Build Your EPIC Engagement Strategy for 2018
Is your website strangely quiet? Do your visitors from Adwords, Google, Bing, and Facebook leave quick? Well, you’re not alone. Do they hit your landing page and evaporate?
Most websites suck because the content is shallow and not engaging. It generates no emotion and moves the visitor nowhere. These are the issues a content strategist resolves (join me on Linkedin for updates).
To fix that, you will design a better visitor engagement strategy. Many other areas of business are into engagement strategy too, from shopping mall and retail store design, to urban planning, to software UX de
sign. Engagement is very important and can significantly improve leads and revenue.
While the website traffic you’re getting from SEO and PPC channels is wonderful, it’s useless if you can can’t generate the customer action you need. This post describes in great detail how you can power up your content and site design to make your site more “sticky.”
Let’s Explore Website Engagement (and social engagement)
You’ll enjoy discovering how to rearrange your content strategy and prospect journey to convert more leads and raise your revenue.
You’ll be able to peer into the depths of customer engagement strategy. This one improvement, might be the most important thing you’ll do in 2018.
Do we have to do it all in EPIC fashion? No, that’s just my branding thing. You’ll be able to pick out the most relevant engagement tactics and fill the holes to make your content engagement and converations super pleasant and easy to consume. You can come back to this post forever and I’ll have new info for you.
Engagement is an Exploratory Process Leading to a Conversation
When you hear the word engagement, you might think of videos or chatbots and something interactive. Actually, engagement is a process of creating a conversation or experience with your visitors, so it’s actually what’s happening via the content or media.
Content won’t do it by itself, even if the content is very, very good. I have plenty of experience in creating deep, informative, helpful, sharable content and I still lost prospects. Even good content can fail if the engagement funnel process isn’t clear and achieve the conversion goal.
Even the smallest interruption in the conversation, could end it. That’s very frustrating when you’ve worked so hard on your copy and visuals. To do engagement strategy well, you need to really know your customers. Study them, meet them, ask questions, take notes, get feedback, and understand their views and pain points very intimately.
That’s the only way you can optimize this website content process to convince them. And convincing them is more than making the solution laser clear andhelpful. Making them feel good is the last phase of a process, which may be complicated. That’s why an engagement consultant might be in your future.
Focus Means Not Confusing Them
As many startups, freelancers and SMBs discover the hard way is that visitor engagement needs a specific goal. As a digital marketing specialist, I’ve fallen into the trap myself by being too many things.
What the customer actually wants is a clear vision of the solution to their pain, and a direct route to it. Offering multiple, value-added paths could confuse them.
That’s why many companies just present “their stuff” on their site and let the visitor decide for themselves. Given how competitive the market is now, that’s not sufficient anymore.
The Visitor and The Customer Journey
The visitor’s journey begins on Google. They have intent. They’re following a path to find a solution. They’re looking for a practical entry point, one they can comprehend, and then building their confidence. If your UVP or the goal is transparent, undertandable, and inviting, they’ll continue their exploration.
The goal/solution must be apparent and clear in their terms or the conversation will end
If they leave, it could be your content itself, lack of a clear solution, or perhaps how it’s laid out to be experienced. It’s this on site experience that may be the problem.
What I find with many sites and on those I’ve worked with, is that there is no invitation to a conversation. Lacking that invitation, visitors feel the company really isn’t sincerley interested in their needs. The conversation afterall, is to explore the visitor’s needs.
For us marketers, the engagement is about finding out what they need and then clarfying and customizing our solution to them.
How Do Your Customers Feel?
Engagement is a general term marketers created to describe how people feel about your website and your content. Engaged means they like being on your site, find value in it, and are pursuing the path to become your customer.
Engagement is the New Scorecard
And if they are already your customer, highly engaging content will help to keep them away from competitors. And remember, your customers are always searching and interacting on social media. Engagement is good business sense and ultimately big profits.
