33 Experts Share Their Secrets For Improving Reader Engagement

A while ago I published a huge article on reader engagement which featured not only tactics, but also tools and examples of great reader engagement and the post did really well in terms of traffic, shares, feedback and all that fun stuff.

That got me thinking – how does everyone else increase engagement with readers on their own blogs?

More specifically – other industry leaders and experts.

Reader engagement is a topic that isn’t anything new by any means but it’s not talked about all to often in comparison to other topics.

So I set out on a quest to approach a number of industry experts and influencers and ask them exactly how they do it and then collate their answers into a group interview.

With this being the first group interview I’ve hosted, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons – you can read more about them here.

Please be warned, this post is huge and it’s packed full of valuable information and exactly how experts in their field do it.

 

The Questions

I really wanted to get to the core of what works and what doesn’t work, so I asked participants the following 3 questions:

  1. Which tactics have had the biggest impact on your blogs reader engagement?
  2. Has anything ever backfired on you when you have been trying something new to improve reader engagement? If so, how? (optional)
  3. Are there any other personal insights/tips that you’d like to share? (optional)

Some of these were optional and due to the sheer number of experts that participated in this group interview, I’ll be referring to these as Question 1, Question 2 and Question 3 from here on out to try and trim the word count down a bit.

If you need a reminder on the exact question, I’ve got that covered for you too, because you can get back to the questions list above by clicking on any of the question links in the responses below.

 

Quick links

I understand that it will be difficult to go through this post in one sitting due to the large amount of information, so I’ve added quick links enabling you to easily navigate to the responses by the expert that you’d like to view.

The being said, I know it’s easy to pick out the names that you know or you view as more influential, but I urge you to try to read through all of the answers because the responses from everyone have been fantastic and extremely valuable.

Those who have taken part include world renowned and best selling authors, entrepreneurs, public speakers, marketing strategists, business development managers, prolific bloggers and more – responses are listed in the order that they were received in.

How the experts do it

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Question 1

The only thing I do to increase reader engagement is to write things worth sharing.

Everything else is a bonus.

Seth Godin is a best selling author, blogger and founder of Squidoo.com.

Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh

Question 1

This is probably an unexpected answer, but the most effective thing I’ve ever done for this is selling my own products. A good portion of the traffic I get to my blog comes from customers who bought one or several of my products. And the majority of the active crowd (people who share, leave comments etc.) are customers.

Creating and selling your own products is an attention hack and also an authority hack. People are much more likely to pay attention to you if they’ve paid you. We easily discard free stuff or put it aside for “later” (which almost always turns into “never). But if you’ve paid for something, you’ll probably have a closer look. That’s a great opportunity to win someone over and turn them into a fan.

Also, selling your own product instantly turns up your authority. It’s no coincidence that the words “author” and “authority” are so closely related.

The first information product I created basically put my blog on the map and after that was the first time I started seeing decent traffic volumes. The other thing I do is simply ask: I often ask my readers for feedback on specific topics, I start conversations and I get involved in the comments.

Question 2

Yes, probably. But the consequences are completely harmless. Sometimes, I ask a question and don’t get many replies. That indicates that I was trying to engage my readers on a topic they don’t really care about. There are no real negative consequences to this, so it’s not something I worry about too much.

Shane Melaugh is a successful marketer, entrepreneur and blogger, he is also co-founder of SECockpit and creator of several amazing including Hybrid Connect.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel
Question 1

Replying to comments by far had the biggest impact. It’s caused readers to continually come back, comment, share the posts via Twitter and Facebook and even recommend the blog to their friends.

The second most popular tactic that boosted my engagement was ending each blog post with a question.

Question 2

Yes I have. The furthest has been creating a top commenters list in my sidebar and sending all existing commenters an email every time a new comment was placed. It worked well, but I felt it was too spammy, so I stopped it.

Question 3

The best way to really boost engagement is by writing great content. If your content is so good, people will naturally want to engage with you.

Neil Patel is an entrepreneur, investor and blogger. He is the co-founder of Crazy Egg & Kiss Metrics and has worked with companies such as Tech Crunch, Microsoft and AOL, delivering them more traffic and more business. You can find Neil blogging at Quicksprout.com.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre

Question 1

My blogging style has several core elements, which I believe have really impacted the growth of my blog’s readership and engagement.

 

Long-form content

These past 2 years of blogging, I focused more on creating comprehensive, in-depth and actionable blog posts. And instead of writing twice to thrice a week, I just required myself to at least publish one post a week (but I ensure that the post will be very valuable and will benefit my blog’s long-term goals).

The great thing about focusing on writing lengthier content is that it’s sticky to readers, more often than not. People tend to bookmark the post and share it on social networks when it appears to them as the ultimate resource about the subject.

