The internet can be a very fickle place. It didn’t take long for Facebook to dominate MySpace. It certainly did not take long for Google to replace Yahoo, Lycos, WebCrawler, etc. In the land where user attention is fickle, how do you go about retaining the precious incoming traffic that you get? If properly promoted, you will eventually see some traffic, if over time you can gain and keep return visitors, then you will also see significant traffic growth.
Incoming visitors will go through the following stages prior to becoming a devoted and even evangelical visitor:
- First time visitor - This visitor comes to your site upon the recommendation of another person or entity. This recommendation may come from a search engine, social community, or forum. If you are just starting, it is likely that the recommendation is coming from yourself or a close friend.
- Second time visitor (by chance) – This visitor happens to follow another recommendation to you site. They recognize that they have been here before.
- Reluctant Returner - This visitor returns to your site hoping that they will find content that they are interested in. This person previously had a positive experience on your site, but is not sure that you have what it takes to keep them coming back.
- Regular visitor - This person continues to come back on a regular basis. This may be monthly, weekly, or daily depending on how well your personality matches up with theirs. As long as you continue to produce excellent content, then this visitor will return.
- Evangelical Visitor - These visitors as a group are the goose that lays the golden eggs. They are the people that will drive traffic through recommendations, improve Search Engine rankings, comment on blogs, buy your products, and provide you with guest blog posts.
Of course, we all want as many regular visitors and evangelical visitors as possible. While sometimes you may have people that jump quickly to this status after their first visit, you will likely have to give them a reason to come back. If you are seeing significant traffic from a particular social network, forum, or related website, then you need to continue posting and interacting with that site. This is the place where you have the most trust and it is also clearly where your message resonates. There are sufficient people in the world that you can afford to speak to a focused slice of them and still drive significant traffic.
For example, I like to talk about board game publishing, blogging, internet marketing, board games, and occasionally cooking. The percentage of people who will line up with those exact interests that I am sharing is small, but the total number of people is large. The dominate question is, how can we accelerate people along the path toward evangelical visitors?
Offer Visitors An Immediate Reason To Subscribe
I do this with my offer of a weekly chance to win free board games. To appeal to those who want a definite benefit, I will be having exclusive discounts on Tasty Minstrel Games products that is available only to newsletter subscribers. While the subscription offers the chance to get free stuff, it also allows me to keep visitors up to date with what has been happening with the site. I let people know exactly what they can expect to get and how often they can expect to receive it, so that way there are no surprises. Everybody also has a chance to unsubscribe at will. With my newsletter, people will receive a summary of post headlines and excerpts on every first and third Friday. Which I tell them when they signup. For every first time visitor that decides to subscribe, a certain percentage will continue to move along toward being evangelical. Without the subscription, they may arrive on the site and leave never to come back.
Sinister Venus Fly-Trap Tactics Or Benevolent Strategy For Doing Business?
Tasty Minstrel Games is in the business of selling board games. As the founder, I am in the business of selling board games among other things. The sinister side of me feels that free board games are the sweet nectar of the Venus Fly Trap. Once people subscribe for a chance to win, the trap closes and I get a nice meal. I also feel like that is what people are suspecting of the offer. When you use the word free, the scamdar goes off and the walls go up. People give away free things all the time, but they require a monthly fee, are of little to no value, or are trying to plant malicious code on my computer. That is what I feel when I see the word FREE! I started Free Games Friday because I had extra games that I did not play, and wanted to attract potential buyers for Terra Prime and Homesteaders. I also want to have enough subscribers that I can get free games from other publishers to give away.
It is a benevolent strategy I am employing. I promise, wink … What I do know from my experience as a financial advisor is that people buy things from people that they trust. You need to be able to trust me to buy from me, bottom line. I want to use my newsletter as a tool to build trust. As you continue to see people winning games, and as you continue to see that I do what I say I will; trust will build. I trusted Days of Wonder to publish fun games that look great, now I only trust them to publish yet another Ticket to Ride remake plus one other game. I trust Fantasy Flight Games to publish games that look great and have unsatisfactory rulebooks. I need to build trust and earn return visits, that is what the newsletter is all about.
Capture Those Incoming Visitors And Give Them Reasons To Return
While I surf the internet and continually learn more about internet marketing, I find one thing consistent about the successful bloggers and marketers. They are all proactively trying to capture email addresses. The best ones treat your email with respect and only send you high quality related information. I have quickly gone from a new visitor to an evangelical visitor of the internet marketers John Chow and Shoemoney. This is a direct result of their newsletters.
If all of the professional internet ‘gurus’ are doing it, then I figure it cannot be a bad choice to follow. Afterall, if it does not work, then it will have only cost me some games, some postage, and some monthly software expenses. In my opinion, a small risk and a small price to pay for a marketing lesson.