Every single step in your content marketing strategy is designed to connect you with your audience. If you’re just posting blogs, tweeting and sending out email campaigns – without any follow-through – you’ll only ever scratch the surface of what digital marketing can do for your engagement.

I’m not just talking about Twitter conversations and Facebook comments, either. I shouldn’t have to tell you that an effective social media strategy will involve some form of conversation. But staying on top of social media conversations can often make it easy for marketers to forget about blog comments.

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Should I even bother responding if I only get 1 or 2 comments on a post?

Multiple studies have found that only about 1 percent of blog readers will leave a comment, which doesn’t sound like much. But, let’s consider for a second that a post you write garners 500 page views. If 1 percent of those readers leave a comment, that’s five comments on one piece of content. And those comments actually hold a lot of value, especially when you respond to each of them in turn.

Don’t just ignore the 1% of readers who take time to comment on your posts – answer them.

When you reply to a comment, the author could return and reply to your input, launching a conversation that can establish trust between the two parties. On top of that, anyone who visits that post in the future will see that your content is worth commenting on. It also lets them know that you’re involved in the discussions – namely, this makes you look real rather than some content robot or spam artist.

Can I really get measurable results from such a small task?

Neil Patel – the co-founder of KISSMetrics, Crazy Egg and Hello Bar, and one of Forbes’ top 10 online marketers – decided to dig deeper into just how valuable responding to blog comments can be, and he turned up some promising results. When he asked visitors who both did and did not leave comments on QuickSprout’s blog if they would share the content on their social networks, the former group was 294 percent more willing to do so. Answering them will only give them another reason to share the link and come back again and again.

People who leave comments on a blog are 294% more likely to share that content via social and email.

But beyond the possibility of boosting site traffic, you’re building relationships with your customers in a much more personal and meaningful way than getting retweets or likes on Instagram photos and Facebook posts. These conversations add more value to the original content, allowing for a deeper discussion and a new way to engage, educate and inform.

Do I have to answer the short ones too?

The better question is, why wouldn’t you? All you really need to do is offer a simple thanks, which only takes a few seconds from your day but makes a big difference. 

These types of commenters are already digging your brand, making it a perfect opportunity to share more of your content. Link them to additional resources in your reply, especially downloadable assets that will allow you to capture their contact information and turn them into leads. 

Include other resources in your responses to encourage interested visitors to explore your site.

What do I do about spam and negative comments?

With spam, that’s easy – delete anything that finds its way past your automated plugins and onto your site. You could also choose to manually approve comments, but not only is that adding more work to your plate, it also disrupts the natural flow of conversation and can give readers a sense that you could be blocking criticisms and censoring feedback.

No one wants to receive a mean, critical or damning comment, but the fact of life on the internet is that it happens a lot. Rather than deleting or hiding this type of feedback, embrace it. This can be a golden, organic opportunity to showcase how wonderful your brand is.

  • Respond to negative comments with a positive, understanding attitude.
  • Offer help for anyone upset with something you said or something you sell.
  • Embrace opposing opinions as a chance for a healthy debate.

If there’s opportunity to unpack an idea you’ve posited by contrasting it with a different opinion, leverage it to further demonstrate your thought leadership. But if someone happens to prove you wrong, don’t be afraid to admit it. You may want to update your article to reflect the new information if and when appropriate – be sure to thank the person who swayed your opinion, too.

Are there other ways to leverage blog comments in my strategy?

Stepping outside of your own content marketing bubble and leaving feedback on other blog posts can have a positive impact on your own site traffic. If the marketers behind the blogs you’re commenting on are as savvy as you are, they’ll respond in turn, providing a new platform for you to share your expertise.

Leaving comments on relevant blogs in your space can increase traffic to your site.

In a separate experiment, Patel posted 249 comments, some short and some long, on a variety of other blogs over the course of a month. He found that simply saying “thanks” or “great article” is pretty much a complete waste of time, generating next to no clicks or site visits (only an average of 3.2 clicks per comment) – this shouldn’t be surprising. This type of feedback is forgettable.

On the flip side, when he left rich, thorough comments on these other blogs, he saw a much higher return on his efforts. From spending no more than two minutes writing comments between four and 17 sentences long, he was generating an average of 17.4 site visits each.*

If you spent an hour a week writing, let’s say, 30 long comments on other industry blogs, you could be looking at organic inbound traffic increases of 2,000-3,000 hits each month. Now we’re talking!

*It’s worth noting that this is not something you can easily track without making a point of doing so – Patel had to use a custom URL in each of his comments to study the results.

What’s the best way to comment on other blogs?

If you want to try this approach, choose the blogs you respond to carefully. Really read through the content and make sure it’s quality stuff – the places where you leave your mark can impact your brand image. An overly promotional blog, or one that doesn’t get a lot of traffic on its own, isn’t doing you any favors if Google sees people traveling there from your site.

Engage with other blogs as you want your readers to interact with yours. Your comments should be high-quality and representative of your brand, but not overly promotional or pushy – otherwise you’ll just look like spam. Be insightful, be considerate, offer value and use your real name.

Be as natural and personal as possible to avoid sounding promotional in your own comments.

You may not get a ton of comments on your blogs, but that means you won’t have to spend a whole lot of time replying to them either. For a small investment of effort, you will see positive results in your relationships with customers and in your brand image.

If content marketing really is about showcasing your brand and giving people a reason to trust you, why wouldn’t you want to make visiting your comment section a regular part of your marketing routine?

Samantha Gordon is the Managing Editor of Brafton.com. With a diverse background writing and editing everything from blogs and whitepapers to romance and sci-fi, Samantha strives for greatness in grammar and quality.