The Fourth Post on the Five Pillars of Effective Website Design will Focus on Visitor Interaction
Building a mailing/contact list is a great way to stay in front of your audience. Using Mailchimp, which is free up to a limited number of subscribers, visitors can sign up to receive news from you. Aweber is another option, but it has a monthly fee.
Every author needs to have a contact list! How to get people to sign up? Offering something for free – in digital format – is a way to entice people to subscribe to your updates. You can also run a contest to give away a book to one lucky winner during a specific time frame.
When you own your own website, developing a contact list is much easier to achieve than if you have a blog hosted on WordPress.com, for an example, without owning your own domain name. There is a huge difference between using a WordPress platform for your web site and having your web site hosted within WordPress.com.
The Importance of Your Own Domain Name
You might have a Facebook and Twitter account, but do you ‘own’ those websites? Of course not! All you own is your account with them, and Facebook is always discovering different ways to advertise to you and your FB friends utilizing your content in anyway possible. Plus, their policies for advertising and audience building can change at any time.
Owning your own domain name allows you to use an email with a matching address, which makes you appear more ‘together’ – your domain name is part of your branding. No one cares if you Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, or AOL: these are all fine for paying bills and ordering online. I personally believe everyone should have a Gmail account to access all of Google’s tools – Google also owns YouTube. If someone sees an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, they’ll be more likely to open it than one from an anonymous email@example.com.
If you choose to host your site at GoDaddy, they will charge you for a domain-based email. Setting up a domain-based email through Gmail to avoid these fees while hosting on GoDaddy is only asking for technical trouble. WordPress emailing systems interact in very particular ways with the server on which they are hosted. For web site hosts that do not charge you for email service, click here.
Another way to interact is to get followers on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. By inserting a script, you can allow visitors to ‘like’ you on Facebook directly from your web page. If you are linking to your other accounts, make sure the pages open in a new window.
Allowing your readers to leave comments on your pages or blog entries is the default setting for WordPress page and posts. You can turn this off by toggling “screen options”, check the box for “discussion”, then you’ll have the option of unchecking “discussion”. Why would you want to do that? Well remember the last article about backlinks? A lot of unscrupulous spammers use technology to add their links to your page via comments. The way to stop this is to sign up for a free account at Akismet. Akismet comes with every WordPress installation, but it’s not activated until you get your account.
Under ‘general settings’, you can also tell your site to not publish any comments until you approve them. If you do this, be sure to check your site often to keep the momentum going. With the correct settings, allowing discussions via comments can be a very fun way to engage your readers.
Our next post will focus on usability.
We hope that this article has shed some light on areas where your website can be improved to help you interact with your audience. The best part is most of these improvements are free if you know how to do it yourself. If not, Chanticleer Reviews offers website assistance and creation as part of their book marketing services targeted specifically for authors.
Rochelle Parry, Chanticleer Reviews’ Creative Director You are welcome to email me at: RParry@ChantiReviews.com