For most bloggers, if they were to take a look at their analytics they’d find that around 75% of people who visit don’t come back.
This means the first time people visit your site is going to be crucial.
First impressions are important offline and they’re also important online.
That’s why you need to take steps to ensure that you make a great first impression and take steps to increase the chances that they will sign up your list, buy your product or just find value in what your blog has to offer.
Are you pushing your visitors away?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself.
In fact, there may be some reasons that you would want to push your visitors away.
Excessive use of advertising is one of the most common reasons.
If that’s the case, then you need to ask yourself another question – is it worth pushing those visitors away?
And what else could you be doing instead?
One big thing is of course building your mailing list.
What you need to know is that the average life time value of a subscriber is much higher than that one time small amount of cash that someone may get from clicking on an ad on your site.
Another important thing to think about…
How cluttered is your blog?
I’ve seen some blogs recently that make me feel so uncomfortable due to the amount of distractions that I don’t even finish reading the article. No matter how good it is.
And I don’t go back.
One site in particular had a floating social sidebar, sticky footer opt-in, sticky call to action in the sidebar and ads in the content.
At a push, a floating social sidebar and maybe sticky sidebar widget and I wouldn’t mind but when you add them all together especially with in-content ads.
I understand that it’s done because people want more clicks on ads, more shares and more subscribers but when you have 3 different conversion goals conflicting – it can have a very negative impact.
Settle on your primary conversion goal, let’s say email signups because they are typically more valuable than shares/clicks on ads.
Now, make it clear to your visitors that signing up to your list is what you want them to do – it works much better that way.
5 Ways to speed up your website
Website speed is something that a lot of us seem to struggle with, me included.
If you don’t think this is all that important, it’s worth noting that just a one second delay in page-load can cause 7% loss in conversions [source].
It’s important to note that the source above was testing an e-Commerce type site, so the results may differ for your blog.
Use a decent web host
Your web hosting plays a big part in how fast your website is going to load. Not only that but I’ve recently been reading some scary stories about some of the hosts offering unlimited hosting.
I host a bunch of my sites with WPX Hosting.
It’s one of the smaller web hosts out there, but their servers are VERY quick. And unlike some other WordPress specialist web hosts, they don’t charge by unique visitors.
Incidentally some of those companies that use this business model of charging by unique visits actually reset what they view as a unique visitor each day so costs can be huge.
Another reason why I like WPX Hosting is because they respond VERY quick. They don’t have telephone support but for some issues what you actually need is ticket support.
For the times when you get on live chat or on the phone and the support operative says “I’ll open a ticket for you”. I’ve used other hosts that have taken 48 hours to reply to a ticket when one of my sites was down. That’s crazy.
WPX Hosting respond to most tickets within 20 minutes. And there are some they can’t fix right away but most are within an hour or so. I only had one issue that took longer but even that was fixed within the same day.
Setup a content delivery network (CDN)
You don’t have to switch web hosts in order to seriously speed up your site.
A CDN is a global network of high powered servers; when setup the system will serve elements of your websites to your visitors from the closest server to their location.
In the past I’ve used MaxCDN and it’s worked very well, it saved bandwidth on the VPS that I was using and reduced load times by about 3 seconds along.
It works out under $10/month for a few websites. Save 25% using this link.
Use a caching plugin
Caching plugins are essential in order to reduce the load time of your site, although if you’re a WP Engine customer you won’t need one as they take care of that for you.
WP Super Cache – One of the most popular on the market. You’ve got various options for fine tuning settings and it supports various CDNs.
W3 Total Cache – Probably the most feature packed speed enhancing plugin on the market right now. There’s support for various types of caching (object, database, browser, page), minifying and support for connecting up your CDN.
For more plugins to improve the page load times on your website or blog, check out this post.
Use a lightweight theme
If you are a WordPress user then you need to seriously ask yourself whether you need all of the features that your theme offers.
It’s great to have extra features but they come at a price.
More features generally means a more bloated theme, this can cause your page load times to skyrocket.
That’s why I’m a big fan of the Genesis Framework from StudioPress.
It’s built with speed in mind.
Just install the framework in the same way you would install a theme, then install a child theme on top – there are plenty of child themes to choose from.
Optimize your images
There are two main things to consider where page load times are concerned:
1) Does the resolution of your image really need to be that big?
2) Does the file size of your image need to be so high?
The thing you need to know about image file sizes is that the file type makes a big difference.
Generally for the web, I stick with either of the following:
JPG/JPEG – Works best with photos or images with more complex colour gradients (note: transparency doesn’t work with this format)
PNG – Typically works best with images with less complex images
By using the above file formats in the right way you will be able to keep file sizes to a minimum.
