Are You Training Your Audience to Ignore You? (3 Strategies to Engage Your Audience and Become a True Authority)

I really love today’s guest post by Clayton because it talks about a real obstacle that many Internet marketers have…

…Getting your audience engaged enough to take action on your offers. 

Today, Clayton provides an in-depth explanation for why your audience might be unresponsive and three simple ways to fix it.

I noticed the trouble started when I sent the first “broadcast” message.

I had worked for about 6 months to build up my little email list in my new niche business (after shifting from several niche mini-sites to one authority niche site).

I had 2500 people on my list. Not huge, but not tiny either.

I was finally ready to launch my first product after doing nothing but affiliate offers for over two years.

The response rate from my first message was dismal. Only 16% of my list even opened the email and 5.3% clicked through.

That means that only about 130 people even saw the offer.

Clearly this launch wasn’t going to go quite as well as I had hoped.

All those months of making the product, planning the launch, writing copy… and only 130 people even saw the offer.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]The sad thing is that I’m told these numbers are not uncommon[/title]

At first I went through the usual self-flagellation that comes with any sort of failure. I figured I was a terrible marketer. My subject line wasn’t catchy enough. My copy must be horrible. Maybe my product just sucked.

Maybe you can relate.

And the worst part was that I had just kicked off a launch and, now that it was started, I had to keep going through with it to the bitter end. All while the majority of my list didn’t even notice…

But I want you to know that even if you’re just a halfway decent marketer, you don’t have to beat yourself up.

When you’re learning the ropes, you hear a lot of people preach a lot about “passive income.” They tell you to do SEO, set up autoresponders, and basically distance yourself as much as you can from your business (and your followers).

Especially if you’re building a lot of fly-by-night niche mini-sites that only exist to exploit a short-lived opportunity.

But this isn’t a good business model.

If you’re not encouraging your followers to be actively engaged, you are encouraging them to ignore you.

Every time you fail to even reply to a single comment on a blog post, you are showing your readers that you don’t listen to them.

Every time you fail to reply to questions that people email you, you are training them to ignore your emails.

And that also means when you are counting on them to buy stuff, you’ll often be left alone as the digital tumbleweeds roll through the sales page.

What are you supposed to do?

Remember, if you’re not training them to be actively engaged, you are training them to ignore you.

So, I recommend that you train them to interact and engage you right from the beginning.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Here are a few actionable things you can do in order to do this:[/title]

After someone joins your list, ask them to send you an email and then reply back to them. This is huge because you are showing them that you are a real person not just a It also gets them in the habit of keeping an eye out for your emails (who doesn’t lookout for a reply after they send a message?).

Get in the habit of replying to every comment on your blog (or if the sheer number of comments is overwhelming, even a handful is helpful). This way your readers get used to interacting with you. Also this allows them to create their own open loops when they leave comments. They will feel compelled to check back later to see if you replied.

Reward your readers for interacting with you. In your blog posts mention insightful comments or messages you’ve gotten from them recently. Feature people who have gone out and used your advice to get results. If they have a website themselves, link to them once in awhile when it makes sense to do so.

Is this a lot of extra work?

You bet it is.

If you have a list of 500,000 then maybe you can get away without doing this. After all a 5% click through rate is still 25,000 people you can send to an offer, and you can still make good money from that.

But if your list is significantly smaller, then you could really benefit from making sure that your readers are actively engaged. They’ll be more likely to share your content, they will trust you more, and when you are really counting on it they will pull through and buy stuff when you recommend it.

Of course this means that you’ll likely have to make some sacrifices. You probably won’t be able to manage a portfolio of countless draub and forgettable niche sites. This takes time and you’ll likely have to laser focus in on building an authority niche site.

But if you’re a reader of this site, you probably already understand the drawbacks of tiny niche sites.

And there’s also a very big benefit to doing this and focusing on one niche too.

You’ll be down in the trenches with your readers. You’ll know in a very real way what they are struggling with, what they truly want, and what they believe is holding them back.

This will give you an edge over every other marketer in your niche who is unwilling to do this and merely assumes they know what people want and need.

Not only will your audience be much more responsive because they know that you are a real person who is willing to interact with them, but you can begin to tailor your marketing based on the real life interactions you are having with your readers.

This will additionally improve the responsiveness of your audience too. You’ll be able to really speak to them in a very meaningful way that pulls their attention and compels them to take more action (buying things).

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]So, now I just want to leave you with a two questions:[/title]

How engaged is your audience?

