7 Ways To Get Readers to Stick

7 Ways To Get Readers to Stick

A while back I talked about “steroid traffic” versus natural traffic. Steroid traffic is a term I coined to mean quick surges of traffic that don’t necessarily average more than 1.1 pageviews per visitor. Steroid traffic has short term benefits and the visitors rarely stick around. Natural traffic, however, from search engines or referrals, will generally average well over 2.0 pageviews per visitor and generally turn into repeat visitors.

I am going to share with you 7 tried and tested methods I have personally used to get visitors to become regular readers, whether that be through subscribing to my RSS feed or simply reading a good amount of my posts. I used all of these methods in conjunction with each other to triple my RSS subscriber count last month.

1. Use a highly visible Feed Button. Make sure you have a BIG RSS button near the top of your site and also in your sidebar. If you need Feed Icons, check out this web site which has a downloadable package of customizable Feed icons.

2. Include this magic sentence after each post. As soon as I modified my template to include the following sentence after each post, I saw my RSS subscribers go up significantly. The magic line is, “If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed.” You can, of course, use a derivative of that, but anytime someone finishes reading a post you wrote, that option will be presented directly in front of them.

3. Install this plugin. Anytime someone finishes reading an article, what do they do? They either leave a comment, leave your site, or read another article. How do you get them to read another article? Install the Related Posts plugin. I have it set to display 7 other related posts readers might be interested in. As soon as I installed that plugin, I saw my P/V ratio (pageviews per visitor) go way up.

4. Ask questions. Asking your readers questions is a great way to interact with your community and show them you care what they think. You can do this a number of ways – respond to their comments with questions, ask questions at the end of a post, or even install a poll and ask them a question which will benefit you, such as, “what do you want to see more of on this blog?” I used the answers to that question to help further define the focus of my blog.

5. Offer a full feed RSS. RSS, also known as Really Simple Syndication, is becoming an increasingly popular way to read blogs and stay up to stay on multiple news sources. If you offer a full feed RSS and do not cut off your posts (in your RSS feeds), you will definitely see your readership increase. I know you may have to sacrifice readers visiting your site to read an article, but the goal is to build readership for the long term, and of course, if they want to leave a comment, they will have to visit your blog anyway.

6. Be highly reachable. I encourage all of my readers to contact me if they have questions, comments, suggestions, need help, or just want to chat. I even use a plugin called Comment Relish to send an email to every new visitor who leaves a comment. In this email, I included all of my instant messenger (skype, aim, msn gtalk) usernames and encourage them to contact me about anything. I love to meet new people and I have met some great new friends as a result of my blog. For example, the other day I received a message on MSN from Jason Honey and we had a nice little chat about entrepreneurship.

7. Host a contest. Contests are a great way to give back to your readers and encourage community participation. I just finished hosting my first contest and it was a great success. I saw a ton of new visitors and a met some new people. Try to make the contests somewhat interesting and encourage people to talk about it.

All of those methods have helped my blog increase its traffic, RSS subscribers, and overall reader interaction significantly over the past few months. You can see the percentage of repeat visitors by monitoring the repeat visitor rate in your stats software. (Generally, anything over 50% of considered a good repeat visitor rate.)

What other methods have you used to get visitors to stick around on your blog?

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78 thoughts on “7 Ways To Get Readers to Stick”

  1. Nice article Nate! I learned about a couple of plugins that I definitely need to add to my blogs. Good stuff.

  2. Probably my favourite article that you’ve written, you’ve forced me to add this to my delicious. Definetly some excellent tips there that I’ll have to take advantage of. ^_^

  3. A agree with your comments (well apart from the contests one, but what do you expect from me by now eh, Nate?!?).

    Your magic line (in my opinion) of: รขโ‚ฌล“If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed”

    Should include reference to it being a FULL RSS Feed if appropriate to encourage even more subscribers.

    I also like to have a ‘Top Posts’ page to ensure my best articles don’t get hidden in the archives never to be seen again!

    – Martin Reed

  4. great nate … i’ve done most of them except the contest & reachability … on interaction with readers, i think it depends on how serious your topic as well as your group of readers nationality …

    i found out that if our topics are serious, then readers tend to slows-down in terms of interaction … also if your readers are from asia, then they tend to listen more than ask or interact as compare to readers from u.s. or european …

    just my personal opinion …

    cheers …

  5. DotNetNuke Consulting,
    Thanks for the comments. Yes, those magic words are key. Readers need to be presented with the option to subscribe as soon as they finish reading an article.

    Julie,
    Glad I could show you a few cool, new plugins. Let me know how they work out for you.

    45n5,
    That is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, I have not had very much luck with people subscribing to my feed through email. Maybe I’ll start a newsletter here soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Daniel,
    Glad to see that you enjoyed the article. Hey, I saw on your site you are studying Chinese. We should chat.

    Martin,
    Excellent point. Many of the tech-savvy readers will very much appreciate the “full-feed” option. I am going to update my blog to mention that. You are also right about the “Top Posts” page. Sometimes I come across articles I completely forgot that I wrote.

    Josh,
    Glad that i could be of help. I love reading the case studies on your blog. Keep up the great work! Nice chatting with you earlier, by the way.

    Wolf,
    That makes me feel good to hear you look forward to my posts. I need to pick up the pace a little bit – I’ve been so busy with work that my blogging has slacked a little.

    Jane,
    Nice to see you back and it’s great to hear about your many successes.

    Coopreme,
    Haha good to hear I rock your world. Thanks for the link love – I might have to return that here soon!

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  6. Really great list!
    But how do you add this sentence in point 2, I mean that do you add it every time or is it written in template?

  7. Nice article, I agree with most of them. However I do not like Comment Relish. I seem to be having problems with trackbacks, as my server sends an email to the source of the trackback (which has no e-mail address), it keeps trying, and it generally screws up my server.

    However, I feel this is just me, as a lot of people have successfully managed to link trackbacks and comment relish.

    1. I loved comment relish and received a lot of compliments becuase of it. However, I had the same problem with comment relish. My site was down for almost a whole day due to this problem. I finally went into mysql and deleted the last comment I receieved and everything was good!

      One day after that, same thing happened again, so I de-activated the plugin.

  8. Pingback: Sticky Readers
  9. Something I’ve been thinking about lately is “remember your roots”.

    People like a blog for what it is. It’s good to mix it up, but stray too far away from your roots for too long and you stand to lose a little bit of sticky.

    I’ve noticed this on a few blogs. There’s a fine balance between not going anywhere and going where you shouldn’t.

  10. Hi Nate,

    Good job here. I covered some points in a recent post, and actually just asked another blogger how they sent me an automated response having left my first comment. So thanks for that.

    I hope the weekend is a good one!

    David

  11. Great ideas — after reading your list, I went ahead and put my feed button at the top of my page. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will likely implement the rest of your suggestions soon. Thank you!

  12. Great tips! I enjoyed them… and took them to heart. I actually opened up and second browser window and made several of the changes right away as I read through the post a second time.l

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