April 27, 2010

Blog Tips: Trying Entrecard

entrecard.jpgI have been experimenting with Entrecard for the past couple of months and I am ready to report on my experience. Entrecard is a service that claims to increase blog traffic through an innovative system allowing bloggers to advertise their blog on other blogs. As appealing as that sounds, the bottom line is that I cannot recommend Entrecard as a method for increasing blog traffic, at least not if you happen to be an atheist blogger. For blogs that focus on atheism, I think you'll find Entrecard to be a waste of time, with one exception.

arev125.pngBefore examining why Entrecard fails for most atheist blogs, I'll briefly explain just what Entrecard is and how it works. When one signs up for Entrecard, one ads a 125 x 125 widget to one's blog and creates one's own 125 x 125 advertisement (you can see the ad I created for Atheist Revolution here to the right). Now whenever you visit a blog that has Entrecard installed, you click the "drop" button beneath their widget. Each click earns a credit for you and a credit for the blog owner. Moreover, your ad shows up in the blogger's Entrecard account, making it easier for them to visit your blog and return the click favor.

So far so good. Entrecard can boost one's blog traffic by encouraging reciprocal visits to click your widget. The more widgets you click, the more other Entrecard users will click yours in return. They have to visit your blog, even if only for a second or two, to return the click favor.

What about those credits I mentioned above? When you have enough credits, you can spend them to advertise on other user's blogs. That is, you "buy" a 24 hour ad run on their blog with your credits. During the ad run, your 125 x 125 ad shows up on their widget so that visitors to their blog see your ad. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

Here are the general problems with Entrecard that will apply to anyone using the service, atheist or not:
  • To get much of a traffic boost, one is going to have to visit several other blogs each day to click on their widgets. This gets old quickly.
  • Most of the blogs that one can afford to advertise on (i.e., not too expensive in terms of required credits) are low traffic, seriously limiting the reach of any ads one might place.
  • Entrecard can provide a small but measurable boost to one's blog traffic, however, this will come at the expense of elevating one's bounce rate quite a bit. That is, most of the additional traffic you get will be garbage - someone spending 1-2 seconds on your blog, clicking your widget and leaving.
What makes it less than ideal for atheists is this: when you try to place your ad on another user's blog, that user must approve or reject your ad buy. I'd estimate that 75% of the time I try to place my ad, it gets rejected. Minutes before writing this post, it was rejected again. The reason provided by the blogger was "offensive." You know as well as I do that there is nothing offensive about this ad. But if only a handful of Entrecard users will accept it, then there is not much point in continuing to earn credits in the system. Now you see why it is hard to recommend Entrecard for atheist bloggers.

What about the one exception I mentioned? If you have a new blog that is not getting much traffic, Entrecard may be worth a try. It is fairly easy to get an extra 50-100 visitors per day with Entrecard. They won't stick around for more than a couple seconds, and they'll almost never comment, but if you are after every drop of traffic, it might be worth a try.

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