BankNerd.ca is a Canadian website all about the banking industry. This is an interesting critique for me having recently moved to Canada and have a whole raft of banking type stuff to set up.
As you might see from the screengrab above, the site is about everything banking and aims to monetize mainly with advertising.
Now, advertising is the go-to monetization method for bloggers – as with traditional media – but it does mean you have a high traffic bar to reach. That bar is set higher than some other monetization methods. Unsurprisingly, the main thing the site owners want to do is boost their traffic.
So looking at this site critique we need to look at:
- How can the site generate more traffic (to sell to advertisers)
- How can the site fund itself
Those are immediate and obvious conclusions, but look deeper. There is a hidden “Step 2” … can you guess what it is?
Well, anyone who has been through my Authority Blogger program or who has hung around here long enough will know there are three major steps (more, but let’s not get distracted):
- Attraction – Gaining attention
- Retention – Holding that attention for the long term and getting people to come back
- Conversion – Getting the audience to take actions, and important point, spend money
Obviously the site owners want traffic, and they want to monetize, which is step three, but we have to deal with step 2. If you don’t retain your audience then you will knock yourself out trying to attract people all the time while leaking people away.
When the owner contacted me for the critique they mentioned they had reached a growth plateau and traffic had levelled off for a while. This is likely the cause.
What to do when blog traffic plateaus
If your traffic is not growing then you are doing some things well but need work in a couple of areas:
- Retain your existing audience – It is likely you are replacing people while you are losing them. Build loyalty, stop the leaks. It can appear that your audience is not growing when in fact you are losing people. That loss is hidden by new folks discovering you. It is a strange situation, if your traffic was declining then people feel more urgently about fixing things and come to the conclusion of what to do quickly, with a plateau it often causes analysis paralysis.
- Go out and grab a new audience – Don’t get me wrong, don’t abandon what has been working, just reach out to new groups. It is likely you have tapped your current traffic sources and need to reach new people who will also think you are awesome. Can you find new communities to hang out it, new blogs to guest post for, people to refer readers and social media followers? Are there twitter chats and offline events to show up at? Search will be a primary driver of traffic for this site but building your own visibility will attract links, and links mean search. More on this later.
Engaging and Retaining Your Existing Blog Audience
Keeping people sticking around is essentially down to creating …
- Perception of value
- Anticipation of future value
All of these things tie into the email sign up forms. You need to hit all three points, but mainly the first two:
Can you show that you have valuable stuff that is relevant to the audience needs and interests? Can you boost the perceived value with an incentive? (video, interviews, exclusive content, a report?).
What are they going to get in the future? Can you spell that out so they know there is cool stuff coming?
A lot of the time when people take an action it is because of an existing relationship that has built trust and a need for reciprocation (a “thank you”). Remind people of all the awesome stuff they already got, remind people of their relationship with you.
Which brings us back to engagement and relationship … you might want to appear more obviously as you on your blog.
It is a lot more difficult to build a connection around a fictitious figure. Not impossible, just harder. Interact and give people a sense of the “you” behind the names.
Personality Means Connections, Connections Mean Traffic
Also, we were talking about traffic from fresh sources – being a named author will help you get more guest posting gigs, which will lead to more traffic, links and authority.
If you can start being a bit more you then the traffic opportunities open up. You can be interviewed, do YouTube videos, interview other experts, reach out to traditional media, do public speaking, and so on. At the very least, it will be easier to generate links.
On the topic of links, make sure your site can only be loaded with the www. or without, not both. Redirect one to the other. Also, you might want to remove dates from your site (visually and in URLs) so that your evergreen content keeps looking evergreen (anything time specific you can manually add a reference to that). It’s strange but even content a couple months old will be dismissed by an audience even if it is still 100% relevant.
Making Money without Advertising
Doing these things will help you reach a new audience and grow your existing audience. All good.
But you have an opportunity to make money right now.
When this blog was launched there were already a bunch of sites out there feeding this audience. I used to work for one of them and I guest posted on the others. There was no way I was going to compete directly so this is a reason why I wanted a smaller, more engaged audience. The other reason is a smaller, more engaged audience is easier to profit from right away. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting until I had 100k visitors!
The way you profit from an engaged audience is you build your authority with them by offering lots of valuable, actionable advice, then you make offers that are relevant to their needs.
Banking and personal finance are ideal for this.
Rather than sell advertising (or in addition), turn the site into a branded affiliate site.
- Turn category pages into landing pages – Look at the top level navigation on Copyblogger and you will see the content organised into long landing pages with either an opt-in form or offer at the end. These attract links, build relevance, and get people to take action. Very useful for SEO but also very easy to refer people to.
- Review products with clear, compelling call to actions – Review individual products but also do product round ups. For example “the best canadian credit cards for travel/business/students”. Make it very obvious what people should do next when they get to your reviews. Big, bold buttons work. Show people how to buy through your links! Loan, card, etc affiliates tend to be good payouts – much better than a low traffic site can attract in ads.
- Attract search traffic to those reviews and landing pages – Guest post and build awareness of your content to get great, deep, specific links. If you rank for key terms then these are highly likely to turn into affiliate commissions.
- Send offers to your email list – So far we have been talking about affiliate offers, which are great and you are likely making some money with now. If you find an offer that is working, put it in your auto responder. Also, ask what else your audience are buying – maybe you can create something that serves the same need, an information product, consulting?
- Partner with service providers – Start looking at webinars or teleseminars. Know someone with a killer product or service? Get them on a webinar, grill them for 45 minutes about their expertise, then make a pitch for their product at the end. Another great source of traffic, and profit, AND relationship building!
Build your authority, relationships and connections and people will be more attracted and more likely to stick around. Also look outside of banner advertising. Your list is a huge asset, it makes your blog sticky and automates sending offers, so get people on your list!
Got any more feedback for BankNerd.ca? Please share in the comments …