 

Evergreen content

I mostly write posts that aren’t time-sensitive. This has been the most effective tactic I’ve used in scaling my blog’s marketing. Given that many of my older posts are still getting shared on social media and also able to get new comments from new readers.

Nick Eubanks did a case study of my blog’s evergreen content last year, where you can see how much it helped grow not just my blog’s ability to engage readers, but also on how it improved my blog and business’ performance.

 

Industry Peers

The relationships I’ve built have really benefited my blog in so many ways. I’ve got lots of friends in the online marketing industry who share my posts on a regular basis, which I think has amplified the trust my readers see in my brand.

 

Unexpected hook

I always try to include information or tips within my posts that my readers won’t find anywhere else. I guess that’s something that makes them want to subscribe, visit back and wait for my upcoming posts.

Question 2

I’ve tested a lot of things on my blog before, so I guess that’s somewhere in between yes and no.

But the great thing about testing is that it can help you determine the things or methods that really work. Once you find the methods that are really bringing positive results to your blog, you can then focus on them (just like the factors that I’ve mentioned above which have really worked out for me).

Question 3

Here are several things that I think other bloggers can really use:

  • Offer as much information as you can, for your readers to really see the value you’re providing to them.
  • Share other people’s works, especially from those that you follow and learn from. The more you use other credible resources as reference, the more you can build trust to your audience (which is very important these days).
  • Don’t over-promote yourself. Share only when it’s really valuable and relevant.
  • Always be testing!
  • Find your unique selling point (USP) or a niche where you can be an authority. Focus on it. That’s the best way to compete and stand out in the online space.

 

Jason Acidre is a marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, co-founder and CEO of Xight Interactive and can be found blogging about SEO and marketing on his personal blog:Kaiserthesage.com.

Lisa Irby

Lisa Irby

Question 1

First, I think it’s important to identify the trigger topics for your own site — these are topics that your readers are most interested in and trigger responses.  So I know that when I do a post on AdSense, making money or traffic, I will get the biggest responses.  These are my trigger topics.

Second, instead of just reporting information, I also try to share my own experiences as they relate to the topic to make the content more interesting.  Readers like examples and proof to support whatever topic so I try to provide those when I can.

Question 2

I don’t think I’ve ever taking anything too far, but I do remember running a few failed contests that taught me a lot.  I was trying to use them to build traffic and loyalty, but I quickly learned that you need to make contests easy to enter AND the prize should be exciting enough to draw people in.  Once I began to better align my prizes with the rules for entering, I saw better results.

Question 3

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their blogs is they forget the human component.  It becomes so much about content and information they forget to add their own personality and remind their visitors they are human too.  A lot of bloggers are robots.  They pump out content on some automated schedule and expect that to be enough.  We are in a social world now and the human component is just as important as your content.

Lisa Irby is a full time internet marketer, blogger and author. Lisa operates a number of websites including her blog at 2Createawebsite.com and a forum with a great community of bloggers and webmasters; Websitebabble.com.

Zac Johnson

Zac Johnson

Question 1

I’ve always made sure that I have made myself accessible to everyone as much as possible. It’s all about the importance of growing your audience and brand reach. This includes everything from guest blogging on as many sites as possible, commenting on many sites, providing free advice and being active on the major social networks.

Question 2

It’s always great to try and connect with your audience but in terms of engagement, I don’t think it’s really ever been an issue of going overboard. I’ve always made it an issue to create quality content and let it speak for itself.

Question 3

It’s all about your brand! If you aren’t currently build up a brand of your own then you are falling behind. There are now more people on the internet than ever before and thousands of new blogs are being made every day. You need to start a brand that you can continually grow over time to be able to compete with the rest of the world.

Zac Johnson is a successful entrepreneur and internet marketer who is an expert in affiliate marketing, he operates a number of websites including ZacJohnson.com and BloggingTips.com.

Dino Dogan

Dino Dogan

Question 1

I’d like to add my 2c regarding blog comments.

 

I find it to be a function of two forces. Emotion and friction.

 

The word emotion comes from the Latim movere, which means to move. If we want a reader to leave a comment, we have to move the reader to do so. And to do that, we have to stir up emotion inside the reader’s heart.

 

There are many ways in which we could do this, but the most obvious way is to be polarizing.

 

For example:

 

If I write a post with a headline “All Republicans are Idiots”, I will get comments from Republicans arguing the broadness and severity of my sentiment, and I will get Democrats agreeing with me.

 

Both sets are moved. Republicans to defend themselves, Democrats to rally.

 

Reversing it would accomplish exactly the same thing.

 

Once the reader is moved to comment, we have to remove friction. Otherwise, they’ll drop off somewhere between wanting to leave a comment and actually leaving a comment.

