More Than Just Comments: Reader Engagement 101


A comment today on one of my older posts here on IFB started me thinking a lot about reader engagement; what is it, how we measure it, and why it's important. Essentially, the blogger was frustrated that instead of visiting his blog to respond to a blog post he sent out via feedburner, one of his readers responded with a direct email back to him. Consequently, he asked if he should stop sending full blog posts via email and instead just send a link to his blog.

This honestly troubled me a bit because one – the fact that a reader is engaged enough to send a response IN ANY WAY is great, and two – why would you want to create an obstacle to reader engagement?

(Essentially what he would be doing if he stopped sending full posts and just sent a link) – He would just be trading one form of engagement for another.

Reader engagement is more than just validation that you're on the right track, it's a great way to determine if your readers are doing what you want them to: buying products, clicking links, etc.

I know we (and I) talk a lot about how to get more comments, and using that as a barometer for engagement but there are quite a few different ways in which readers can interact with your blog:


By visiting your blog, readers are engaging with it. Sometimes this is overlooked though, in favor of a more “obvious” form of engagement like comments or social media likes. Don't overlook it! Every page view is an opportunity.

Buying via Affiliate Links

If you monetize via affiliate links, this is a great way to measure whether or not you're doing it right. Ultimately you want your readers to buy via your links, and if they are, that means you're providing them with resources they're looking for. If not, maybe you haven't found the right mix of product/boutique yet. (this also goes for clicking on your ads)

Leaving Comments

This is the one we all strive for, and comments are nice, and an important validation of your content (sometimes), but they're not the most important measure of engagement.

I think sometimes we get caught up in how having more comments on your blog LOOKS to the outside eye instead of how meaningful they really are.

Sending emails

Some of your readers may prefer to engage with your blog via email. And that's okay. I've spoken before about how important it is to go where your readers are, and if you're sending blog posts via an RSS service or the like, then it may be easier for some of your readers to leave a reply that way instead of clicking through to your blog.

Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ – there are so many OTHER ways for your readers to consume and respond to your content now than ever before. If your demographic tends to be younger, then they'll probably prefer to engage via social media likes/shares/whatever. If you're also active on social media, this is a great medium to have conversations with your readers and/or provide them with exclusive content.

Reading your newsletters

Open and click rate for your newsletters is an important way to measure how much your readers enjoy your content. I find that my email newsletters are one of the very top drivers of traffic to my blogs, but I do also get email responses to them periodically. Readers are very protective of their email addresses, so if they've given it to you, that's an important indication that you're doing something right in itself!

The type of engagement you'll get on your blog depends on your niche, your readers, and the kind of content you offer. If you're an outfit blogger primarily, you probably won't get a lot of comments on most of your posts. In this case, if you're active on Instagram, you might get a lot more engagement there, since it's a more visual medium. If your posts tend to be more personal or lifestyle based, you will probably get more comments, or have more conversations on Facebook. If you're a shopping blogger, you'll want to pay particular attention to how your affiliate links perform, which is an indication that your readers are engaging with you by shopping via your links.

Also, your engagement can depend on whether most of your readers are bloggers or not.

We tend to live by a “code” and will leave comments on blog posts to show our engagement with a fellow blogger, but non-blogger readers may not.

They may like your post on Facebook, or send you a quick email to show their support. Don't get frustrated or upset when readers don't engage with your blog the way YOU want them to – be thankful for their engagement wherever the choose to do it; the important thing is that your content and your message is resonating with someone.

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10 Responses

  1. Monika Faulkner

    Such a timely post for me!! As a new blogger, I’ve been sooo focused on getting those comments…but of course you’re right, page views count as “engagement,” too!! And I never really thought about it previously; but before I started my blog, I NEVER left comments!! It’s only now since I have my own website that I really think about how important comments can feel. Thank you for providing a new perspective!!

  2. CynthiaCM

    I’ve had my blog for more than three years under its current name and six years in total. I don’t think I’m getting the engagement that I SHOULD be getting for having such a long-lasting site and frankly, I don’t really care that much anymore. I might not be considered one of Toronto’s most “prominent” bloggers nor do I get the kind of opportunities that others do, but I feel that I get a lot of satisfaction (on my end) from what I post. I would LOVE to get more comments, likes, retweets, etc, but I don’t. In any case, PR companies around here seem to know who I am and yes, I do post pictures from previews, either on DelectablyChic! itself or on its social media accounts (previews and events tend to end up on the big three – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

    By the way, one thing I’ve noticed over the years: ME blogs, that is, sites that mostly feature photos of the blog owner herself/himself, tend to get the more comments. Compare, say, Refinery 29 to Manrepeller – both very well-known sites. The former averages around four or five comments while the latter has many more. Why is this?

  3. Taila

    I want to begin engaging with my readers through a newsletter, but I’m not sure how to start or what service to use. Any suggestions on how to know when your blog is ready for a newsletter and how to make a great one?


  4. JulisaNicole

    This was a great article and has got me thinking. I never under estimate site visits (traffic) because that’s all I have to work with right now. Sometimes I do get a little down because my readers aren’t as engaged. They don’t respond (in comment form) on my blog posts or on my Facebook but I do know they’re visiting and dropping by. I am thankful for that.

  5. Jeanine Marie

    It can be disappointing when you post something and get no response. I have found that the best way to get comments is to leave sincere comments on blogs you truly love to read.

    Jeanine Marie

  6. Casey

    I agree with what you are saying about all these forums being a great measure of reader engagement. I am always striving for a higher level of engagement and get so excited with each new comment I receive. I think it is easy to get caught up in this because it is such a validation point, at least for me. Especially, being a new blogger, each comment means so much, and that people connect with what I am putting out there.

  7. Judy Melchiorre

    You might practice what you advise others to do by answering your email.
    Asked about any upcoming conferences? If IFB isn’t going to offer them, I need to look elsewhere. Judy

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