Tips for engaging with clients online

Whether you want prospective clients to engage with your website or follow your business on social media, it’s important to recognize the types of online behavior that discourage potential client involvement.

When businesses fail to do so, they alienate the audiences they most wish to attract.

You can increase the likelihood of successful client engagement by avoiding these five digital communications “don’ts.”

1. Don’t overlook what the client is looking for.

Entrepreneurs and business owners with a creative bent sometimes like to go for “shock and awe” in their Web design — an understandable desire to set themselves apart, given the infinite variety of business sites out there.

But companies ignore the quality of the client’s Web experience at their own peril.

“When someone visits your website, what information is he seeking?” asks Forbes contributor Drew Hendricks. “Directions to your office? Prices? Examples of your work? If a customer can’t readily find that information from your landing page, all the artistry in the world isn’t going to win that customer’s business.”

2. Don’t complicate the client’s experience of your website.

Similarly, too much text or an overdose of imagery on your landing page is certain to trigger client disengagement.

Remember, no one actually “reads” anymore. Content (accompanied by appropriate and supporting images) should be easy to skim, while remaining both informative and persuasive.

“White space is just as valuable in digital media as it is in traditional print media,” notes Jordan Bell, marketing director at “And remember that the more options you give outside your primary conversion goal, the fewer customers who will convert.”

Added tips:

  • Be sure to prominently display a call-to-action on every page.
  • Don’t irritate visitors by making them register or give up their email address to look at content on your site.

Beyond your business site, social media is where you’re most likely engage with potential clients. Certain “digital etiquette” should be followed at all times, so as not to discourage further engagement with your brand.

3. Don’t try a blanket approach to social networks.

It may seem like prospective clients are lurking on every social media platform, but attempting to maintain a presence everywhere is short-sighted and, frankly, impossible to achieve.

Look hard at those channels most often frequented by your target audience. What kind of content is most popular and what can you contribute to the conversation?

To get the most bang for your buck, concentrate your efforts on these sites and establish a regular schedule for posting content of value.

“Cross-pollination of content, quizzes, polls and videos will help, but you need to establish a posting schedule and follow it,” advises digital marketing consultant Brett Relander. “Your audience will get used to your presence and know that you engage.”

4. Don’t indulge in self-promotion.

There may be no quicker way to lose favor with prospective clients than by continuously telling them on Twitter or Facebook about how great you are. Social media users are especially savvy at sniffing out self-promotion, no matter how artfully disguised.

5. Never, ever argue with clients online.

Social media channels are ideal venues for clients to complain about their experience with a product or service. It’s not pleasant to see your good name besmirched in any context, but no matter how you feel about the legitimacy of the complaint, don’t respond in a defensive or argumentative fashion.

Not only will arguing with clients get you nowhere, it will discourage others from following you or even considering purchasing what you have to sell.

Acknowledge a problem when it occurs. Attempt to resolve it in public, so others can appreciate your customer-focused approach.

The goal here — as with all of your digital communications — is to treat clients with respect and place their needs ahead of your own.