How much is a blog comment worth? (We ran the numbers!)

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris /

Blog comments…

Are they good or bad? Vanity metric or valuable metric?

Over the past year the online version of hipster has been to kill the comment section of your blog and delete your Facebook account (examples 1, 2 and 3).

 

“Why does Seth Godin not have comments? Seth is awesome, I want to be awesome…Do I need to get rid of my comment section as well?

And what about Copyblogger? And Michael Hyatt?

Dang. This blog thing is hard!”

^^^ Recent conversation I had with myself.

..

That conversation with myself led me to crunch some numbers.

Just last week we wrapped up the Fall 2015 launch of 10ksubs (the product we sell in order to pay the bills and keep the lights on at Harris HQ).

And as the launch wound down, I started taking notes in order to write a detailed recap post like we did for the Spring 2015 launch. We got so much positive feedback on that article that we’ve decided to do a full recap of every major launch we do. That way we can share all the stuff that worked and didn’t work and lessons we learned so you can benefit from them as well. These recap posts also have a nice side benefit of forcing us to fully document what we do so we can replicate it with the next launch.

Anyhow…

As I was taking notes and outlining the launch recap article, I ran across this tweet.

How did I run across a 11-month-old tweet? I have no idea. #twitter

But that triggered a thought…

How much is a comment really worth?

Are people who comment on blog posts more or less likely to buy our products?

If they are more likely to buy, by how much?

Every article I read on the topic cited more internal-process-type reasons why the blog owners killed the comments than hard, analytical, reader-focused-type of reasons.

For example…

Internal-Process Reason: “We get lots of spam. That’s annoying.” (Meh, sounds lame.)

Reader-Based Reason: “Our readers genuinely hate them.” (Ok, sounds legit.)

Had anyone run the numbers to see if comments actually HELP their readers? I spent the next 5 hours Googling around trying to answer that question. And I got nothing.

Had no one run a legitimate split test to figure this out?

So I tweeted the smartest conversion rate optimization person I know, Devesh, to ask him if it was possible to do it.

Here is what I sent him…

Long story short…

It was possible! (woot)

..

So a few Skype calls with Jeff (Videofruit technical wizard) and 8-ish hours of slaving over Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables later, we had the answer to our question.

Yup!

When we did the math, we found that someone who commented on at least one blog post in the 60 days leading up to the 10ksubs launch was 5x more likely to buy than someone who didn’t.

*mind=blown*

Here is how we did the math…

(Note: If your eyes glaze over when someone pulls out a calculator, feel free to skip this part.)

First, we added up the total number of people who bought the course: 387

Then, we made a list of all the people who commented on blog posts in the 60 days prior to the launch: 759

Then, we cross-referenced the buyers list and the commenters list to see how many of the commentators bought: 51

Then, we checked to see how many people went through the actual launch sequence: 26,640

..

Then we did some division:

51 out of the 759 commentators bought. That means 6.71% of all commenters turned into customers.

Then we removed all of those folks from the data set (the 51 commenting customers and 701 non-buying commenters) to figure out the buying % across the entire list. A comparison of these two numbers would then show us if commenting folks buy at a higher or lower rate.

Here are the general list numbers:

362 out of the 26,460 non-commenters on the launch list bought the course. That means 1.36% of people who went through the launch sequence but didn’t comment bought.


..

If your head hurts, that’s ok. Mine does too.

Here is the short version:

6.71% of the people who commented bought the course.

1.36% of the people who didn’t comment bought.

That means commenters are 5x more likely to buy than regular subscribers.

If you extrapolate further, things get even crazier.

The average value of someone who is on the VF email list and actively comments is: $97.43

The value of someone who is on the VF email list and doesn’t actively comment is: $19.83

What does all this mean?

Honestly, I don’t know. My head still hurts from doing the math.

I do know one thing: These numbers are extremely compelling.

After seeing these numbers, we ran a few more calculations on other engagement points: live workshops, selling webinars, installing our app, etc.

The goal was to see if these other engagement points increased the chances of people buying like they did with comments on blog posts. And of course, the answer was yes. For each of the engagement points, conversion percentages went up drastically.

Moral of the story: TBD

..

