Website engagement has more to do with the reason you still love or hate your ex than what you think. Emotions, data and feedback play a significant role on what do users prefer to see (and therefore, share) online. If you already know what you need to care about to improve loyalty towards your website, good for you, but if you don’t, maybe you should prepare because a breakup is coming (and they’re always painful).
The term “rapport” may sound like a roaring dinosaur, but it’s actually an extremely important factor when we talk about emotional marketing and, thus, when we pretend to measure and improve our website engagement. Coca-Cola and Nike are very good examples of how big companies use marketing to create emotional bonds with their clients, but web engagement requires a different strategy (a little bit of Coca-Cola-Nike “feeling” is needed, though, just to be sure that we are doing things right).
Of course, we need to start by making a statement of what does “rapport” implies in the context of website engagement.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, rapport is defined as “a friendly relationship”. That’s all. We all have a good friend who saved us from death on a difficult afterparty. The difference between that friend of us and users visiting our website is that being able to establish rapport with users will define (for good) the future of our business, basically because:
When you build an emotional bond with consumers or prospects, you’re making them feel like if you were talking directly to them, and that increases engagement.
When users or visitors are truly engaged with your website, they will come back over and over again, and they will be more likely to share your content and make Word of Mouth marketing for free (which is, by the way, the most effective type of marketing).
So, how can you improve your visitors’ engagement and eventually forge one website to rule them all?
Let’s find out.
First things first
Let’s start by an obvious and often missed fact: you must know your visitor.
Remember this as you’d remember your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s birthday: the philosopher’s stone of engagement resides on emotions, because emotions lead to psychological arousal and arousal makes the difference between: “Get seduced by my call to action” — “Yey”, and “Get seduced by my call to action” — “No, thank you”.
Engagement only grows decently when your clients feel that you care about their expectations and lifestyles besides taking away their money. But let’s suppose you don’t know what your visitors prefer just to talk about why you should. So, our ten ways to increase your website engagement are:
1. Use metrics and analytics
Information is power, and web metrics give you a good amount of it. Using metrics and analytics allow you to measure the effectiveness of your website principally because:
- You can identify subscriptions or form submissions rate.
- You can compare audience participation between different kind of content.
- You can know the number of visitors you receive and how many of them actually stay on your website and consume your content.
If you have one thousand visits on a dog’s photo and just five on a caiman’s, people definitely prefer dogs, and they’re a lot of things you can do by just knowing that. On the other hand, analytics help you track and collect data about users profiles and that makes more easy to create a successful engagement strategy.
2. Allow users to collaborate
We all like our needs, life stories and hardships to be listened by someone, but why?
According to a Harvard University study, “humans devote 30–40% of speech output solely to informing others of their own subjective experiences”, which means that we love to talk about ourselves. That’s probably the reason why your last relationship didn’t work out, you didn’t let that poor guy/girl to express him/her feelings entirely, so be sure to do the right thing with your website.
Let users to collaborate by sending messages, photos, videos, advices, guest blogging… They will be delighted by your goodness and ready to return.
3. Share relevant content
Quality is always better than quantity. Of course, quality is something you can only offer when you know who are you talking to. Relevant or related content is defined by your audience beliefs and affinities, analytics and metrics can help you with that.
A key point you must consider about relevant content is, again, emotions, emotions emotions. According to researchers at the University of California (San Diego, School of Medicine), emotions shared online are somehow contagious, which means that: “What people feel and say in one place may spread to many parts of the globe on the very same day”.
In other words, if you want people to be engaged with your website, make them feel good. In order to make them feel good, make them smile. To make them smile, share positive content.
4. Avoid “whatever” content
This would be quantity instead of quality.
Some people commit a mistake: they think that a website will be “well positioned” as long as they put someone in front of a screen exclusively in charge of massive publishing, lots and lots of content every day, with the intensity of a military weapon. They believe that a high volume of “updated” content will make them have more visitors, which is true, but how many of those visitors stay to keep reading some low quality paragraphs when they can just go back to Wikipedia, where articles even have a table of content?
One more time: engagement depends on how skillful you are to share content people feel connected with. They don’t care if your website produces fifty articles per day, they just need a single one to love you (or to hate you).
5. Use social media
But not to collect followers, that’s useless. Eight hundred followers doesn’t mean anything if seven hundred doesn’t care about you. The purpose of social media is to get in touch with people, to know what they like and take advantage by creating effective content. Virality will do the rest and you will know things are going right if:
- You see Likes.
- You see Shares.
- You see Comments.
- You see Subscriptions.
- You see Direct Visits and Google feels overcame.
Remember: one hundred engaged followers are better than one thousand strangers that clicked on the Like button just to see if they’d win a flight to Bahamas. Those one hundred loyal followers will help you connect with their friends and family (prospects), and that’s when magic happens, because — conveniently — 92% of people believe recommendations from friends and family over any kind of advertising.
6. Include video
An Invodo research says that 51.9% of marketing professionals around the world mention video as the type of content with the best return on investment, which makes complete sense if we also consider that using video increases web traffic from search at 41% and social video (videos posted on social networks) generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
7. Build a “place to stay”
Your website design matters. The same way you would like to stay a little more in a place that feels comfortable and looks nice and clean, visitors engagement will be influenced by how they perceive your interface.
Make sure people can find whatever they are looking for without any effort. Clear navigation should be your credo, if users experience is positive, people will stay on your website and do long scrolling, which gives you more opportunities to create rapport. If your content is smart, engagement will increase.
8. Improve your SEO
Bad salsa ruins good pasta, bad SEO ruins good content. You may have some great posts on your website, but people will still look for on Yahoo Answers if they don’t find it attractive.
Engagement flourishes when you recognize the supernatural effects of headlines, subtitles, bold, italic, metadescription… In the first case, for example, and according to Merlin R. Mann, associate professor of journalism at Columbia University, headlines are even “more important than any paragraph in a normal story (because) more (people) see the headlines (…) than read the first graph of even the lead story”.
9. Share original content with your website name all over it
Visitors will increase their engagement because of an old marketing trick: repetition. Just remember that if you produce your own content (graphics, videos, articles), your website name must be all over it, explicitly or implicitly. Maybe your logo, maybe your brand colours… Nobody needs a full picture to know that a glass bottle’s silhouette on a red and white background is Coca-Cola because repetition and association do the work. The strategy consists on saying the same thing over and over again.
Think about it.
Think about it.
Think about it.
10. Always ask for feedback
When some famous airline was on red numbers a few years ago, they stopped giving snacks at their flights to cut costs. It was useless and impolite, never do that.
If users are happy, ask them why. If they are unhappy, ask them why too. Feedback options are not a “feature” but an obligation, even an advantage if you know how to use data later. Make your visitors feel important by asking them to leave a short message or a review of your website interface, every single piece of information you collect will help you improve your website structure and eventually increase engagement.
Wrapping it up
High user engagement is the result of knowing how to manage some technical resources such as web metrics and social media, but you also need to remember that emotions are always behind everything. We only come back to places we like, finding out why visitors like (or not) your website rather than invest your money and time on irrelevant content and useless features is your best option.