With infinite amount of content available instantaneously on demand, how can your content hold your visitor’s attention? That’s the only question you need to answer if you want your content and online marketing strategy to stick.
According to an eConsultacy report, businesses typically spend significantly more on acquiring visitors ($92) than on engaging and converting them ($1). Factor in the percentage of first time visitors who will never return (over 96% of all visitors) and those dollars spent on traffic generation may as well go down the drain for all the good they’re doing.
In order to increase the ‘stickiness’ of your content and marketing efforts, you need to create and encourage engagement. Here are 10 practical tips to help you improve user engagement and audience loyalty for your website:
As a marketer, I always ask my writers to deliver content in short, easily digestible bits. List-icles, 50-word or less paragraphs, proper formatting, and short, short sentences are favorites. This is for two reasons:
- No-one has the time or patience to read giant blocks of text. Those who do it for research/educational purposes (and lawyers) are exempt.
- Clarity and Brevity let your message stick.
Unnecessarily ornamental language, corporate jargon, and lengthy sentences are hallmarks of bad writing. Sure it looks impressive, but when your readers are constantly distracted by words, they don’t have the time to understand the message.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and take a look at your content. Does it look like someone swallowed a thesaurus and regurgitated the words in syntactically correct strings? If yes, stop whatever you’re doing, fire your writers, and start afresh.
Good writers don’t need to sound pompous in order to be effective. Keep in mind that KISS isn’t ‘dumbing things down’, because your audience isn’t stupid. But to keep your readers’ attention from waning, be short and succinct. Whether you are providing info or entertainment (or both), stick to the point.
Your readers will appreciate it.
2.Report breaking news (in your niche)
Timeliness can add another zing to your content. And while it’s generally associated with a great traffic generation tip (expect great surges in social shares and linkbacks), reporting on the latest/top trending news or uncovering some groundbreaking insights via case studies, establishes you as a proactive and keeps things fresh and interesting.
Keep an eagle eye on Google Trends and new developments in your niche to be aware of what’s happening before it goes mainstream. Also worth trying – getting exclusive direct quotes/opinions from thought leaders in your niche on latest news/issues.
3.Repurpose your content
In the age of multimedia, content goes way beyond words.
Old school ideas about ‘content’ as being a keyword-stuffed post of X number of words won’t get you anywhere (not even on SEO basis). Content is anything you can provide to your visitors that’s not a product/service (yours or otherwise) and it can be in any form.
A great way to drive your engagement through the roof is to repurpose some of your best (i.e., high ranking/ well received/ hugely commented on) posts into different formats. Audience segments who are more visual will love the videos, while those who are otherwise busy will find podcasts awesome. You can compile your published case studies into a white paper with actionable insights (increased subscriber count + great value = winner).
Repurposing your content is also perfect practice to apply over a variety of platforms and mediums for a complete strategy – infographics and visual/graphic campaigns (social media like Facebook and Instagram), data-driven insights and opinion pieces (LinkedIn), videos and podcasts (Youtube and website), et al.
The content remains the same; you simply change the packaging and deliver it in a variety of ways.
We are all visual beings. Yes, even you Steve, with your off the charts IQ, are a visual jack like the rest of us.
Attractive, polished, relevant images and graphics not only look great or catch attention – they also provide much-needed breaks between walls of text, and for that purpose you need to make your website design user friendly first. Adding captions make them interesting. Adding meta tags make them worth it for your SEO. And your readers simply appreciate you supporting your point with an image/graphic to back it up.
Interestingly, you can use stock photos (with people in them) in your blog posts, which is about the only UX friendly way to do so anymore. For everything else, even a story about burning water while trying to cook ramen, use images and add awesome captions to keep things interesting.
Everyone knows it’s a ‘thing’, they are just unclear just how many benefits it has.
From SEO perspective, internal linking creates a network of ‘bridges’ that search crawlers can use to jump from one post to another within your website, helping in better and faster indexing. From UX point of view, it gives audience content relevant to what they are currently engaged with to check out for more info or out of interest.
Keep in mind thatstuffing your content with internal links will annoy your audience. If you are linking to your own content, the audience expects it to be relevant and to the point. Writing about “Top 8 tips to improve user engagement” and linking to a previously published post about, say, “How to create a WordPress blog”, you will only create bafflement.
So link internally, but sparingly.
You must have seen #Throwback tag thrown around with gusto. Do it smartly and you can actually increase audience engagement.
This is when you update your previously published, great quality and high ranking posts with new meta information, internal links, and info for the purpose of republishing and sharing it.
This David Wong (NYT bestselling author and Cracked.com editor) piece “6 Harsh Truths that will Make You a Better Person” is a brilliant example of throwbacks done right:
The post, originally published in 2012, is updated every year with new links and a note (because they really don’t give a damn about SEO rules). It currently stands at about a million Facebook shares – making it the most highly shared post on cracked.com.
With an active comment section (to keep the page updated consistently), throwbacks will take you higher and improve user engagement.
These are instant engagement/traffic boosting tricks to have up your sleeve, as long as you don’t pander your own products/services with abandon.
Study your audience demographics (user personas). Create free giveaways for items/coupons/services that will have the most rewards in terms of loyalty and long term engagement for your returning visitors. Promote the giveaway voraciously on social media, and watch your traffic soar and engagement metrics hit the roof.
Comments have the power to keep your content fresh and relevant in the eyes of search engines long past the date of original publication. And blogs/websites that don’t have an open comment section (because who has the time to moderate/ spam protect it) are stifling potential audience engagement and spurning SEO benefits like true, cowardly idiots. p>Invite your audience to share their thoughts and criticism. An active, well-moderated, interactive comment section (a brilliant example being the comment section on WPMUDEV) will incite other, less active readers to comment too. Let them rate and reply to each others’ comments, while you sit back in your (figurative) ivory tower, watching your audience engage each other.
Fair warning: You may have to battle trolls and break up occasional arguments/ nerd fights.
You don’t need a super powered, JARVIS-esque user interface to keep your audience engaged (although how cool would THAT be!). Good content and good intent, coupled with diligent attention to the points mentioned above will keep your audience interested over a length of time.
Catherrine Garcia is an experienced Web Developer at HostingFacts.com and a passionate blogger. She loves to share her knowledge through her articles on web development and WordPress.