12. Build Engagement on Your Blog
In digital marketing, engagement is defined as the ability to encourage repeated interaction with your blog visitors. It is an investment into the relationship that is likely to result in conversion, regardless if that conversion is a sale, sign up, etc. The emphasis is on the creation of the relationship between the blogger and the audience through the series of activities that will require participating from both.
Many bloggers successfully reach readers, their content is consumed on a daily basis, but what lots of them fail to do is to engage those visitors. Encouraging online users is not easy. People are used to being passive when they explore online content. Even if they love the content they read, even if they find it useful, hardly anyone will provide feedback or engage in any way with the blogger.
Several strategies to redefine your approach and refocus your writing could help with building engagement on your blog.
Use conversational voice
When you create content for your blog, try to use this down-to-earth approach and stick to the language that your target audience will understand and respond well to. You do not want complicated and long sentences or to use a bunch of terms hardly anyone will be familiar with. At the same time, you do not want to be too colloquial and use the sense of humor that your visitors might misunderstand or even not comprehend at all. It is best to find your voice somewhere in the middle.
This kind of an approach helps your audience to understand your content better. The article will be readable, and it will not be difficult to follow the topic. It will be practical, and that is what most online users are looking for.
Not only is it more relatable, but the conversational language is also more likely to encourage people to interact. They will feel more comfortable sharing their voice in this case.
Here are a couple of practical tips on how to make your writing more conversational:
Write in a conversational style
You are not trying to impress your editor with outstanding sentence structure and impressive vocabulary. You want to reach ordinary people who often read the blogs just to pass the time. This is why conversational voice resonates better.
Avoid long sentences
If the readers are distracted or not fully focused on reading (for example, they might be reading while waiting for the bus), they might find it difficult to follow the article. Therefore, use shorter sentences and also short paragraphs.
Avoid too many technical terms
If you need to use them, explain them in plain language so that the readers can easily understand. You do not want to make readers look up the word themselves in the dictionary.
Phrasal verbs and idioms
These are typically used in colloquial language. If possible, use them in your articles from time to time. However, make sure your readers are aware of the meaning (for example, if they are not native speakers, they might not understand an idiom that is not commonly used).
Avoid passive voice
Passive voice puts the focus on the action, rather than on the person doing it. While this is great construction to use occasionally to emphasize the action, at times, it may seem a bit impersonal. If appropriate, always go for an active sentence instead.
Invite people to interact
This one seems like an obvious suggestion, but many bloggers seem to neglect this strategy to increase engagement. There are a couple of ways you can invite the readers to participate:
- Ask a question
- Ask for their opinion
- Ask them to leave the comment
- Set up a challenge and invite them to participate
- Set up a poll
Bloggers often leave the CTA at the end of the article. It is an effective way to conclude the topic and invite people to participate, by completing any action you mention in this section, such as leaving their comment, answering the question, etc. This represents a good way to sum everything up and pass on the mic to the readers.
However, a significant percentage of the readers is lost before they read the end of the page, especially on mobile devices. The page might be taking too much to load, there might be pop-ups that annoy the reader, or the reader simply has to leave before having the time to read the full article.
This is why it is helpful to invite the people early on. Some might even start the article with questions for the readers. Some might feature a button for the challenge after the first paragraph. It depends a lot on the type of content you are writing and the type of activity you want to encourage. And, you do not have to do this with absolutely every article. However, it is a strategy worth testing, as it is believed that it can have a positive influence on the engagement of the visitors.
The power of community is impressive. Although it is difficult to create community, once you do, it will be a constant source of engagement. It will help you grow your blog, influence others and turn your blog into a place for like-minded people. It will increase trust and hugely boost your reputation in the online world.
Some of the popular ways of using this strategy for increasing blog engagement include:
With this approach, you offer free access to everyone who is interested in becoming a member. Usually, communities require some sort of registration to create an account. This enables the blogger to manage the community and take care of comment moderation more successfully.
The usual form of communities on your blog are forums that feature interaction threads where online users can post comments. A popular alternative for free communities is a community inside a Facebook group. Unlike Facebook pages, groups usually have better organic reach. Furthermore, they are more user-friendly than forum pages and threads.
