9 Simple And Effective Onsite Elements to Increase Blog Engagement
If you had to read Blog A or Blog B, which would you choose?
My guess is that you chose Blog B.
You’re not alone – when faced with a ‘wall of text’, most people will bounce in search of something easier to consume. Yet, the two examples are from the same blog. The only difference is that Blog B has been formatted with some of the techniques I am going to show you in this post, and Blog A is just raw text.
Is Your Blog Being Ignored?
Is your blog being ignored? Perhaps you spend hours creating content with no obvious ROI? Or you’re just certain your content gets lost in the noise. No shares, no likes, no comments… and it continues week after week, no matter how much money and time you invest. It’s no surprise.
Attention span online is about 8 seconds, and getting shorter. You need to cut through the noise to get your message across. So what’s a smart founder to do? How do you increase blog engagement?
Here’s a tip:
The problem with your written content is probably not your writing. You just need to be more visually appealing. A Social Intelligence Report from Adobe shows that posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than regular text posts. You can make your own content more engaging too, with the tips we are about to show you.
How to Be More Visually Appealing and Create Engagement
To get readers interacting more, you need to:
- use more images
- format your posts using bold, italics and bullet points.
- break up that wall of text
- make your content easy to understand and digest
We’ve created a list of nine specific onsite elements you can use right now to make your content more engaging.
Note: We aren’t recommending you use all these elements on the same post. Choose some that work for your content and your audience, apply them and let us know the results.
Since attention spans are shorter than ever (and we know people scan our content rather than read it) we want to make it as easy as possible to consume. One of the best ways is to use Key Takeaway boxes. If you implement nothing else from this blog post, implement this and see engagement with your post increase. This alone will break up the text, and allow readers to scan for the most important information without having to extract it for themselves.
Here’s an example of help desk software company Groove highlighting the most important point in a longer paragraph:
Opt in boxes / content upgrades
Since you already have the attention of your audience, it’s the perfect time to ask them to take an extra step with you. Usually found in the sidebar, opt ins can also be placed inline with your content, at relevant points. We’ve found placing them at the end of the blog and about one third of the way in work well.
Classic Email Opt Ins
Location Rebel offers readers “More Strategies for Making Money Online”, in exchange for an email address. Readers that made it to the end of the blog are likely to jump at the chance to learn more. Use Sendlane’s platform to start building your list! Once you have their email, you can start to build a relationship and make offers to them later down the line.
Note: This only works if you have already provided great value in your blog post, and offer even greater value with your opt-in.
A content upgrade is a ‘post specific’ opt in that offers more in-depth content in exchange for an email address. High Fiving Dollars founder, Sarah Li Cain uses a ‘Values Based Spending Guide’ as a content upgrade on a post about spending habits that increase happiness.
Other Opt Ins
If your post is particularly long, it might be a good idea to offer a PDF summary. You can frame it as time-saving and convenient. Wistia gives a good example in this post on generating leads with video.
Also, your opt-ins don’t have to be email sign ups.
Leadfuze offers a free trial:
More often than not, people scan and pick out the most important words when they land on our content.
People only read the article in full if they are hooked, and fully committed to reading it. Often used in email marketing and direct response copywriting, you can use a Johnson Box to sum up the topic and benefits of the article. People’s eyes will be drawn to that first, and they will know right away if they want to read on or not. Your goal is to make sure they do. It doesn’t need to be complicated, a simple box highlighting the key point of the article is enough.
Quotes from influencers and business leaders help support your claims and give credibility to your article. They also break up your text, and allow you to ‘borrow authority’ by getting your brand associated with the person you are quoting. In this post, WP Curve (a popular WordPress support startup, recently acquired by Go Daddy) borrows the authority of several business leaders, by asking them to share tips from their morning routines.
Pro tip: If the quote is ‘unsolicited’, you have a unique opportunity to contact the influencer you quoted, letting them know you featured them. It’s a good way to make a deposit in the ‘goodwill’ bank account, and they may even choose to share it if they think it’s good content.
Click To Tweets
Click To Tweets encourage your audience to spread the word about your blog for you. They work particularly well in combination with quotes and images. Here, Corpina use one Click To Tweet for each influencer they feature in a post about improving memory.
Readers click the button and are temporarily redirected to a pre-populated Tweet.
In this example, Corpina tag both themselves and Dave Asprey (the well-known founder of Bulletproof Nutrition). This builds relationships by helping other founders get more exposure, while also providing a link back to your own company.
If you are using WordPress, there are several good plugins you can use, such as Click To Tweet, Co-schedule and Better Click To Tweet. Other platforms will have to find a platform-specific solution.
Recommended, Related Reading
Content marketing giant CMI uses recommended reading boxes in every post they create. They deal with a huge volume of content and recommend relevant ‘further reading’ to keep readers engaged. Linking to related content also subconsciously indicates to your reader that you have more to offer, positioning you as an authority on the topic.
HelpScout take a more visual approach to offering up related content, using a small image and placing it inside a border:
Notes / Pro tips
You can use notes to indicate key points of interest and extra information that the reader should know. They break up the text and ensure important pieces of information aren’t missed. You can also use them as an ‘aside’, to give information that you feel is relevant, but doesn’t fit into the flow of the main text.
You may frame your notes as ‘pro tips’, to deliver little nuggets of wisdom or even a link to resources or other content. Here’s an example from Lise Cartwright at Hustle and Groove, on a post about using tablets for business:
And here’s CoShedule recommending resources for further research:
To keep your content performing well over time, you need to keep it fresh and relevant. Go back to old posts and update them with industry changes, new research and ways to add even more value (such as being more helpful, giving better examples and linking to more resources). You can then show you actively update your content with an update box.
This is particularly useful for technical niches such as SEO and PPC advertizing, where the information climate changes regularly.
Finish your posts with a clear expectation of what the reader should do when they’ve read to the end. You might present it as ‘Action steps’, ‘Over to you’ or ‘What’s next?’. Use it to reinforce the key points of the blog and tell readers what to do next.
Note: this is very useful for readers who scan to the end of the post first, to see if it’s worth reading.
Providing action steps also displays confidence in what you are teaching. You don’t want people to bounce back to Google looking for more information after reading your post. Your goal is to deliver the teaching, and have your reader ‘take a step’ with you. If they do, they will be more likely to engage with you again, and be responsive to your subsequent offers to take action (including sales pitches).
Rand Fishkin’s expectations at the end of this Moz blog post couldn’t be clearer:
How to implement these elements
If you use WordPress, then you’re in luck. There are several plugins available for creating boxes and opt ins, and you may find that your theme already has presets for some of these elements. If you want to try it yourself, use CSS to create simple boxes, and insert them with HTML at relevant places in your posts. You can also have your development team code the elements you want to use.
Note: these elements don’t all have to be in boxes. It’s possible to just use italics, bold or bullet point lists to help them pop.
Summary: The 9 onsite elements to increase blog engagement
Here’s our own ‘Key Takeaways’ section (see what we did there?) to summarize the nine elements to improve engagement on your blog:
- Key Takeaways
- Opt ins / content upgrades
- Johnson boxes
- Click to tweets
- Recommended, related reading
- Action steps
Take a look at your own company blog, and ask ‘which of these elements could I include that would make sense for my content, my audience and that would drive engagement?’ Implement them next time you create content, and measure the results. Remember, nothing will happen unless you take action!
What do you think of these tactics to increase blog engagement? Do you have any suggestions of your own? We’d love to know. Hit us up in the comments below!