 

Bloggers introduce friction every time there’s moderation turned on, or capcha, or authentication, and so on. Anything that is a step between the reader’s thoughts and someone else’s ability to read those thoughts, is an obstacle.

 

If we want comments, those steps need to be removed, or smoothed out, as much as possible.

 

By providing a strong emotional impetus inside the reader’s mind to want to leave a comment, and by removing friction from the action of leaving a comment, we will end up with an environment that is designed to maximize reader engagement.

Dino Dogan is an author, speaker, social media consultant, the co-founder of Triberr and you can find him blogging at DIYBlogger.net.

Chris Guthrie

Chris Guthrie

Question 1

Building an email list. I’ve built a list of roughly 50,000 from my blog and customers of my software products, so when I want to drive traffic to a blog post and get a lot of comments it’s easy to do it. Ultimately every website owner in the world is competing for attention and it’s your job to try and take as much of that attention as possible.

I’ve found the most effective way I’ve done that is by providing value within my niches in a different way than the other players. Sure anyone can write a blog post about how to sell a website, but if I write a blog post about how I sold a website for six figures then that’s different than what most others.

Chris Guthrie is a successful internet marketer and entrepreneur. Chris has released a number of different software products and you can find more by visiting his blog: Makemoneyontheinternet.com.

Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell

Question 1

1) Choose narrow topics and being uber-helpful — it creates shareable content that spreads – Everyone says “Make your content shareable” to grow social media shares and grow your readership.  All well and good —  but what exactly is it that compels people to share?

Many factors make content more shareable – let me focus on just a few tactics here.

The bar has gotten much much higher for what it takes to create remarkable content that stands out and gets people to share.  For example, we publish a fair number of tips posts (“X tips for whatever”) on Small Business Trends. We also see thousands of posts submitted every month by the community on BizSugar.  In this day and age, everybody is doing those types of posts. You have to do something special to make them stand out today.

Among the many things we’ve learned about what makes some tips posts more shareable than others, are these two points:

(a) The larger the number of tips, the better — say 12, 20, 35, 50, 85, even 101 tips.

(b) The topic has to be narrow and specific.

Don’t expect many people to share your “3 tips for your small business” post because that’s very general. There are hundreds of posts out there with that title or something similar already — trust me.  Instead, what about something like “97 Ways to Get Newsletter Subscribers”?  Or “The 12 Things Web Visitors Want From a Restaurant Website, But Rarely Get”?  Those are very specific and promise rich and helpful pointers that a reader will want to bookmark and save.  They won’t appeal to every reader, but to the right audience, they make an impact.  Know your audience and give them the kind of content that will appeal greatly to them.

Remember, the “great-small paradox” of writing posts.  It is better to appeal greatly (peaking intense interest) to a small (narrow niche) audience — than appeal in a small (blah and forgettable) way to a great (large and broad) audience.

2) Comment, comment, comment! – I am always stunned when site authors and guest authors never bother to respond to comments. Comments beget more comments.  I wish I had time to comment more – I would.  Same goes for commenting on others’ blogs. Participate and others will participate on your site.

3) Turn social media into a system — What I mean by this is, like any other activity in your business, you have to make social media marketing into a system.  You must assign responsibilities to staff. you must train them.  You must set goals, analyze results, and tweak what you’re doing.

This does NOT mean turning into a tweeting zombie and then autoposting all your tweets to your own Facebook Page without ever visiting or doing anything with a personalized touch.  I am a big believer in tools and automation, but use them to give yourself more free time to engage with people one on one. Respond and reply. Put out something other than always tweeting your own content. Acknowledge #FollowFriday shoutouts. Answer your Direct Messages. Show up – don’t be an absentee business owner on Facebook.  Make it real.

One thing we do is periodically hold a chat on Twitter on a topic, sometimes with giveaways of small prizes for best answers.  We’re lucky to get sponsors to underwrite some of those, but we do them without sponsors, too.  We’ve also done Google+ Hangouts and Facebook Q&As.  It’s a way to converse and engage with people.

4) Put up pictures of real people – staff and community members –  Our engagement increased meaningfully on BizSugar when we put up a Featured Moderator box on the side column.  It further increased when put up a Contributor of the Week box with the contributor’s photograph on the sidebar of every page of the site. Previously, that information was in the site but it was buried.  It’s amazing how recognizing people by displaying their photos prominently, and making it easy for visitors to see pictures of real people, adds to a sense of community.

Question 2

Yes. Let me give just one example.  Proof of social validation is important – why else would we all display buttons that show how many times our Facebook Page has been Liked, or how times a post has been tweeted or shared on Pinterest?  But you can take that too far. For instance, way back when, we used to pull in all the Twitter tweets on each post, and display them mixed in with comments.

