Yep, that’s right.
If you take a look at your analytics right now, you’ll likely see that over 75% of your visitors don’t return.
This means the first time people visit your site is going to be crucial if you want them to return. And, I’m guessing you do, right?!
… You may never get another chance.
Why your visitors don’t come back
Here’s the deal:
Aside from the quality of your content, there are two huge reasons why your visitors don’t come back.
- Reason #1 – You need to improve your blog’s user experience.
- Reason #2 – You don’t have a way to reach your audience after they’ve left.
The good news is that each of these problems can be fixed.
Now, let’s take a look at how.
We’ll start with fixing up your blog’s user experience, then we’ll look at ways to reach your audience.
Let’s get right to it:
How to fix your blog’s user experience
User experience is huge.
Especially considering how fast first impressions are formed (pretty much immediately).
Potential problems here can include slow page load times, mobile responsiveness issues, and a bunch of other issues…
Your blog’s user experience is it’s foundation – when you get that right, a lot of other things naturally fall into place.
And it’ll help you grow your blog faster. Creating positive experiences has a tendency to create a ripple effect.
Let’s take a look at a bunch of ways you can improve your blog’s user experience:
1. Improve page load times
If your page takes too long to load, your visitors won’t hang around.
Faster load times = more conversions.
So what can you do to improve your page load times?
- Switch to a faster web host – I host Blogging Wizard with WPX Hosting. Their page load times are excellent.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) – This post over at WP Superstars explains what these are all about. And be sure to check out our comparison of CDN services.
- Use a plugin to speed up your site – WP Rocket is a great option and its easy to configure. Either of them will do a good job at speeding up WordPress, but WP Rocket also includes other features like lazy loading, etc.
- Use a lightweight theme – The Astra theme is a great option because it’s lightweight and page builder friendly.
- Optimize your images – This post explains everything you need to know.
There are plenty more ways to optimize your site, but the above will have a significant impact.
Use tools like Pingdom to evaluate your page load times. If your page load times are above 2-3 seconds, you’ll want to take steps to speed up your site.
Work through the tips I covered above – they’re typically the easiest ways to speed up a site without tinkering with code, or hiring a developer.
2. Get rid of the clutter
A clean and conversion-focused user experience is super important if you want to keep your visitors coming back for more content.
But what does that mean exactly?
Every element on your blog has to have purpose. Either something that will benefit your readers, or it will help you reach your goals.
One of the biggest problem areas is the sidebar. The most confusing part of any blog. And the part that converts the least.
So, take a look at your sidebar and ask yourself – do I need everything here? Does everything have purpose? Anything in your sidebar should either be beneficial to your readers or help you reach your goals faster.
If it doesn’t – get rid of it. Your readers will thank you.
Some common examples of sidebar widgets you may want to remove include:
- Tag clouds – These used to be all the rage but they do more harm than good from a user experience perspective.
- Social media widgets – These are a quick way for your readers to leave your blog and get distracted with something else. I prefer to display these in footer areas, or on my contact page.
- Blogrolls – Linking out to other bloggers is something I think everyone should do more, but I prefer to link to specific articles in blog posts because it’s more relevant to what visitors are reading at the time.
- Advertisements – Are your ads performing? If not, it might be best to remove them and explore other monetization options.
- “Not-so” social proof icons & badges – Using “as seen on” logos for social proof works well for popular sites that not everyone can get featured on. If you have badges because you’ve written for an article directory that anyone can get published on – definitely remove those.
Although, you may want to remove your sidebar altogether and put the focus entirely on your content. And any offers you present via opt-in forms within your content (we’ll discuss those in more depth later).
It’s also worth looking at other parts of your website. Ask yourself whether each element helps you reach your goals, or helps the reader. If it does neither, consider removing it.
3. Check your blog on a mobile device
Here’s the good news:
Regardless of which blogging platform you use, chances are that it’ll resize when viewed on a mobile device.
And if you use WordPress, you’ll likely find that every modern theme is responsive. Even free WordPress themes.
That said, you still need to check how your site looks on a mobile device.
But, there’s an important distinction to be made:
Just because a theme is mobile responsive doesn’t mean it will look good on mobile.
So, if you haven’t already, check to see how your site appears on mobile devices.
If your site doesn’t look good when viewed on mobile, then it may be worth considering switching to a different theme.
