The old marketing adage that it costs twice as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep one also applies to your website’s visitors. The secret behind any successful website is not just in the number of new visitors they attract, but in how many of those visitors they get to come back time and time again. By engaging with your readers you are adding a personality to your website and turning your website in to more than a faceless blog. Here are some of the best free and paid WordPress plug-ins to help you achieve that.
1. Subscribe to comments
One of the most tried and tested methods of increasing your visitor activity is through comments left on your blog. Rather than hope they come back to check if anyone has responded to their comment, you can be more proactive and alert them.
Subscribe to comments reloaded allows you to set up a double opt-in mechanism and includes unsubscribe features to prevent you becoming spam.
2. Add a forum
Forums have stood the test of time for a reason; people love using them. They are perfect for peer to peer support, and will keep people coming back to your website to get involved in the latest discussions.
bbPress has an easy to follow interface and the templates are easy to customize. bbPress also integrates the forum’s database with your WordPress database, making integration as seamless as possible. Read our guide to installing bbPress here.
Alternatively, if you would prefer not to play around with database integration, you can use Vanilla Forums. This open source software can be added to existing websites by simply copying and pasting a line of code.
3. Membership area
There is nothing more likely to make someone feel like they are part of a community than a dedicated membership ID and extra benefits. Exclusive access to resources, files, articles and tools are all popular methods of attracting members to your website.
4. Ratings & Reviews
People like to have their say, be it positive or negative and star ratings and ‘thumbs up’ features are a great way for you to get feedback on your blog articles. You can use the ratings to target your future articles on popular topics as well as show your most popular articles based on reader feedback.
The most popular star rating plug-in at present is GD Star Rating which comes with a dizzying number of customisable options.
5. Readers can comment using their Facebook details
The less restrictions you put in front of people being able to leave a comment, the more likely they are do it. Asking them to log-in or fill in a captcha form will dramatically reduce the number of people willing to leave a comment. You can make it much easier by allowing them to use their Facebook details to leave a comment on your blog.
Facebook Comments for WordPress allows your visitors to comment on posts using their Facebook profile. It also supports custom styles, notifications, combined comment counts, and recent comments.
6. Polls & surveys
A successful poll or a survey serves many purposes. It will generate useful data for you to use, it will be shared by your readers via social media and it can draw in new traffic. A survey will also help position you as an expert in that field.
WP-Polls will allow you to add a simple poll to your blog quickly and easily.
As well as being able to run polls, Polldaddy also comes with some basic star rating and thumbs up features you can add to each post.
7. Newsletter sign up
Newsletters are a great way of pushing fresh content to your readers without relying on them coming back to your website to find out what is new. Rather than duplicating your efforts by writing content exclusively for the newsletter, simply use the opening paragraphs from your blog posts with links to your website to read more.
Subscribe2 sends a list of subscribers an email notification when new posts are published to your blog.