I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart (Sorry to disappoint – I’m still a classy gal, but I never pay more than I have to for everyday household items) – I love getting a decent price on consumables, but I hate the fact that I can never just run in and out of that store.
I’ve even tried to time myself, but if I ever have to go towards the back of the store, I can never get out of that store in a decent amount of time – even when it’s supposed to be an in and out job.
It’s as if I step in to a time-warp where I lose all sense of time. An hour of browsing can feel as if it were only 10 minutes. Even waiting in line is fun with all the cool gadgets, lotions, lipglosses, goodies and celebrity magazines to keep you entertained.
My average time on site at the local Walmart: approximately 25-30 minutes – no matter how hard I try to speed up the process.
I don’t intend to claim that’s the average amount of time most people spend in that store – I’m not going to hit you with hard stats here, the purpose is only to get you to think about what it is that influences people to hang around longer and how you can leverage that on your own blog.
The layout and organization of that store is deliberately arranged to keep me in there longer. Why else do you think they place the milk and other must-haves in the absolutely back of the store? It’s not because that’s where all the plugs are!
It’s so that by the time you get all the way back there, get what you need and then try to make your way all the way back, you would have stopped 50 times to browse and pick up items you hadn’t originally planned on buying.
Now, by contrast, Kroger sometimes has a convenience cooler setup at the front of the store where you can quickly grab your milk and eggs. I’ve noticed that those shopping trips are usually much shorter with rarely any extra items purchased on impulse. In fact, when I’m really in hurry, that’s where I prefer to shop.
My average time on site at the local Kroger: 5-7 minutes. (I’ve noticed that they’ve stopped doing this as often, I’m guessing that this is why.)
Now, you might argue that a blog is not a grocery store and you’d be right – it’s not. However, there are concepts here that can still be applied that will increase the average time your reader spends on your blog.
The average time on site here at WeBlogBetter fluctuates between 3 minutes to 3:50. For this kind of blog, I’m pretty satisfied with that, but who wouldn’t want an increase?
Here are some grocery store tips I use to keep people reading here, longer.
Interlink your blog content
In Walmart, before I can finish getting the things that I need, my attention gets constantly diverted to cool gadgets at awesome prices. It doesn’t even matter that I already have a similar item at home, I’m still drawn in, mesmerized almost. I can’t walk past the cell phone or the computer section without at least a peek. Those end-cap sales promotions are there to make you stop what you were doing to take a closer look.
Links within your content can have the same affect on readers. Depending on how carefully you’ve choose the anchor text you’ve linked to, you could potentially send your reader clicking from one internal link to the next. They’ll get so excited by all of the goodies they find there, that 30 minutes will feel like 30 seconds - time-warp, officially engaged.
Place some attention grabbers in the sidebar
There’s a reason those magazines are there in the check-out aisles. No one ever goes in the store just for a magazine, yet you can bet that after being teased by all of those great headlines, that they’ll eventually cave and will have a quick look. As soon as they are hooked by an article, it’s time to go, so guess what unplanned purchase they’re going to make.
The same can happen with the products and services you offer on your blog. I’m not talking about bombarding people with ads, but you can capture their attention and make it easier for them to find that free preview copy of that new ebook you’re selling with an eye-catching graphic and attention grabbing headline.
Place some of your blog content behind the glass
Your blog’s milk may not be at the back of the store – but the best content can be placed behind an email subscription form (or even behind a sales page – if it’s that good). If readers want to get that free ebook, they’re going to have to put in a little effort and enter some contact info. Otherwise, they’d grab those eggs and run right out of the store, the same way I do at Kroger.
Produce great content
This should go without saying, but believe it or not, I’ve had people ask me why their average time on site was so low – it was because they either didn’t have very much content, or that content wasn’t that great.
- Don’t be afraid to tell a story. Most of this post contained narrative elements that were designed to keep you engaged long enough to make you itch to finish this post. I included just enough specifics to paint the picture, so you would be able to understand.
- Say what you need to say to convey your point. Add examples or quick details, but don’t bog the reader down with too much unnecessary stuff.
- Don’t be afraid to delete and revise. I’d rather have three concise sentences than 10 filled with fluff and extra words.
So there you have it – this is what my trips to two of my favorite stores have taught me about blogging, in a nutshell.
Have you taken a look at your average time on site stats? What are you doing to keep people on your site longer?