What percentage of visitors leave a comment on your blog? It’s about 4%. Maybe less. One of the hidden secrets of blogging is using comments to fast-track your site. It’s very simple is you know how to do it right. And if you use comments correctly, you’ll increase traffic, create repeat visits, and generate deeper brand loyalty. You’ll also sell more. Two Types of Comments There are two places where comments are made: On your site On other sites In this two part tutorial, I will show you how to leverage comments on your own site and also how to drive traffic from other sites by leaving comments on their blogs. The First Time Someone Leaves a Comment Think about this for a second. You know how hard it is to get someone to visit your site, right? You know how few people ever leave comments? Less than 1 in 25. AND you know how few people ever come back again. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could get those who’ve found your site, left a sensible comment to come back again? Isn’t this is the type of long-term digital relationship everyone wants? Take Care of Your Fans Here’s a framework that works for me to get people to engage more often and keep coming back. Send an Email – The first time someone comments on your site, send them an email, preferably the same day Make it personal – Write, ‘Hi Jack, thanks for visiting my site…’. Avoid automated software. Make an effort to contact them in person. Keep it Light – Don’t go into sales mode, instead see this as a way to start a connection. Include a Free Offer – Include a link to a free ebook where they can learn more about the core topics on your site. Exclusive – Make sure this ebook is shared with new readers only. This gives it an element of exclusivity. No Signup Required – Don’t use this as a trick to get their email address. You’re trying to build trust, not pull a fast one. Your Social Media Channels – the lower part of the email should include links to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Make it super easy for them to connect with you. Give them multiple choices. Their Social Media Channels – if they include a link to their Twitter account, follow them AND add them to a List you’ve created. Most people feel flattered when added to lists and tend to follow back. Let’s Talk – close by encouraging them to hit Reply and share their thoughts. Do this for one month. You’ll be very surprised how many visitors (i.e. commentators) will respond to your email. Remember to create an remarkable ebook that’s way above the average ebook that most sites giveaway. Put your best material in the ebook. Make is really stand out. Add a professional looking cover page and use large, easy-to-read fonts. Embed Affiliate Links You can also include clickable links to affiliate products your endorse. Encourage your readers to share the ebook with their friends. Sooner or later the affiliate links will start to pay back. How To Turn Comments into Conversations The next time this person comments on your site (you value repeat visitors more than passing traffic, right?) make an extra effort to respond: Do this: Create a folder in Gmail/Yahoo and filter all new comments in here. When you see a new comment, check it out immediately. Respond asap. Preferably the same hour as they may still be online. Address them in person. ‘Hi Karen…’ Refer to the most important point they made. Use emotional triggers to stimulate stronger, deeper feelings about the subject matter. Read the book ‘Make It Stick’ for good ideas on this. Don’t: Ignore them. You should be the most active commentator on your blog. Why not? Try to outsmart them or come across as superior. Use cliches, such as ‘That’s interesting’ or ‘Great comment’. That’s guaranteed to turn them away. If you mean it, explain why it’s interesting. How to Create Content From Comments The next part is to get them to return to the site and preferably to get their friends to come too. To do this: Create a roundup post every Saturday. A Follow Friday may also work on Twitter though I think the blog has greater impact. Refer to the comments they (and other contributors) made during the week. Your aim is to ‘big them up’ and get others to appreciate their efforts. Include their Twitter handles (e.g. @ivanwalsh) so others can find them easily. Drop them a line and/or tweet saying you’ve given them a plug on your roundup article. Most will check it out. Extend the Conversation If the person writes a very long response, say 200 words… Create a new post and use their material as the starting point. Say to your readers, ‘Karen made this great comment last week and I’ve decided to write this post to address the points she’s made…’ Include her comments and use these are the framework for the post. Add emotional triggers where possible. Take a strong stand, unusual position, and/or appeal to the reader’s sense of justice to generate a stronger response. Email Karen and tell here when the article goes live. Don’t just tweet her as you want to demonstrate how important this is to you and your readers. Encourage her to share the link with here friends and Ask for their opinion. Then email her a week later. Share some of the feedback with her and encourage her to contribute more. This approach works very well with active contributors. In time, they may write guest posts or contribute on a more formal basis. If you want to lessen the workload, this is one of the simplest way to get started. How to Give Commentators More Credit When you’re finished this article, head over to JohnChow.com and scroll to the end of the page. What you’ll see is a list of the most active commentators on his site. Why does he do this? I mean, who cares? What’s the benefit? There’s a few reasons: More Status – everyone wants to be first in something. Look at any LinkedIn groups and you’ll see the Top 5 Most influential commentators in the right side panel. This ‘implies’ that these readers are a cut above the rest and are worth exploring. It certainly creates more connections. Send Backlinks – One way to thank those who comment on your blog is to return the favor and send Google juice to their site. You can do this through backlink, retweets, and promoting them in your newsletters. Higher Profile – By placing prominently them on the site, others are likely to read their profile and follow up. Conclusion Where most bloggers go wrong is that they see comments as an interruption to their blogging activities. Actually, it’s the opposite. The more comments you can attract to your site, the more interesting and sticky it becomes. A site without comments is like an empty bar. Who wants to go in? In the next tutorial, I’ll look at how to leverage others people’s blogs. We’ll look at how to develop a commenting strategy that drive traffic back to your site and encourages others to interact on your site. What do you think? Please leave your comments below.