Understand Your Audience
No matter what industry you are in or what your business is, understanding your audience is vital to your success. If you don't know anything about your target market, you are going to put in a lot more effort and time in generating the traffic you need.
By understanding your audience, you gain the insight necessary to craft marketing messages that will have an impact, create content your audience wants to read, and build an empathic relationship with them that will eventually convert them into loyal fans. And loyal fans spend money. Lots of it.
Luckily, learning what makes your audience tick is a lot easier today. Once upon a blue moon, you had to hire a market research firm and pay tens of thousands of dollars to learn about your target market. Now, if you're determined enough, you can do it all yourself from your computer.
All you have to do is go to where your audience hangs out. Stalk them on social media, get involved in forums and read the comments on blogs in the same field as yours. If you already have some traffic, you can conduct a survey or even interview a few of your more regular readers.
The more information you can gather about your audience, the better. You'll be better able to address their problems and frustrations, focus more on the things they find useful and are interested in, use language that connects with them, and provide them with the content they really want.
Once you are able to give your target market what they really want, your traffic will increase exponentially.
Write Magnetic Headlines
You now know what your audience wants and are creating content that meets those desires and needs. But how do you let them know that? You have to get them onto the page and reading the content you created, which is where headlines come in.
A good headline will hook readers and draw them in to your posts. If your headline sucks, it really doesn't matter how great your content is because no one is ever going to read it. Sadly, your headline can pretty much make or break your blogging career.
But if you can learn to create magnetic headlines that readers can't help but click on because they want to read more, then you've got it made. Of course, the caveat is that your content has to deliver on what your headline promises. In other words, don't promise naked pictures of Angelina Jolie in your headline and then start talking about how to train your pet parrot to talk like Angelina Jolie.
Once you know how to write great headlines, you'll find them useful in everything you do because an awesome headline will not only draw readers in, but it will improve email open rates, signups and conversion rates.
Good Formatting Will Make a World of Difference
You've created some awesome content because you've taken the time to get to know your audience well. Your headlines are totally awesome and people click on them like there's no tomorrow. But they never seem to hang around for more than a few seconds. What's going on? Could you be so far off the mark with your content? Or is it something else?
Take another look at your blog. If your post spans the screen from one side to the other and is a wall of text, you shouldn't be surprised that your bounce rates are through the roof. No one wants to struggle to read a post and they won't bother if they're faced with Tolstoy's War and Peace as soon as they land on your site. There are always so many other posts they could be reading that won't put a strain on their eyeballs or their brains.
So, if you want to keep readers on your site, then you need to format your posts properly. If you just throw your posts up as they are without paying attention to what they look like, you might as well pack up and go home.
First off, remember that most people tend to scan a post. The internet has reduced our attention spans to that of a gnat on speed, which means you need to make sure that all your salient points stand out. Use subheads, bold important points so they stand out and just generally make it easy for people to get the gist of your post without actually having to read the whole thing.
Also, other forms of media, such as images and videos, will help break your content up and make it more visually attractive.
And keep paragraphs short. No longer than a few sentences. White space makes it easier for people to read online and is certainly more attractive and less overwhelming than a wall of continuous text. Again, remember, no Tolstoy, okay?
Data-Driven Posts Increase Engagement
Now that you've gotten people to read your content, you need to keep them coming back for more. This means creating engaging content that will draw your readers back for more. Creating data-driven posts is one way to achieve this.
In this case, data represents any facts that are the result of experiments, tests, or surveys and are used as the foundation to form conclusions. For example, you conduct a survey of your readers and the result is that 55% of your readers hate the color scheme of your site. The latter is a fact; it's data because you can now conclude that more than half the people visiting your site don't like your color scheme and it's a good bet you probably should change it.
Data is important in blog posts because people find such posts to be more credible, more authoritative and definitely more valuable. Why? It's simple. By supporting your claims and views with cold, hard data generated either from experiments you ran yourself or offered by experts in your field, you provide proof that your assumptions are valid.
It's the difference between saying:
Mixing chemical x and chemical y will lead to an explosion. and
In 9 out of the 10 experiments we conducted, mixing chemical x and chemical y led to an explosion.
No one is going to necessarily disbelieve the first statement, but the second one is certainly more interesting and more trustworthy because it provides proof through experimentation.
Your blog will certainly benefit from including at least a few data-driven posts every now and then. However, remember that if you are using someone else's studies or experiments as your data source, you need to cite and reference their work. This is not just because it's proper etiquette, but also because you want your readers to trust you and not think you just pulled some figures out of thin air to support your claims.
If you want to increase traffic to your blog, getting to know your audience, writing magnetic headlines, taking the time to format your posts and creating data-driven content will help immeasurably. However, increasing traffic can take time so don't expect miracles overnight, but if you stick with it, you'll be happy with the results.