For the next 10-ish days I’m working on writing the Fall 10ksubs launch recap post. It’s going to be large and I think it’ll be the most helpful post ever written on this blog.

Keep your eyes out for it in a few days.

One more thing: What do you want to know about the launch? What’s one thing you’re curious about (yes, we’ll share revenue), something you want to learn how to do or a number you’d like to see broken down?

Share it in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to answer them all in the article.

..

Footer Note #1: This wasn’t a true split test and the numbers are not statistically relevant. But they are extremely compelling. I’d like to run a true A/B test on this in the Spring 2016 launch.

Footer Note #2: I absolutely love both Michael Hyatt and the crew at Copyblogger. They are good people. Follow them.

  • Now the really interesting test would be if you can encourage more commenting, and have that result in more sales.

    It’d be pretty involved, but if you could do a three-way split on your next launch you could do:

    – Launch pages with no comments
    – Launch pages with comments
    – Launch pages with comments and strong CTAs to comment

    Then test conversion rates in each group, also considering commenters on pre-launch posts.

    Pretty involved, but that’d be crazy valuable data :). And it’d answer the correlation vs causation question since maybe it’s just that your most dedicated readers both comment and buy.

    • Yup! Not sure statistical relevance is reachable on that test at my size. But will try to do some version of that on the next launch.

    • Great writeup, @bharris007:disqus!

      And good point on correlation vs. causation, @neliason:disqus.

      My guess is it’s a little of both: Engaged people are more likely to comment and buy, and commenting gets some people a little more engaged.

      • Another really interesting thing would be people’s comments that @bharris007:disqus responds to.

        I bet that would make them even more likely to buy since they have some existing proof that Bryan will engage with them and respond to things

        • Nat, that mirrors what I was thinking.

          Responding to people’s comments and answering their questions makes the sales experience more personal. It builds rapport, trust, and confidence in the company and the people standing behind the product.

          I think it makes a ton of sense that people who comment would have a higher probability of buying the product.

        • Jason Creviston

          Yes, you could probably equate this thinking to Paco Underhill’s book ‘Why we buy: the science of shopping’ (I think that’s where I read it); where he says that customers are more likely to buy something if an “employee” engages with them in some way.

    • Interesting idea. I wonder if it’s more relevant to count comments on blog posts in the months leading up to a launch or just comments on launch pages. Not sure if the latter shows long term trust building.

  • This is gold, Bryan (as usual). But seriously, this is the first real compelling data I’ve seen to encourage comments. I’ll have to seriously reconsider my strategy around this.

  • Hey Bryan,

    I always love to breakdown the numbers, so I did really enjoy this post.

    Regarding your upcoming post about your recent Launch, I’m curious about:

    1. What were the biggest mistakes or lessons learned from this Launch?

    2. Which traffic source converted best for this launch funnel? For example, did you leverage paid advertising? If yes, from which platform?

    3. If there was ONE THING (top advice) you can give to people who are about to Launch their first product, membership site or coaching program – what would that be?

    Thank you for the inspiration, Bryan.

    – Ricky

  • wow, this is cool. I love discussions on what numbers really mean and your willingness to tackle the reality instead of just assuming, that is why this is my number 1 blog.

    Nat has a good point on correlation vs causation, but I feel there a few more things to consider.

    cost of comments – First of all, if you want to know the value of comments, is worth thinking what is the cost of comments. I look at everything in a ROI kind of perspective. The cost of comments is linked to time investment on your part and your team. As the time of your value and attention increases, the cost of having comments increases.

    other value of comments – To consider the full value of comments, we also need to think what else do comments help with. If you do get traffic from google, I´m sure comments play a huge role in raising your SEO for a specific post. I once saw this bad small blog post in the first page of google, and it seamed to be because it had over 300 comments, giving lots of keywords to google to index, but also signaling that people wore interested. This blogger was answering everysingle question about a certain product I was selling, that was powerfull.

    there also might be a thing throwing off the calculation. I´m sure there are a lot of people on your list that are no longer reading your email, but have not bother unsubscribing. As you are taking them in the calculation, the group of people that are not reading your emails, no clicking and thus not commenting, are throwing the conversion down of the “non commenters” group, which is natural. But it can lead you to the wrong conclusion that they did not buy because they didnt comment, when actually they wore note prone to buy in the first place.

    what with the people that read comments but dont comment?

