It is often said that a visitor spends not more than seven seconds to get her first impressions about your website. But sales seldom happen in those first few seconds.
Depending on what you sell, it might take anywhere between 7 to 13 interactions with a potential customer to deliver a sales-ready lead. While building an effective sales strategy is one part of the equation, an online business channel also needs an effective engagement strategy to ensure your visitors feel the need to keep coming back.
I asked a few business owners about the strategies they use to enhance user engagement on their website. Here are some valuable strategies:
1. Create useful features that reward users for sharing.
Listar is a social commerce website that allows users to compare, shop and share products from thousands of online stores.
According to Simon Vielma, the CEO of Listar, their analytics showed that Listar was extremely popular among the young female audience. To engage them better, Listar launched Hubs, a platform where users can create their own interactive magazines and monetize off sales that happen through their hubs.
“With Hubs, we were able to draw in our core audience much more frequently, and thanks to the monetization aspect, we were also able to ensure that our merchants benefited from tapping into a much broader audience,” says Simon.
How to replicate: Listar’s success with Hubs could be replicated in any industry. For instance, an interior design company could build an online tool that would let aspiring designers and decorators create interactive concepts that they can share with their micro audiences and monetize off of resulting sales. Creating useful features that reward users for sharing is one of the best ways to engage visitors and also potentially convert them into customers.
2. Create elements that offer a barrier to exit.
The heading may be a little misleading. The point is not to make it harder for a customer to unsubscribe. That is not only unethical, but also illegal depending on where you operate. The essence however is to raise the stakes for the customer who wants to migrate.
For example, users on Facebook are quite unlikely to migrate to an alternate social network simply because of the strong network already built on this platform. Outside the internet ecosystem, iPhone users are an example of customers who may not quite as easily migrate to a different platform because all the services and apps they have signed for are tied to the iOS platform.
How to replicate: Building elements that set a barrier to exit is not something only large corporations like Facebook and Apple can do. At a small business level, you could create simple web applications that make it easy for your visitors to load their personalized data faster or use past settings to deliver results quicker. Hanh Nguyen, the co-founder of personal styling app Stuff N Style says it’s similar to raising a pet where owners get emotionally attached to them thereby making it harder to quit. Other ways to achieve this is through gamification — offering trophies and badges to users to encourage them to engage further.
3. Actively touch base with customers.
How do you ensure your customers stick to your service? By actively staying in touch with them. This is perhaps the most straight-forward answer to the question, yet is one that is not pursued quite intently. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by reaching out to them actively.
However, there needs to be a sense of purpose to your outreach or else it could be construed as spam. Growth expert Michael Maven advises that through your multiple follow-up emails, you should establish your business as an industry leader through award), convince them that you are a thought leader through references and testimonials, establish trust with the prospect, build reputation and show credibility. Such a focused outreach strategy should not only increase metrics like returning visits and time spent on site, but also directly impact revenues.
How to replicate: Email marketing is definitely one of the most effective ways to establish recurrent interactions with prospects. Another equally effective channel for constant interaction is re-marketing. There are hundreds of authority blogs and articles on these subject that you can refer to. Contest marketing and freebie distributions are also strategies that give the business an opportunity to establish an interaction and then use it to set up an active follow-up strategy.