One of the most important jobs your website can do is facilitate engagement with your audience. Of course, you want to generate customers, but those customers don't just magically appear like a unicorn flying in on magical rainbow. They are cultivated from the proper execution of a solid marketing campaign.
And no marketing campaign can be properly executed if engagement isn't one of its primary focuses. Without engagement you're not marketing, you're advertising. And that's something different altogether.
How to increase engagement on your website
Increasing engagement starts on your website, but also requires tools that go beyond the website's walls. Below I've outlined over twenty-five ways to increase engagement, broken down into four primary categories: Design, Content, Social Media, Analytics. All of these revolve around your website but can also be used as a launch point for engaging with your customers in every marketing area you manage.
Website Design & Purpose
If engagement starts with your website, then your website design is the first hurdle to overcome if it's suppressing engagement. It's your site design that gives visitors their first, critical impression of you and your company. While it is possible to overcome a bad first impression, it's not always easy. Which makes it all the more important to start with a strong website.
- Site Speed - Speedy access to your site is critical. If a visitor can't download your content, or they impatiently leave before the page renders, you've lost all opportunity to engage. It's not your visitor's job to be patient--it's your job to be speedy.
- Mobile-Friendly - Along the same lines, mobile visitors need to have a seamless experience on your site. If your site isn't friendly to mobile devices, large chunks of your audience will leave, despite the quality of your content, products and/or services.
- Navigation - It's always preferable to have visitors land on the page that is most relevant to their needs, but this isn't always possible. That means you need to be able to direct visitors to the content they want. Your navigation plays a critical role in helping find relevant content. Keep a clean and focused navigation that doesn't overwhelm but offers clear paths to other valuable sections of your website.
- Internal Linking - Another great, and under-utilized, navigation device is internal linking within your content. Where your main navigation is a way to push the visitor into the direction they want to go, internal linking is a way to pull them along and keep them engaged with your content. If you mention anything on a page in which more information is provided elsewhere (on or off your site), be sure to link to it.
- Offer Something Unique - You can't just do the same thing that someone else is doing without putting a unique spin on it. I mean, you can, but it's not wise. If you're in an industry with dozens or even hundreds of competitors, you need to do something that stands out. You can sell the same products or services, but you have to find your unique value proposition and make sure it's obvious throughout your site.
- Create an action - I have yet to see a business or website that doesn't want its visitors to take some kind of action. It might be to buy, download, call, click, or any combination of those and other actions, but some sort of action is desired. So be sure that any such desired actions are clear. Every visitor should know what you want them to do next.
- Collect Email Addresses - Engagement with your audience isn't done when they leave your site. In fact, your website is really just the first phase of engagement. Not every visitor will turn into a customer, but that doesn't mean you can't get a second chance. One of the best ways to initiate that is to get visitors to give you their email address. Use that to continue engaging with them on a regular basis. Just be sure never to spam. Keep it to the purpose you promised.
Even before a visitor lands on your site, they want to know what you're all about. Content is the answer that helps get them there, but it's also the content that's going to be what keeps them there. Or not. The design issues mentioned above set the stage, but your content is the value your audience came for.
- Title/Descriptions - Whether your visitors come to you from search or social, titles and descriptions are a key component to establishing that first engagement--the click. You have to make sure they are both compelling and initiate a desire your audience needs to continue into your website.
- Headlines - Headlines on your pages are used to grab the visitors attention. They provide a quick confirmation of what they came for and entice them to further engage with (read: read) your content. You can also use headings to break up content, which is discussed a bit more below.
- Use Your voice - Part of offering something unique is making sure your content is written in your own voice. Your voice, is largely determined by your audience. If you're going after stuffy suits, a snarky voice isn't for you. Whatever audience you're going after, make sure you write in a voice that fits both them and you.
- Content Flow - Every page on your site should have a clear and distinct purpose, fulfill that purpose, and then direct the visitor to the next action they should take. Review every page on your site and ask yourself the questions: What do I want visitors to get out of this content? What should their next steps be? Once you know the answers then make sure your content guides the visitor on that journey.