4. Make your content easier to digest
If someone is greeted by a huge wall of text, it will put them off reading it.
On the other hand, if you format your content for readability, your readers will have a much better experience. And they’ll be more likely to stick around.
Here are a few quick tips to improve your formatting:
- Writer shorter paragraphs – Walls of text are off putting. Shorter paragraphs are much more enticing and improve engagement.
- Use logical subheadings – Logical subheadings make your content easier to read, and stand out to people who quickly scan through your content.
- Use bullet points – These are a great way to break up text.
- Use images with purpose – Imagery is a great way to break up your content but don’t feel the need to include them if they don’t make sense. Every image has to have purpose.
Now, you’ll also want to consider typography.
Your typography needs to be easy to read – script fonts may look cool but they’re about as easy to read as a Swedish death metal band’s logo (i.e. – not very!)
Here’s an example:
Here’s an example with some more context:
This image was taken from our article on “How To Format Your Blog Posts To Keep Your Readers Engaged” by Dana Fiddler.
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend checking it out.
Now, if the typography of your theme isn’t ideal from a readability perspective, you could change themes, but you may be able to change it in your settings.
For example, The Astra Pro Theme would allow you to customize fonts & other typography settings. Here’s an example of my base typography settings at the moment.
Font choice is important but so are things like line-height (white space matters). Increasing this setting gives your content a little more breathing room. And a larger font size will make it easier for people to read, without having to use the zoom function in their web browser.
Alternatively, you could hire a developer to change the typography for you.
5. Your headlines are a promise (and your content better deliver on that promise!)
Have you ever felt disappointed when you read a headline, click through and find content that doesn’t live up to expectations?
We’ve all been there. It’s annoying and it’s a waste of our time.
And chances are, we’ll think twice about visiting that site the next time (remember: first impressions matter!)
… This is why it’s so critical that your content backs up on the promise it makes in the headline. Because your headlines are a promise.
It all comes down to expectations. Set expectations with your headline, and blow them out of the water with your content.
As a result, you may get less traffic, but your readers will be happier and far more likely to share your content with their friends and followers.
To make this headline writing thing easier, build it into your content creation process so you can ensure you’re delivering the very best for your readers. If you don’t have a process, now is the time – it’ll make your life a heck of a lot easier.
Note: If you use WordPress, consider using a plugin like Thrive Headline Optimizer to split test your headlines to boost your engagement & traffic.
6. Listen to your audience
One easy way to improve your blog’s user experience, and simultaneously turn regular readers into raving fans is to listen to them.
Don’t simply be open to feedback from your audience – actively encourage it.
More importantly, get to know them better.
Understand their challenges, their goals, and how you can help. This will give you a clearer picture of the type of content you need to create.
Here’s the good news:
You don’t have to invest a lot of time conducting an in-depth study. For example, I created a quick survey using the free version of Typeform.
As well as asking about my readers goals/challenges, I also ask them about the topics & content types they’d love to see on Blogging Wizard. And I ask how we can improve.
Then, to automate the collection of responses, I include an invite to complete the survey in my welcome email series.
In ConvertKit, I recently added an extra follow up email. To ensure I’m not bugging people who have already completed the survey, clicking the link in the first email adds a tag. Anyone with the tag doesn’t get the follow up email.
Try doing something similar for your blog – you’ll gain a better understanding of your readers, insightful feedback, content ideas, and more.
Tactics and tools to keep readers coming back for more
1. Build an email list & make it easy to subscribe
The first step to getting your readers to come back for more is to start building an email list.
Why email though? Surely that’s a thing of the past?
Nope. Email is alive and still extremely effective. In fact, it has a higher ROI than any other marketing channel.
And it beats social media at driving traffic. Just to put this into perspective, I’d rather have 1,000 email subscribers than 10,000 Twitter followers. By far.
I’m not saying don’t bother with social networks, they’re important for blog growth and building an audience. But, building an email list is important because it’s an asset you control.
Social platforms can change or disappear. For example; the decline of organic reach for pages on Facebook, and the death of Google+.
Now, how exactly do you get started with building your email list?
It’s as simple as getting yourself an email marketing service provider, setting up an email list, and adding some opt-in forms to your blog inviting your readers to subscribe.
Some email service providers allow you to create opt-in forms, but if you use WordPress, you’ll get more mileage out of an email subscription plugin like Thrive Leads. This is because you can easily setup split tests to boost your conversions.
