I’m running a poll asking “What Frustrates You the Most about Blogging?”
The initial results show that “attracting new readers” continues to be a huge challenge for bloggers. Makes sense. You really can’t get anything going without an initial surge of people to seed your community, share your posts, and comment on your posts.
Ironically, while most bloggers are frustrated by traffic generation, very few focus their efforts on it.
It’s ironic that the social media annals are choked with trust and engagement advice but chronically ignore the most important task…getting readers in the first place! So, let’s get to the bottom of this right now.
Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight
I learned early on that you can’t use social media techniques to build a blog. From my research of the top blogs, I quickly realized that good old-fashioned direct response techniques will attract more quality readers in less time.
Direct marketers use high-performance techniques designed to turn “strangers” into buyers at a ridiculously high rate. Direct marketers rely on direct mail, direct response television (infomercials), and print ads along with expert copywriting and marketing techniques. These folks live and die by each campaign and they have perfected their craft into bankable results.
Simply writing “great content,” saying hi to all of your followers, and hanging out on Tweetchats isn’t going to get the job done. You need to put some solid direct marketing techniques in your repertoire.
Here are 10 direct marketing strategies that have grown Pushing Social from 0 to 20,000 page views a month in just 12 months.
1. Build Your E-mail List
E-mail subscribers are loyal and enthusiastic readers. They will visit your blog and share your posts with their readers. So make it extremely easy for them to sign-up for your blog update list. I’ve found that offering stand-alone reports, ebooks, and guides work great for encouraging readers to sign-up for ongoing information from you.
2. Test Everything
Routinely review your blog’s traffic stats and find the posts that get the most page views and retweets. Rank these posts and look for similarities. When I started Pushing Social, I published a lot of opinion posts. These posts were fun to write, but didn’t attract many readers. However, after reviewing my stats, I saw that how-to posts did much better. My traffic doubled within 2 weeks once I made the switch to more practical how-to content.
3. Build a Relationship Funnel
A relationship funnel transforms a stranger into an enthusiastic fan. Your relationship funnel should have techniques for encouraging potential readers to visit your blog, specific ways for getting readers to take action (e.g. comment, retweet), and strategies to close the deal with readers and get them to commit to a long-term relationship with you.
4. Know Your Numbers
Everything you need to supercharge your blog is in your traffic statistics. All you need to do is look. The challenge might be that you haven’t begun collecting these important metrics. If you haven’t, then start today. A short list of important metrics include page views by posts, retweet/mentions per post, time spent by post, and subscriber counts.
5. Grab Attention
Jon Morrow, Copyblogger’s Associate Editor, often says that the cardinal sin in online marketing is “being boring.” I agree. Your blog needs to fight for attention. The best way to do this is to find what makes your content special. Write your headlines as if you need to stand out in a crowd of 100 other bloggers.
6. Always Be Closing (Ask for the comment, the retweet, the subscription, the sale)
Many social media “Try-Hards” (thanks @jadecraven for the quote) will plead with you to “hope” that people will comment or retweet on your posts. They will chastise you for promoting your posts on Twitter or asking other people to share your post. Pay them no mind. You’ll end up popular and poor. Make a point of asking for exactly what you want your reader to do.
7. Pay Attention to Branding
Your brand is critically important. Your brand makes you stand out and gives your readers an emotional “short-hand” for picking you out of a crowd. Your brand includes your logo, your tone, and your story. Protect these brand assets and always look for opportunities to bond your readers to them.
8. Partner, Partner, Partner
Keep your eyes open for bloggers who can help extend your brand and deliver different perspectives to your readers. Guest bloggers are your first resource for partners. Once you find someone with a voice you respect, look for ways to share resources and promote content to each other’s audiences. Also consider guest posting as a way to start a relationship with a potential partner.
9. Create Reader Magnets
Reader magnets are well-written and well-researched stand-alone content that is too valuable for your readers to pass up. Reader magnets could be special reports, checklists, video, or podcasts. The idea is to offer something new that your readers wouldn’t mind exchanging their e-mail address for. Use your reader magnets to attract new visitors and immediately start moving them through your relationship funnel.
10. Strut Your Stuff
As your blog grows, look for opportunities to show off your success. Displaying high retweet or comment posts first shows new readers that others enjoy your blog. Save tweets from people praising your content and display them on your blog. Whenever you offer a reader magnet, wait a few days and then ask readers for testimonials. Remember, it’s always better to have a reader praise your blog than using fancy marketing.
I feel like I missed something… Help me out. Is there a direct marketing secret that you use that has been successful for your blog? Go ahead and leave a comment below. By the way, if you enjoyed this post, then go ahead and share it!