Honing in on User Engagement

Honing in on User Engagement
By Chris Hislop // Published on Jan 09, 2017

Guys and gals. It’s 2017. With the new year comes a few moments in which we are able to take a thoughtful glance back at what got us to where we are in our current state. How are you doing? How’s life? How is your brand behaving from a digital perspective? Are your marketing efforts healthy, hungry, and pushing you down the right path into the future?

There are a lot of questions that come up in a moment of reflection. And this is a good thing. It’s important to constantly analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Periods of stagnation are not good.

For today, let’s focus on user engagement.

User engagement is really the end-all be-all when it comes to thriving in the digital marketplace. How are you engaging your target audience? How do they perceive the way you are engaging with them? Are they happy? Are you happy with the way engagement is trending? In many ways, it’s a two-way street.

User engagement can refer to really any type of accountable action taken by someone who is on your website and looking/clicking around. Samples of applicable engagements can be:

  • Posting a comment
  • Dialing in a search query
  • Filling in a contact form or similar call-to-action
  • Signing up for your newsletter
  • Writing a peer focused review
  • Or, hey, making a purchase

User engagement also includes the very important stat of how much time each person spends on a given website.

The long and short of all of this is, the longer the engagement lasts, the more “warm” leads you potentially generate, and, with any luck, the better the conversion ratio may be when you start looking at the bottom line. Lower abandonment/bounce rates in most cases, will yield an increase in sales.

So how can you optimize user engagement?

Here are some tips to cast you into a fruitful new year:

Trust the analytics. Research what is valuable to the end user.

Listen, if you haven’t engaged with analytics at this point in the game, or if you aren’t having someone do it for you (a trusted marketing partner, etc.) than you’re in trouble. It’s 2017. Data is crucial. It has been for a mighty long time.

Here’s what’s important given the context of this conversation. What is your audience doing when they get to your page? What are they looking for? What are they drawn to? Are they able to easily find what they’re looking for? If you answered, “I don’t know” to any of these questions it’s time to get hip. Analytics don’t lie and they tell the hard story within the story.

Create a clean, easy to navigate interface.

Busy is not best practice. Don’t jam in as much as you can onto your homepage or your navigation pane because you feel like you’re going to miss something. The reality is, the more you add, the more likely you are to miss everything. If the end user gets confused they’re going to jump ship immediately. And that, my friends, is the worst possible user engagement you can ask for.

A clean, tasteful interface that gets users to where they want to go in as few clicks as intuitively possible is what you’re looking to accomplish. Something striking, but elegant. Something that flows. Something that shows you’ve put some thought into the design and function of your site and are not simply throwing darts at a board in hopes that something on the page sticks. How do you get started? Refer back to the analytics piece. Research what your target audience is looking for and lead them on their way.

Use visual storytelling.

Adding to the aforementioned thought – use visuals. Text heavy pages scare people. It’s 2017 (we’re going to say this a lot…) People, quite frankly, don’t read as much as they used to. At least not when they’re online searching for something. They want the quickest answer, or to put forth the least amount of effort (clicks) to achieve an end goal. People are very much visual “learners” when it comes to online engagement. Show them what they want to see, strike out some of the verbose fluff, and you’re on the right track.

That said, content is still very important when it comes to organic SEO so be smart and use the tools that are available to you. If you have a long paragraph or two of text, use the trusty “expand/collapse” function to make the page look less cluttered with words (while still allowing those that want to read more that very opportunity).

Say no to stock photography.

In all honesty, there will be moments when this might be unavoidable. Stock photography is sometimes the cheapest route. But (*wait for it*), it’s 2017, there are myriad options of getting the right image for your site. Sure, a professional shoot is probably the best option, but shooting some snaps on your smart phone or other digital photo capturing device(s) is only a finger tap away. Create your own library of imagery. It’s far more beneficial at separating you from the competition and helping to dutifully (and creatively) add to that visual storytelling bit we were talking about a minute ago.

Use HTML 5 instead of Flash.

You ever get that “error” message proclaiming that your computer or device doesn’t have Flash installed. Or that you need to update Flash (even though you just did it yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the day…) You know what I’m talking about. Flash is a poor operative tool. HTML 5 is cleaner, and widely compatible. Don’t distract people by inadvertently having them click off of something to update or add software. If you are, chances are that user just dropped off your page.

Get Social.

It’s 2017. If you haven’t adopted a social media strategy yet, you’re either nearing retirement, or, you don’t particularly care about engagement in the first place. Social media is an added entity enabling you to bolster traffic to your actual site. It also allows a place for conversation to happen without a bunch of unwarranted loitering on your website. I mean, this whole post is about engagement. Social media is engagement. Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, LinkedIn, YouTube… Pick your poison. It all helps to some degree.

What are the competitors doing?

We’ll end with the obvious. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Don’t assume you’re the best and that everything is going to work out. We all know that age-old adage when one “assumes.” Keep current. In the digital sphere that we’re all living in, technologies change hourly. Keep an eye on your competition. What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? And, most importantly, how are you differentiating yourself from the cream of the crop? If you’re just a carbon copy of something else, well, good luck.

Have further questions? Need a hand handling your digital footprint? We can help. We position our clients in the boldest way(s) possible. Because generic and templated approaches just don’t work. It’s 2017. Happy New Year.

Tagged Under: Marketing + Business Advice
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