If you’ve ever blogged before, whether it be for personal use or for your business, you know how challenging it can be to engage your visitors. I know this firsthand. If you have a small audience or a “boring” product/service, it makes it even more challenging.
What does it mean to engage your visitors? It means that during or after reading your blog post, they feel compelled to do something. Whatever that something is will be the form of engagement. There are many different ways for your visitors to interact and engage with you.
Some of the most common engagement methods are:
- Commenting on your blog posts
- Sharing your posts via social media
- Subscribing to your email newsletter
- Subscribing to your RSS feed
- Submitting your contact form
All of these engagement techniques are valuable to your business in one way or another. You’re building your audience, which is something all small business bloggers should aspire to do. If you don’t want to build your audience, then why are you blogging in the first place? (That’s rhetorical, of course. )
I’m going to share with you five essential items that every blog needs in order to be as engaging as possible.
1. An Awesome Headline
The headline is what first grabs your reader’s attention. This is what readers first see in their social media accounts, any content syndication sources you’re a part of (Business2Community, Alltop, Firmology, etc.), and the search engine results page.
The headline is your first opportunity to make an impression on your reader. It should provoke some sort of emotion, so make it funny, make it angry, make it interesting, make it valuable. Don’t make it too vague or too blah, otherwise there will be no incentive to clicking through.
Think about when you’re perusing a blog, newspaper, or magazine. You’re only looking at headlines at that point. Once you see one you like, you read more. That should demonstrate the power of an awesome headline. Without one, you shouldn’t expect much engagement.
2. Thought-Provoking Questions
Once you draw the reader in with your must-read-more headline, you’ve got them hooked, but you can’t give up there. Now is where you need to get personal. Make sure the body of your content uses known facts and cites any resources you’ve used.
After you make some points and support them with evidence, one of the most powerful ways to engage the reader is to ask them a question. I’m not talking about a simple, “What do you think?”. You need to add some substance to the question. Make it specific. Lead the user into their answer.
Ask questions like, “How did Google’s latest Hummingbird algorithm update affect your bottom line and what are you going to do about it?” The more the reader has to think, the better your engagement will be because they’re providing more personal answers.
3. Clear Call-to-Action
This may seem obvious, but blogging and content marketing aren’t just about getting people to read your articles. That’s great if they read it, but eventually you want your readers to take some sort of action (see the bulleted list in the intro for some of the most common actions).
How do you get people to take action? Well, you should start by telling them.
Don’t beat around the bush. If you want people to comment on your post, tell them to comment. If you want them to share it via social, tell them to share. If you want them to fill out your form, ask them to submit it. You get the point. Ask nicely, but be firm. This lets them know you mean business.
4. Commenting Functionality
I’ve experienced this before and maybe you have too. I read a blog post, find it interesting and want to join the conversation/add my two cents by leaving a comment. So I scroll to the bottom and boom..no comments section.
That just boggles my mind. You’re essentially asking readers not to engage with you.
There might be some scenarios where you wouldn’t want comments, like if you don’t have the resources to moderate them and reply back to them, but that’s only after you’re receiving so many comments that you can’t handle them.
There’s no reason why any small business blogger shouldn’t include a comments section on each and every post. Some great commenting tools (that also integrate social media) to install include Disqus and Livefyre.
5. Social Sharing Feature
If you heed my advice and ask people to share your blog articles via social, then you should make that task as easy as possible for them. That means adding a social sharing widget or plugin on your blog template. This will give you and your readers the ability to share your content via social with just a click.
You’ve probably seen these on almost every blog you frequent. They look like a bar that contains the icons of all the most popular social media tools. The widgets are usually located at the bottom or top of your posts. You can see three buttons at the bottom of this post to share it. That’s exactly what you need!
Does your blog contain all five of the items I’ve mentioned here? If so, you have everything you need to engage your visitors. If not, why aren’t you including them? I welcome your comments!
All that’s left is for you to do now is to start writing some awesome, valuable content, because remember, having all of these items doesn’t guarantee engagement, they just facilitate it!