- Digestible Content - Be sure your content is easy to read and understand. This has to do with not only the words you use but how the content is presented. Breaking up content with paragraph headings, bullet points, images, and links can provide for a better reading experience. When visitors can't appreciate the content, they tend to disengage with it as well.
- Multi-Media - Content isn't just words on a page. In fact, it can come in many different forms, such as images, presentations, audio, video, tools, etc. Mix up your content a bit, utilizing different forms to reach different audiences.
- Re-purpose Content - Not every piece of content you write will find it's way into the hands of the audience you want to reach. But that doesn't mean it won't have value over different mediums. Written content can be turned into a video, an infographic, or a presentation, or vice versa. Re-purposing content is a great way to begin engaging with a new audience without reinventing the wheel every time.
- Calls to Action - I talked about having a "next action" on all your pages, but this point bears repeating. If you want visitors to take an action, you have to tell them exactly what action they should take. Don't leave them to assume what to do or even how to do it. Provide at least one primary call to action on each page and possibly a supporting action or two.
Social media gives you many opportunities to expand engagement beyond the walls of your website. But it also works in tandem with your website. While you can do social media without a website, you should never have a website without doing social media. As an engagement platform, there is really nothing better than what social media offers.
- Sharable - All your content should be easily sharable. Not only should you have single-click share icons for your visitors to use, but you should have ready-to share content as well.
- Tell Your Story - Your story isn't just about where you came from, its also about where you're going. Social media allows you to tell this ongoing and interactive story of who you are. You can do this is a more static form on your website's about us page, but in social, your story can much more organic.
- Comments - Whether it's on your blog or on your social channels, you should be welcoming comments from your audience. Every comment you get is someone trying to engage with you. Every comment not responded to is the equivalent of shutting down engagement. Don't do that!
- Reviews - Similar to comments, give actual customers a voice to tell about your products or services. This is always best handled on your site, where you have the opportunity to correct gripes and complaints. When it happens off-site, there isn't always an easy avenue to do that.
- Your Comments and Shares - Remember, engagement is a two-way street. And you can't always wait for someone else to initiate. You need to be proactive on social media offering comments on other people's platforms and sharing great content you find with your own audience. Learn to be a resource other people rely on.
When thinking of ways to engage with your audience, I bet analytics wasn't top of mind. But data is critical for building strong engagement. You have to understand what is or isn't working in order to improve upon it. Here are some engagement metrics to keep an eye on.
- Time on Page - Look at your most popular pages and see how long visitors typically stay. Every page will be different so you aren't necessarily comparing it with other pages. You want to understand if the visitors are staying long enough to get what they need or if they are leaving unsatisfied.
- Time on Site - Typically, the longer a visitor is on your site the more they are engaged with it. Or it could be an indicator that they aren't finding what they want and are moving around in circles. Use this metric only in conjunction with other metrics in order to get the full story.
- Bounce Rate - Some pages, such as blog posts, are going to have higher than normal bounce rates. That's to be expected. but you always want to work to keep people on your site rather than leaving before they take the desired action. View pages with the highest bounce rates and see what you can do to move more of those visitors to other pages.
- Pages Visited - The more pages your visitors view, the better their overall engagement is. But eventually, you want to get them all the way to the goal. Keep visitors engaged, but make sure you provide opportunities for them to exit in the direction you want.
- Exit Pages - Review the pages that have the most exits, that are not intended to be exit pages. Something there may be causing visitors to leave. Find out what it is and see if you can plug the hole to keep them flowing toward your goals.
- Goal Completions and Conversions - Ultimately, this is the end result you want. Review what your commonalities your visitors have that leads them to this point. If they are going through a particular page, then maybe it's a good idea to try to route more of your audience through that page as well.
In the end, all engagement you have with your audience should be leading visitors to the conversion point. But that's not the end, but rather the beginning of the next engagement process. While not all engagement will lead to an immediate conversion, it does lead to strengthening the relationship.
Engagement is the glue that binds your audience to your company. Without engagement, you're a stranger. With engagement, you become an acquaintance. If you do engagement well, you have the opportunity to become a friend. And if you do it really, really well, you become family!
Need help engaging your audience across multiple mediums? We can help.