For a while it was OK, but soon retweeting became more popular. It made the posts look wildly popular at first glance, to show 127 tweets under the post.  But it actually depressed commenting on site.  People got overwhelmed trying to sort through all the retweets and figured “hey why should I comment — it’s all been said already.”

That demonstrates why you must experiment, but pay attention. Measure things.  Analyze your metrics.  Don’t be afraid to undo an earlier decision if it proves to not work out the way you’d hoped.

Question 3

Don’t junk up your blog with poorly-executed attempts at SEO – Posts written mainly for SEO purposes are turn-offs to readers.  You know what I’m talking about. Shallow, vague and general content that I call fluff — offering little detail or telling the reader the obvious that he or she already knows.  Articles that repeat the same phrase in contorted ways just to work in keywords.  Articles that have 10 or 20 internal links (often to the same page with the same anchor text, over and over) and never link to any external sources. Those are posts written for search engines.

While search traffic in general is valuable, it’s actually not THAT valuable for blogs and content sites.  Newbies get confused on this. Let me explain.  A lot of search visitors bounce away immediately if the article is not what they are looking for. Google now considers engagement metrics, and when visitors take one look and leave because they are disappointed with your content, how — in the long run — does that help your blog with Google?

More importantly, how does that help you in your goal to engage readers to develop a loyal following?

You want readers who come back and visit. You want readers who remember your site and your brand.  Poorly-executed SEO efforts drive people away.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for taking steps to properly optimize your blog for search engines.  After all, if you have something compelling to say but no one knows about it, that’s no good either. Bloggers definitely need to understand basic SEO. But don’t let the tail wag the dog — SEO shouldn’t be at the expense of your human visitors.

And never accept guest posts where the author just wants to use your site as a vehicle to post made-for-SEO content linking back to his or her own site. That’s the kind of thing that gives guest blogging a bad name. Have a little more self-respect for your blog. Those kinds of guest bloggers are not helping you – they are dissing you.  Be especially careful of author bios.  It’s not unusual for a guest blogger to try to slip in 10 or 12 links back to his own site in the bio field at the bottom of an article, or call-to-action language pitching their latest offer.  That’s not a bio – that’s an advertisement!

Not only does it hurt your site, but it sullies the site for the rest of your guest bloggers who carefully write quality content. Now they are being seen on a site that has let itself go downhill. How are you going to attract the better-quality guest bloggers that way?

Anita Campbell is on the Forbes list of top influential women and is a small business expert. Anita is the CEO of BizSugar.com and founder of SmallBizTrends.com

Ted Rubin

Ted Rubin

Question 1

Your personal and/or company blog, to me, should be at the heart of your social presence and be a driver for valuable content that can be used in so many places.

Here are a few things to consider than in addition to just posting articles and working the SEO angle. Here are four places to concentrate:

1. User-Friendly Navigation: Keeping your blog easy to navigate with intuitive category labels will help people find the information they seek much faster. Here again, doing your research on what your customers are looking for is essential. Also, make it easy for readers to leave comments and share your posts on various channels.

2.Look for Holes in Your Competition: Take a look at your competition’s blogs and websites. Are there content holes they’ve missed that you can take advantage of? Ways to add value not already available and help you stand out. Those consistently provide lots of content have a bigger chance of attracting people who are actively looking for information. It’s not who has the biggest Yellow Pages ad that develops more relationships; it’s he/ she who disseminates the most helpful information.

3. Don’t Close Your Comments: Don’t close the door for people to leave comments on your blog; doing so leaves the impression that you only care about what you have to say and are not willing to be responsive to others. Seth Godin can do it, and it sure works for him, but until you are playing in that league, don’t go there.

4. Commenting on Other Blogs: Look for other blogs in your industry (but not direct competitors) that have a good amount of traffic and comments, and contribute a comment (or designate members of your team to do so), but only if you think you can add value to the conversation. Be careful not to promote your company here; just add some insight, and do it on a regular basis. Make seeking out and commenting on other blogs a part of your team’s weekly activities. The more you contribute to the conversation happening around you, the more you’ll be seen as a thought-leader (and people will click on your link to check you out).

These are a few areas that can have the biggest impact on your blogging strategy as it relates to building relationships, but they are by no means the only places to concentrate. The overriding question to ask yourself when you’re working on any aspect of yours or your company blog is, “What’s the best way for us to keep readers coming back and recommending us to their friends and associates?”

Ted Rubin is a social media strategist and consultant. He is the author of “Return on Relationship” and can be found writing on his personal blog at TedRubin.com.

