If you are in the business of blogs or even familiar with the sphere, you would know Buzzfeed is bigger than The New York Times when it comes to traffic. Mashable is bigger than many premier news websites with a monthly traffic of more than 3 million.
We are all awed by the success of these blogs and websites. We also want to be there, shining in the glory of a fan base. We create content that is really good. Some of it is really really good, but then nobody comes to read it. We market the content aggressively and feed fodder to the marketing channels and finally get visitors.
Will that make our website a success? Just to give you a perspective, Google plus has more than 1.6 billion registered users and less than a third of them use it on a monthly basis, leave alone daily or even weekly.
The point made is, your goal is not drawing visitors to your website but to retain them, engage them and compel them to keep coming back.
Why should I engage, when I can get new traffic every time?
Valid point, but not so valid, in fact. There are quite a few reasons why retaining is always a better strategy. I would highlight some of them:
• Getting new visitors every time needs a lot of marketing effort and budget.
• You can never have a user base to bank upon at any point in time.
• If the visiting user isn’t engaged on your website, it will result in higher bounce rate, irking Google and eventually your organic search rankings and free traffic.
How do I engage visitors on my website?
Now that is a good question to be asked and pondered upon. I have been a follower of the good, visitor of a few bad and observer of many ugly websites. Through my observation and experience, I have listed some of the steps that can be implemented in websites to give a boost to the engagement of people that visit your website.
1. Make your website social friendly
We are social beings, even in the virtual world. If your content is worth sharing, I will want to share it with the people I know, the people I want to impress or the people I want to make laugh. But I will not go through the tedious process of copying your link, opening my social networks in three different tabs and then sharing with my network. No one will go through the process.
The fundamental step you need to take is, make your content shareable and the immediate next step is to make the sharing process as easy as it can get for the user.
The way to do it is enable social login to your website and not just be one social account, encourage your user to connect everything from Reddit to Quora to Digg to Tumblr. You never know where his influence may be the maximum.
2. Encourage Signups/ Logins/ Profile Completion
While there may not be some rocket science behind it, still people often leave it to the will of the user to sign up or login if he returns back to the website. Today, there are some immensely useful tools who can act as reminders for visitors, urging them to sign up and reap the benefits of a signed up user.
You can easily design custom notifications by integrating WebEngage or any other tool, based upon your needs and budget. The idea is to get them from being a visitor to being a user.
The sign up may or may not hook the visitor to the website, but it gives a sense of belongingness for sure. You can always reach back with offers and reminders to get him back on board via the channels he provides during the sign-up.
Profile completion makes him remember your website and you get to know your user better which in-turn enables you to push targeted messages/offers to the user to cling him to your website.
The efforts for making a visitor sign up shouldn’t just be a push but a carrot and stick approach. You should also try to lure the visitor by highlighting the benefits he would be entitled to by signing up; it can be an exclusive offer, a free subscription or just an informative ebook but the carrot should be in place.
Last but the most important point to keep in mind about the sign ups is; you should never make it mandatory, especially in the case of e-commerce websites. The mandatory signup/login is one of the major reasons for cart abandonment in the industry; a major pain point.
3. Encourage User Comments/ Reviews
There are usually three voices about your product/ post; your advertisement, your content, and your user’s comments or reviews. A random user trusts the three voices in reverse order of their mention. You wouldn’t be surprised to see the highest selling product on Amazon or Flipkart any other e-commerce website would not be the one offering the highest discount, but the one that had garnered the highest number of positive reviews.
Same goes for the blogs. One of the beginner lessons for blogging is to engage with your readers in the comments. Make your visitors feel heard, make them feel valued and they will return the favor.
Moz.com, the widely appreciated company on Search Engine Optimization and Inbound Marketing, does it like this and it doesn’t surprise me to see a similar set of people commenting on different posts. They have made it so engaging that the reader base has grown to be a community rather than just an audience.
4. Suggest what to do next
The visitors to your site may come through various routes and the discovery forms a major chunk of those visits. If a visitor reads a post fully, it means he was interested in the post. It may also mean that he is interested in the category or similar posts. The success that Amazon drew just by suggesting similar and complementing products to a purchase is a testimony to the success of the tactic. Similar approach is used by AOL in all of its blogs.
The visitor is often clueless what he should read or what you write. Take him out of his peril, show him what could interest him and he would hop on the lead, giving you an engaged user and your website a lower bounce rate.
Do – Fail – Redo
The steps that I mentioned above, maybe the first you would implement but make sure that they aren’t the last. The efforts are effective and there isn’t a flicker of doubt about it, but it isn’t the one stop solution.
You need to listen to your set of visitors and act upon it. It is always helpful to know what did the visitor like or disliked about your website. Improving according to the feedbacks not only makes the website a pleasant destination but also makes the user feel heard.
The feedbacks can be collected by using a variety of SaaS tools available in the market and we at WebEngage are pioneers of the trade.
You must have implemented certain tactics and tricks to engage your visitor on your site. Tell us if you failed and we will help you. Tell us if you succeeded and help us and the community.