Strangely, so little is available online about this important topic and how to do it, that it’s driven me to write this ultimate guide to visitor engagement.
Don’t forget to come back because in typical evergreen content fashion, I continuously update and improve my blog posts. Please be sociable and pass this onto your friends using the share bar!
What do the Lifestyle People Know?
Speaking of social and engagement, take a quick first example look at these Twitter/FB posts from a lifestyle blogger. Consider how much effort lifestyle bloggers put into their posts and how focused the visual message is in them.
We can learn a lot about social media and blog engagement by studying the lifestyle bloggers. They show us that connection can happen via simple things like a bowl of salad and a tasty dipping sauce.
Practical, down to earth, visual, sensual, and people are what they’re all about. They focus on a consistent pain point of people – creating interesting, tasty and healthy meals. The food begs a conversation in so many ways. But the focal point or goal is, “what’s in this and how do I make it?” The conversation is launched, yet a good blogger will be constantly interacting via Facebook and asking visitors what ingredients they like, how they categorize this food, what dietary issues vistiors have, and what’s their favorite food.
Prospect Engagement is Critical to Sales Conversion
Customers don’t buy until they have a clear, positive feeling of confidence. So engagement is a process of creating that feeling of positive confidence. Engagement isn’t empty interaction and clicking, it’s purposeful movement like exploring, learning, assessing and deciding.
Engagement builds emotion, buyer intent, and sales velocity. It’s the most important element in marketing yet very few business people want to know about it. It gets little respect even among marketers who are hard pressed to create an engagement plan or strategy, or to measure engagement performance.
The reason engagement was rated 3rd in importance in this survey below is because marketers are confused by engagement and how to quantify it. Aren’t lead generation and brand awareness hollow goals if the audience isn’t engaged?
So why don’t we start solving this audience engagement challenge right now?
How to Improve Visitor Engagement
This post offers 22 useful tips, some infographics, examples, and more insight into powering up your new website engagement strategy below.
However, engagement shouldn’t be a hackathon. Hacking is in vogue yet that could reveal everyone has no plan or strategy and are making unwise choices. Better results come from a good plan and a powerful engagement strategy. Then you can hack your improvements.
Understanding visitor/customer engagement can make your job more fun, increase customer retention and grow your sales revenue for many years ahead. It shouldn’t take long to see results but you’re likely to see massive improvements over the years ahead. Have faith, you can do it.
What if Engagement is the New Focus of Your Website?
Why aren’t websites and social pages engaging? Because everyone uses them for “show and tell.” But websites shouldn’t be an Amazon shopping page or like a museum where there’s no touching and no talking.
Your product and service pages are probably the focus of your website currently. What might be better is your very best content such as an informative blog that makes visitors feel they will solve their need and then contact you for the next phase of becoming your customer.
You can deliver engagement via a great video, amazing product pages, or a blog post with data, using compelling facts and stories. Even if visitors are visiting from other channels such as Facebook, or Pinterest, or Linkedin, immersion in your epic quality content is likely the clincher. Poor quality posts however can destroy your credibility so always — quality first.
Connecting with Your Visitors
Videos, podcasts, Facebook pages can be engaging if they provide real value and if they align with the prospect’s problem. The challenge of course is that each customer has a different problem and need. Your content strategy would then create a different engagement path for each major type of prospect.
Okay, so now you know you’re going to have to put your thinking cap on and map out these paths of fulfillment for all the people coming to your website and social pages. The goal is to peak their intent and create a 1 to 1 relationship.
Regardless of the media channel, we have to create an emotional commitment within them to connect with us. Depending on the nature of your service or products, you may need to find to find some simple pain point to make an initial conversation. That simple conversation piece builds a bridge between you and them. It could be a common experience (e.g., a shared travel destination) you mentioned that gives them the emotional justifciation for continuing to read your website. One more such connection, and they’ll pick up the phone!
