I recently received a question from a blog owner in Napier called Kim (hi Kim!).
“I currently have a giveaway to help promote a friend’s business. I’ve had 69 views on the page but only 6 comments (entries for the giveaway). I’m wondering if the layout of the blog makes it difficult for people to leave a comment.
Can anyone leave a comment? I do have a friend who said that she couldn’t comment because she doesn’t have a Gmail account. Is this so? Thanks.”
Encouraging blog comments is a common problem, and one that’s emphasised when running a promotion. Attracting entries in this method can be risky as the entries (comments) themselves are public so it can be very easy for your readers to tell how well your promotion is running! In one sense that may encourage comments further – in the reader’s eyes, few comments equals a greater chance of winning – but it can also look a little like your promotion isn’t running all that well.
To address the question, let’s look at a few issues.
You say that your blog post (you can view this here on the Five Minutes’ Peace website) has had 69 views. This could be pageviews or unique views and it’s important to know the difference. Pageviews are the number of times the page has been viewed, no matter who it is that’s doing the viewing. Unique views (or unique visitors) is the number of unique people that have viewed the page. So if I were to visit that page, leave a comment and then visit the page again two more times to see how the competition is going, I’ve increased the number of pageviews by 3 but the number of unique visitors by just 1.
It’s worth noting that some statistics provided by blog services do ignore the blog owner’s activity when the owner is logged into the site, so your own views shouldn’t affect the stats.
In this example, either way 6 entries for 69 views isn’t all that bad (8.7% entry rate) but it could certainly be better. One way to improve your conversion of views to entries could be to make it easier to enter the promotion (I’ll look at this further down).
So increasing views is always a good way to help increase entries. To increase visitors to your blog, you could:
- discuss the competition on your Facebook Page or on Twitter and ask friends and family to share the post
- ask your friend to link to the blog post from their own online content
- list your blog in 2 or 3 New Zealand directories (try NZS.com, Finda.co.nz and Hot Frog – although you may need your own domain name rather than one hosted on blogspot)
- post some relevant comments on other New Zealand blogs that allow you to add your website address to your comment (although be sure to avoid spamming)
By increasing the number of visitors to your blog, you’ll naturally increase the chances of encouraging more entrants. Although before you put too much effort into this, it’s a good idea to make sure the entry process is as smooth as possible.
Make it as easy as possible to enter
Running promotions on your blog is a great way to encourage interactions from your website visitors, but can be a little tricky to get exactly right. In your case, the entry process is a little tricky, may make contacting the winner difficult, and in fact there are a number of ways to enter.
Specifically, you say to enter the promotion:
… please do the following:
- visit Chantal’s shop and choose your loveliest set.
- If you have a social networking page, please ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ her page.
- leave a comment telling me what set you would like to receive.
- ‘Like’ my facebook page and tell me what set you would like.
I will then use an online number generator to choose the winner and I will get contact details from you.
It’s important to make any promotion as easy as possible to enter. When browsing the Internet, we often have short attention spans and, if we do decide to complete a website’s call to action, we expect the process to be as easy as possible or we may get bored and leave before the process is complete.
There are a few ways to make this promotion a little easier for people to enter:
1. Change the prize from a choice of set to a gift voucher, or to one specific set
Obviously this would need to be arranged by Chantal but doing this would instantly eliminate the perceived effort that it would take to visit another website and choose a set. Especially as the link takes you to a section of Chantal’s website which has 4 pages of products to browse through. Changing this to a voucher or removing the choice and saying “this is the set you will win” will take away a lot of the time involved in entering.
2. Remove the ‘if you have a social networking page, please ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ her page
As this isn’t a requirement of entry, it could be a little confusing to mention this in the instructions. It also, again, adds a little extra perceived effort as it suggests that the reader has to log in to their own Facebook or Twitter profile and link to Chantal’s website in order to enter. Instead, you could leave this line out of the instructions area and add it as a suggestion elsewhere in your blog post.
Don’t be afraid to actually ask for help as well – New Zealanders love to help out fellow New Zealanders so you could simply say “Chantal has recently started her own business and it would be so nice if you could support her by mentioning her lovely items on your own Facebook profile or by giving her a shout on Twitter.”