Laurie S Hurley

Laurie S Hurley

Question 1

Writing about personal stuff as well as well as business tips and business news. People love to hear about YOU, (used generically) and have a peek into the inside story behind a business person. Relaying a short story about something that may have happened to me, usually in a humorous fashion and asking if that has happened to anyone else, is always a big hit and results in more comments and engagement.

Question 2

Yes. My first social media coach managed a Facebook page specifically for people to share their blogs on a certain day of the week. She had lots of rules and guidelines. I was very new to social media then and participated regularly (and followed all the rules). She handed it off to me and I was so thrilled, but I realized that people didn’t like to be bound by so many rigid guidelines.

 

The whole point of engaging in social media is to leave authentic, heart-felt comments.  As I “enforced” the rules with this group, I saw many people leave. I eventually left, too and realized there are other ways to invite comments and engagement without acting like a dictator. I never went back to that coach and it took several months for me to garner a new group of followers who wanted to hear what I had to say. A very bad experience.

Question 3

As far as mailing lists and other types of engagement – give people a reason to follow you. Address your audience’s needs; their pain points and predicaments. Do so in an educational, informative, non-salesy way and establish yourself as the expert in your field. Having a giving mentality will always work – maybe not immediately, but eventually, as long as one’s content is relevant, consistent and above all not a pitch – people will respond and want to tune in.

Another tip – I do my newsletter once a month and jam-pack it with goodies. I have some of my followers emailing me asking, “Laurie, did I miss your newsletter?” I take that as a huge compliment. My tip is, don’t over expose yourself, make your content so good, people are clamoring for it and actually looking for it in their inboxes.

As far as lists and opt-ins – my tip is the same. Give some fantastic material away. Be generous and be real and don’t pitch at the end. People will opt in and will pay attention. If you content is good enough, it will stand on its own and folks will want to know more and be willing to spend money to work with you.

Laurie S Hurley is a coach, consultant and speaker that specialises in social media.

Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer

Question 1

For me, engagement really started by finding a small group of like-minded bloggers who were also just starting out.  We supported each other and learned from each other.  You could always count on at least those folks to support you day in and day out. Eventually my audience grew as readers from the other blogs found me too.  I think that was the most effective thing I did to build an audience. It takes time, patience, and respect for your readers.

Question 2

I have no regrets about anything I have done on the blog.  That is not to say that I haven’t made mistakes, but those help you grow and learn.  I don’t intentionally set out to be controversial, or initiate a dispute but in the course of being honest and human, sometimes that happens. It can be uncomfortable but if we bring our whole selves to the blog, sometimes a controversy might occur.  I’m sure some readers may not like what I write and abandon the community. That’s OK. I can’t be everything to everybody.

Question 3

Never forget that behind every avatar is a real person.  When they leave a comment on your blog, respect that like a gift.  They are spending their valuable time to be with you and your work. That’s is pretty humbling, isn’t it?

Mark Schaefer is an educator and marketing consultant specializing in social media workshops. He blogs at {grow} and is the author of several best-selling marketing books including Return On Influence.

Donna Merrill

Donna Merrill

Question 1

When it comes to reader engagement on my blog the biggest impact I have had was to join “tribes” or sometimes called “blogging alliances.” There are many out there, but one has to be quite selective in order to get together with a group of people that reciprocate thoughtfully and consistently. In each group you join, there are a set of rules to follow.

Some require, for instance, that you syndicate 5 people BEFORE you add a link to your own blog in the community. Some bloggers are active in multiple groups. It is important to follow the rules of each group you are in. Most important, give value to each group, don’t just look to benefit from them. You have to read the blogs of other members, give great comments, then syndicate their posts within your various social sites.

I find the single greatest impact is commenting. I can go to a blog and write a great comment. Others will see that and find it interesting and come over to my blog because they valued my comment. They then become my readers and followers. The next most important thing is that I always reply to my comments and then go back to their blogs and repeat the process… read their articles and leave comments there. This is the beginning of engagement. Then take it a step further and connect with folks on social sites.

Get involved! Don’t wait around for someone to come to you, instead, go to them first. People appreciate when you read their blogs and comment thoughtfully… “thoughtfully” being the key to the entire process.

Question 2

It’s hard to take things too far when trying to improve reader engagement. Just be authentic and sincere in your conversations at all times. I have noticed that some people will make repetitive comments on some of my high-ranked posts, apparently seeking to get back-links to their sites. This is definitely abusing the practice of engagement. There are also those who blatantly spam in their comments by embedding self-promoting links or otherwise attempting to get readers away from my blog onto their own sites. Sometimes they actually embed affiliate links. This is definitely not the way to improve reader engagement.