    I think the real question is, would people buy less now and on the long run if you had comments, or if you didnt have comments and is the difference significant enough to make comments worth while?

    Another thing. Do comments lift your spirits? Teach you? Make you pumped about your own work? Or are they a burden and take your energy away? Then that is another value of the comments you might want to consider when deciding to turn them on or off.

    anyhow, curious how this will all turn out. Congratulations men! Follow the numbers and growth is unavoidable.

  • Love the way your brain thinks Bryan.

    Can’t wait to see how this plays out for your next launch 😉

  • Thanks so much for this post, Bryan. Thanks for taking the man hours to calculate and cross reference the facts. Been thoroughly enjoying and learning from your interviews everywhere; SPI, LeadPages etc etc. You provide enough financials that would have satisfied my former CEO and CFO … which is a good thing. =)

  • Chris Warner

    This is obviously a difficult one.

    The fact that a commenter is more likely to buy doesn’t necessarily mean that the ability to comment has made them buy. The fact that they’ve commented could be an outcome of them being more engaged, not a reason that they are.

    Therefore, they would have bought anyway, you’re just giving them an outlet to engage with you through comments as well. The engagement points could still be used to calculate the likelihood of someone buying, which is still useful.

    As I said, a difficult one!

    • Was going to comment and say this. More engaged visitors are more likely to buy AND more likely to comment. Tough to say that commenting makes them buy.

    • I don’t think it’s a direct correlation, but I think it’s part of the package.

      From my own experience… That I took time to comment here doesn’t mean I’m more likely to buy a product, unless I’m actually interested in the product in the first place. If I am interested, I think it helps a lot.

      For people who create info and articles I’m interested in, where they might not yet have a product I’m interested in, I’m WAY more likely to stick around and engage if they have comments. And, in doing so, I’m more likely to stay engaged, be exposed to their products, develop a relationship, and buy at some point (as opposed to another article where the author didn’t create any community which might bring me back, see a future product, or develop any relationship with me).

      It might be to my detriment, but because I follow a number of folks in Michael Hyatt’s circles… at least part of the reason I don’t really follow him as closely, is because he doesn’t have comments. Some of his peers that do have created a closer relationship with me. I’m sure Michael’s stuff is excellent, but so are others’ stuff as well. And, excellent + community wins over just excellent.

  • Tanya Jones

    First off, very interesting article and great information to consider. I’m off to read Michael’s article next. But it’s been a burning question for me too.

    Second, using Disquis for comments on a mobile sucks; login took 3 attempts and edit box kept freezing. Hard name to remember how to spell too so I probably got it wrong.

    Third, it probably doesn’t affect the overall concept and picture, but I think your math might be wrong (unless I’m missing a reason why 759 – 51 = 701 and why 387 – 51 = 362). Not criticizing, but am wondering if I missed something in the calculations?

  • Great piece. As always Bryan!

    For the upcoming post I would be interested to see how your funnel looked like.
    How you brought me 😉 and converted me to join the 10ksubs – I remember receiving e-mails, remember webinars (these really worked!), but if you could put it all on a timeline + templates 🙂 That would rock! Thanks! Mike

  • Oleg Starko

    This may not be statistically relevant, because you didn’t have 100,000+ people exposed to the launch, but heuristically it makes perfect sense. Commenters / workshop attendees are more engaged -> more likely to buy.

    In fact, the actual value of commenters might be higher than the $100-ish bucks directly attributable to them. Commenters aren’t just more likely to open up their own wallets, they also spread the word — so the total value could end up 2-3x what you can directly track.

    For example I’ve commented on VF blog a handful of times (but not recently), and there was never any doubt in my mind I’d buy from you sooner or later. And so I did, and directed 1 more person to buy 10ksubs at launch.

    This is all anecdotal evidence, of course, but I bet there are more people like me. And I doubt there’s a universe in which someone trying to leave reasonable, thoughtful comments wouldn’t be a more likely buyer.

    P.S. Now, an even MORE curious question is… people who take action on your free content — just how likely are THEY to buy? I bet the number is something ridiculous. 🙂

    • Your PS = my biggest curiousity!

