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7 Ways to Increase Engagement on Your Website

It can be a chore to drive traffic to your website. So, once you do gain a click through organic search, a referral or an ad, you need to you do what you can to keep them there long enough for them to dig in and see what you’ve got.

website engagement

photo credit: theunquietlibrary

Below are a handful of tactics that can help visitors find what they are looking for, consume more content and enjoy a more engaged experience overall.

1. Click to

There are a variety of actions and associated tools related to helping people get or do what they want. Click to call, chat or schedule tools give people the ability to ask a quick question, ring you up to check stock, download a free session, or schedule an appointment without the need to pick up the phone. We use Olark for chat on your site and tools such Schedulicity and Genbook are worth a look for click to functionality.

2. Site search

Oftentimes someone tells a friend to go to your site to get what they want, but it’s not obvious when all they have is the home page. Adding search functionality to your site has become a fairly common and useful practice. You can use Google Custom Search or the WordPress search widget.

3. Video

The video format is a great way to increase engagement as you can entertain, surprise and build trust in ways that text rarely can. Using lots of short little videos on your site can be a great way to introduce core concepts, demonstrate how to use products and display client success stories. Adding functionality and calls to action to your video can make them even more engaging. Today’s post sponsor, Viewbix, has a great tool for that.

4. Related content

Once someone finds a piece of content on your site that offers information they are looking for it’s a great practice to use tools that can suggest additional related content. This is one of the best ways to keep people digging and clicking around your site. I’ve used the WordPress Contextual Related Content Plugin for some time and find it works well. It automatically places five related blog posts at the end of each post I write.

5. Smart content

Let’s say you sell big smelly diesel trucks as well as super green hybrid city delivery vehicles. Would it be safe to say that the prospective buyers of those two vehicles might be looking for very different things? Using technology like Getsmartcontent your site can display content based on a variety of factors, such as what someone typed into a search to find you site. Tailoring content to specific segments is a great way to increase engagement.

6. Guided tour

If your website caters to many needs it can be very engaging to present your visitors with options that lead them deeper and deeper into the precise information they are looking for. Using a tool like SurveyFunnel allows you to present your visitors with a series of questions and let the answers determine where they end up or what they subscribe to.

7. Advice and feedback

Asking for feedback and advice is not only a great way to increase engagement it’s a great way to learn how to get better. If someone comes to your site and doesn’t find what they are looking for wouldn’t it be great to understand what went wrong? Consider using a tool like 4Q, which offers up a little four-question survey to people leaving your site.

Measuring engagement

Once you employ a few tools it’s time to learn if you’ve improved engagement. Using Google Analytics Goals is a great way to see the impact. Analytics measures averages of many things, including time on site and page views per user. These two measures are a nice way to get a glimpse at engagement levels.

One way to track increases is to look at your current averages for these two metrics and create goals for each that are slightly above your current average. This will start to show increases, but it will also allow you to drill down and see where your increases are coming from – social, SEO or referral.

Increased engagement leads to increased awareness and trust and both of these can eventually lead to much greater conversion.

viewbixThis post is sponsored by Viewbix – Easily add apps and calls to action to your video.

3 Mobile Behaviors You Must Embrace Right Now

When marketing people start talking about mobile these days, and they’re doing it a lot, they usually default to tactics – mobile ads, SMS, throw in some near field communications and we’re on the mobile track.

Text Message Marketing

photo credit: Drriss via photo pin cc

I’ve been doing this a long time and with every emerging evolution there seems to be an equally reactive rush to embrace the accompanying tactics and it’s what leads people to do things that don’t make sense.

Ten years ago everyone was hiring web designers to create web sites that had nothing to do with the rest of the organization’s marketing or branding – but they had to have a web site.

Then social media came along and everyone rushed to figure out Twitter and how to run a contest on Facebook.

The mobile rush is currently starting to heat up and, once again, I think most people are asking the wrong thing.

Instead of how do wet get into mobile, where can we get our own cool app or how much should we spend on mobile ads, the question is and should be this.

What behaviors are our current customers exhibiting right now when it comes to mobile and how can we tap those behaviors using some combination of existing and emerging tools.

I truly believe that’s the formula for considering any new tactic or tool. When you factor what you’re doing now that works and ask how you can use the tools to do more of that, you’ll rarely get caught up in the rush towards new for new sake.

Below are three mobile behaviors you can no longer ignore as they’ve become universal and cross industries and demographics in undeniable ways.