Question 3

JOIN GROUPS and GET SOCIAL

Take your blogging beyond the confines of your own blog and even blogging communities by engaging through the social media. This not only broadens your reach to more readers, but it helps your blog and articles rank higher in the major search engines, especially Google. Recently, Google redefined it’s page ranking algorithm significantly (known as Google Panda and Penguin). The most significant change in the algorithm is to put much more stock in a blogger’s social interactions in the social media. So, if you are blogging consistently and conscientiously, and engaging with your readers on the social media sites, you will greatly improve your chances of getting high Google ranking.

Have a plan to be on social sites for engagement.

Here’s some ways to move your game into social media circles.

1. Blogging communities usually have groups that not only share comments on each other’s blogs, but syndicate their articles into the main social media sites. So, again, get involved in these groups and don’t be stingy with your efforts. One blogging alliance I work with has about 60 dedicated people on it, broken into mini-groups. We rotate each week to syndicate five other bloggers, so you are never in the same group. Of course, you can go on as many blogs as you like, but keeping it to 5-8 people is the most usual way to proceed. Syndicating into your social media streams gives real depth to your social footprint.

2. Facebook groups: There are so many Facebook groups that will “drop and run” by posting their articles and never syndicating others. Those are the groups to avoid. I belong to a small group with great reciprocity. We comment and syndicate each other every week. These are the kind of groups that will boost your social media engagement and visibility.

3. Google+ Communities: If you go to your Google+ page and press “communities,” you will find many different groups to join. As with any other blogging alliance, follow their rules of engagement and give it your best effort.

4. Triberr: Although I’m new to this blogging community, I have found a lot of traffic coming to my blog through my engagement with other bloggers, particularly via social media sites. This is a great place to get your “social” on.

Donna Merrill is a life coach and social media specialist. Donna blogs about personal development and online marketing.

Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell

Question 1

I not only respond to every comment but I try to visit the blogs of new people relatively soon, and those of returning commenters on a regular basis. People like the reciprocation and they also like seeing their comments responded to. I can’t say asking questions has done as much as I thought it might, but asking people to give their opinion works here and there.

Question 2

Early on I would share my blog links almost everywhere I could. That had to be irritating because some people were following me in multiple spaces and they had to get tired of seeing me like that. That’s about as far as I’ve gone though. I’m honest in blog posts but I’m “safe” when it comes to talking about controversial issues. I’ll talk about them, but my language is always such that it doesn’t inflame.

Question 3

Being honest and writing in a conversational style makes people feel comfortable. I tend to write about certain things most of the time but I will pop in something to throw people off from time to time. Don’t be boring and don’t forget to have fun once in a while.

Mitch Mitchell is a healthcare finance consultant, leadership trainer and writer. You can find Mitch blogging about social media and internet marketing on his personal blog; ImJustSharing.com.

Gregory Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti

Question 1

The term “engagement” is a bit tricky, especially when related to blogs, but I would say by far the best choice I made for better engagement is when I stopped trying to spread my audience so thin, and instead put all of my eggs in a single basket… the right basket.

That basket would be email, which you might think would be bad for engagement, but actually results in a much more personal interaction with your subscribers. My open rates for Sparring Mind, for instance, are as high as 60% (more on that here), and people very regularly email me to keep the conversation going outside of posts.

On superficial platforms like social media (or even blog comments), the interaction is very limited, and nothing like getting a personal email from your readers.

Question 2

Once, I tried to disable comments on my site and only have people comment on my Google+ profile… I guess with the idea that it would be better to shift people over to the latest hot platform.

Again, spreading myself too thin: I saw time on page decrease because people were leaving my site to go comment (d’oh!) and when I was putting together strategy for Help Scout, I made damn sure not to make the same mistake.

It really comes back to having my site as my home base and ending my attempts to push people off of my site to anywhere else… it should be the other way around!

~Gregory Ciotti, marketing strategist at Help Scout.

Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph

Question 1

Asking questions to end each blog post and opening up commenting by asking my readers to share their opinion has increased reader engagement on my blog quickly. Writing helpful content also boosts chattiness. Engage your readers. Ask frequent questions. Do not get frustrated if you receive no comments for days or even weeks, using this approach. In time engagement will increase on your blog.

Question 2

Yes, I tried to respond to each comment on some guest posts which generated 110 plus comments. I write blog posts and run a home business team. I cannot respond to each comment while doing what matters most; writing blog posts and training my team. Set a time limit on your responses to comments, especially when you are guest posting on an authority blog.

Question 3

Respond to social questions, shares, chats, on a daily basis. Showing up each day makes you stand out from the crowd.

Ryan Biddulph helps people gain financial freedom online, learn more by visiting Ryan’s blog.

Ms Ileane Smith

Ileane Smith

Question 1

There’s a strong sense of community on Basic Blog Tips for several reasons. It’s always been a priority for me to let people know that the blog is there to help them succeed online. One of the ways I do that is through offering guest posting opportunities.

