What would rather have?
- Option A: 100 people experience your online presentation, but you only have proof of 30.
- Option B: 50 people experience your online presentation, and you have proof of all 50.
I’m guessing you chose option A. Here’s a second question, is that your reality?
Time and time again, online presenters are choosing option B. And based on a bit of personal research, most don’t even know they’ve made that choice.
Here is what this post will cover:
- I start by explaining why your website should be irrelevant;
- then introduce the circus approach;
- talk about other places your presentation is seen;
- provide evidence on how you may be throwing your audience away;
- show you the importance of email;
- talk about the consequences of small barriers;
- show WordPress users a setting they should check;
- and offer advice to those frustrated with summaries.
Make your website irrelevant
When you’re on the web, are you singularly focused on getting people to your site? Why?
I know you my dear reader, you’re not presenting in the digital world to sell. You’re presenting to spread a message (in other words, communicate your something to your someone). Does it really matter where that happens?
Yes, you do need a base of operations, but try to treat your site like a home office. If your something is more likely to reach your someones on the road, pack it a suitcase and give it per diem.
The circus approach
If your presentation relies on your site for context, you will limit it’s spreadability. To fix this, make every online presentation you offer self-contained and ready for travel. Just like a circus goes to the audience, so should you.
- If your blog is a resource blog, and you’re writing a post, add links to related posts within the post.
- If you want new readers to sign up for your email list, ask them to do so in your post and give them the link. Don’t assume they’ll be on your site to see the “follow by email” link on the sidebar.
- If you’re presenting using video, call your audience to action within the video.
- If you create an infographic ALWAYS put in the link to the full report.
Where your presentation is seen
If you present using social media, there’s a feed. This feed can let your someones read/experience your presentations in places such as email inboxes, readers (i.e. Flipboard, Feedly), and aggregators (i.e. EvalCentral).
It’s fairly common for you to have a proprietary knee-jerk reaction, “Eep, that’s my presentation, mine, no you can’t have it interweb!”
But seriously, why do give a <insert your favorite expletive>?
Remember, the goal is to get your something to your someones. Not get your someones to your site.
Throwing away over 90% of your audience
Alright, time to talk a little evidence. With email/feed analytics there are two metrics of interest. Open-rate (aka view rate) and click-rate.
- Open-rate is the percentage of those receiving your email (or seeing it in their reader) who opened your email.
- Click-rate is the percentage of those receiving your email (or seeing it in their reader) who clicked on a link within the email.
Mailchimp has created a set of industry specific benchmarks for email, here are a couple that might be of interest.
- Education has an open rate of 36.4% and a click rate of 3.1%. (In other words, 8.5% of opens, click).
- Consulting has an open rate of 37.1% and a click rate of 3.4% (In other words, 9.2% of opens, click).
Now let’s talk about Eval Central, which is an evaluation blog aggregator I developed a few years’ ago.
From November 5, 2013 to December 4, 2013 there were a total of 22,191 items viewed through the site’s feed (email, etc.). Those 22,191 views resulted in 798 clicks. In other words only 3.6% of those who viewed a post clicked on a link.
The highest daily click-rate over that span was 9.7%. This includes some blogs that offer summaries with a link (only some of their content) and blogs that include full text (also with a link to comment).
Too many numbers? Here’s the gist…
It takes a lot to get someone who is reading something to click anything. Even at the best times, only a small fraction of those who read a post will click a link. So if you force your audience to click a link to read your content, you will throw away readers.
Email is really important
So this is an older example, but I think a good one. Awhile ago Susan Kistler wrote a post on AEA365 talking about subscriber growth. Just check out this chart, even though daily pageviews only increased a small amount over the two year span, the email list boomed.
AEA365 is a blog but could easily be mistaken for a daily email newsletter. The posts are written to be delivered and read via email, so they don’t pull in a ton of readers to the actual site. But again, this doesn’t matter. If the audience’s comfort zone is with their email inbox, don’t make them leave their email inbox.
Even the smallest barriers reduce readership
Did you read my last post on why you should present online? One of the six common online presentation problems is that your someone is not receptive.
In a conference room an audience member will give you the benefit of a doubt for at least a few minutes if you get off to a slow start. They usually won’t jump out of their seat and take off 30 seconds into your opening. The web is different though, if you don’t grab them at the beginning, they’re gone.
Online, only the most motivated of audience members fight through even the smallest barriers. Keep the barriers up and you’ll still get the diehard fans, but are they really the only someones you want?
WordPress users, check your settings
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of late. Bloggers who have had their feeds sending out full text in the past have switched to summary. To which I say…”Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo,” give or take a few “o”s.
Here’s the crazy thing, switching to summary will show a short-term bump in your pageviews. This happens because you force your die-hard readers to visit your site (not read in their inbox or through their reader of choice). This is one of the reasons why shallow pageview-focused analytics should not be fully trusted (more on this in a later post).
But, because click-rates are low and most of your audience will usually start your post slightly unmotivated, you will ultimately reach a lot less readers. You are essentially optimizing for someones reaching your site, not someones experiencing your something.
Here is what you do to change this…
- Go to your dashboard
- Click on Settings>Reading
- Where it says “For each article in a feed, show”, switch to “Full text”
Do you follow a blog that is only putting out a summary?
Is it frustrating? Here’s what you can do. Send the blogger the following in an email or through their contact form.
“Hi, my name is <stick in your name> and I love your blog. I do have one suggestion. I love reading posts <in my email inbox, using flipbook, using feedly, etc.>. Any chance you could change your settings to show Full Text? It would really help me read more of your fantastic posts.
Thanks for all that you share!”
If they ask you what you’re talking about, please feel free to send them here > http://freshspectrum.com/circus-approach/
[How to tell if it's a summary: Summary settings will often cut off the first paragraph followed by a ... or "read more" link.]