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.

Subscribe To Comments Reloaded »

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.

bbPress »

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.

Vanilla Forums »

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.

There are dozens of membership plug-ins to choose from, although WishList Member’s features stand out.

Wish List Member »

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.

GD Star Rating »

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.

Facebook 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.

WP Polls »

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.

Poll Daddy »

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.

Basic version »
HTML enabled version »

Jonathan Brealey is co-founder of Heart Internet, one of the UKs leading web hosting and reseller hosting companies.

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  1. Thanks for this list.
    I liked the idea of the Facebook Comments for WP, but when I tried to activate the plugin then got a long list of instructions beginning with the following: The Facebook comments box will not be included in your posts until you set a valid application ID and application secret.Making an app is too technical for me. I guess I’ll check out the other FB comments plugins for WP to see if they’re easier to implement.

    • Don’t be scared of making an app, it sounds harder than it is, as I discovered myself when facebook brought in iframes. I also shy away from apps and long instructions but some things are worth doing.  Have faith that you can follow instructions and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you get through the process fairly easily and the next one is a breeze! The best twitter and facebook wp plugins require you to make a small individual app to use them.

  2. Nice post. I think having a forum, doesn’t make much of a difference anymore. Running contests once in a while can also help or simply asking for suggestions often does the trick. 

  3. bitkisel tedavi

    They are very useful plugins but i need a more effective plugin…

  4. Adam James

    Thanks Jonathon, a very interest selection of plugins, I’ve been considering putting a forum on one of my sites for a good while, but i’m still undecided between bbpress & vanilla .. I think i’m leaning a little bit more towards vanilla now. I’ve been using subscribe2 on one of my sites, very handy plugin .. especially when it shows already subscribed (and have cookies from there last session I assume) a manage subscription box as opposed to another sign up form. 

  5. Sameer Manas Sadhanala

    7 WordPress Plugins to increase engagement with your readers via @wplift:twitter 

  6. Rwlear

    Wow! What great utilities to add to wordpress. I need more interactivity with my wordpress sites. Will bookmark for future.

  7. Great list of plugins. Thanks for sharing it.

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