I’ve coached many of the guest authors and helped them hone their expertise in the areas of content development and outreach. Incorporating YouTube videos and Podcasts into the blog has also gone a long way to increase engagement. People often comment on how they like to hear my voice and see me on screen.

Lastly, I want to be sure to mention how using CommentLuv on the blog has been a long time favorite of mine when it comes to supporting engagement. By allowing people to link to a related blog post, other readers are more motivated to click on those links when the titles are compelling and relevant to their interests. The social enticements are an added bonus that encourage additional social shares and likes.

Question 2

I’m not sure if this qualifies as “taking things too far”, but there are a couple of guest posts that got past me. Lol.

By that I mean, the guest authors weren’t thoroughly “vetted” on my behalf. I would say that I rushed to approve them without realizing that they were not up to snuff from an engagement standpoint.

Several comments were left on those posts that never received responses and I think that is such a shame. I have a totally different system in place now for screening guest authors so let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

Question 3

One of the biggest hurdles we all face in this digital age is time management and we’re all looking for ways we can save time and still be effective and provide value to our community. One thing bloggers can do is make use of the free reporting tools in Google Analytics.

The new social media tracking tools provide real insights into which networks we need to spend more time engaging on and which ones we need to pay less attention to.

I published the first post in a series called Getting Started with Google Analytics – Just for Bloggers aimed at helping people learn how to take advantage of the tracking tools and reports in Google Analytics to get the most out of the time they spend off-site.

Ms Ileane Smith teaches people how to build a better blog. You can learn more by visiting Ileane’s blog.

Devesh Sharma

Devesh Sharma

Question 1

For last 3 years, I have run a number blogs and websites in different niches and for each website I have followed a different set of strategies. But here are 2 tactics that I used for almost all my sites –

- Writing Epic S**t – That’s something I have learned from Corbett Barr. If you can write epic quality content, than it would be just a matter of time before Google starts loving your site. I’m not talking about 500 words keyword packed post; I’m talking about guides, resource posts (Here’s the one I did one a few weeks ago – WordPress Handbook), the ones that are packed with a lot of useful info. Blogging Wizard is a good example of what type of content you should be producing for your own site.

- Stop chasing A-list bloggers – I always try to focus on building relationship with my peers, rather than focusing on big blogs or gurus.

Question 2

Most often people ask me technical questions related to WordPress and more than 60% of the time I help them for free. So when last week, a long time reader asked me for some WordPress help and I was happy to put a few hours aside to re-build his website from scratch. I completed the work and wasn’t interested in taking any fee because that guy was a long time reader and has always supported me.

But he really wanted to thank me for all the work, so he sent an email to his list mentioning my blog – WPKube and I ended up getting so many retweets, shares, new subscribers (around 100+) and a few potential clients.

Devesh Sharma is a successful young internet marketer and blogger. Devesh is also the founder of WPKube.com and a number of other great websites.

Mauro D’Andrea

Mauro D'Andrea

Question 1

A very effective way that I used to increase readers engagement for a previous blog was to use Google Plus hangouts on a regular basis.
Every two weeks I was making a webinar on Google Plus in which I was speaking about topics of interest for my readers. They loved my idea.

To take part on my hangouts, people had to add me on Google Plus, so my strategy increased my following on that social media.
I ended up with a loyal audience on my blog and a big following on Google Plus.

Another really powerful way that I used to increase readers engagement is to use videos.
Many kinds of videos work well, but the best one is the type of video in which you are in front of the camera and speak directly to people.

Many people, are scared about this, but the truth is that it’s a very powerful way to build a connection with your audience: when people watch you in a video, they have the feeling of listening to you talking live, in front of them. Over the course of weeks and with many videos, people will start perceiving you as a friend.

Question 2

No I haven’t. I guess that until you are genuine, and you want to truly connect with people, you can’t be wrong.

Question 3

When building readers’ engagement, your intent is what really matters. If you are genuinely interested in helping people and connecting with them, you’ll find the best way to engage your readers in your specific case.

When you provide value to people, you are a magnet, and they can’t help but feel attracted to you.

Mauro D’Andrea is an internet marketer that specialises in email marketing and content marketing.

Herby Fabius

Herby Fabius

Question 1

Conducting entrepreneur interviews have been the most effective on my blog and readers seem to really love them. This is especially true when I’m able to get high profile entrepreneurs to participate. In terms of reader engagement, I do ask everyone that I feature to share it with their fans, and they always do. In most cases, these interviewees have huge fan base so I‘ve been able to use this tactic to turn some of their fans into readers and increase web traffic, comment and social shares on my blog.

