Is your website not creating the kind of traffic you imagined when you made that big initial investment? If you’re like most business owners, you had hoped having your very own website would be the shot in the arm your business needed. But, with the exception of the first few weeks or months, your online traffic has been static or, worse yet, dropped off. In today’s Web 2.0 world, it’s no longer enough to get your business website up and be done with it. If you’re serious about differentiating your site from your competitors, your job has only just begun.

The importance of engagement.

Today’s consumer demands a give and take relationship. The rise of social media has moved the power from the advertiser to the consumer. Static websites that only provide a one-way conversation offer no reason for customers to return. The same goes for business profiles on social networks. According to a new study from NM Incite, a social media consumer insights provider and joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey, nearly half (47%) of U.S. social media users today actively seek customer service through social media.

Any website for your business has to engage visitors by providing ongoing, meaningful conversations to nurture relationships and keep them coming back. Websites that engage visitors can help your business:

  • Develop a fan base
  • Spread word of mouth
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Generate more repeat business
  • Listen to your customers’ needs
  • Differentiate your business from your competition
  • Manage and build your reputation

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to identify your goal for engaging with your online visitors. What do you want from your online community? Do you want users leaving comments or reviews? Do you want them sharing your posts with their networks? There are countless ways to increase the engagement on your website. It might take a combination of ways to get the conversation going and, just as importantly, keep it going.

Increasing engagement.

Nothing kills traffic on your website faster than a site that never changes. Adding regular content not only improves your search rankings, but it provides a dynamic, active feel for visitors. A great way to consistently add content is with a blog. Add posts at least two to three times a month on topics that would be useful and relevant to your customers. You might even consider adding short videos or an interactive game to encourage return visits. Just make sure everything you feature adds value for your visitors and not just self-promotion of your business. Your website should be for your customer, not a company brochure.

Make it easy for visitors to provide feedback on your site. Offer comment boxes and prompt readers with comments such as “What do you think?” or “What are some other ideas?” to get the conversation going. Create opinion polls and ask questions to find out what site visitors want and respond by providing what they ask for.

Once you get the conversation going, you need to fan the flames of interaction by responding to any posts in a timely manner. If a user makes a great comment, thank them and ask them to contribute again in the future. Show them their opinions and insights count and you really care what they think.

Also, remember to add share icons to your site for social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others to make it easy for visitors to share your content with their networks. Most social share icons have a tracker so it’s easy to see which posts are the most popular.

Encourage readers to spend more time on your website by adding a “favorites” box so they can see what’s popular. If they found one post interesting, they might like others. You might also entice them by adding links at the bottom of the page to similar articles they might find appealing on your site.

As for your social sites, post compelling comments on your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages to get friends and fans linking back to your website. The more social you are, the more interaction and engagement you’re likely to see.

Consumers who are willing to give you their email want to engage with your business. They want to interact and hear from you. Make it easy for them to connect with you by making your email opt-in box prominent on your site. You might even consider encouraging them with something of value such as a white paper or a small gift to get more emails.

The days of the static website are over. Today’s customers demand input and reward those businesses who listen and interact with them. Make your website the marketing tool you always thought it could be by increasing your level of engagement and your traffic and sales are bound to follow.

Do you have any other ideas for increasing your website’s engagement? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.

Here are a few articles to inspire your online engagement planning:

The Importance of Consistency in Online Engagement: PR Web
Turning Online Conversations into Business Opportunities: Beyond PR Blog by PR Newswire

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