1) Content is getting consumed on mobile devices on the go.

I have a Nexus7, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire. I use apps like Reeder and FlipBoard on most of those devices to consume content. And, while I’m not your average online folk, my wife does the same and so do my kids.

Our content must be made to be consumed by people using really small screens riding in a car, at the library and at the conference. Right now, there are very few business that can pull off a generally useful app, but every business should invest in making all of their content pitch perfect for the various ways it’s being consumed.

This means using plugins such as WPTouch Pro, choosing themes and designers that use Responsive Web Design and exploring mobile landing pages and content pages designed to provide very specific content to mobile surfers with tools such as Tekora or GoMobi

2) Mobile is a key element in the buying process

And, here’s the most important aspect of that behavior – mobile shoppers are proving more valuable then traditional shoppers, including demonstrating less price sensitivity according the July Mobile Retail Insights report from Mobile Ad Network Greystripe.

Okay this statement relies on murky research, but think about it – mobile shoppers, people that do research on the fly looking for somewhere to shop, eat, drink, visit, or even hire a service, are more likely to jump on the things they find first, conveniently and seamlessly.

While people are using their mobile devices during the buying or shopping process many are choosing to make actual purchases either offline (see next behavior) or using a laptop, but tablets are going to change this dramatically.

The key is to understand that mobile is a link in the buying chain and proper integration is where conversion comes from.

3) People expect mobile engagement

Once you understand this behavior you’ll stop bad mouthing text message marketing. That’s not to say that there aren’t people doing it poorly or using it to spam, but it is to say there are terribly powerful and valid reasons to use SMS and now is the time to analyze how you can use service such as EXTexting or Trumpia for customer service, flash sales and specials and appointment opening.

I’ve also seen people use SMS short codes to allow people to subscribe to their email newsletter and more and more businesses are offering receipts by way of email and text.

I allow people to download slides from my speaking events, something they would often ask me to do anyway, by sending a short code text to a specific number. This particular process allows them to get what they want when they want it without much work and certainly takes me out of the process as well.

Enabling mobile engagement through tools such a click to call, click to chat or click for driving directions is another way to help people get what they want in the highly impatient, highly motivated world of mobile commerce.

I think the key to understanding any new technology or tactic is pretty simple. First figure out how you can use it to make something your customer is already doing easier and better. If you can do that it doesn’t matter how you see others using it or not.

5 Ways to Use Social Media and Your Online Presence to Drive People Offline

No matter what your business sells, how it sells it or how and where people buy you it, people are going online to find it, pure and simple. That’s as true for those one of kind hand made earrings as it is for the spa and auto repair shop in their neighborhood.

Explore The Bruce via Flickr

And, it’s increasingly true for the local insurance provider, landscaper, plumber, attorney and tax professional.

So, what does this mean for the local small business? You’ve got to start thinking about your online presence as a central tool for driving people offline and into your store, sales presentation, meeting, demonstration, appointment or evaluation.

Below are five ways to think about your online activity as an offline opportunity generator.

1) Online calls to action

When people do find and visit your site make it easy for them to use your website to get a free pass, coupon or trial product.

Enable tools like click to call or chat from Olark, so they can get in touch right now and get their burning questions asked

Put a tool like GenBook on your site they can find a time and schedule appointment without needing to call.

Make sure that you have turn by turn directions and links to maps so they can find your business and even send the directions to their smart phone.

2) O2O advertising

Most people run ads to get people buy, what if you thought about your online advertising as a way to simple drive people offline – O2O?

Create local campaigns using Google Adwords that drive people to your website to take advantage of the calls to action, such a the free pass or coupon, that I discussed in the previous point.

Make sure that your Google Places page is complete and compelling and consider the coupon and advertising options available for this tool.

Look into Facebook targeted ads for your calls to action. You can target local Facebook folks all the way down to targeting fans of your competitors.

To make your O2O advertising even more effective create local landing pages for each campaign or even neighborhood you are targeting.

3) Networked networking

Offline networking is still a great way to create and build potential relationships, but you can really amplify this tactic when you add some simple online tactics to your networking efforts.

When you connect offline with a prospect at say a Chamber event, move to also connect online and watch how much faster you can build a relationship.

Employ Social CRM tools like Rapportive or Nimble so you can easily connect the social profiles of anyone you meet to their record. This will make it much easier to learn how to connect.

Look at tools like MeetUp that make it easy to create offline events and gatherings using an online marketing system.

