It’s probably easier to build your own website than it is to get an oil change for your trusty car. Well, almost…
With the multitude of website building platforms, plug-and-play components and hosting services available today, a slick website that does what you actually want it to do is not a back-breaking project anymore. But as anyone who’s ever managed a website will tell you, building a website is the easy part.
It’s everything that comes after that stage that’ll kill you. Monetizing your new site. Driving steady, relevant traffic. Providing an engaging, fresh content experience for site visitors. Stuff like that.
Having been there and done that more times than most, here are my two cents…
Host your best content on your website, not third-party sites
Why would a visitor come to your website when they can find your best content on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or even YouTube?
Give your users a reason to come to your website by hosting your most exclusive content on your own site. This means, put together a beautiful slide deck or in-depth whitepaper and host it on your site first, before you write that mind-blowing guest blog for someone else.
Cult brands like Sony and Apple understand this very deeply. While each of Sony’s PlayStation Forums is a veritable beehive of user interaction, news, views and engagement, Apple’s Community page is a multi-headed hydra that caters to discussions on every single product category that the company offers. Each community within is like a subreddit of its own – any website owner’s dream!
Run an ongoing lead nurture program
This is the first thing every website owner needs to set up after taking their website live. A clearly thought out plan to attract, engage and eventually convert your visitors, offers your website a strong backbone on which to deliver results.
A good first step in this direction is investing in a marketing automation platform that lets you define relevant and contextual interactions between your visitors and your website (or app) at the right moments, in order to keep them interested, curious and coming back for more. One easy-to-get-off-the-ground tool that can help you do this is GetResponse.
While GetResponse was already a complete email “suite” that pulled off the basics like scalable email marketing and DIY landing pages with reliable efficiency, the platform has recently transformed into a fully-fledged marketing automation solution. It allows you to map user journeys with a drag-and-drop workflow builder, tag and score website traffic, nudge leads along multi-channel funnels, and let human representatives take over from the system at the best times.
Marketing automation is the key to building real relationships with your visitors by offering them more information about the things they’re interested in. Get to know them better and discover their unique preferences by capturing their behavior on your site and responding to unspoken cues.
Make content relevant to your visitor: Hello, personalization
As one of the key reasons for Amazon’s runaway success with online shoppers, personalization is an undeniable way of keeping and converting your site visitors.
A staggering 75% of respondents in a recent study by BloomReach revealed that Amazon’s personalized content suggestions were a key reason for their preference for Amazon as a shopping platform. An even bigger chunk of users – 87% – went on to say that personalized content on retailers’ websites made them buy more.
And don’t be lulled into thinking that personalization is important only for ecommerce or B2C. A ProOpinion survey revealed that 77% of business professionals sought personalized content. However, half of them didn’t want to share personal information critical to distinguishing themselves from generic segments. There’s your (insurmountable?) challenge!
From reducing cart abandonment with proactive messaging straight to their inboxes, to serving up relevant content in pop-up banners while users are still on your site, look for creative options to connect with your users in ways that add value to their visit. If you’re interested, I wrote an article on CMI on how to get a reaction from your audience using reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST).
Open up a two-way dialogue
Too many websites are soap-boxes on which brands stand and shout out their offerings, their ideas, their plans to the consumer. Little thought is given to what the consumer wants. What a terribly short-sighted way of doing things!
The most engaging brands (and their websites) offer intimate, two-way dialogue with their visitors – not one-way shouting matches. A live chat plugin is a great idea to get started with this process. However, I’ve found that offering users just one way of interacting with your brand is extremely limiting. I prefer a multi-functional tool like Bontact, which offers visitors a whole palette of communication options including chat, email, SMS, Skype, Facebook or even a simple phone call to connect with you instantly.
Bontact has plugins for probably whatever CMS your site is built on – be it WordPress, Wix, Magento, Shopify or others – in addition to a mobile app. This is a significant advantage, considering your customers are already more than halfway through their purchase process before their first commercial interaction with an online product/service vendor.
So the next time you think of burying your contact information under layers of webpages, understand that you’re only building walls between your brand and the user in the process.
Wow ‘em with video
You don’t need me to tell you just how hot video content has become. With live video streaming apps, social media video views, paid video on demand and more, the quantum of videos being viewed daily has exploded. Social media phenomenon Snapchat alone accounts for over 10 billion daily video views by its users. All of this reinforces one simple conclusion: Users are hooked to video content and simply can’t get enough of it.
Leverage the power of video to get people interested in your offerings. Interactive, clickable video product demos, interactive infographics and immersive virtual reality data visualizations can all hook a visitor and encourage them to spread the word.
That said, all your video doesn’t have to be top-of-the-funnel content in order to be interesting or relevant to your audience.
You can raise brand awareness, nurture leads and educate a targeted segment of users with interactive video chats using webinars. ON24’s 2015 Webinar Benchmarks Report reveals that Q&A, social media integration and polling are the most effective ways to directly engage audience members and raise interactivity levels.
Put your social media to work
Most businesses by now know the value of social media and how it can contribute to their bottom lines. What they forget is that instead of simply interacting with their followers on social media, they can use social media in a variety of ways to grow user engagement on their own site.
Social sharing buttons on your website are an elementary way of helping users share content on your site that they find interesting. They are especially important for ecommerce sites, where sharing product images on networks like Pinterest can bring you exponentially higher traffic from audiences that seek out products exactly like yours.
However, an oft-overlooked way (even though it’s been around for eons) of leveraging social media profile data is to implement social login on your website for new and returning visitors. Gigya, one of the earliest and most established players in the social login business, allows you to create and manage whole customer identities, which are crucial in helping you create personalized experiences for them, from the behavioral and transactional data that you can collect from their interactions with your site.
When users can seamlessly transition from their social profiles to your website content and back, the likelihood of them sharing your content and engaging with it at a deeper level improves tremendously.
Measure, improve and repeat
Don’t forget to record your baseline numbers and analyze the growth (or lack thereof) in traffic and engagement on your site on implementing any of these ideas.
Not every one of these may be just right for your specific audience, but by digging deep into your specific interactions and pre-defined numbers, you’ll discover the triggers that matter to your users.
Identify and amplify engagement strategies that work to see your relationship with your website users go from casual visits to a sustained and mutually rewarding partnership.
Guest Author: Rohan Ayyar is a creative content strategist and CRO specialist at E2M, digital marketing firm par excellence. He doubles up as the resident UX authority at Moveo Apps, a premium app dev agency. Rohan is also an avid business and tech writer, with articles featured on The Next Web, Fast Company, and Adweek.