Question 2

No, I can’t say that I have. I try to let things happen naturally as much as possible. But we all know in the world of blogging, this is easier said than done.

Question 3

The only thing I would like to say is “Stop Hiding Behind Logos” often bloggers or even entrepreneurs will hide behind their logos so much, that readers are not able to connect with them. I personally I have a big problem following brands on twitter; I always follower the founders, unless their using their brand as a profile picture -I always like to know that I am following an actual person.

Herby Fabius is the Co-Founder & Marketing Manager at Triplefy. Herby also interviews entrepreneurs on his blog: BillionSuccess.com.

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith

Question 1

I would have to say that it’s responding to every single comment that people leave. I also thank them for taking the time to stop by and share their opinions. I know a lot of people think that’s not important but if people really believe that you appreciate them then they’ll be more eager to stop by your place more often.

I ask questions in my posts to encourage comments. I want my readers to share their thoughts with me. I genuinely believe that if they really feel that you appreciate what they share you’ll get a lot more engagement from that.

Always treat them like they’re a friend of yours and compliment them as much as possible. People need that inspiration and recognition so be that person that gives that to them.

Question 2

I can truthfully answer that question with a firm no.

Question 3

When it comes to blogging I’ll throw in that phrase that we all beat to death and that’s to just be you. Don’t try to write posts like me or Adam. Write posts in your own words, write them like you’re trying to describe something to a friend. When you write your posts this way, people will think that you’re talking just to them. That will make them feel so much more welcome then if you’re writing like an instruction manual trying to explain something.

Invite them to comment, let them know you appreciate them taking the time out of their busy day to stop by your blog because there are literally thousands that they could visit but they chose yours. If you make them feel wanted then they’ll be back for more.

Thanks for this invitation Adam to share my thoughts on your questions and I hope that others will find this helpful.

Adrienne Smith is an internet marketing and social media specialist. Adrienne regularly blogs over on her personal blog: AdrienneSmith.net.

Erik Emanuelli

Erik Emanuelli

Question 1

I could say that the most obvious suggestion is to write quality content, so I avoid it.

I start with what I love more : to respond to the comments below my articles and create conversation. I try to say something useful to the reader, entice the commentator to be helped, but not only this! You may be surprised to know that you can get some great information from the commenters. Sometimes I solved problems demanding answers to my audience within a comment.

Another thing you should do to increase engagement is to visit at least once the link of the comment you are going to approve and may be leave yourself a comment there, on a blog post you like. Not only you are going to check the quality of the website (essential if you are using the CommentLuv plugin and you choose to give “DoFollow” status to a commenter after certain quantity of comments), but you can also show that you care about building a relationship. Sometimes you can discover really interesting blogs and meet nice people, from who you can learn a lot!

Once you start to understand your audience and you know more your readers, you can decide who you want to reward. For example you may need to link to one of your readers blog, because you found an interesting resource, which match the content of your next article.

Another good way to engage more with your readers, is to ask them what they want you to write about. It can be a particular problem, a WordPress issue to solve or the blogging tools you suggest. You may decide to write a detailed guide in form of a post, or you can write few sentences answering a comment, making a reader satisfied.

One method that I found particularly effective to make my readers happy is the giveaway. Of course you need to think about something useful as prizes. It can be a premium plugin, a service package for a social media site, a useful eBook or guide.

Question 3

Since I started blogging, the most important thing I learned is to build friendships with other bloggers in your niche. Not only you can learn a lot from them, but you can exchange small favors, you can ask for suggestions, or help.

You’ll be surprised if I tell you that I have 100% of my guest posts accepted, not because I’m a good writer (I still have to learn soooooo much), but because most of the time I was invited to contribute to websites of friends. And when I asked myself to be accepted as guest blogger, I did it to people who already I have relationships or connections with.

So my best advice is to create friendships, meet always new bloggers. The benefits will be not only to learn a lot from each other, but also (and especially) human pleasure! :-)

Erik Emanuelli is a blogger and entrepreneur that helps people earn more money online.

Joel Comm

Joel Comm

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi :-)

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  • http://YourStressMatters.blogspot.com/ Dr. Rae

    Bravo Dino et al.., My plan is to learn from all of you as I read this magnificent post while I am on my mini-break. Thank you for sharing… Your “engagement” triumphs are inspirational, and motivational for me, and others to keep learning!

  • http://www.tvsinternetmarketing.com/ Carmen Rane Hudson

    Fantastic post!! I was struck by how many of these top voices are saying many of the same things about what bloggers need to do!

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Carmen, thanks for your comment – I’m really glad you enjoyed the post.

  • zooel

    Thanks for sharing this with us, you have done a great job,

    I really enjoyed reading this post, you did a great job with it

    Nice way to really share your thoughts on a topic like this.