And what action are you taking right now to improve your reader engagement?

Leave your response as a comment below.

I’ll reply 🙂

Clayton Terao is an internet marketer, a recovering Google addict, and he writes over at Journey of My Own about high impact marketing strategies for conversion. He loves meeting other internet marketers, so stop by and say hello.

Take Action. Get Results.

24 thoughts on “Are You Training Your Audience to Ignore You? (3 Strategies to Engage Your Audience and Become a True Authority)”

  1. Clayton,

    I love this post. Well written and certainly something that a lot of people can relate to.

    I personally reply to every comment and email even if it takes time – I love any kind of feedback. even then, some people like to join lists but remain passive, some people want to read blogs but not comment.

    I even have very close friends who tell me they’ve been reading my content for ages and wouldn’t miss a single article, that it’s inspired them – this has happened more than once when catching up on the phone – I would have had no idea but for the phone call as they simply prefer not to leave their name/comments online and ‘didn’t want to bother me’ with an email (though one of them did just leave a really touching review for my book).

    Anyways, loved the post. I think a lot of people will relate to what you wrote. One thing – you described the ‘before’ situation, but you didn’t describe the ‘after’ situation…

    in any case I hope you are getting great success with your list these days – it’s certainly sterling advice and a great article,

    take care & best wishes,

    • @Alan, Yeah some people are just more passive by nature. Just because someone doesn’t leave comments or actively engage you, doesn’t mean that you still aren’t having an effect on them.

      They can still see that you reply to comments, you’re approachable, etc. and they’ll form a much better opinion of you in their mind even if they never take advantage of reaching out to you.

  2. Hey Clayton,

    This is an issue that I’ve also had to deal with, especially as my list has grown.

    I already comment on every post, plus I always reply to anyone who emails me; yet despite this my open rates are normally about 10-12%, which, to be honest, I thought was pretty sad.

    So, just recently, I’ve decided to completely stop broadcasting to anyone who hasn’t been through my entire funnel, and I’ve completely reworked the funnel to include a lot more value (more training videos, podcast, and posts).

    And finally, I know only send one email per week, each Sunday night.

    Hopefully, this will result in a more engaged audience. Time will tell…


    • @Trent, Thanks for sharing your stats and how you manage your list. I think a lot of people could really benefit from hearing transparent discussion like that.

      I think it’s a smart plan to send them more videos, podcasts, etc. The more personal you appear to them, the better. A podcast or a video will do a lot to build a bond that simple blogging alone can’t (which will improve engagement).

      What kind of results have you had mailing on Sunday night? A lot of people recommend only during the week and usually only between Tuesday and Thursday.

      • @Clayton, I haven’t been doing the Sunday night thing long enough to have data on it, however, common sense tells me that most people are home on Sunday nights and are generally just relaxing. As for what ‘most’ people say, I would doubt that ‘most’ of them have actually tested anything to know for sure.


  3. Hi Clayton,

    This is an awesome guest post and I believe that this is an issue most people are dealing with. I’m having close to 20% open rate, and even though it’s too low it’s a lot higher than it used to be. And the reason is that I always start and end my emails with a question. And like you said, I always reply to emails and comments.

    But one thing I haven’t done is to add a question in the first email. Thanks a lot for sharing. I’ll be doing the adjustments and I can hardly wait to see the results 🙂

    • @Jens, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I’ve found that the people who do replay to a question right off the bat end up being much more engaged in the long run (even though the number of people who reply may actually be depressingly low…).

  4. Great guest post! I think the best example of doing it right and engaging with your audience is Pat Flynn. I know he takes a ridiculous amount of time replying to every single email even though he gets hundreds per day (not to mention FB and Twitter messages) and he refuses to use a VA to answer them too. By the way, I think it’s really impressive that you built a list of 2,500 people in 6 months. I’m still working on my first 100 in that timeframe 😉


    • @Thomas, Yeah, Pat Flynn is a master at this. He gets so many comments, that it really doesn’t make sense to reply to them all, but I have noticed that he does reply to emails. A real class act!

      List building can be a complicated thing. Don’t feel bad if you’ve only got 100 so far. The most important thing is the quality of those subscribers. Where you got them and how engaged they are. I’d take 100 responsive subscribers over 2.5k passive subscribers any day 🙂

  5. Great timing on this one. I’m moving from a broadcast type of model to a more engaged model and this gives me some good ideas. I have found that when I ask a question, I get pretty good responses, so at least part of the list is engaged already.
    Thanks for the push.