As far as tools go, there are plenty on the market but I prefer to stick to Adobe Photoshop and sure that’s a paid tool but you don’t need to pay for it.
It’s probably closer to overkill but if you’re dealing with images it’s worth getting a good system.
Fortunately a while back Adobe made an older version of the software (CS2) free to download. You just need to register for an account here and you can download Photoshop for free. It’s completely legal by the way.
Capture opt-ins before visitors bounce
I’m generally not big on the use of popovers so when I use them, I use them sparingly.
This plugin has a feature called “Exit Intent”.
It means that you can set popovers to be displayed when your visitors move their mouse towards the close button of their browser.
Once triggered, you can display an offer to encourage your visitors to subscribe to your email list.
Chances are that you could get better conversions by displaying a popover to all of your visitors no matter what but for those that don’t opt-in, chances are that you could just end up annoying them.
For a detailed comparison of AWeber and GetResponse, click here.
Do you have an irresistible offer?
Building an email list is definitely more difficult now than it was 5-10 years.
It’s more difficult because a lot of people are already subscribed to a lot of mailing lists, others have had dodgy marketers sell their email address and there’s so many people offering the exact same thing as everyone else.
That doesn’t mean that you should just give up, it means that it’s time to offer more value.
Don’t let yourself disappear into the background
I still see so many marketing blogs that make a big song and dance about the fact that blog post updates via email are free.
Here’s a news flash.
They are all free.
The only ones that aren’t free are private newsletters and because they’re private, that content isn’t published to a blog. And that’s why people pay for them.
It’s time to give more
The truth is that a lot of bloggers already giveaway exclusive content when their readers sign up so if you haven’t already, now is the time to put together some form of incentive for your readers to sign up.
If you are unsure about what to offer to your readers, start off by thinking about what problems they face and what type of content you could create in order to solve that particular problem.
It doesn’t have to be a lengthy eBook either, although people would appreciate that.
There’s not really any correlation between the length of the content you giveaway and the number of signups you will get.
It all comes down to how big the problem is that your readers are having and how desperate they are to solve it.
Here are a few things you can offer:
- PDF report
- White papers
- Case studies
Recommended reading: How To Track Mailing List Sign Ups Using Goals In Google Analytics.
Add more value than your competitors whenever possible
Understanding exactly what your competitors are doing is important.
If you don’t know then you can’t expect to beat them.
I talk to plenty of bloggers and plenty of brands about this type of thing and I’m constantly surprised by how little focus is put into understanding competitor activity.
Sure, there is also the resourcing aspect to it and you may not be in a position to beat your competitors at everything. Knowing is half the battle.
So take a look at your competitors to see what they are doing, and then ask yourself how you can add more value.
It may come down to just looking at what offer or bribe they have to encourage email signups.
Here’s a great example from Crazy Egg…
I really like what Kathryn Aragon has done on the Crazy Egg blog (see above), especially the added mystery bonus gift which just makes the offer even more compelling.
Now the thing is that if you look at a lot of marketing related blogs, like I mentioned before – most of them just offer free updates or in some cases they will offer a single free download.
Here you get a total of 4 pieces of content which leads to a higher perceived value.
Note that I’m not talking specifically about what converts best here, I’m specifically talking about perceived value.
3 Great WordPress plugins for displaying related content
If you are struggling at keeping your visitors on your website for longer, displaying related content can be a great way to do this.
This is incredibly easy for WordPress users, here are a some great plugins that will help you display related content:
- YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin)
- Contextual Related Posts
- Disqus (note will also replace the native WordPress comments system)
Engage with your readers
How you engage with your readers plays a big part here.
By writing more engaging content you will definitely make your visitors want to stick around.
You can be as engaging as you like, but sometimes what seems like the smallest change can make a difference for your readers.
Just ending your blog post with a question to encourage discussion can help things tremendously.
You could go as far as to write a post for your subscribers.
One of the recent things that I’ve started doing is publishing a reader Q&A on the blog.
Questions are sourced from my mailing list subscribers and the posts are detailed and full of value.
Initially it was a question from one person, but it turned out that a lot of other people were wondering the exact same thing.
The feedback on this has been great and while it’s a very new thing, I’m planning on continuing this segment as often as I can.
Include relevant internal links
Internal links can be a great way to help search engines index your site but they are also a great way of keeping visitors on your website for longer.
The longer visitors are on your site for, the greater chance that they will subscribe to your mailing list.
Over to you
I’ve talked through a lot of different ways that you can get more out of your traffic but now I’d like to hear a bit about your experiences.
Do you have any specific tactics that work well for you?
This could be keeping your visitors on your site for longer, encouraging purchases/email sign ups or anything relevant.
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