      • dumspirospero

        I took my list of 8 to 67 on a free webinar that I was on with Bryan. Joined his list after and purchased Rapid List Building. Following the process to get to 500 subscribers, and then looking forward to investing in his 10ksubs course, thereafter. This is of course anecdotal, but I took action on the free content, and when I saw the results, made a decision to buy because knew that this guy was on to something. And that that something could help me with what I’m building.

  • Diego Alcu

    Hi Bryan:

    I think one thing as I read the post. Can adding comment only to the pre-launch sequence helps. I mean, remove the comments from the blog, but add comment to the pre-launch content, you encourage engagement there.

    And what I think it would be interesting to know is hoe many of the client went through all the pre-launch sequence? How many open all the emails and how many only a part of them.

  • Hey Bryan,

    I’d be interested to see if the volume of comments from one person on your blog, gives any further indication of their intent to/likelihood of buying from you.

    – 1 comment increase X% over non-commentor
    – 5 comments (from that one person) increase of X% over non-commentor
    – 10+ comments increase X% over non-commentor [etc]

    Not sure it could be statistically sound, but I’m curious none the less.

  • It makes sense that the more invested participants (commenters) would invest deeper into the funnel. I know the commenters on my own blog posts are very often my passionate buyers

    • I came here out of curiosity over how someone might measure such things. But, IMO, it seems like a ‘duh’ type situation to me (in need of no measurement). Business involves a relationship component. Comments, at best, help deepen that relationship. And, just like most anything else worthwhile, also take work to keep the quality (fight the spam, etc.).

      What I think happens, is that as a brand becomes big and strong enough, it starts to become a bit less directly personal anyway, and has enough momentum to disregard this effect to a greater extent. That said, I don’t think doing so is a good thing, even if a brand can survive without it.

    • Totally. Thanks for stopping by James!

  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    I’m a buying commenter, Bryan!

  • Amazing. I always thought the removal of comments was a ploy of sorts to boost social shares. I LOVE your math and research. My simple mind??: “What serves my readers best.” And to that, my readers indicate it’s nice to be able to comment and get a response. So I do it. 😉

    • This is interesting. Having ONE cal lto action at the end (comment or share) is usually more effective than multiple. So in this way it most likely increases shares w/o comments. But I think that’s a micro optimization step and misses out on some pretty big side benefits to the community built into each article with comments.

      I think the best way to increase shares is to write amazing stuff.

  • Interesting! Thanks for crunching the numbers for us.

  • Really interesting Bryan. I have always wondered that myself. However, you could go deeper. How many people bought that YOU personally replied to their comment. I know that for me, that is a big reason why I would leave a comment (like this one!) Its also why I go to the blogs of Spencer Haws(nichepursuits.com), and Neville Medhora(nevblog.com) – they both actively REPLY to comments.

  • So, the big question is…

    Are commenters more likely to buy, or are buyers more likely to comment?

    J

  • bjdesign

    People want personal connections any way they can get them. They want to be heard. I also love comments because you are taking the temperature of your offer or products or website. You start to see what is working and not working and can fix it. Comments are good and if you don’t like them then fix what is wrong. I always found customer questions stopped when you fixed or addressed what was wrong. It isn’t their fault, it is ours

  • Neal Reasland

    That math is confusing. If there were 387 customers and 51 commented, then you removed them… how is it possible to have 362 non-commenting buyers? Shouldn’t it be 336?

    • I should double check that. My head hurt by the end of it.

  • Apropos of nothing: I thought that was a bison wearing a flannel shirt.

  • Definitely interesting. Also interesting that Seth Godin doesn’t have comments, but maybe that’s because his platform is already so robust, which might be the reason Michael Hyatt has removed them (he’s built his platform to the place where he doesn’t require them to increase engagement.) Interesting to know where that sweet spot is that a platform no longer needs to engage with comments, but wherever it is, it’s pretty far along.

  • Neal Reasland

    An interesting discussion is would the commenters still have purchased at the rate they did if they didn’t comment? In the overall scheme of the revenue generated, non-commenters accounted for 85-86% of the total revenue. Interesting stats. I feel they would be more compelling if more of the revenue was generated from commenters. I feel like the majority of the commenters probably would have purchased anyway, so whether monitoring the comments for spam and other idiots is worth an extra 1-2% of revenue might be a more legitimate business question than just casting it off as lame. Just some thoughts/ideas for discussion.