4) Local social groups

Most social networks give you the ability to create groups. Some organizations have had tremendous success by creating and facilitating local, special interest groups on networks like LinkedIn.

The key here is to think “interest group” and not something that’s clearly a promotional tool for your business. If you can create an industry group or some other niche topic that allows your customers to explore and expand an interest they have, you’ve hit on a formula that’s very potent.

5) Online and on the go

Increasingly, our prospects are not only online they are mobile while doing so. There are some very creative ways to take advantage of this fact and drive people with great buying intent offline.

First off make sure you claim your location on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. This way you can enhance the details and make sure people using geo location services can check in at the right place.

Create and test an offer on a service like Foursquare that can help highlight your business when someone checks in at another nearby business.

Look into the group coupon tools like Groupon, Google Offers or Living Social, but make sure you’re ready to capture the leads these programs produce in a way that allows you to turn a low profit sale into a long term customer.

Think about ways to create check-in games that you could use as part of a promotion. Get a group of strategic partners to participate and offers special deals for people that have checked in at a number of your partners on Foursquare of that take a photo of their purchases at a number of partners and posted it to Twitter or Instagram.

As you can see, the way you can employ this kind of thinking is limited only to your imagination, but there’s no denying the importance and effectiveness of this strategy.

How to Drive Sales Offline With Local Online Calls to Action

One of the real underutilized opportunities these days is to use your online presence to drive local offline sales.

Call to ActionIn order to do this you must think beyond the content aspects of your website and start to think about ways to tap local buying behavior and enable local buying tools.

The heart and soul of this kind of thinking is the tried and true call to action. Marketers have been using the simple act now, buy now, call now language to get prospects to take all manner of action since the dawn of advertising.

As Internet use has become the primary way that even local shoppers find information and make buying decisions, it’s become essential for local businesses to integrate local calls to action into their websites.

It’s easy to think this is something that only restaurants and salons can take advantage of, but with mobile and search use so high almost any type of business, even professional services, can benefit from this idea.

Example calls to action

Free pass

Let’s say you have a membership type of offer like a gym. Put a “get a free pass” button and form on your site so that you can put a free trial offer in their hands before they come to your door.

A financial planner could use this same approach for a upcoming seminar on investment advice. Or you could allow customers to grab a “bring a friend” pass for an early bird sale.

The easiest way to handle this would be a button that linked to a print friendly web page, but you could also use a form so you could capture a little info and send the pass to their mobile device.

Coupons

People love coupons and coupons certainly drive sales. This is an approach you can update and rotate with all kinds of new products, sales and sample offers.

A restaurant could place a coupon for a free appetizer on Tuesday night, but an insurance sales person could also place a coupon for a free iTunes card with every rate quote.

You can create your own trackable coupons through services such as Coupontank and don’t forget to use the coupon feature on your Google Places page as well as locally focused networks such as Local.com and Craigslist.

Click to call or chat

Many times people that come to your website either don’t immediately find what they are looking for or wonder whether you have that cute little dress on your homepage in their size.

By adding services like LivePerson, BoldChat or Olark you can make it very easy for people to call or chat with your business and get that one piece of information they needed so that they jump in the car and come into your business.

Schedule now

Businesses that run primarily by appointment must start making it easier for today’s mobile enabled customers to book a time on the fly. This means adding appointment booking functionality to your website so that prospects can schedule when it’s convenient for them and see that you have that perfect spot open in two hours when they are free.

There are a number of click to schedule tools like ClickBook, GenBook  and Schedulicity.  Or use the tool set from a service like Agendize that allows you to add call, chat and schedule options all from one tool.

Driving call to action

In addition to you creating compelling offers and tools you’ll want to promote the fact that you have openings, coupons and special.

Pay per click – Using locally focused Google AdWords in conjunction with your call to action is a tremendous way to get terrific offline bang for your online spend.

SocialFacebook has a very robust local targeting mechanism that offline businesses have been using along with strong offers to act. You can also use tools like the Wildfire app to create calls to action right on your Facebook page.

Don’t forget to Tweet your Tuesday offer and drive customers to your site to get their coupon.

Weekend Favs May Fourteen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image kase3k via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:
Olark – Very full featured real time chat tool for your web site. Gives you the ability to initiate help and sales chats while visitors are on your site.

Enloop – Automatically creates customized business plans are prepared, on-the-fly, complete with all text and financial forecasts.

30 iPhone Apps for Photography – Great list of apps that let you take better pictures, change exposures, apply cool filters and share your iPhone photos.