Most blog advice centers on a key element of content strategy: providing a “hook” that captivates new readers and brings them to your site. This is imperative, especially now that content marketing has grown to a level of popularity that drowns most new competitors in white noise. However, standing out is only the first part of the equation. Assuming you’re fortunate or skilled enough to bring in ample new visitors to your blog, what’s to stop them from reading a single article and leaving forever?
The Power of Reader Retention
Instead of only striving for more “new” readers, your strategy should also have a retention component. Many of the tactics that are useful in hooking new readers apply here, such as writing unique, eye-catching headlines, but to increase your subscribed readership, you’ll need a distinct set of tactics. Ultimately, these tactics can be placed in one of two categories: making it easy to read your content, or making it compelling to keep your users coming back for more.
Making It Easy to Read Your Content
Most users are lazy. It’s your job to make accessing your content as easy as possible, or you’ll forfeit the portion of your readership not inclined to actively seek you out. Here’s how to do it:
1. Include an email signup on every page of your site
Sending out regular updates via email is a strong way to keep your content top-of-mind, but for that you need a full list of email subscribers. Accordingly, you should have strong calls-to-action to sign up for your email list throughout your site. Stor-Mor offers a great example of this, with an email subscription option on nearly every page.
2. Use an RSS feed
RSS feeds are ways of consolidating and streamlining your content for busy audience members. They’re easy to integrate with your existing blog, and automate the process for new and old readers alike. A major news provider, such as ABC News, may have dozens of RSS feeds, but as a small business owner, one for your blog is usually enough.
3. Feature yourself on external publications
This is a way of maximizing your visibility, especially if you have a personal brand in tow. One-time readers can’t help but encounter your name again and again if you’re featured in popular external publications, so they’ll find themselves reading your content whether they meant to or not. Work your way up from small-time and local publishers to major, national players.
4. Provide ample social syndication
Part of the reason HubSpot’s content has become so popular is its dedication to regular social syndication. This makes your content not only more visible to the less-hooked portions of your audience, but also easier to access. Users don’t have to make an active decision to seek you out—your content is right there in their newsfeeds.
Making It Compelling to Keep Coming Back
You also have to give your users a strong reason to keep coming back for more. While this seems obvious, simply producing “good” content isn’t enough to get the job done. Here’s what you need to do:
5. Produce content series
One strong way to keep users coming back is to make your most popular topics and angles into a series. If you know an item is popular, why not simply produce more of that item? For example, Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays have been a staple for years, attracting a loyal audience each week.
6. Engage your community
Blog readership isn’t just a game of numbers; think of this as a form of community building. For your community to thrive, you need to engage with them, and give them reasons to stick around. That means replying to their comments, asking them questions, and facilitating conversations among members. Make users feel “at home” with your brand.
7. Reward your most active members
Rewarding your most active community members has two distinct effects. First, it’s a measure of positive feedback; your most active members feel rewarded, and are therefore more inclined to continue engaging with your brand. Second, it’s a demonstration of your commitment to your readers; other readers will see your reward distribution and will be influenced to engage with you more as well. The “reward” here is up to you—you could offer a guest spot, give free products or trials, or even just call the user out with a thank-you.
8. Listen to feedback
This is by far the most important item on this list because it’s what will keep your content strategy relevant for the long term. No matter how much you research or how well you plan, your content won’t be perfect when you first start out. Only by listening to passive and active user feedback will you learn which topics hit home and which ones fall flat. Putting that feedback to use shows your commitment to your customers, simultaneously inspiring more dedication from them and improving the quality of your strategy overall.
As long as the content you’re producing is unique, well-written, detailed, and practical in some way, these eight tips will help you almost guarantee some level of recurring readership. The more you invest in your readers, the more they’ll reciprocate and invest in you, so keep their best interests at heart and make value your number one priority.