4 Ways To Keep Your Blog Readers Engaged (Without Being Too Pushy)

By: Victoria Kurichenko

What motivates you to work on your blog? Perhaps, you want to build a community and become an opinion leader. You might have purely pragmatic goals, and it is totally fine. Or, you might want to communicate an important global message and make more people aware of it. People run blogs for various reasons. Consequently, all of them have a different understanding of blogging success and user engagement. In simple words, user engagement shows to what extent your content meets your users’ and business’ needs. But what does it explicitly mean for you? You have your own goals and expectations from the blog, which can be different from others. In some cases, users personally relate to the content and are eager to engage with whatever you put there. However, even the top blogs might not hook users and remain just traffic generators. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to enhance user engagement, whatever the goals you choose.

Two Minute Title Research

Engagement starts way earlier than once users land on your website. Your page competes with other blogs in the search results.

Even if users search for something simple, like “best books to read,” they will most likely choose a blog post with a catchy title, perhaps, something like this: “Top 10 Books to Read This Summer According to Bill Gates”.

Curious? The title did an excellent job here! It’s pretty clickbaity and might perform better than everything else ranking under this keyword in the U.S.:

To run a title check, navigate to “Keyword explorer” in Ahrefs and type your keyword. The SERP overview will appear at the very bottom of the report page.

The title alone accounts for 80% of your article’s success. As a blogger, you will always compete for users’ attention. Hence, your optimization starts right from the title!

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it well:

“Attention is the single most important asset.”

The title research in Ahrefs would take just two minutes of your time, yet it's an effective way to stand out among competitors and drive users to your blog.

I’ve researched the top headline phrases that went viral on social media in 2020. They performed well and proved their effectiveness. You, too, can use them to create clickbait headlines.

Make People “Feel” What You Say in Three Steps

In other words, let them be in your shoes for a while.

Emotion is key to driving strong engagement on your blog. People want to make sure you understand them before they believe you. Formal and strict communication is rarely used these days because it is dry.

Bloggers and even companies try to create personalized content using storytelling that readers can easily relate to. Why is it trendy these days? Storytelling helps to “see and feel” the message you want to deliver in your content. Readers are more likely to engage with your stories if they have gone through a similar experience.

Emotional storytelling can help you connect with your audience, establish trust, and subtly nudge users to do what you want them to do.

Jim Edwards, a famous sales guru, defines three steps every content creator should follow to develop emotional engagement:

  1. Define the problem your users face. Edwards is convinced that “people will do what you say if you show them a strong why.”

  2. Agitate it, make it worse, make it painful. Agitate on users’ problem, and only after will they be ready to listen to your solution.

  3. Solve it by presenting your solution (a subscription, an ebook, an online course, a product, a service, anything.)

You can only communicate to users through your message. They can’t see you or feel your charisma. If your goal is to drive engagement on your blog, make sure you establish an emotional connection with your audience.

Structure Rocks

If content is king, then its structure is a queen!

The very beginning and the conclusion are what get users’ attention in a blog post.

If users are hooked, and the article delivers the promise made in the title, you have good chances to keep users on the page. However, that’s not the end. In fact, it is just the beginning.

No one likes to read pages of content without formatting. You get upset when you realize you have to go through the dense content without proper spacing, images, and critical highlights.

People are tired of all content exposed to them in a day. Do you want to keep them on your blog? Help them out!

Here are four ways you can improve RX (readers’ experience) and boost engagement.

1. Error Free Copy

Misspelling, improper word usage, lengthy and complicated sentences make readers’ experiences unpleasant and drastically ruin your credibility.

If you are a non-native speaker, you’ll have to go through rounds of editing to detect and eliminate the errors caused by language differences.

To nail writing — use simple words and sentences, check your content on Grammarly and Hemingway app. Both tools have free versions, which might be enough to identify and fix grammar issues.

2. Ask for Feedback

Let’s confess — you are not your readers. You can't know their thoughts and motivations. Instead of wondering why they leave your page after scrolling it, just ask them!

Tools like Hotjar lets you ask questions and collect feedback on users’ experiences.

You can ask if the page is informative and users found what they were looking for, what’s missing, why they leave the page, and many more things.

Knowing what frustrates your users will help you to eliminate the friction and improve the engagement rate.

Hotjar users’ feedback collection. Image credit of the author

3. Simple Text CTAs

Want more email subscribers? Contest entries? Conversions? You won’t get them without the right call to action.

According to the eye-tracking study, for every reader on this page, roughly 20% will scroll it by the very end.

If you want to catch people before they leave, you’ll have to locate your call to action closer to the top. Ideally, locate it where at least 50% of users are still on the page. You can check the scroll-depth of your page using Hotjar.

I encourage you to experiment with a simple text call to action on a blog page. Include a tiny CTA right in the content, where it will blend with the text. Readers won’t skip it as easily as they would do with banners. Now, the CTA is a part of the content, and it has higher chances of being noticed.

I worked with two blogs from entirely different industries. Yet, users' behavior was quite often similar — users skip banners and keep reading content. Hence, I solved the issue by embedding text CTAs into the blog posts, where they logically fit. Besides, I used a free version of Hubspot’s chatbot to engage in the conversation with people. Give it a try, and it might work for your blog too.

4. The Finishing Touches

Don’t give even the slightest chance for users to leave your blog unnoticed! You want to drive engagement, remember? Here are some tips on how to crush the end of your blog post:

  • Thought-provoking questions, like “Agree? 🤔 Share your thoughts in comments.” It provokes responses.

  • Offer freebies, like an ebook, a short consultation, a guide, a check-list, a voucher for a product or a service, a promo offer, etc. Offering freebies is a great way to build your email list and promote your paid offers.

  • Suggest related sources to keep users on your blog. The longer a visitor stays on your site, the more likely they will become loyal.

Visuals: Do They Always Work?

In short, yes!

Visuals help to reduce eye pressure from consuming solely written content. Moreover, they help readers perceive the same information through another content type — images, infographics, charts, etc.

According to the Research Digest:

“Images can increase trust and belief in the information being conveyed.”

Custom visuals help your blog establish a unique style and become memorable. It is what can distinguish you among tons of other content sites that look cheap.

You don’t necessarily have to be a photoshop or Figma guru to create images. There are tools to help you out. As a marketer, I often use Canva and Venngage to design visuals for my blog quickly. The good news: they have tons of free templates that you can use for inspiration.

Final Thoughts

Even if your blog post gets tons of social shares, many people probably don’t even read the whole thing. That’s just human nature. People are busy, and long-form content is not always welcome by everyone.

To grow your blog, you will have to drive users’ engagement, become memorable and trustworthy.

Here is what it means for you. Your content should:

  1. Have a catchy title that stands out among competitors.

  2. Be easy to read and scan through.

  3. Make users “feel” what you say.

  4. Be error-free.

  5. Be able to collect user feedback if there is any.

  6. Subtly nudge users to engage through CTAs.

  7. Create a desire to keep browsing through other pages.

  8. Utilize various content types to reduce eye pressure.

Wow, that was a long and informative read! I wish I’ve known all these points when I’ve just started as a blogger. The good news is now you know how to drive engagement. The very last thing remains — to act!

Article originally published to Medium

Written by Victoria Kurichenko

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