One thing about Facebook is that it seems to put those events, people, places first and foremost, rather than the business side of things. Avid social media users seem to excel at conversations.
“Companies and brands need to recognize that social media is the best way to engage their customers. What other media allows them to have one-on-one conversations and address customer service in real time? Social and blogging done right, is an opportunity to show the human side of your brand and generate emotion. Take the time to develop a relationship with customers and use your social media soap box effectively”.
— Maureen Turner, Public Relations Manager at Homewood Health.
Video can be engaging. As you can see in this short video, the Realtor gives a spontaneous “on the go” tour of available homes for sale in the La Jolla California area. And on the go busy buyers like that approach.
Engagement is the strategic process of connecting with visitors/customers on an emotional level and making them feel that they are fulfilling their purpose
An Example of Creating Engagement Channels
Let’s look at a practical example of engagement. Let’s say you own a kitchen design and renovation firm and you’re wondering how your content strategy might be organized.
You need an overall plan. And you don’t need to be a genius. You do need to understand what your customer actually wants, what drives their interest, and how they make decisions (and all decisions are emotional).
The visitor, a homeowner has searched for kitchen renovation Toronto in Google search and they click through to arrive at your designer/renovator website. The website is ready for them because it was designed not for presenting “here’s our stuff” but rather to let them choose the path and to experience the solution they’re looking for.
The prospect wants a better kitchen, but they’re not sure what style, layout or cost. The best approach might be to give them a general slideshow, video, or before and after pics of a typical kitchen reno so they can visually experience the design/renovator firms ability to solve their need.
Giving them a picture gallery might only confuse them and they’re not ready to fill out a quote form. That’s not respecting this wonderful, emotional journey they’re on. Content strategy means patience and a kind of romancing of the visitor.
Artisan Kitchens of Calgary, Canada uses a simple solution of showing the step-by-step process right away on their homepage. This strategy suggests that homeowner education is the top problem to solve, and that you should get them to contact right away.
But is this enough of an experience where the visitor is ready to make that call? Consumers want to be 80% through a process before they contact sales. Otherwise they’ll feel awkward, confused and vulnerable to high pressure tactics. That step-by-step process just described however does lead them to a high res gallery of kitchens. Have they answered the visitors vision, concerns and generated emotion?
This video shows a little more engaging approach with an interview with an actual customer.
After this, the prospect could be directed to a design studio for design ideas where they can click on features they want. A video is nice but it can’t possibly carry a whole engagement strategy by itself.
Once Fully Immersed in Your Content You Can Gently Move Them Forward
Once they’ve filled their imagination with design possibilities, you can move them onto kitchen layout plans, materials, and your pain-free construction solutions.
So now they’ve gone through a solution experience and are ready to ask questions, check your credibility, and contact you. The solution experience helps to focus their thoughts and emotions in the direction you need.
You’ve built an expectation of fulfillment and they’re starting to feel emotionally ready to go through with a kitchen reno.
Their next action is to resolve their post-purchase anxiety, get the price, consider financing, choose the right kitchen design/features, and arrange the date for renovation.
That’s a lot of issues and tasks. Fortunately, your website content made it easy for them to progress from beginning to end. You painted the picture they wanted, resolved anxieties, and created focus for them. That created one single pleasant emotion and that’s what everyone wants before they push the buy button.
2 Aspects to Engagement: your Content and your Interaction.
- your homepage, blogs, tweets, videos, pictures, data, etc is the experience and the your brand promise. If you can somehow discover what it is your visitors actually want to experience online (learning, purchasing, certainty, validation, confidence building, esteem, empowerment, getting rid of conflicts and problems) you might be able to research and develop richer content for them to read or view.
- They expect content that is relevant and significant to them and which is somehow personalized to their unique perspective and needs. The term significance is important to ponder.