  • Well now, then of course I want to be in the cool kids club, so I have to comment. Actually, thanks for the breakdown. It was helpful to see. I’m running a pretty small blog, and have some comments. I’m not in a place where interacting with each comment is a burden. I’m glad to be able to hear what my readers want.

  • – Create 2 identical new blog posts with the only difference being comments are turned ON or OFF.
    – Have the short blog post be about a cool topic and at the end sell a very simple product, like a $1 e-book. Or don’t sell anything but test conversion for giving you email plus more info, even if you already have their email).
    – Send an email with each blog post separately to 2 groups of a subsample of randomized individuals.

    What do you think? It would have to be someone that is not biased by already reading this email/blog about value of comments…

    • I like this.

      • I’m not sure you could extrapolate a $1 course to a big one. Chances are that engagement is much more important for an expensive course as the level of commitment needed to buy is much greater.

        One thing you could perhaps do for your next course is a split test where you split your email list, use different links in the A and B arms which go to the same posts but with a URL variable that then either shows comments or doesn’t (and cookies them so that the behaviour persists if they come back later directly).

        Otherwise you really are stuck with the correlation vs causation argument. Reasonable stories behind both the “comments causes purchases” and “those predisposed to purchase are likely to comment more”.

        Having said that, one thing you can perhaps do is use the volume of comments on launch blog pots as a predictor of sales. You could look for a correlation across multiple launches. Used as a predictor it doesn’t matter whether comments cause purchases or not, they’re a decent predictor (if the correlation holds up across multiple launches).

  • sharon santoni

    HI Bryan, this is very interesting. I’m coming at the problem from a different point of view. I have an active blog with a VERY engaged readership who love to leave comments and join in discussions. I have good reader engagement (50-60%) on my mailing list, but I am about to put them to the test of being invited to pay to get a bit more than just the blog.

    This may be the moment of truth for me, it is quite possible that I have a very engaged but non-monetizable audience out there!

    thanks for your always interesting articles

    Sharon

  • This made my head hurt! 🙂 Interesting article though. I thought Michael Hyatt’s reason for stopping his comment section made sense, although he took a lot of flack for it. I’m keeping mine becase even though my commenters are few and far between I like letting them have the option.

  • watexreborn

    Very interesting stuff. Thanks.

    I have a question: I’m considering starting in the success/top performer field for 30 year olds who value self-improvement/achievement. The people I have reached out to have goals/obstacles but when I pitch them, they are really lukewarm about it. Is this just too hard a market? I have read and consumed tons of information that can help them but some have voiced things like ‘Are you a millionaire? Are you successful?” even when I mention what I have

  • Hernan

    Facts vs opinions

    Total number of people who bought the course: 387
    List of all the people who commented on blog posts in the 60 days prior to the launch: 759
    How many of the commentators bought: 51
    People went through the actual launch sequence: 26,640

    51 out of the 759 commentators bought. That means 6.71% of all commenters turned into customers.

    Then we removed all of those folks from the data set
    (the 51 commenting customers and 708 non-buying commenters)
    to figure out the buying % across the entire list.

    26,640-759=25,881 total number of people on the list do not comment

    387-51=336 non-commenters on the launch list bought the course

    336/25881=0.0129×100=1.29%

    Here is the short version
    6.71% of the people who commented bought the course.
    1.29% of the people who didn’t comment bought.
    That means commenters are 5.2x more likely to buy than regular subscribers.

    Conclusion

    The numbers are slightly higher
    These are the numbers to compare the comments in a launch

    Numbers should be made to the comments in a blog

    The important thing is to take decisions based on facts and not opinions.

    Thanks, Bryan, for bringing this thematic.

  • Kevin Naidoo

    It really depends on how you interpret the numbers. The number of non commentators is far larger and as such makes sense that it would result in a lower percentage by following the calculation in the blog post.
    Lets remember that the number of units sold is what affects the bottom line of a business.

