I was wondering…

Who Visits My Comic And What Can I Do About It?

Smurfs_School_Supplies_Bookmarks_Papa_Winking_SmurfIt’s all very mysterious, isn’t it? It’s like Smurfs or gremlins help people find your comic, wisk them away after a few seconds and you’re not sure they will ever return. To understand this, some would recommend analyzing your server logs and focusing on using keywords to discover trends. That never seems to tell me anything useful either so I poked around online and found some other angles to approach it with.

The first thing we probably need to know is what brings visitors to our sites. Among others, I found articles at Think Metrics and Rocket Bomber which gave some thoughts about useful visitor categories.

For my purposes, there are accidental visitors, readers looking for something specific and those looking for more. The first two categories are hit and miss and include readers who just want to get the latest comic – they’ll be completely satisfied with sites like this. The good news is if our sites have clear navigation and decent visual appeal then we already are meeting the needs of the first two visitor categories. Readers looking for more need to be provided for differently.

There are couple of useful more-seekers that we find in this E-article and this What I Think About article. Some are just here to check our online presence out because they’ve heard favorably about us or our comic. Some are looking for a reading experience that only we can provide.

IMG_4226No matter which kind of visitor has happened upon our sites, what response will they have? Lateral Action let us get a nice breakdown of the decision process a reader goes through. First, is this spam? Is it worth scan reading and then is it really interesting? Is it worth bookmarking? Finally, should I share this with someone else?

An advantage most comics have compared to other online content is that they are instantly scannable, so assuming we make it through the spam question we immediately get a free pass to the question of is it interesting? Most of the time, new readers will check out a number of other comics if they find the first interesting and we can basically get them straight to the decision to bookmark. If they bookmark it, they probably have a couple of friends they would suggest it to. So here’s the killer question: what can we do to get them to bookmark our comic?

What I’m looking for here is a response from you sharing what you’ve learned. What was your most effective tactic in getting readers to return?

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8 comments ↓

#1 Freefall on 12.09.09 at 10:55 am

I think that your link to “9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online” covers the points I was going to raise.

To keep them coming back….
Figure out WHO you are try to reach,
figure out WHY you are trying to reach them, and
give them new content that fits the above objectives on a regular schedule.

#2 delos on 12.09.09 at 11:11 am

Fair enough, Freefall. That’s pretty direct and practical. I was approaching all this through a lens of getting a hesitant reader to create the bookmark but maybe it’s more cut and dried than that.

Some have readers but aren’t sure who they are. What do you suggest would be some good ways to figure out who your audience is? Maybe by polls to pick out relevant topics, discussion on the comic site or looking at keyword searches and time spent on those keyword pages?

#3 Bo Lumpkin on 12.10.09 at 9:54 am

I just try to make mine funny and hope they come back for more. I figure shamelessly begging them to share it with their friends don’t hurt none either.

#4 Freefall on 12.10.09 at 1:40 pm

You can mine your site for clues to your audience:

Do you know what articles or pics get the most hits?
Do you know what articles or pics still get hits after a week or a month or a year because those are likely bookmarked?
What topics generate the most comments?

How do you advertise? How do you get the word out that your site exists? That’s also a clue to your audience.

#5 Big Webcomics, Zuda views, and a shopping guide | Paperless Comics on 12.11.09 at 10:01 am

[…] Art Patient, Delos explains how you can figure out who is reading your comic. Meanwhile, the folks at Webcomics.com point out five common art mistakes and explain how to have […]

#6 Freefall on 12.11.09 at 11:01 am

You have to be clear about your objectives. What are you trying to say and who is your audience? Why are you maintaining this site? Who do you want to reach?

There is nothing wrong with dabbling. I do a comic that I update about once every two months. But it’s not my job.

If you are treating this like a job, like a business, then you have to think about marketing and your audience all the time. You have to be laser focused on getting and serving your target audience, all while being entertaining! (whew!). You are not just an artist, you have to be a salesman.

If my comic was my job, my objectives would be to tell a great story that I would be proud of (that much is not different than now), give the audience something they couldn’t get somewhere else, update regularly, get as much (free) exposure as possible & constantly promote my site, and gently but relentlessly promote secondary products to purchase. The comic gets them in the door, then they need to buy the subscription or the T-Shirts.

#7 delos on 12.12.09 at 4:06 pm

That’s a very good overview of how to promote and sell a comic effectively. Your suggestions (and Bo’s) certainly get to the heart of how to find your audience and what to do with them once you’ve got them returning.

Say you have a gag comic. Once in a while someone links to a specific comic but the regular visits are far lower than your spikes. Assuming you are working at improving the comic, how can you get that once in a while reader to come back more often? What tips the scales?

#8 Sam Medina on 02.03.11 at 5:52 pm

I often wonder that myself. I seem to have core of regular readers who stick around, and spikes that are hard to explain, as they don’t usually happen at a page or scene I find particularly good. If you guys ever figure out a good answer to that one, let me know ;)