- this begins with scrolling, reading and clicking, and progresses to them using their imagination and making some calculations
- the next is to move them to content that creates excitement, surprise, delight, and awe, and it should have a good mix of emotion-laden content that suggests promise of satisfaction. That’s why pics of kids, pets, meals, birthday events, and construction workers doing their wok makes sense. The next interaction should be with a real human being.
Monitor your Engagement
Assess your engagement success via your Google Analytics reports. See which links they’re clicking on in your page, where they go next on your site, how long they read the page, how many pages they visit, and whether they’re returning to your site.
If your engagement is low, you need to discover which of these root causes are suppressing it:
- weak value proposition
- ugly website with some unpleasant material
- poor flow to the copywriting and other content
- low quality, poorly qualified visitors
- ranking on the wrong keyword phrases
- hard to read and navigate content
- negative or boring tone to content — too stiff and unimaginative
- content too deep for shallow audiences – have some light stuff for them
- irrelevant value proposition – they don’t want your stuff
- lack of content – you have to have something for them to read or view
- poor quality content – get a content strategist/writer/videographer to help
- lack of credibility – your site, credentials and linkedin profile may be hurting you
- lack of color and zest in your content – find something interesting — curate some content
- lack of personal presence in your content – why aren’t you in your content?
- lack of engaging stories to tell – you need to get out and about, travel, network and engage with others yourself so take some time out for those activities
Do You Need Better Sources of Visitors?
Sometimes websites are drawing the wrong crowd. You might have low Google rankings, your email lists might not be great, and your social traffic is flighty. Take at look your analyitcs reports for info on what your visitors are interested in. Are these the customers you want? Could you incorporate something into your content to warm these people up?
How do you know your website or social media content is interesting and engaging to your visitors? Are there any metrics you can use to assess whether you are moving them toward your goals?
We need to look deeper into the stats to see how people feel about your site, your content, your brand and whether they’re moving from stranger to friend.
Engagement metrics isn’t something most companies do well. It’s actually a complicated visitor statistics thing. Most peruse their web stats looking at single statistics which really isn’t good enough. Others just count how many sales or sales inquiries they get.
You get a lot of traffic to your site however, so plucking out the data is something you need a good analytics expert to set up.
They would drill down, by eliminating those visitors who came in and left right away. Those are poor quality leads, customers who needed a phone number or part number, or those you couldn’t impact right away. Those visits don’t tell us anything.
Experts would measure the engagement of those who spend at least a few minutes because they’ve been on the site long enough for you to have affected them somehow. To learn the most, we might only track those who reached certain pages or did certain things, and then track back to what they did on the site to get that far.
We might find out what interested them and moved them to the next phase.
But What to Measure?
In your Google Analytics reporting tool for instance, you’ll a bunch of stats to look at, plus other stats you can gather with other tools from social media and stuff out there on the web.
Here’s some of the metrics to examine:
- time spent on site
- time spent on your key pages
- number of pages viewed on a specific topic (drilling down)
- scroll depth – how far down the page do they scroll
- click through paths – are they progressing through pages like you want?
- video views and amount of time spent
- reaching key target pages
- blog comments left
- return visits
- visit frequency – time between last visit and most recent visit
- pageviews per visit
- direct visits (bookmarks)
- social media shares
- phone calls
- actual purchases and amount of revenue
So what is it in all of this that you’re actually measuring anyway?
You’re measuring attention, interest, satisfaction seeking, relevancy, significance, involvement, commitment, information gathering, calculation, assessing, verifying, action, goal completion, and much more. You’re assessing whether they’re really checking you and your product/service out.
You can’t measure an emotion, but you can calculate how many purchases and phone calls you get. If they followed through, you must have made them feel pretty good.
A Visitor Engagement Formula!
Some believe everything in life can be reduced to a mathematical formula. Well, turns out that an engagement formula is exactly what we’re after if we want to improve measurement.
How about this homemade engagement formula:
number of interactive clicks x minutes spent on site / number of unique visitors.