3. Make the entry process specifically to leave a comment, and skip the Facebook Page option
By reducing the number of ways to enter, you’ll make the process more straight forward and you’ll be able to focus your efforts on increasing blog comments. Plus, by introducing Facebook as a promotion entry method, you actually step into a whole new world of rules and regulations and, in fact, your entry method of ‘Like us and leave a comment on our wall’ is actually against Facebook’s promotion guidelines in its current format. Check out these Facebook tips for more info on running Facebook Promotions and operating a Facebook Page in general.
As an example, a promotion that was more along the lines of “Be in to win a $20 Gift Voucher! Tell us where you’d place your butterfly set below and you’re in the draw” gives readers an easy entry method which allows them to simply say “My living room” in order to enter. In this case you would ideally need to write up some quick terms and conditions and perhaps link to those from your blog post. This would need to include an end date for the promotion and would need to say that entrants would have to choose to comment under an account or email sign-in rather than anonymously.
Which brings me to …
How can people leave comments?
As leaving comments is a core requirement of the promotion entry process, it’s important to have an understanding of how this works both in terms of how easy it is for your readers and what information you’ll have on the reader once the comment is placed.
First off, to answer your question about whether you need a Google account in order to leave a comment, one way for you to test this is simply to try leaving a comment yourself – or ask someone in your household to. When doing this, make sure you have logged out of your blog hosting service fully – in your case, Blogspot – and then visit your own post and leave a comment.
In your case however, it does appear that a reader can leave a comment in one of a fair few different ways. The ability to leave a comment anonymously or through logging into one of a few different accounts is fairly common.
I’ve taken a screenshot of your reader’s comment options, which you can see on the right. It looks like your friend may only have seen the first option – the Google Account (to be fair, this could have been the option that showed by default before the reader clicks the drop-down arrow. It’s worth seeing what this looks like in a couple of different browsers to be sure).
The problem here is that none of these methods are likely to result in the commenter providing you with their contact details. So they would leave a comment but you would have no way of letting them know that they have won other than by publicly replying to their comment on your blog and asking them to contact you – something that’s open to others contacting you in that person’s place. You’ll also be left in an awkward situation if you reply to them to let them know that they have won but you then hear nothing back from them as they haven’t received notification of their response. Plus, finally, if one of your reader’s was a little un-sporting, it would be fairly easy for someone to enter as many times as they liked under various names.
So, in this current set-up, despite what I’ve said above you would actually have to add another step to your entry process! You would have to ask people to leave a comment and then email you with their contact details so that you could contact them in the event of them winning. At the moment this would mean providing people with your email address within the blogpost which, unfortunately, exposes you to receiving spam.
The ideal solution would be to add a contact form to your blog. People could then provide you with their details privately without you ever revealing your own contact details. Unfortunately, with Blogspot’s free hosted blogs, it might not be possible to add a form to your blog. This may require plug-in functionality or extra coding that could only be available on a self-hosted blog or website (although please do correct me if I’m wrong and you find an option for it!).
What can be changed in the design?
Finally, you do ask whether there’s something in your blog’s design that’s making it harder to leave comments – and that’s a great question as the design of a website and of a blog post certainly has a large part to play.
In your case, on the blog post itself the comments area could be brought up the page a little so that it’s more prominent. To do this you could take out at least one row of photos. This would shorten the blog post content – and make it a little quicker to read – and also mean that the reader doesn’t have to scroll down too far before they find the comments area.
The website itself is set up in a way that if someone where to visit your home page, they would be able to read the entire blog post without actually clicking through to view the post itself on its own page. This can be good in some ways but does mean that someone could read your full post and then not understand how they could place a comment (as they would have to click on the ‘7 comments’ link itself first). One way to address that would be to change how your website displays blog posts on its homepage – depending on your layout, there may be an option to display just a short summary with an image and a few lines of text for each post, thereby encouraging the reader to click through to view the blog post in its entirety on its own page – and so the comment box would also display properly. As an example, the home page for NZ Blogs is set up in this way – with a short summary for each post.
So, I hope I’ve helped you with your promotion in some way! I’ve certainly written a lot. Sorry about that. It’s Waitangi Day and I had a spare afternoon!
All the best of luck with your promotion and with Chantal’s business. Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments area below (see how I encouraged a comment there?) ;)
Featured image Flickr credit: joshjanssen