    In this example we can see:
    a) 51 commentators out of the total list of 26640 people made a purchase. That’s 0.19% of the total list.
    b) 362 non commentators out of the list of 26640 people made a purchase. That’s 1.36% of the total list

    Based on this we can see that the non commentators resulted in 7x the amount of sales when compared to the commentators.
    Some businesses might do this math and ask themselves if it’s worth while curating a blog for that additional 0.19% in turnover.
    Also, would dropping the blog, result in you losing that 0.19% worth of sales or would they simply increase the 1.36% since they would therefore be classified under the non commentator section?

    Some people read the blog without commenting but use that information to reach a decision. Without the blog, would those people still make the purchase? Perhaps they were apprehensive and one particular comment was the catalyst that triggered their purchase.

    On a personal note, I think that the blog(or some sort of social engagement) is an important part of the business. I very recently (2 months ago) launched a new business and only pushed out the ad on Facebook and have only been interacting on Facebook via our page thus far. The business generated $14000 in the first month and only one person engaging us on Facebook has actually used the app. Obviously the other users saw the ad or heard about it via word of mouth. Without the Facebook page and ad we would have nothing to show but how did the engagement help? Some things we can’t measure…well…Professor Xavier could measure that but I can’t 🙂

  • Tremendous. I’m not going to point at any of the other blogs mentioned with this specifically, but if you stay down here with your readers, we’re more inclined to comment and engage. You also have the added bonus of some great influencers in your audience who comment too (@neliason:disqus, @joshearl:disqus, @briandean, @johnleedumas, @JamesSchramko:disqus the list goes on) testament to your awesome value bombs!

  • Ulises

    Making use of the common sense as you taught us, comments are one of the best ways to validate your product.

    You can not know what people really need if the do not give you their opinion. So, as your math matches with common sense, I’d like to know how do you handle with many comments into your blog.

    Is this working the same manner as a reply from emails?

    • I’m a bit more haphazard with comment replying than email.

  • Mark MacLean

    While people may be hesitant about making claims regarding the arrow of causation, it’s safe to say it does point in the direction that is suspected for two main reasons:

    1) These events did happen in the order the arrow points, (that is to say that all buyers who commented, did comment prior to having the opportunity to buy. Even IF some people were likely to be buyers at the time of their comment, they still engaged in the content first, and it’s hard to imagine how this action would lessen their likelihood of buying, (unless perhaps it was a complaint that was never addressed).

    2) According to Robert Caildini, Author of the seminal work “Influence”, one of the main drivers of behaviour is consistency, as as such, someone who has commented on a website, (or in other ways engaged with content), is very likely to exhibit other actions that fall in line with previous actions taken, (and this is supported by numerous studies). In short, someone who think of themselves as a supporter of the content, (and demonstrates this via a comment on a blog post), is exponentially more likely to buy once they are given the opportunity to do so, (otherwise what kind of supporters would they be?). 😉

    Looking forward to the next post, (and now I too am someone who is a little closer to buying next time there is an opportunity perhaps. . . lol),

    Mark

  • Copyblogger moved comments to LinkedIn and some sites are using Facebook the same way.

    I think it has hurt them, I am certainly a lot less engaged.

    There is also the question of using a third party comment service such as Disques.

    All of these external services potentially increase reminders to revisit your content.

    (This actually makes the commenting services kind of interesting)

    A question you might be able to answer is whether your site visitors revisit more if they’ve commented?

    I think there are some other engagement metrics here that may be more accurate than the base question.

    Do you have data on comment to email subscriber conversions?

    Great topic, I think you’ve just touched the surface.

  • Corrie Ann Gray

    I’d be interested to know, of the commenters who purchased, were they commenters who received responses from either you or another user, or commenters who were “ignored?” I feel that might have some correlation to likelihood of buying. Just thinking out loud (literally) and in writing on your blog. :o)

  • I want to know more about how you partnered with people on the launch. Who? How many? What was the set-up (did they get affiliate % or a flat rate to email their list or what other value did you give in exchange?)?

  • So, if I comment, does that actively increase the chance that I will purchase a product? Or does it point to an already existing bent? Probably a little of both.

  • mfcollier

    Yes, the question is still would they have bought even without commenting, or did commenting/engagement increase their likelihood to purchase. But another interesting test @neliason:disqus would be to test what happens when people comment but the author doesn’t take the time to respond to comments; does that have a negative correlation? I think that often we forget that engagement is a two-way dialog. Interesting article @bharris007:disqus . Thank you.

