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Maintaining your website's visitors

It’s great to get website visitors, but what you really want is to create a loyal band of visitors who come back to your site repeatedly. Out of the hundreds of sites people will visit, how do you guarantee they’ll remember yours and come back?

Here are some ideas.

1. Start an email newsletter

One way to get people to remember you is to keep in touch by email. To do this, you’ll need to capture their email address from your website, which means you will need an external mailing-list manager to manage the list of addresses you’ll acquire.
There are a number of email-list managers out there; AWeber and MailChimp are the major players. MailChimp is great for starting out as it is free until you get 2,000 subscribers, providing you don’t send out more than 12,000 emails a month. (It also has a selection of delightfully juicy-looking templates you can use for your newsletters.) However, AWeber has the more sophisticated tracking tools of the two, which you might find suits your needs better—especially if you can see your list growing large quickly, at which point the price difference becomes negligible.

2. Start a blog on your site

For many people, there is no better way to engage your readers than with an up-to-date blog; even the most serious of business sites will find there is sector-specific information valuable to their visitors that they can post in a ‘news’ area.

3. Invite your visitors to subscribe to your blog

Visitors can subscribe to your blog and read your posts using an RSS feed reader, but for most people, it will be much easier for them to receive your blog posts by email.
The easiest way to put a sign-up form on your blog is via the Jetpack ‘Subscriptions’ widget. (Of course, this won’t apply if you’re going to integrate your blog subscribers with your email list.)
Alternatively, you can install the Subscribe2 plugin; enable the widget on the Subscribe2 > Settings page to add it to your sidebars.
This plugin offers you more options than the simple Jetpack version: you can customise the emails your subscribers will receive, access their email addresses, and email them with announcements outside the blog (though don’t abuse this—strictly speaking, your subscribers have signed up for blog posts rather than updates from you.).

4. Make use of social media

Social media is one of the best ways of keeping your visitors engaged. Once someone has ‘liked’ you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter, you have a means of notifying them whenever you have anything newsworthy to pass on.

5. Give your visitors a reason to come back

Start a regular feature, such as a weekly or monthly roundup of useful tools or book picks, for example, or an analysis of news in your domain. Alternatively, you could run a competition and announce the results on your site on a specified date.
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Alannah Moore

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