    • @Wes, That’s great that you’ve got an engaged list. And I’m glad that I gave you a few ideas. It really is a “war” out there, but your goal is to kill them with kindness and show them that you are a real person who actually cares. Sounds like you’re doing a good job.

  6. I like your thoughts here: If you’re not encouraging your followers to be actively engaged, you are encouraging them to ignore you.
    Sounds interesting and that is so true.
    For me it’s hard to encourage people to be actively engaged with the activities in your network so it is a big challenge for you on how are you going to deal with it!

    • @Nina, Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you like the idea behind the post. I’m not sure I really understand your question, what are you doing now to improve engagement? Have you given your readers a survey or gotten down in the trenches with them to see where they are at and what they want?

  7. The best way to drive comment is to

    1. Build trust with the audience- i know it’s fast becoming a cliche. But you wont go and comment on someones blog who you trust little (You wont be reading a blog repeatedly if you don’t trust the author. And repeat readers are the ones who leave comments in most cases)

    2. Reward readers- As you mentioned, if you start linking or promoting your readers from within your content, you’d build a loyal following. If your blog is a high trafficked one, then you can probably get away with the fact that the sheer number of people who’ll see your comment is worth spending time commenting on that blog

    For example, I regularly comment on The sales lion and I got over 100 visitors in the past 3 months from the blog. These people spend an average of 02:42 on my site and have low bounce rate. The added benefit of the audience being the same as my target audience simply makes it a goldmine for me.

    But, I don’t comment just for the traffic. I like Marcus and his posts make me think. If you can get people to like you like you and Marcus can do, then that will naturally attract a lot of comments.

    Great post Steve. Made me think 🙂

    • Correction to my last comment. Great post Clayton. And good of you to host it Steve. How skimming to the heading which got my attention and reading from there causes us to make mistakes 🙂

      • @Adarsh, Thanks for the comment(s). I’ll admit that I haven’t had the time to really look into the Sales Lion, but I’ve heard a lot of chatter about that site… But I’m glad to hear that you’ve had good success commenting on their posts. Sometimes it surprises me how a single comment on a very popular blog can drive even more traffic than a guest post!

        Anyway, it sounds like you’ve got a decent system working, so you should keep going with that… maybe even offer a guest post to the Sales Lion if their traffic is a proven converter for you!

  8. Clayton,

    This is good stuff man!

    I’m in a process of engaging my audience more and this post had the right timing 🙂

    I agree: No matter how big your list is, it doesn’t matter how big your list is if it the audience isn’t engaged.


    • @Timo, Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I know some people who have very large lists, but their main problem is keeping the readers engaged. I know someone who runs a popular podcast, but he couldn’t get the listeners to really do anything for him because they really had no incentive to actually visit his site. They would just download the podcast and vanish. You’ve got to really pull people into your world.

  9. Hey Clayton,

    Glad you could stop by in the absence of Steve 🙂

    Awesome post, indeed!

    You are right, if we aren’t training our audience to engage with us and others in our community, then we are training them to ignore it all together.

    I have had some pretty bad time maintaining my lists (I have managed 3 lists so far – all of them are gone, deleted). When I started my first list, I didn’t know how to manage a list. For the 2nd one, I knew, but I was being lazy. For the third one, I did everything right, but after 20 days of managing it, I realized that I had no real purpose with it (I wasn’t doing affiliate marketing).

    Anyways, I am relaunching my list (as I now have a purpose, to help readers even further and to sell my upcoming Kindle Book).

    I have some great plans for the Kindle Book (like the one you mentioned – interacting directly with the subscribers and featuring them).

    Hope everything works out.

    Anyways, thank you for the post, Clayton!

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • @Jeevan, No worries about not getting a “win” with your first few times… I had to flop around in 3 separate niches before I found a niche that I resonated with and made some good money. Remember, you have to be willing to fail in order to really win big 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

  10. I think engagement is not my issue, it’s more about taking money from my list that I might suck at, pardon the jargon. I guess my mindset towards making money online hasn’t yet been in it’s rightful place.

    For me, blogging is the relationship building part and with the launch of my recent newsletter, that’s where the idea of monetization comes in. It’s that added step which puts on the pressure, because this time, it’s not just about blogging, but there’s a VIP group you have to consistenly host.

    Well, the idea sounds frightening but I’m just about to get started. Exciting times ahead.

    Thanks for the conversation,

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