Guy Kawasaki wrote a post about The Art of Execution. He said some really great stuff, and you should definitely read it. But, here's the part that caught my attention - go figure.
This is under the goals part:
"Rathole-resistant. A goal can be measureable, achievable, and relevant and still send you down a rathole. Let's say you've created a content web site. Your measureable, achievable, and relevant goal is to sign up 100,000 registered users in the first ninety days. So far, so good. But what if you focus on this body count without regard to the stickiness of the site? So now you've gotten 100,000 people to register, but they visit once and never return. That's a rathole. Ensure that your goal encompasses all the factors that will make your organization viable."
This should be a big AHA! to people. Yes, you know who you are. It's a forest for the trees thing. Many people build a web site with the if-we-build-it-they-will-come theory. Pushaw. Think about how many web sites you've visited, signed up for and never returned to after the intial glow wore off.
My guess is that they weren't sticky. The content was great initially, but nothing changed. Probably no one knew you were there, or even worse, sent a gazillion emails to you to get you to come back over stuff you could care less about. Two or three a day probably, until you were forced to add them to your junk mail collector to get them out of sight.
Alienating people is a very bad idea. Pestering them to death will cause this.
What you need to do is create a way to make them want to return to your site. And return often.
Here are some ideas that might help:
- Ask them to select topics of interest when they register. Then send them information on only those topics. Nothing else. Don't forget to give them access to their profile so they can update their interests.
- Change your landing page regularly so there's always something new to see when they first arrifve.
- Make sure you give them valuable information that's useful to them. Not the stuff you want to say. If your content contains your company name or we or our more than once or twice, it's about you, not them. Don't do that.
- Create something for them to do once they get there. This might include downloading white papers, buying books, signing up for webinars or following links that open pages of other related content that's helpful. Always pop a new window for an external web page. If you become a valued resource, they'll come back.
- Allow them to share stories and contribute content. Think interactive. Get them to participate. Be willing to explore ideas not your own and share them with others.
- Give them a way to comment on content of interest at your site. Think conversation.
- Find some way to validate them for their participation. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
Just a few things for you to mull over. Most importantly, if you ask them to register, be sure there's a difference in the content they see when logged in versus the free/open content. But, and this one is very important, don't put all the good stuff behind the login.
How are you keeping your registered users interested and coming back?