The design teams at Automattic like to do periodic exercises called Empathy Challenges. The goal in these exercises is to get us thinking in our customers’ shoes, to understand their contexts and challenges.
This exercise in particular is about understanding how our customers might take an existing post and grow the audience with just a post and $20. The exact definition was:
“Pick a colleague’s post, and explain why you chose that one. Outline a plan for the post to get 1,000+ views. Imagine that you have a US $20 budget to work with.”
There were a lot of strong reads to choose from on the a8c design blogs, but the one that stuck out to me was Jan’s post How WordPress Changed My Life, for a few reasons. The post is relatable, inspiring, and seemed like a good candidate for a post that was shareworthy and could boost engagement, not only with the specific post but the blog as a whole.
Now, admittedly I’m far from an expert on blogging and driving traffic, and this exercise is limited to 2 hours time. But with a little bit of research and some elbow grease, here’s what I might do in this scenario – using mobile-only, of course 🤓.
Thankfully, I had a little bit of a head start in some links that were given in preparation of this exercise, but if I were to start completely fresh as a customer typically would, I would start with a Google or DuckDuckGo search of “get more views on my blog”:
Luckily for me, the first result that comes up is WordPress, and I have a WordPress blog! The result comes from this page on Getting More Views and Traffic. There are also some lofty promises made by authors who will “help get your blog 150,000 people” and other titles that seem like sales pitches, but this first article straight from the source seems to be my best bet, and I start here.
Some of the key points I took away after reading here are:
- Tell people in your social networks about your new post and bug your real-life friends
- Make your content visible to search engines, and optimize high-quality content with well-chosen tags
- Engage other blogs that have similar interests. Subscribe, get to know them, and comment when something moves you
- Paying for ads can help bring interest-targeted traffic to your site. It’s not necessarily a guarantee that these folks will engage, but it’s a cost-effective way to test the waters.
Our goals for the exercise are to image how we might:
- Get an additional 1000+ views for the post
- Bonus goal: Improve overall engagement with this specific post (comments in addition to likes and views) so that users are more likely to come back
How can we fail?
While it’s important to think about the goals and tempting to imagine what solutions might help us get there, we need to consider what failure might look like, on a few levels:
- If traffic is not improved to the level we were hoping
- If a boost in traffic ≠ engagement
- We can fail if we do not engage the incoming activity/opportunities
Because this post is well-crafted and has proven to be one of our Automattic design blogs’ more engaging posts, there is a strong foundation to build on and it sets us on the right path (content quality is king!). With that said, if we’re looking to improve engagement and views of this (fantastic) post, I think there are a few things we can do to help reach our goals:
Engaging externally will improve broaden our potential
Engaging folks in a genuine way outside of the product will improve our chances ten-fold. If we extend our potential audience by sharing on social media, talking to friends about what you’re writing about, etc. we will be more equipped and get some organic traffic in the process. We can also engage other similar blogs by following and conversing on things that are interesting to us.
Optimizing for iteration will improve our chances
We can think of this post as the first in a series of tests. Optimizing for single posts will help us to experiment with different types of content, approaches, etc. Then we can continue to optimize in subsequent posts as we learn (and document!) along the way.
Targeting specific interests will increase likelihood of interest
Targeting the proper audience is important, and while I wouldn’t use ppc ads as a crutch, Facebook Ads allows you to target specific audiences that may be interested in the topic you’re sharing about. Note that while converting these folks to repeat viewers isn’t guaranteed, it means they are likely only going to be hitting your post if the content is relevant to them.