  • I would love for someone (Bryan) to do a follow up with Michael Hyatt. I wonder if he’s still happy with his decision and if he’s thinking of going back. I personally think it sends a message of “I know more than you do and I do not need to know what you think” when comments are removed.

  • Eric

    Hi Bryan, you wrote “How did I run across a 11-month-old tweet? I have no idea. #twitter” Perhaps you saw that tweet after searching about why comments are shrinking after reading my comment on this article: https://blog.leadpages.net/how-to-write-an-effective-headline/ Thanks for the research 🙂 p.s. Thanks for the upside-down LeadPages template. I’m surprised you’re not using it on your homepage anymore.

  • Great tips for me.

  • Rob Hampson

    Thanks for the post Bryan.

    That’s interesting data. But does it actually answer the question of value of having comments on your blog (or launch)? Or does it just show the value of people who are inclined to comment…

    In other words, would those people have bought anyway regardless of whether there was a comments section or not? Did they comment cause they were already in a ready-to-buy frame of mind – or did they buy because they were able to comment and have a conversation as such?

    If you can do a test like @neliason:disqus suggested then you’d really bottom of how valuable comments are!

  • I don’t yet sell anything through my blog. So thanks for taking the time to analyse this Bryan. And for publishing the results.

    What I’m also curious about is the value of social media followers. And, even more specifically, the value of those people who share your content.

    For example, what % of people who follow you on Twitter buy your products against the % who don’t follow. Likewise the figures for people who Tweet your content against those who don’t.

    Not sure whether anyone else has done this before. But I’d sure be interested in the results.

    • Good question. Haven’t studied that but it’s def a fraction of the percentage of email subs.

  • It’s interesting… Just reading this makes me more interested to comment on this!

    RE: Launch… I want to know a few things about it:

    1) I’d like to know the exact launch sequence, dates, times and content you used to learn from what you did.

    2) I’d like to know who you learned from to effectively launch product?

    3) What the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in the launches you’ve done.

  • Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for crunching the numbers. Worth pondering on. 🙂

  • I keep coming back to this post and love it.
    However, I think it’s worth consulting a statistician as these results and conclusions may be completely unfounded for many possible reasons. Jumping to these conclusions too quickly could lead people astray
    A higher percentage of people who commented buying does not necessarily automatically imply or conclude that this is the magnitude that people are more likely to buy or spend. The only real fact so far would be that a higher percent of people who commented bought than the percent bought and didnt comment for some reason.
    Perhaps, had you removed the comments, this “group of commentors” would still be as hyper engaged and ready to buy.
    I’m not a statistician. Just providing food for thought.
    Would love to see this further explored to the end which is why I like the topic/post.
    Passionate about this because there’s a lot of math posts out there like this that could be really useful to me and others but have unfinished math or results/implications that lead people to believe things that may not be true.

  • Nice insights Bryan.

    Do keep us posted on your results for the Spring 2016 launch.

    Was curious about your calculation though.

    759 – 51 = 701?
    387 – 51 = 362?

    Or maybe I’m missing something?

    It does make sense though that people who take the time to comment are more engaged with you than those who don’t. When it comes time to release your course, these people are more ready to buy from you.

    Have tweeted this!

  • Had a prediction that blog comments => higher conversions for buyers. But didn’t know the result would be 5x the chance. Wouldn’t it also depend on the quality of the comments as well? Because there’s some comments that are short and meaningless like, “great post!” or “thanks for sharing this!”

  • Very interesting to see you using Disqus. I use it too, though I’m thinking of switching because I’m aware that lots of people dislike it, for various reasons, and I can only assume I’m getting fewer comments as a result. Currently considering switching to either decomments.com, or using epoch with postmatic – both of which claim to increase engagement dramatically. Postmatic in particular sounds interesting because it allows people to comment via email. Sounds like something worthy of testing, perhaps?

  • Seth Waite

    Great write up on a topic we don’t really dive into much. Everyone wants to talk about commenting on other people’s sites but not the value on your own. I love the question being driven by consumer experience and business optimization. We don’t do those 2 things enough.

