This is a guest post from Jason Lemieux over at Postmatic, and we’re totally on board with his message. Blog comments do still matter in a big way. Check out his thoughts and share your own after you’ve had a chance to read through this awesome post 🙂
People in the content marketing space often talk about “content being king”. While it’s true content delivers the opportunity to promote a product, service, launch, company news, event, or more – it’s one way. You’re still broadcasting – and wasn’t the goal of social media and, by association, content, to move away from the bad old days of broadcast media and into two-way dialogue with your customers?
Enter blog comments. Specifically, enter WordPress blog comments. Why? Simple. Commenting in WordPress is an untapped opportunity. Increased blog engagement raises SEO performance, strengthens your brand, and builds a community around your ideas. And that’s just for starters.
And yet, still, the argument is there for switching off blog comments. A lot of blogs have gone ahead and implemented this move recently. Comments become disabled, and desperate-looking boxes jump at you to ask for your email address – without wanting your opinion.
While I respect the decision, I think they’re missing out. Big time.
The WordPress comments system is an email marketing and automation platform waiting to happen.
Where on the web does someone take a minute out of their day to share their thoughts, introduce themselves, and give you their personal email address – which you then do nothing with? In blog comments. You would be amazed at how many email addresses are sitting in your database doing nothing. These are your base. People who value your opinion, your products, and your community. You should be looking at reaching out to them, not just harvesting addresses from unknown visitors.
The debate around commenting
Admittedly, some of the reasons for switching off comments make sense. It’s too time-consuming, and we have to deal with too much spam being two of the most common. For any blogger, personal or professional, time is an important commodity you don’t want to waste.
And tracking spammy comments can be a huge time suck if your site is one of those that attract hundreds of comments on every single post.
Here’s the thing, though – the operative word here is can. I’ve managed blogs for businesses and organizations where the comments are in the thousands, and I’ve never once felt it too time-consuming to manage, for both commenting/replying and managing spam. Yes, spam is annoying – but only if you let it be. There are far too many moderation options available, like our favorite anti-spam plugin Akismet, for that to be a valid excuse – trust me on this.
Take a look at what you’re saying – by saying you’re too busy to deal with comments and too busy to deal with spam, you’re saying you’re too busy to answer a potential customer or friend, and you’re too busy to look after their experience while they’re on your site.
Is that the kind of business you want to be? I didn’t think so.
But social media has killed blog comments
Then there’s the reasoning that social media conversations have killed blog comments, so why keep them switched on?
Easy. While social conversations will always happen (and should be encouraged – after all, it’s better having people talk about you in a fractured way than not at all), it’s their fractured nature that provides the exact reason you should have comments on.
On your blog, you direct the conversation. You encourage (or discourage) by your availability to those leaving a comment. You can’t be everywhere on social (no matter what the gurus say), but you can be everywhere in one specific place – your blog.
Answer questions there, meet customer needs, show you value their words…. you can see where this is going, right?
[Tweet “Turn off blog comments, but don’t be surprised if you’re turning off your customers, too.”]
The rise of email delivery over RSS
Of course, blog comments are only part of the equation (albeit a very important one). In the last few years, email marketing has really taken off on blogs, even those that run as a hobby. You only need to look at the success of Optin Monster, Bloom, Magic Action Box Pro, and more to see that popularity in action.
Visit any blog today, and at the end of the post (or while reading it, based on behavior), you’ll probably see an option to get further blog posts by email. While RSS has been around for years, it’s never really taken when it comes to the bigger population of blog visitors.
The reason for that is simple – too many options, too much technology at play, and too little education about what RSS actually is.
Email is different. Pretty much everyone knows what email does and, more importantly, how it works. So it’s no surprise email marketing (or just subscribing by email) has become so popular on blogs of all sizes.
It makes sense, too. If someone gives you their email address, they’re investing their trust in you to not abuse it. That’s a pretty powerful endorsement (and shouldn’t be abused, period). Yet it’s also a huge opportunity.
If people subscribe to your blog for content, it stands to reason they’ll be interested in other stuff from you. Courses, downloads, ebooks, webinars, etc. All potential revenue sources, and all deliverables direct to someone’s email.
That kind of direct referral can’t be bought. Now, imagine if you had that kind of direct connection, but now it’s with every reader of your blog, even from several years ago…
From email to comment to email again
Now, to tie this all back to why you should have blog comments as an active part of your content and email marketing strategy, ask yourself this question:
If you could connect with those that show an interest in your daily content, and make it easy for them to not only subscribe to that content but offer immediate feedback on it, all while remaining part of your ongoing email strategy, wouldn’t it make sense to use that?
Now you can. And it’s simple. You don’t even have to change your current content output.
- You create your post;
- It goes out via email;
- Your subscriber reads the post;
- They hit “Reply” to leave a comment via email;
- The comment appears, and you’re notified;
- You reply to your email, the comment appears on the blog post;
- The commenter gets a notification, and hits “Reply” to leave another comment via email;
- Rinse; repeat; benefit.
It really is as simple as that. It doesn’t matter where the email is being read – desktop, webmail, mobile. If you can receive an email, you can reply to comments. And moderate them. And approve. And watch your engagement grow.
The way that all of this can happen is by using a really awesome new plugin called Postmatic. It’s free to download and you can take a look at exactly how it works on their website.
With the growth in engagement comes growth in opportunity. Because not only can you now reach out to that person through email, you can invite past commenters that are interested in that topic to come back and share their thoughts again. All through a highly personalized, highly targeted, and highly ethical invitation system.
Think of it another way. If a comment system allowed you to re-invite 1,000 potential customers back to your brand to discuss the features of a new product or service, would you still feel comments are a waste of time?
Thought so. Email and comments by email – it’s an opportunity you no longer have to wait to happen. You can download Postmatic and start using it today.
Now it’s your turn. Do you agree that comments are still an important part of the web today? We love talking with our blog readers and customers in the comments section 🙂