Most people with a blog or a product website are very keen to get traffic. Traffic from social media, search engines like Google, referrals – you name it.
But it’s amazing that even when you start getting more traffic, you still don’t convert visitors.
One look at your Analytics account can help you crack the code. It’s no longer traffic; it’s the engagement.
I’ve known blogs that receive thousands of visitors per post but never a comment from one reader. Most of their readers are “lurkers”.
Don’t get me wrong – lurkers can still become customers. Some people just don’t like speaking up on a public platform and that’s OK.
If your goal is to become an authority website in a niche, you’re not after comments anyway. Your blog posts don’t leave much room for discussion. They are “ultimate” or authoritative. At the most, you get comments that applaud you such as “Great post!”
Is your goal to create a community?
But if your goal is to create a community, you have a problem. For a thriving community, a healthy discussion in the form of comments is a no-brainer.
That said, comments are not the only way to measure engagement. Metrics like newsletter sign up, feedback emails from customers, click-through rates and shares could prove to be more important for some websites than comments.
By now, you’re probably getting where I am going with this – there are so many factors to take in when you talk engagement.
Heck, we don’t even have a universal definition for “engagement”. Engagement means the way you mean it.
Sadly, there is no one or two metrics that will work for everyone. Your website is unique; your brand is different and lastly, your customers are also different than that of other brands.
For example, for a not-for-profit organisation, the engagement factor could mean donations, referrals and volunteers.
These will be Greek to a toy manufacturing business.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways to enhance user engagement, whatever that means to you:
1. Check your site for errors
You’re busy tuning up your blog and doing everything by the books, and yet nothing happens.
Sometimes the real problem is not what it seems.
The answer could be in the lack of ability to engage with you. Readers may love your content, and they want to sign up for more, but the “submit” button is broken. They’re interested in your services, but when they click the Buy Now button, nothing shows up.
Better make sure your check your website for technical errors such as 404 page not found, broken images, broken links etc by running scheduled diagnostics from time to time.
2. Identify what’s relevant to you
What makes more sense to you? Comments or Likes? Shares or sign ups?
Find out what engagement metrics are relevant in your case before you go ahead to measure things. Don’t get carried away by the buzzwords such as “CTR”, “ROI” and sometimes the word “Engagement” itself.
Get clear on your goals first and then take steps accordingly.
3. Eliminate any barriers
Make it easy for them to click, leave a comment or share your article on social media. Don’t put in a series of steps in between because you’re risking turning them off.
For example, in terms of commenting, give them a choice to post as Guest without having to log in. Offer a way so they can get notified the next time someone replies to their comment or in the thread.
4. Use visuals
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and there is another theory that says visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. 40% people will respond better to your visual content than plain text.
Visuals could mean images, photos with text overlays, videos, memes, CTA banners etc.
By visuals I mean using videos and images. 85% of US Internet users watch videos online, with age group 25-34 being most active. If you’re targeting adult males, your videos have 40% more chance of being viewed than by adult females.
Check out this infographic for more amazing stats on how visual has grown on the Internet.
With the skyrocketing growth of social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine, you can no longer ignore the power of visual.
And guess what? You don’t have to pay a fortune for creating beautiful visuals. There are some cool free tools in the market to help a non-designer get started in 1-2-3. Visme is one example.
5. Create massive value content
Community engagement is like courting. You want to take your time before you take the next step. Your customers are evaluating your brand through your website every minute. Reward them with high value content for visiting you.
Gone are the days when content was king. Today, great content rules the online world.
6. Ask for feedback
If you’re clueless about your audience’s likes and dislikes, why not ask them? You can do it by organizing online polls and surveys for free.
Even if you do know your audience inside-out, running regular surveys will help you keep a tab on the latest in terms of what interests them right now.
By the way, when was the last time you had a survey?
7. Ask smart questions
The human brain works in fascinating ways. When someone asks you a question, your brain will try its best to answer, even if it has no clue what the answer might be. We love filling gaps and unanswered questions make us feel restless.
Ask smart and simple questions at the end of your content that provoke a response in the readers, such as “Do you agree or disagree?”
8. Embrace negative comments
Don’t be afraid to publish negative comments.
If a comment is negative or written in disagreement, read through it first. Identify whether it is a well-reasoned, objective comment. Don’t just delete it because not every reader is a troll (although you need to separate the wheat from the chaff).
You may be getting a lot of negative comments or emails (perhaps you’re publishing a lot of controversial posts?). Embrace them, take time to reply to each one and respectfully disagree.
Remember, you cannot please everyone, but you’re still making waves with your content. You’re still keeping them engaged and curious about what’s next.
9. Design for interactivity
46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company.
Is your website easy to navigate? Is the text readable? Are you sustaining a good text-to-image ratio? At the end of the day, if they don’t like the look and feel of your website, they are not going to explore much.
But you don’t have to go extreme to look bad. Your website may look aesthetically beautiful but not serve the purpose.
Simple factors like ability to navigate, an easy-to-read format, structured content with H2 an H3 headings and no more than 2-3 lines per paragraph all point to a well-designer website.
10. Use call-to-action buttons that convert
A button lets you explore a tiny real-estate space on a web page, yet it can mean everything when it comes to converting your visitors into buyers.
For starters, forget grey-colored buttons because they look like they’re dead or disabled or blend in with your page too much to be barely recognizable. Experiment with different combinations of color and copy.
Another common problem is to make your calls-to-action hard to find. It’s not big enough to be readable. Or it may be located below the fold so no one’s finding it.
This post nicely explains how to convert visitors into customers with buttons.
11. If nothing works, check your traffic stats first
Let’s say your blog is getting less than 300 visitors per day. Wouldn’t it be better focus on boosting traffic first?
Check your Analytics to arrive at an informed conclusion on where to focus for now: Is it traffic or engagement?
Use these tips to increase your user engagement by 409%!
Only kidding. You know what to do next. Go.
But before you do, tell us one thing that has worked for you the most.
Guest Author: Pooja Lohana is an Online Business Coach + Writer & Editor. She helps entrepreneurs shine their blog and copy, and simplifies online marketing so they can make more sales and live the Un-9-5 life. Check out her step-by-step course on breaking into freelance writing.
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