While the term "user engagement" is spoken of quite frequently in online marketing, let's first define exactly what that phrase means and why it's a contributing factor to a website's success. As a business, you want users to interact with your brand, impressing them with your expertise, products, or service offerings so that eventually they will convert. Whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a quote, these conversions are ultimately the actions you want a user to perform--they are the goals of your website. If visitors aren't engaging with your site, they aren't going to convert, decreasing your overall business value.
Regardless of industry, developing a user engagement strategy is key to generating business. Although it can be challenging, you need to build an interactive relationship with your audience in order to achieve the overarching objectives of your business plan. A tactical approach to website design with the proper onsite functionalities will enable you to engage with your audience in a way that promotes growth. Below are four website design tactics to foster engagement that will ultimately lead to a conversion.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are what take the user by the hand and brings them into your sales funnel. "Buy Now", "Request A Quote", "Make An Appointment" - any desired action that you're encouraging the user to take. Once users make the choice to click on these buttons, you now have the ability to market them more effectively, moving them further down the funnel with tailored content that will instill trust, and entice them into completing a purchase.
To ensure that your CTAs are persuasive enough to make users click them, take the necessary steps to create them with readers in mind. Focus on designing buttons that are vibrant and bold, standing out on your site so that potential customers don't have to search for them. Identify user pathways and at what point on the site your audience is most likely to need that button and move forward. Utilize compelling language to encourage more clicks and maintain interest. Don't be afraid to go into Google Analytics (if you don't have it set up on your site--you should do so now) and see if there are points on your website where there is consistent drop off. This may help to identify where you should be placing a CTA that directs users to "read more" or "learn more" , keeping them engaged with your business instead of bouncing. If you have more information to offer, tell them! Ultimately, CTAs must be clearly visible. If customers are searching for the "checkout" button or can't find the form to schedule a reservation, you've already lost your chance at converting them.
Statistics have proven that users are far more likely to convert on a second and third visit to a website, than on their initial visit--and that makes perfect sense. Prospects need to be convinced that your brand understands their needs and that you're able to fulfil them. You must provide your audience with a reason (a "stickiness" factor) to keep coming back to your site, and if you're failing to do so, you'll find your results diminishing. The most effective way to do this is to always have fresh content that is high-quality and provides significant value. Set the expectation with your audience, that when they return to your site, they can always anticipate brand new material.
If you're a B2B or B2C, actively publish informative blog content to foster engagement with users and encourage repeat visits. If your articles are useful, they'll return for another article that will hopefully provide just as much value. Share industry news on your website, highlighting that you're on top of current events and trends that are relevant to your business and customers. Post how-to videos, share videos of how your products are made, provide checklists and promotions. Anything that is going to interest your users and make them return to your site is going to aid in engagement, and lead to conversions.
You can place social media signals on the top of your homepage all you want, but they won't be very effective at reaching a wide audience. The content you produce, such as blog posts or videos, is where social signals for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ should be housed. This is material that users want to share after they engage with. When you're scrolling through your newsfeed, do you see The New York Times being shared or do you see an article on The New York Times being shared? As readers, we share content. We share what we find interesting. We don't share homepages.
Integrate social media signals into your content-heavy pages, and you'll find your overall engagement will increase. Not only are you reaching more people when someone shares an article your brand has produced, but you're crossing over into their "personal" lives. Your audience is taking your content into their own communities, sharing with their own friends, family, and colleagues. Social media can connect any business with visitors on a much more intimate level. That being said, users aren't going to share content if it isn't easy to do so. Social signals make sharing a simple, one-step process.
Messaging Matching Intent
An important thing to remember about your website design is that when users come to your site, they're looking to fulfil a need. In general, every audience has an incredibly short attention span, so you have about five seconds to convince them that you provide what they're seeking. If you fail to convince them that your brand understands why they have landed on your site, the user will be hitting the back button within seconds to find an alternative company that can. Make your central messaging bold and concise - prove your value instantaneously.
Viewers want to see content that is relevant to their needs, and is the answer to why they are searching for a product or service in the first place. If you're advertising on search engines, onsite messaging should correlate with what the person is looking for, and should direct them to a landing page they're going to find valuable. For example, if you're an athletic retailer, someone trying to find men's running shoes should be directed to a landing page that uses language to explicitly reinforce with users that they are on that particular product page. Whether you're B2B or B2C, you need to instill trust and prove that you understand the user. Identify what user intent is, and ask yourself if your messaging mirrors that intent.
Effective Design, Effective Engagement
Usability should be the overriding theme throughout your entire website design--this is critical to keeping users engaged. If you're providing an excellent user-experience, you'll be able to generate significant engagement. It's a simple concept, but often, so many businesses forget this. At our digital agency, we're incredibly results-driven, so we recently redesigned our site to have a more significant focus on this. As a result, we increased user engagement by 12.3%, and increased our conversion rate by 42.9%.
Keep your main messaging in bold letters, give your users a reason to return to your site, design CTAs vibrantly with the user pathway in mind, and implement social media signals with all of your content to increase your shareability. Regardless of your industry, or if you're a B2B or a B2C, follow these best practices to build brand engagement and grow your business online.