One of the most difficult problems bloggers face is turning visitors into long-time subscribers. With “bounce rates” for most blogs being traditionally much higher than other kinds of sites (by some estimates well over 70%) and visitor retention is a very tough challenge, especially for for new bloggers that have yet to really build their audience.
To make matters more complicated, with social media, there is an almost unlimited supply of bookmarking, social news, search engine and other sites that one find your site through and all of their needs are different. A visitor that comes from Twitter, for example, is likely interested in different things than one who comes from Google.
So how you do welcome all of these visitors and get them to stick around on your site or at least follow your RSS feed (or other service)? WP Greet Box may be the solution.
On the surface, it’s a simple plugin that displays a welcome message to new visitors. However, its features and depth make it far more powerful than most of your visitors will likely realize.
What it Does
Those who are familiar with the What Would Seth Godin Do? plugin are probably already familiar with the basic concept. New visitors to your site, when they land on a single post or static page, are greeted with a message above the copy welcoming them to the site and encouraging them to subscribe to the RSS feed or take some other action.
WP Greet Box works the same way but improves upon it in three key areas.
First, it is an attractive and elegant solution that includes glassy icons and great information. It looks good on almost any site and can be easily adjusted to fit any layout via CSS if needed. This helps it really stand out while still keeping your site attractive.
Second, WP Greet Box is “smart” in that it detects if the visitor came from one of 25 different services out of the box, including Google, Twitter, Facebook and many more. It then presents users with a message customized to their method of arrival.
For example, if a user arrives from Technorati, they are encouraged to favorite the blog where a user that arrives from Digg is encouraged to Digg up the post. It can also be used to encourage other Twitter users to follow you or get new friends on Facebook.
This not only helps catch the user’s attention since the site understand where they came from and show them a relevant icon, but it also encourages them to take action that would be both trivial for them to do and very helpful.
All of the messages can be customized and it is possible to add new services to the list.
Finally, those that arrive from search engines will be given the chance to look at related posts. With this feature, the plugin may be able to replace some “related posts” plugins and will now only display those posts to search engine visitors, not everyone who stops by (even though the feature, currently, is somewhat hidden to the visitor).
Though it is a simple “set and forget” plugin that takes only a few moments to put up for most blogs, it is one that can help immensely with a very difficult area of blog management.
A Few Drawbacks
The only major drawback of the plugin that I’ve found is that the greeting box, sometimes, seems slow to load compared to the rest of the site. On some sites with it installed, including my own, I’ve had cases where the page has fully loaded and I began reading, only to have the box appear after I was a paragraph or two into the post.
This doesn’t happen consistently and seems to be worst when coming from a search engine, probably due the compilation of related posts. It didn’t seem to cause any serious drag on the rest of the site, likely due to the fact it loads as a separate element.
The other problem is that some visitors may be annoyed by the box or have privacy concerns since it uses referrer information. Though referrer information is fairly innocent in terms of privacy since it only shows the last site visited and the plugin doesn’t store anything not already available in virtually any statistics app, it’s easy to see how some could be concerned.
All in all though, the drawbacks are very minor and, so long as the box will look well within your theme, it may well be worth a try.
In the end, if you don’t use WP Greet Box to keep visitors on your site, you need to do something. Whether it is a direct call to action for subscribers, related posts that might be of interest or something else altogether, repeat visitors are critical to the success of almost every site.
Though SEO is still very important to keep the stream of new visitors coming and most blogs, even excellent ones that do great retention work, will experience a fairly high bounce rate, repeat visitors are what most bloggers build upon.
Anything you can do to keep visitors around and keep them coming back is probably worth at least trying.