    Also, just a heads up, now that your Fall launch post is up you might want to drop a link onto this post since you mention it and the post was was awesome.

  • Neville encourages commenting on some of his blog posts through incentivizing it with the NevBox. I’m curious if having been incentivized to comment meant more sales of other info products he has. Engagement equals more sales, interesting.

  • Hey Bryan,

    Do you know if there are any tools so I can send “bonus material” to people who add a comment on Disqus? Kind of like a lead magnet, but for commenting instead of referrals/signing up.

  • William Sisk

    One of the most challenging things for me is metrics like this. When we have an insight like this, I spend a whole bunch of hours and track down the data. Then, I get some kind of numerical result. So far, so good. But then, what does it all mean?

    There are so many factors at play. Correlation vs. causation is obvious.

    Maybe you have simply answered another question than the one you thought you were asking.

    I could read this (excellent) post and come to the conclusion that commenting makes people more likely to buy. OR, we could conclude that we have built another piece of a predictive model for who will buy in the future.

    My intuition is that you have done a little more of the latter than the former. But I imagine that’s still valuable.

    If you have started a predictive model of who will purchase, the question is: what can you do differently with that data? I mean, let’s say your email list is like 40k subscribers, but you know that something on the order of 1% (400 people) will buy a given product. All of a sudden, instead of dealing with a large, impersonal mass, you might be able to pinpoint those buyers and make a personal connection with them. Would that increase conversions? Who knows.

    What would happen if you, say, sent the people who were highly likely to buy your course a hand-signed invitation? Like, in the mail. Like a wedding-style invitation asking them to RSVP to your new course. I bet no one is doing that. And it wouldn’t be practical to send that to 40k people, but it might be worth it to pull in 20 more sales from a targeted list of your commenters…

    • benallfree

      These are great thoughts on what to do with simple correlated data to further prove a cause/effect link.

  • The ultimate question based on your excellent research Bryan, and likely the only question that matters at this point…Would the commenters have bought anyway even if there wasn’t a comments section??!!

  • Rhys Kilian

    Great post @bharris007:disqus ! I’ve just tweeted this article.

    I really liked how you provided actual data for this experiment, rather than just sharing your opinion on it. I’m going to have to make sure I include comments on my blog posts if (or when) I start writing in the future.

    p.s. This is the first post I have read of yours. Really loved following your train of thought through the post, related or not.

  • Great post. Interesting to see comments are now returning once again.

    • Very much so! Glad to see Michael and Copyblogger jumping back onboard.

  • This is a good test, but I also am wondering if it is the right metric.

    How much is your marriage worth, in dollars? This strikes me as the wrong question.

    Yes, a business needs money like a person needs oxygen, but is money the only measure of a successful business? Is havig happy, engaged customers only a means to making money, or is making money a means to delight and serve customers?

  • I’ve seen internet marketing masters focus their entire launch around getting comments first before pitching a product. I guess your math shows that their method has merit. Cool insight!

  • You might add a comment at the top mentioning both CopyBlogger and Michael Hyatt have reinstalled comments. 🙂
    It think that adds even more proof to your claims here!

  • This is incredible information. Thank you for taking the time to put it together – headaches and all. I have a good blogger friend who has made it part of her platform to generate thoughtful comments and engagement on as big a scale as possible. She is just now beginning to branch out into selling things. I will be forwarding this to her.

    Also, your latest video with Nick Loper was amazing! And I believe Michael Hyatt brought back his comment section just recently.

  • benallfree

    Thank you Bryan.

    Interesting to note that 87% of your customers bought the course without commenting on the blog. This could mean anything though. Maybe the 87% who didn’t comment were so excited by the comments that they bought the course 🙂

  • Haven’t scrolled down too far, but has anyone mentioned that Michael Hyatt brought comments back to his blog?

  • Mary Fernandez

    These are fascinating numbers, Bryan! I have a chicken and egg question though. What I would like to know is, does the actual ACT of commenting increase the probability of a subscriber becoming a customer? Or is it merely a correlation where particular subscribers who comment are more likely to buy because people who comment tend to be your biggest fans?

    In other words, does having a comments section actually increase sales??

    What would be interesting would be to do a split test of an entire sales funnel that includes or excludes a comments section. I’d love to see the results of an experiment like that!

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