What Does it Take to Improve Engagement on Your Blog?
by John Rampton
Is your blog yielding diminishing returns? If so, the problem could be you, rather than your audience. In other words, you may not be giving your visitors what they seek.It’s vital to face and address this potentially uncomfortable truth sooner, instead of later. If you do, you could begin to improve the general level of engagement on your blog.
Suffering From a Lack of Engagement?The term “engagement” -- at least within the context of blogging and marketing -- has become quite the buzzword in recent years. But it’s a fact that engagement (which is to say, how involved and “tuned in” your readers are) is an essential concern. But many companies regard engagement through the wrong lens, unfortunately.
“At the end of the day, engagement is thinking less about ‘increasing traffic,’ and instead learning how to do more with the traffic you already have!” marketer Jason Amunwa points out. “Yes, blog post engagement is a huge and powerful concept that’s intimidating to consider as a whole -- but it’s really made up of smaller, simpler components that are pretty simple to understand.” When a visitor makes a choice you regard as desirable and/or in line with your business objectives, then he or she may be said to be engaged. Engagement can appear in various guises, but as Amunwa notes, the most common engagement signposts consist of subscribes/follows, social shares, comments, completions, and bookmarks.
Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean conversions. A visitor who converts is almost always engaged, but an engaged visitor doesn’t have to convert. It may take days, weeks, or months of exposure and engagement before a particular visitor converts. However, if your conversion rates are consistently low, that’s a pretty strong guarantee that your overall levels of engagement are poor. The only way to solve this problem is to tackle it head-on.
Four Practical Tips for Increasing Engagement Perfect blog engagement is not attainable. There will always be room for improvement and growth. But you should never suffer through extended periods of little to no engagement. If you’re in the middle of one of these periods, here are four basic ways to attack the situation.
Learn How to Measure Engagement
It’s impossible to know whether your readers are engaged if you don’t have a method for measuring it. Various firms choose different metrics and points of reference, but these are a few of the most popular ways to obtain measurable data:
Inbound links. You can tell a lot about your engagement by the inbound links you’re attracting. Other bloggers and websites aren’t going to link to your posts if they don’t believe your content adds value to theirs. Keep an eye on these links and see how they perform over time.
Click-through rate. Do your visitors click on one of your blog posts, then proceed to other pages on your site? A high click-through rate is a strong indicator that you’re doing a decent job of convincing readers to stick around.
Average time on a page. How long are your visitors spending with your content? If you have a 5,000-word blog post and the average time on that page is 15 seconds, people clearly aren’t reading anything more than the headline. However, if the average visitor’s time on the page is six or seven minutes, you can be assured that people are engaging to some degree.
Social sharing. Are people sharing your content on social media? This is another solid sign that they find value in your content, because they make the effort to share with their friends and peers.
Finally, you can tell a lot about engagement by studying your comments section. If you see lots of comments with constructive feedback and questions, then you know your readers are paying attention.
Make a list of the metrics you believe are the most important, and spend some time charting the results over a period of time. This will give you an idea of the ebb and flow of engagement with your blog.
1.Give Visitors Some Control
Visitors to a blog need to feel they receive opportunities to find what they need. This means you have to design a layout that’s fairly intuitive and easy to navigate, but you also need to make the content searchable. So a popular option is intelligent search.
“An intelligent search solution enables you to index your company’s resources and collective knowledge, across a wide variety of sources, and puts it at your customer’s fingertips,” says Samantha Demers, content editor for Coveo. “By giving them secured access to structured and unstructured information, such as audio, visual, and image-based assets, your customers are in control of their journey, feel empowered to make informed decisions, and can successfully self-serve.”
2. Use More VisualsThe brain processes visual information much faster than text. In a sea of text-based content, visuals such as videos, infographics, and memes stand out and compel users to pay attention. As social media strategist Catriona Pollard puts it, “Images are attention-grabbing pieces of ‘snackable’ content which users can understand and engage with ease.”You don’t have to stop posting prose content, but make certain to complement your text-heavy blog posts with graphics. Those will draw in traffic, and give visitors something to sink their teeth into.
3. Infuse Your Writing With PersonalityBoring content almost always shares a particular failing: It lacks personality. If your blog content reads more like a textbook and than a conversation with a friend, it’s not ideal. Even in niches that are traditionally clinical, such as law or medicine, it’s worthwhile for copy to have a touch of personality.
The first thing you may need to do is write in the first and second person. Third-person voice almost always lacks character and gives itself an uphill battle to engage readers.The second thing you have to recognize is that it’s all right to break the rules of grammar. Not in the sense that you include misspelled words and forgo the use of commas, but that you don’t have to follow MLA writing guidelines to the letter.
It’s okay to use a sentence fragment now and then, and begin sentences with a conjunction on an occasional basis. Conversational details such as these will make your content more welcoming and digestible.
Now’s the Time to Get Started Poor engagement isn’t something to take lightly. You don’t have to freak out about it, but you shouldn’t allow it to continue to slide. Engagement is typically a precursor to conversions, so you’ll want to take full advantage of all the tactics that can help your blog expand in traffic and exposure. Otherwise, you’ll continue to sacrifice the potential interest of visitors and damage your overall performance.
Blog engagement can definitely be improved, as long as you take the trouble to assess the underlying issues and address them. Try implementing the tips covered in this article, and you should see quantifiable improvements within a matter of weeks.