Maintaining an engaged online audience can be a bit tough at times. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to jump-start your effort and ensure that you are not only drawing one-time visitors, but converting them into lifelong dedicated readers.
So, you ask… “How the heck do I do this?!?”
1. Respond to Commenters
Every single comment that you receive online is an entire conversation waiting to unfold. Remember, if someone has taken the time to respond to your work, they have much potential to be a loyal reader and/or customer. Regardless of whether the comment is in agreement or disagreement with what you have written, this is an amazing opportunity to establish, and perhaps even build a relationship.
2. Solicit Opinions from Your Audience
Within your comments, tweets, blog posts, or other social updates, make sure to solicit the opinions of your audience. If you are growing an initial audience/readership, take the time out of your schedule to go out and engage others with questions surrounding what they are doing. This is plain human nature folks. We all enjoy others taking interest in what we do.
3. Occasionally Engage When Not Expected
I always suggest to every company that I do social media work with to make and maintain an excel spreadsheet of their followers / fans. Each week cycle through the list and pick out a certain number of individuals to engage. Spend time looking into what is going on in their life and seeing how you can help them.
I am not saying to sell them…that is not the point! If they see you showing a genuine interest on what is going on in their life, you are much more likely to be on your way towards earning a customer than spamming them with your product / service.
4. Invest in Offline Marketing Efforts
What if you actually took the time to send out personalized thank-you notes to your audience? This doesn’t have to be everybody, but it could at least be your top commenters, returning customers, or active followers / fans. The biggest point of this is to really take note of your product / service advocates. These are the people that you want to make sure you always keep closest to you.
If you absolutely have no addresses to send cards to then you can always send personalized emails, but unfortunately during the times that we live, a handwritten letter will trump that any day.
5. Give Away Great Things for Free
Recently, I have seen fantastic examples of this. Most notably here on EpicLaunch with great occasional giveaways, and by one of the contributors Justin Lukasavige, offering free business coaching for one day. If there is anything that will spread like wildfire and draw in potential customers, it is you being willing to put yourself or your product out on the open market for those in need.
6. Cluster Your Readers / Customers / Product Advocates
If you are like most, then your email inbox is constantly inundated by mass-marketed, email-list content. While this may be an easier approach for the sender of the message, unfortunately, it does not really make for an enticing read for the recipient. After all, the information that is being sent is much more well received if it actually applies to you.
Rather than bundling all subscribers or customers on one list, it is very useful to consider making clusters or groups of individuals based on their profession / interests to market specific content to. This is the best way to avoid losing relevance to people and steer free of people hitting the unsubscribe button.
7. Spend Time Marketing Your Posts
If you are taking the time out of your schedule to write something, then you absolutely have to be taking the time out of your schedule to sell it. I am not talking about merely tweeting about it or sending out a status update, but take the time to find and contact those who have discussed or pondered similar topics. Search.Twitter is my best friend whenever I write a post. It is a great source for finding those who have recently conversed about a topic by keyword.
8. Give a Darn About What You Sell
At the end of the day most of us are selling something. If you are not happy and a true believer of what you are selling and how it cures the customer’s pain, then you shouldn’t be selling it. After all, this comes across in every conversation that you have with your customers.
If you aren’t your biggest advocate then people will tell your efforts are not genuine and avoid doing business with you.
How do you engage with your online audience?