And in the world of conversion rate optimization, split testing is super important.
You can take things a step further by creating a compelling lead magnet to get more email sign ups.
There are plenty of form types you can leverage using something like Thrive Leads. For example, you’ve got the usual popovers, slide-ins, notification bars, etc. But, you can also weave calls to action into your content like I do at Funnel Overload:
And don’t forget about creating targeted landing pages to promote your lead magnets. These are great for promoting via social networks to boost your subscribers. And they work especially well with paid traffic.
Here’s a landing page I’m in the process of building within Leadpages, for a new lead magnet:
If you want to create your own landing page, be sure to check out my post on the best WordPress landing page plugins.
2. Deploy browser-based push notifications
Another great way to reach your audience is by using browser-based push notifications.
Chances are you’ve seen something like this while browsing the web:
Once someone clicks the allow button, you can send them updates that will appear within their web browser.
They’ll look something like this:
Now, at the time of writing this post, I don’t have push notifications running on Blogging Wizard. The site was just rebuilt from the ground up and I’m focusing on optimizing other aspects of the site.
I wanted to mention this particular tactic because in my tests, click rates have been higher than email, but they’re not as easy to work with as email. And migrating platforms is tricky.
That said, there are plenty of push notification platforms with significant free plans so it’s well worth trying them out for yourself.
Want to learn more? Check out our beginner’s guide.
3. Encourage your email subscribers to follow your social media profiles
Email is personal, immediate and direct.
Not to mention the fact it’s far better at driving traffic than social media (there is a swing depending on your niche, though).
And because of this, I prioritise encouraging email sign ups over growing my social media following on Blogging Wizard.
But, it’s still a good idea to encourage existing subscribers to follow your social media profiles. This gives you more than one way of reaching them.
I like to keep this simple. I just include prompts to follow me on social media at the bottom of emails to my newsletter subscribers.
Here’s an example I use at the bottom of my welcome email:
Then, I occasionally include an invite to follow me on other emails later on in my welcome sequence.
4. Create a community to support your blog’s growth
Creating your own community takes a huge time commitment and ongoing maintenance, so it’s not for everyone, but I thought it’d be worthwhile mentioning.
Even though it’s not something I’ve tried, I know a lot of bloggers that do well from building their own communities.
Generally, you have two options here:
- Option 1 – Creating your own Facebook group
- Option 2 – Creating your own forum using WordPress
A strong community can strengthen your brand, help you drive traffic, and increase revenue. But, it also helps you to create a more meaningful connection with your readers.
Let’s explore each of these options in more detail:
Option 1 – Creating your own Facebook group
With a Facebook Group, there’s no messing around with the tech side of things, and you’ll benefit from Facebook’s ability to get more eyeballs on your group.
Facebook’s massive reach is a significant benefit here.
But, the downside is that you don’t have any control over how Facebook Group’s work, or whether Facebook might make a change that makes all your hard work worthless (like when they killed off organic reach).
And when you drive traffic to your group from your other social accounts or your email newsletter, you’re sending that traffic to a site full of distractions – that has the effect of diluting whatever you’re trying to achieve.
With Facebook, you’re building on rented land. It’s a free ride sure, but the time you put into growing the group isn’t free. That has value and it shouldn’t be squandered.
If you want to create your own Facebook group, be sure to check out these posts to learn how to get started:
- How To Launch Your Own Facebook Group And Get Loyal Fans
- 16 Ways To Grow Your Facebook Group 3x Faster
Option 2 – Create your own forum using WordPress
When you create your own forum using a platform, the pro’s & con’s are reversed.
You’ve got to sort the tech side of things and you won’t benefit from Facebook’s ability to get the word out about your group (there are other ways to do that though).
On the plus side, it’s a platform you have control over, you can run it how you like, and you won’t have to worry about Facebook pulling the plug.
To learn how to get started, check out this tutorial on how to setup a forum with WordPress, over at WP Superstars.
Wrapping it up
We’ve talked through quite a few ways to optimize your blog, and keep your visitors coming back to your blog. So, hopefully you’ll have a bunch of ideas you can implement.
Think of this post as a blueprint. Bookmark it and work through the advice.
You’ll soon start seeing an increase in traffic & revenue.
Note: Want my latest content delivered to your inbox? Click here to subscribe to the free Blogging Wizard newsletter.