With free communities, you try to build the relationship with all of your readers (without any segmentation). This directly increases your influence and indirectly promotes your blog and yourself as a blog owner.
Exclusive communities are for a specific group of your blog readers. You do not want to offer this access to everyone, but instead, you will segment the online users based on certain criteria.
For example, if you also have an online course, you could create an exclusive community for those who signed up for your course. Or, you can share the link to the group with your subscribers once they sign up for your newsletter.
The goal is to focus on a specific group. When they have completed a certain action (such as joining your course or signing up for the newsletter), they have already expressed interest in connecting with you. Offering something exclusive to them, such as access to the community, strengthens this bond and helps you engage these visitors inside the community.
Although less common than the first two, this approach can also be one of the strategies of using communities to promote your blog. Having a paid community means that the blog visitors will need to make payment to join. In return, they get access to the community.
However, this membership usually comes with some other perks, such as premium content, early access, etc. Offering some perks is a recommended step because it brings extra value. Since they are paying for the access, this value is another encouragement for them to consider joining.
Organize an activity
Try to engage your visitors with an activity that will bring them back to your blog. This way, you increase the number of recurring visitors, and you also help visitors to get to know you better, which improves your relationship with them.
Activities you could organize include:
Promote this webinar on your blog and choose to focus on the topic which is very interesting for your blog readers.
Invite people to join your challenge and participate in an activity. A popular form of challenges includes monthly challenges, where you encourage readers to complete a certain action. Of course, this activity should aim to establish your relationship with the readers and gain their trust. For example, if you are a fitness trainer, create a program that would give your blog readers new challenge exercises each day for a month.
Your blog readers can join in on a project you are working on. It can be a sort of collaboration, a case study, research, etc.
Set up a challenge for your blog readers and offer a prize for the winner. Make sure you create rules for participating and explain the winner selection process. Promote this competition on your blog, in your newsletter, and on social media to increase its reach and the number of participants.
Readers become your focus
The idea with increasing engagement is to invite your readers to respond and to take part in an activity. To make this happen, you need to focus on the readers.
Although blog performance and SEO, are certainly aspects you should always have in mind, try to put the readers in the spotlight when creating a strategy to increase engagement. The readers are the ones you want to reach, so your strategy needs to be designed in a way to strengthen the bond between you two and help you increase your influence.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
Address your readers directly (using their first name in email campaigns). Some bloggers also like to have a special name for their blog followers (sometimes a made-up word derived from the blog name). The goal is to leave an impression of a regular person being behind your blog, instead of a “ghost”.
Optimize and format your articles so that they are reader-friendly. The readers should be able to easily follow the topic, as well as to skim through the text if they prefer consuming it in such a way.
Enable readers to find the information or help they need. Your blog content should provide content of high quality related to your niche. It should also provide enough information so that readers will not have to look up more details somewhere else.
Communication with your readers
When you see the readers initiate the connection with you (on your blog, on social media, etc.), it is your time to take part. Show them that you are really there and that you appreciate them taking the time to answer a question, participate in your competition, etc.
This is a very commonly used method of engaging the blog readers. The goal is to provide more useful content for them to browse before they leave your blog. Each blog article should be optimized in such a way that provides links to more content they might find relevant.
Firstly, there is a link to the homepage, which is a great starting point for new readers. Other related content could be:
Related articles are those that cover similar or related topic on your blog. Usually, you use tags and categories to sort articles and for the widget to make logical connections when showing related articles. The related articles are often featured below the text. They can also be in the sidebar.
When you mention a topic or a term that you have already covered in a separate article, use internal links to link to the relevant content. Although it is best to link to your own content, you can also include external links if they provide value to your readers.
Call to action is a button or a link that invites online visitors to take action. Depending on the strategies you use to increase engagement, this CTA can link to your signup page, to the competition you are organizing, to your community, etc. This is related content and provides more value to the readers encouraging them to participate.
Always have in mind that activities and strategies you use on your blog should be designed to exploit its full potential. There is no need to use all of these approaches. Nor is there a need to stop here. You should go ahead and explore more options how you can increase engagement. Also, monitor your blog performance to find out which method of building engagement is best for your blog visitors. The idea is to create a completely custom strategy, one that shows best results and, together with your blogging strategy, contributes to achieving your goals.