by Scott McIntyre
Last week, I suggested ways in which your blog could potentially benefit from participating on Social Media sites, and highlighted 10 Social Media tips for connecting with non blogging customers.
From your comments, it seems that this is an area of promotional activity which many of you would like either to develop more fully or to engage in for the first time.
I know that Liz herself is passionate about helping us all to better understand the reality of Social Media. Liz suggests maintaining a degree of perspective about Social Media and to think about whether your online offering is what people are actually searching for.
So, what might offline customers be looking for when they come to your blog, or website, for the first time? What would you like them to discover when they arrive? It would be great to read your views in the comments section.
Today, I want to look at those features of a blog which can influence how a first time, non-blogging visitor reacts to your site.
Ideally, you want to create a positive impression, to be welcoming. Make the offline customer feel ‘at home’ on your blog from the outset and you’re well on the way to connecting with them successfully.
Is Your Blog Appealing to the Non-Blogging Customer?
For all of you, I’m sure your blog is the result of much strategy development, planning, and hard work. You’ve invested resources- time, effort, and money- into developing an online offering to attract your target audience.
From the overall design to the little finishing touches, you’ve thought long and hard about ways to make your readers’ experiences as positive as possible. This can be achieved by addressing issues relating to usability and accessibility, amongst other factors.
But I wonder whether you’ve ever taken the time to see your blog from the perspective of a non-blogger? Perhaps you’ve asked a non-blogging contact to review your blog and give you feedback? If you have, you may have been a little surprised at what they told you.
As I’ve mentioned previously, there are still many people who either do not blog themselves or have never been exposed to the medium of blogs. This sizeable group of consumers represents a potentially lucrative target market for your online activities.
Of course, the nature of your online business will affect how much you need to be concerned about addressing the needs of a first-time visitor to your blog. If your product or service is aimed specifically at bloggers, you can safely assume that they will already have a good level of awareness about blogs.
If your market offering, however, is non-blogging based then you might need to pay a little more attention to making your blog as welcoming as possible to visitors who don’t blog.
Speaking from my own experience, when I first discovered blogs earlier this year, I was puzzled by the concept behind them. The more I read and researched, the more I gradually came to enjoy reading blogs and to understand their unique nature.
Blogs can be bewildering to a non-blogger…
So, how can you create that ideal first impression, and encourage the non-blogger to come back?
I’m going to briefly consider 6 points below, and would welcome your ideas on any other factors which you feel might attract or put off the non-blogger who pays your site a visit.
Without doubt, providing first-class content is the main way to appeal to a non-blogger visiting your blog. Today’s information hungry consumer is bombarded with data noise on all fronts. Some of this information is brilliant, while much is of an inferior quality. If you can serve up useful articles which satisfy the needs of your target audience, the non-blogger will come back for more. By working hard to deliver regular content of a consistently high standard, you will set your blog apart from the countless other sites producing disposable information. In addition, both the style and readability of your content also plays a crucial role in how it appeals to the non-blogging reader.
The style you adopt for your writing will be most effective when it speaks directly to your target reader and uses their language. The readability of your articles will affect how easy they are to make sense of. Non-bloggers are used to reading newspapers and magazines which use short and sweet headlines and break down text into bite sized chunks. They will likely expect this from your content too.
- Ease of Navigation
It can be a little overwhelming to find your way around the many pages which comprise a blog, if you’ve never browsed one before. There will be lots of good quality content within the structure of your blog which would be of great interest to a non-blogger. Most of it they will never have come across before. You can help to guide them to it by highlighting the very best of what you have to offer. This may be in the form of a section on your front page which points to ‘Best of’, ‘Favorite’, or ‘Popular’ articles. If you can instantly grab the non-blogger’s attention on their first visit, they will appreciate the value of the information you provide.
When faced with a wealth of content, the non-blogger will likely welcome a helping hand to find the topics you write on. It can be quite confusing to be faced with a long list of categories from which they have to select an article of direct interest.
It can also be somewhat difficult to find the information you want when it has been filed away under more categories than is absolutely necessary. To assist the non-blogger, it is an idea to cut down or combine your blog’s categories into only the essential ones which best index the content within. When faced with the choice of too many places to find an article, an impatient novice blog reader may not be willing to invest their time in tracking down your excellent content if its hidden away from them on first viewing.
When you have successfully managed to attract the non-blogging customer back to your blog for the first time, once they are there what would you like them to do? One of your main aims might be to encourage them to subscribe and receive the content you have worked so hard to produce. The best way of convincing someone to do something is to clearly point out to them why it is in their best interests to do so.
With subscriptions, this can mean highlighting your RSS feed and email options in a prominent place on your front page. But, a non-blogger is likely not going to have a clue about what RSS is, what a feedreader is, nor why they would benefit from subscribing to your blog above all others. You would be doing them a favor if, somewhere on your blog, you included information which explained these technical terms and the advantages of subscription to them.
- Comments Section
One of the definite attractions of a blog is the ability to be part of an enthusiastic community. Unlike any other form of media, blog readers can interact directly with the blogger and each other, as well as letting them shape the very content itself. The comments section is one of the best bits of a blog!
You can draw a non-blogging reader into your community by providing content which asks questions. If a reader feels that they have something of value to offer the conversation, they will be moved to leave a comment. From my experience, however, very few non-bloggers leave comments. It’s an issue I am keen to explore. Why do non-bloggers not contribute more to blog conversations? If you’re a non-blogger reading this, I would love you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
- Blog ‘Jargon’
As is the case with any community, individuals coming to it for the first time can be excluded by the overuse of ‘in-house’ language. The same is true of the new non-blogger visiting your site. If you are aiming to target offline customers, many of whom have had little or no prior exposure to blogs, excessive reference to blogging terms can be a little off putting. Why do you call it a ‘post’ rather than an ‘article’? What on earth is ‘link love’? Depending on your desired audience, too much ‘blog speak’ can make the fresh-faced non-blogger feel left out of the conversation. Balance and sensitivity to the needs of your readership is, as always, key.
Like the start of any beautiful relationship, creating the right first impression goes a long way to ensuring long-term success. By building a positive rapport with the non-blogger right from the beginning, you can develop powerful and productive partnerships that will benefit you both.
If youÃ¢â¬â¢re a blogger, leave a comment to let me know of the factors which you feel help create a positive first impression for non-bloggers? How do you make your blog appealing to non-blogging customers?
If youÃ¢â¬â¢re a non-blogger, tell them what they can do to win you over when you visit their blog.
Week 1: Connecting with the Offline Customer: A Non-BloggerÃ¢â¬â¢s Perspective
Week 2: Targeting the Offline Customer: Do You Blog for Non-Bloggers?
Week 3: Reaching the Offline Customer: Do You Promote Your Blog Offline?
Week 4: Attracting the Offline Customer: Why Do You Promote Your Blog Offline?
Week 5: Top 10 Social Media Tips for Connecting With Non-Blogging Customers