Ah, WordPress plugins. Every blog/WordPress related site has a million “Top Plugins for ____” posts that they use as traffic bait, and that’s because posts about plugins are easily consumed and give people new things to try out.
There’s a danger with these posts though.
They encourage you to overload your site with plugins that may be interesting, but you may not need at all.
Think about your site’s objectives for a second…
In the early stages, your looking for more subscribers, not more fancy features that distract people from your content.
That’s why I’m glad to put together this list of clever WordPress plugins that will actually help you get things done, that means more conversions, less clutter.
1.) Comment Redirect Plugin
- Where to find it: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comment-redirect/
There are a lot of “first steps” that people take in becoming regular visitors to your site.
You can’t blame people for not wanting to give an email up on their first visit: you have to prove you offer something of value first.
Once they’ve taken that first step to interact with your content in some way though, the outcome is in your favor, as they’ve already engaged in the first psychological process of ‘consistency’.
One of the first steps that most people take is commenting.
How are you rewarding them for this “leap of faith”?
You probably aren’t doing anything, let alone thanking people, but now you can fix that.
The Comment Redirect plugin allows you to redirect people after their very first comment on your blog to any other page (preferably on your own site).
The advantages: Instead of being whisked away to the rest of the wonders of the internet, after they leave their very first comment on your blog, you can redirect people to a thank you page.
What this thank you page contains is up to you, but I recommend 2 things:
- Offer them an incentive and a chance to subscribe
- Sincerely thank them for their comment, maybe even give them a freebie
A free guide or some other gift works really well with the psychological principle of reciprocity (which is a core human drive); people feel like they “owe you” after getting something for free, even if it costs you nothing (like a free e-Book, which typically only costs you time).
It also gives you a chance to just be a nice person! 🙂
Here’s my thank you page, you’ll notice it’s not pushy, it sincere in it’s gratitude for their willingness to comment on my site, and it even includes a funny .gif to lighten things up (find more of those at r/reactiongifs).
It’s a lightweight plugin that allows you to thank people for taking a big step in interacting with your blog, don’t miss out!
2.) upPrev Plugin
- Where to find it: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/upprev/
You’ve likely seen those “You might enjoy…” sliders on sites like Mashable, and wondered if they really work, and if they do, where you could get one.
Luckily, I’ve got a great one for you, and it’s called upPrev.
When someone scrolls all the way down to the bottom of your post, they are going to be looking for what to do next.
It’s also one of the top places to put an opt-in form, so definitely don’t forget it!
What if people who are already subscribed get to the bottom of a post though?
These people are likely going to be searching for additional content if they’ve already joined your mailing list.
While some people, like Franciso from SocialMouths, use widgets like LinkWithin or YARPP, I got for a more “simple” style when it comes to visuals, and as you know, too many options can decrease conversions.
That’s why upPrev is so useful: at the end of posts, it puts up a simple slider that recommends another post for people to read.
If you’ve been searching for a way to decrease your bounce rate and increase avg. time on your site, this is the plugin you’ve been searching for.
I’ve definitely noticed a jump in average time on my sites since installing this plugin on places like Sophistefunk (I’m of course testing it and keeping tabs, as you should too!).
You can set it to display the previous post, a random post, or configure it to show related posts in categories or tags.
It’s a great way to keep people on your site longer, and therefore a great way to increase conversions.
3.) Better WordPress Minify + W3 Total Cache
- Where to find it: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bwp-minify/
- Where to find it: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/
I decided to put these together because they solve the same problem…
Slow loading WordPress sites.
If you want to speed up WordPress out of the box, the best thing you can do (besides having a good host and a lightweight theme) is to reduce the clutter on your site, and cache your content and minify CSS & JS files.
These plugins give you the one-two punch you need to do just that.
You may also know that fast sites have improved search rankings, you have the opportunity to get more traffic from Big G if your site loads as quickly as possible.
4.) ViperBar Plugin
- Where to get it: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/viperbar/
You’re likely familiar with the numerous WordPress notification bar plugins that are out there, such as the HelloBar or the Attention Grabber, but I highly recommend you try skipping the extra links and go right for what your after: more emails.
Created by the very clever Glen Alsopp of ViperChill, the ViperBar puts up a notification bar that gets right to the point and asks visitors to subscribe.
It’s a great option for those who don’t have the know-how to code a custom one like Chris Garrett has, and I can say from experience that it converts quite well.
A great example of this bar in action can be see on The Minimalists blog.
You can see that the bar can be made to blend in quite well and not be invasive or annoying to readers.
A common question: Does this direct asking for emails convert better than a link in a HelloBar to landing page?
The un-sexy answer: It depends on your site, so don’t guess and find out through testing both. 😉
Sometimes long copy on a landing page works better for some sites, and the HelloBar will fit well for that purpose, and other times a more direct approach is needed, and the ViperBar does that quite well.
5.) AWeber/MailChimp Comment Subscription Plugins
- Where to find it (AWeber): http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/aweber-web-form-widget/
- Where to find it (MailChimp): http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mailchimp-comment-optin/
What if you could generate a few extra email subscribers just from your comments section?
It would be nice, right?
Of course it would be!
While we went over rewarding first-time commentors for ‘taking the plunge’, there are two other clever plugins that allow you to boost the usefulness of your comments section even more.
If people have made it to the comment box, you have to understand that they are probably really engaged in your content.
Few people will stick around that long to read an entire piece and comment on it, so unless your blog invites comment spammers (people trying to get “first comment” to get traffic back to their site), your comments are likely going to consist of some of your most loyal readers.
The thing is, some of these people still may have not signed up for your mailing list.
These plugins allow you to put a simple check-box below your comment form to encourage people to subscribe, which may entice those “hold-outs” who visit your site regularly but haven’t joined your newsletter.
Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome using the following copy for his checkbox:
Please send me your free eBook, eBooks The Smart Way!
It’s insanely simple, but that’s why I highlighted: simplicity works in this case! (as in many others :))
If people decide to leave a comment, and see that they can also snag a free resource as well, some of them are likely to take action and check the box.
What you don’t want to do: Be annoying.
That means doing things like keeping the box checked by default (ugh…) or having a ton of other boxes to check or de-check (subscribe to comments, etc.)
The point of these plugins is to grab people’s attention after they are already about to make a commitment (also known as commitment + consistency) and offer them something of value, either your catered newsletter or even a freebie lead gen.
Over To You
Now that you’ve hit the bottom, here’s what’s next:
- Let me know in the comments what one plugin is that you can’t live without.
- Have you ever used any of the plugins above? What do you think of them?
- Since you made it all the way down here, feel free to download my ‘Conversion Psychology’ e-Book for free, my way of saying thanks! 🙂
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the comments!