretty easily with a few big-ass posts. I’ve definitely noticed this crowd is more savvy than others.


  • Edwin

    Hey Blog Tyrant (if that is your real name :) )

    Anyways I used some of your tips in my post today especially the ‘read till the very end’ tip.

    Thanks!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Let us know how it goes!


  • Angela R

    First off, LOVE your blog – it is one of my new favorites!

    I actually do have my headshot on my blog, and for me, it was a good step. It’s the same headshot you’d find on Twitter. And on my business cards. When I attended a blogging conference last summer, it was great having people say, “wait! I know you!”

    BUT it’s more than just a headshot, isn’t it? It’s all about being authentic. As I’ve allowed my personality, quirks, and humanness to shine through my blog, I’ve found my readers have become fiercely loyal.

    Can’t wait to see what the Blog Tyrant will share next!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      You photo definitely adds authenticity to your site. Good move Angela!


  • Dean Fitzpatrick

    Great post, but there were a couple of things that REALLY resonated with me. First off, I’ve gradually settled into a very conversational tone on my blog and have become rather comfortable being myself, for better or worse. In fact, since I’ve changed it over into a personal blog (from a strictly entrepreneaurial site), my number one challenge has been finding a way to keep it about my readers. The major takeaway I got from this post, however, is the idea that you need to hold your readers hand and instruct them what to do next. That’s so subtle but brilliant all at once. How would you go about engaging with your audience in the context of a personal blog? Any feedback is greatly appreciated.


  • the Blog Tyrant

    Hi Dean.

    Firstly, I think just being aware of the fact that you need to use calls to action and so on is sometimes enough to change your language ever so slightly such that it works.

    Failing that, use questions in your titles and opening paragraphs, talk to people about the benefits of subscribing within posts, tell them about things you’ve done in the past and are going to do in the future, etc.


  • Dean Fitzpatrick

    Ok…I follow you. It’s my journey, but make it about how my experiences and insights can benefit my reader. Change my language…hmmm. Yeah, I think I’m gonna run with that one. Thanks a ton!


  • Stuart

    Thanks for the post Tyrant, some great insights here. I’m trying to gain more visitors (new and returning) to my blog, and it’s this kind of information that I believe will help me get to where I need to be. It’s all about the reader/customer after all :-)


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Good luck Stuart.


  • Lye Kuek Hin

    Hi Tyrant,

    I don’t think not showing your face has any effect on your post value. You are still providing quality content. I am only curious on who you are rather on questioning your trustworthy.

    #2 is definitely the most important point. The readers are the ones who determine a blog succeed or fails. If one is writing and providing value for the readers, they will just keep on returning to pay visit.

    Great post Tyrant. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Lye


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Lye.

      I will be revealing my identity when the time is right.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  • Pete Carr

    Hi BT,
    I have a call to action in my signature on my blog, it helps a little bit I think.
    I am going to try your suggestion of baiting the article at the start, see how that pans out.
    I am doing Ok for comments, over 60 in 4 posts, obviously not up to your standards, but it is a promising start to the blog. There is nothing worse than starting a blog and waiting for that first comment. Nail biting stuff.
    Pete


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Pete.

      I used to get really worried about comments and whether the posts would be well received. Now I just focus on writing something I wish I could have read 10 years ago and it seems to do the trick.


  • Bhavesh

    Dude I signed up for ur ebook bt still not get it..I has been 3 weeks…Please send me ur ebook in my email address..I have contacted u through ur contact form bt no reply…


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hey mate.

      There may be a problem with your email because I sent it to you ages ago.

      The download link is at the bottom of the emails. Not there?


  • lisa chiodo

    HI BT,

    I just receifed an email with the following message

    New user registration on your site Renovating Italy:

    Username: HallCreditsv

    E-mail: sheltonowkm@aol.com

    I have no idea who this is and have deleted this person…any idea what is happening and how I can stop it??
    ciao for now
    -Lisa


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Sounds like your site might have been hacked. I would change all your passwords immediately.


    2. lisa

      thanks for that, have changed the WordPress password, Darn it was a really good one!!

      ciao for now
      -Lisa


  • Richard

    I think one can certainly build trust without revealing all their personal details. As long as the content is reliable and you write honestly you can still build a relationship with your audience.


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