This formula responds to the percentage of visitors who click a lot and stay awhile. Then we filter it further by applying it only to those who view any of this certain key content such as testimonials, product specs, price packages, contact and about us pages, key blog posts, and downloadables and who actually send an email or make a phone call.
A good programmer could set this tracking up on your site. Once you get into this, you’ll begin to see which customer touchpoints are the ones that result in more leads and revenue. New AI marketing software is promising to not only do this for you, but also to experiment with your content to find out what works better. Learn more about AI marketing software solutions.
Marketo is a marketing platform that offers some engagement scoring.
At this time of writing, I have discovered no analytics solutions that track engagement at a serious level. So there’s a big opportunity for an analytics software firm here. If you know of any, please leave a comment below.
23 Tips on How to Increase Engagement
- Know what your conversion goal is before you begin creating the content that will take your visitors there.
- Know the specific type of client/customer you’re targeting. Are they serious and professional, fun and light hearted, ambitious and driven, insecure and cautious, or
- Know the specific type of client/customer you’re targeting. Are they serious and professional, fun and light hearted, ambitious and driven, insecure and cautious – include some content or an interactive widget (a game, test, or photo) to let them exercise that personality trait
- Remember why your visitor is visiting you since it’s your starting point
- Use visual content graphics video original relevant photos
- Ask them questions in your copy and in some graphics – warm up their decision making muscles
- Ask them to share or connect on social media and give them something to shre and react to
- Create more, deeper, helpful, spirited, open-ended content that invites visitors to explore. It’s content that beckons, surprises, and fascinates. Being fascinating is very hard work, yet customers love a fascinating person, brand or product. They talk about it, share it, and become a brand ambassador.
- Give your content some embellishment since content that’s too efficient is to dry and doesn’t build intent. And it could turn visitors off.
- Use relevant symbols and people to elevate your brand or make it more fun (e.g., the Charmin toilet paper Bear cartoon characters increased social shares 585%)
- Be distinct and memorable. Make your dialogue and voice distinct and relatable yet sound like someone who actually can help make their dreams come true by linking to your explicitly professionally worded services page.
- Create stories if you can but they must be very relevant — a story about how you helped a client with that very problem or how a person was made happier or more successful is always effective.
- If they like some of your content, create more of it, go deeper with insight and ask them if theyd like to ask you a question
- Stimulate emotion because people make decisions based on emotion
- Get them to visualize forward to how their dissatisfaction and future success will be impacted if they don’t get involved with you
- Create likability and empathy by discussing what you do for others, use humor, and tell them why it’s so good to do what you’re talking about — enthusiasm!
- Trust, crediblity and authority is important to readers so ensure youre building credibility with facts they can quickly verify so link out to relevant, high quality articles on other websites
- Create content continuity by publishing content that adds value to previous posts but all points to some key post/offer/event off in the future
- Toward the end of our posts/content, have links and leads to your social pages. This gives them a fuller view of you right now and what you’re up to.
- Have a good call to action. The body of your engagement should lead to a contact, but it’s okay to ask them to move forward and ask for a free consultation of some sort on a pressing issue.
- Use a contest and an online survey where possible. This enhances the visit and makes it more memorable.
- Ask them to email you for something for free such as special guide to solving a problem
- Ensure you link to your relevant content throughout your posts – in fact this is a key part of your content and SEO strategy.
Engagement Isn’t Isolated Events – It’s a Process
Engagement isn’t really a goal, it’s a process of achieving your goal of getting visitors into your content and to become emotionally connected to you.
Don’t be perfect. Show sincere intent to fulfill their need. Be interested in their need for fulfillment — your content will generate the spirit of following through on their intent or mission whether it’s to buy your product, buy a house, sign a mortgage, or travel to exotic locations.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this immersion in visitor engagement. Bookmark it for future reference because if there is one improvement you can make to your sales and marketing efforts, it’s engagement that matters. I’ll be updating this post regularly. Check out the recent post on social media strategy.
Further Material on Online Engagement
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