Increasing Traffic and Engagement … with Fun and Games | Bedford Realtor

This guest post is by Danny Iny of firepolemarketing.com.

When you blog all the time about a certain topic…

…even if you’re still completely passionate about it…

…it can sometimes get a little boring.

You feel it as a blogger, and your readers may feel it, too.

Now, of course, your readers can go elsewhere on the internet for new stimulation, but wouldn’t it be better if they stuck with you?

Or better yet, what if they had such interesting and engaging experiences on your site and with you that they wanted to tell their family and friends about it?

And what if they shared your content with their networks because doing so made them look really good?

This scenario is absolutely possible.

If you can keep enough novelty, challenge, and inspiration coming, your readers will want to spend more of their online time with you, giving you more opportunities to strengthen your relationships and make sales.

But before we talk about all of that, let’s explore why this usually doesn’t happen—even when we’re working our hardest and doing our genuine best to make our blogs worthwhile for our readers and subscribers.

Why the same old stuff gets stale

Do you have a certain route that you follow a lot?

It could be your drive to work, or to your Mom’s house. It’s a path that you travel frequently, and know intimately.

There’s nothing surprising or unusual that happens along this route; it’s the same every day, and if it weren’t hideously dangerous because of other drivers and pedestrians, you could do it with your eyes closed. It’s so boring that you don’t even think about it.

The same thing can happen with any task that you do again and again. Brushing your teeth. Putting on your shoes. And even reading your favorite blogs.

It’s so common—such a habit—that you do it automatically, and don’t really consider what it is you’re doing, or pay attention to the details.

As a consumer of blogs, this is kind of a shame.

As a producer of blog content, it’s absolutely catastrophic. You need your readers to be riveted! And as a reader of Problogger.NET, you’ve made sure you’re not making any of the common mistakes that bloggers make.

So how do you fix the problem?

What you need to do is shake things up a little bit—change the process of engaging with you on your blog from one of providing content that gets read and maybe commented on, to an experience that happens that gets your readers thinking and motivated to act.

One of the best, most fun and most effective ways to do this is through a contest, challenge, or game.

Do it through contests, games, and challenges

What makes a contest, game, or challenge fun?

Well, it lights up areas of your brain that you don’t usually get to use every day—and that’s interesting. Moreover, it’s exciting—your mind has to sit up and take note because, “hey, you’re making me work!”

There are some principles that are common to all successful games, and I’d like to go over them quickly here. The four principles are:

  1. motivation and loss aversion
  2. status and competition
  3. surprise and hope
  4. feedback and reward

Get them to start and keep them going with motivation and loss aversion

When you think about running a contest or challenge, I bet that the first thing you consider is the prize—it’s got to be amazing if it’s going to get people to play, right?

Not necessarily. People are more likely to act because they’re afraid of losing something they already have, then to gain something new.

You can apply this technique when you’re introducing your challenge. Paint a vivid picture of how wonderful winning and participating is. Outline all the benefits participants stand to gain. They could gain the prize, or knowledge, or networking, or glory—just make sure to make them feel like they already have it when you’re writing your description. If you do a good job at this, they’ll play to keep that feeling.

Status and reputation will help them take it further

Once people are playing a game or challenge, they’ll be dying to know how everyone else is doing, and how they stack up against the rest of the competitors. (Even if they’re too cool to admit it, or are just “playing for fun.” They want to know—trust me.)

Take advantage of this by providing frequent updates to contestants, and emphasizing again how wonderful it will be to win—and how possible that is for anyone. Someone who starts out with a strong lead will be desperate to keep it, and those who are only a few points behind another player will want nothing more than to inch up in the rankings.

Keep everyone involved with discovery and surprise

Obviously, not everyone is going to be occupying a top spot—that’s unavoidable. But the people who aren’t can be kept equally passionate and engaged with a little sense of discovery, surprise, and the possibility that this kind of excitement will happen again.

Think in terms of bonus challenges, opportunities to do a little extra, a funny note, a contestants-only joke. These kind of unexpected treats get people excited to be doing what they’re doing, and happy to keep going, even if they don’t expect they’ll win.

Make it worth their while with feedback and rewards

We all like to know that we’ve done a good job—and most of us are mature enough to at least grudgingly accept constructive feedback when we could have done better.

It’s no different in a contest than in life. If you can immediately, or very quickly, give someone feedback on how participants are performing, both on a personal level and as a part of the group, they’ll either want to continue to do well, or prove that they can do better.

Leaderboards and other tracking systems are good for this, as are personal emails, and contestants-only updates. Think of how valuable feedback is in your day-to-day life, and double that amount for your contestants.

Now you are the games master

Yes, the games master. Congratulations—you’re calling all the shots.

…But what shots are you calling, exactly?

Well that depends on what you want.

If you need more comments on your blog post, then run a comment competition. Let your readers know that for the next week or so you’re going to be looking at all of their valuable comments, picking a few favourites, and letting everyone vote on a winner. More comments will come.

If your social media presence isn’t that great, then run a guest post contest with the winner being the post that garnered the most Tweets or Facebook Likes. We did this recently on Firepole Marketing, and generated thousands of social media shares. (Not to mention a record traffic month!)

If your traffic is slow, create a wonderful new piece of giveaway content (for an opt-in!), and let your readers know that whoever directs the most people to it will win a fabulous prize—possibly in the form of your products or services.  For this option you’ll need to set up individual links for readers, but plugins like PrettyLink make that a snap!

A never-ending source of competition

You can use this idea in almost every aspect of your content calendar. You can promote a new product or series, you can use it to make your training and content more interesting and relevant, and you can use it to deliver content and training.

You can do it to teach, to engage, and to just have fun.

That’s what we’re trying to do right now with our Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt for bloggers and business owners; we’re using all of the gamification elements I’ve talked about here to teach contestants new marketing skills, to get them to experiment different technologies and techniques, and to help them extend their reach online.

So what are you going to do? What games will you play to boost your traffic, engage your readers, and keep them coming back for more?

Danny Iny ( @DannyIny ), a.k.a the “Freddy Kreuger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works over at Firepole Marketing. Right now, there’s a hugely exciting Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt going on over there, and it’s not too late to get in on the action, expand your reach online, and engage with an amazing community of marketers.

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