Maybe you've already got good search engine placement. Maybe
lots of sites have linked to you, and people are able to find
your little piece of cyberspace without much trouble. However,
once they've been there, do they ever come back?
There are two keys to earning repeat visitors: fresh content and
If you can offer your visitors new articles, columns,
interviews, information, jokes, cartoons, pictures, etc. every
few days, great. But if you can't, you have another option: let
the visitors work for you. Here's how.
The simplest way to keep people coming back for more is to put
up a message board. There are several free ones
(http://www.bravenet.com offers a good one) that you can link to
your site with very little effort. It's not enough just to put
it up there, though. You must also be the ringleader-start
several interesting threads yourself. Give your vistors a reason
to respond to your threads. How?
· Ask questions related to your content · Ask people to
introduce themselves · Discuss a controversial topic · Comment
on something in the news that relates to your content · Tell a
funny story or joke, and ask visitors to post their own ·
Encourage visitors to post feedback about what they'd like to
see on your site · Ask people to vote for their favorite
[blank]. Movie, band, magazine, celebrity, etc. · Offer simple
tips in your field of expertise, and ask visitors to add their
Want to make your board look more active? Post responses to your
own messages under different names. Or ask friends to post, just
to get the discussions flowing. Whenever someone posts, at least
in the beginning, drop him or her an e-mail to say, "Thanks for
visiting my forum."
Be sure you have the ability to delete offensive messages and
spam from your board, or you may scare people away from posting.
People love contests. Not just the ones in which you can win a
million dollars or a trip to the Bahamas, but little giveaways.
Free t-shirts or books or gift certificates. Think you can't
afford it? Think again.
If you run a monthly contest, and offer a prize worth $10, your
total cost per month shouldn't be over $13 (including postage.)
What kind of contest should you run?
Forget the simple "enter your e-mail address here and get a
chance to win" kind, unless you have an e-mail newsletter and
want to build your subscription base. Instead, call upon your
visitors' creativity and challenge them to write a winning
response to an interesting question.
This can be as simple as "come up with a slogan for my site" or
"write a caption for this photo." It can also be more in-depth,
like, "write a poem about [your topic]," "write a top ten list
of why you should win this contest," or "tell the funniest/most
embarrassing/greatest thing that's ever happened to you."
These kinds of contests offer the chance to boost traffic in
1. It gives you something newsworthy to announce on other sites.
Visit other message boards and drop notes to webmasters, asking
them to announce your contest. 2. Visitors will return next
month to check out your next contest. 3. You can ask site
visitors to vote for the best entry after you've selected
By offering this last option, you'll drive new traffic to your
site, because entrants will ask their friends and family to come
to your site to vote for them. Your regular visitors will come
back to see who made the "finals" and who won. You can use an
automated voting script if you don't want to hand-count the
HIGHLIGHT YOUR VISITORS
Appeal to your visitor's desire for Internet fame. Here are
possible ways to let your visitors become stars on your site:
· Post short interviews or bios of people who actively
participate on your message board. · Set up a links page, where
visitors can post short descriptions of their websites · Give
visitors the option to post a photo. · Profile a "visitor of the
month" on your homepage. · Allow visitors to submit columns or
articles for inclusion on your site. · Post a "quotes" page, in
which you post the most interesting quotes from your message
board or e-mails. · Offer an award for other webmasters. This is
also an easy way to get other webmasters to link to you, as your
award graphic should be linked back to your site. · Include a
"brag page" in which visitors can submit their latest
accomplishments and good news.
You'll build loyalty when visitors feel that you recognize them.
In the wide and anonymous world of cyberspace, many people long
to "get personal." And if you make your visitors feel at home at
your website, they may just decide to sit down and stay a while.
And come back for more.
About the author:
Jenna Glatzer is the Director of Public Relations for the wacky
Scottish humor website Glen Lachart Online
(www.glenlachart.co.uk). She encourages webmasters to visit to
see creative promotional tools in effect… and get a good laugh
in the process!