Sometimes traffic isn’t the true test of a website’s success. In many cases, it’s much more than the numbers. If you’re looking for a way to increase your brand’s online presence while attracting new customers who are most likely to convert, you need something more — engagement.
Consumers are looking for connections. The prevalence of social networking sites and online communities are a testament to this. Your customers and potential customers are looking to interact with brands before making purchase decisions, or before a purchase is even in the works. They want to know the brands they do business with, and they want the assurance that down the road, that brand will stand by their product or service. In short, they want to connect.
You and your efforts play a big role in making this brand interaction possible, which could mean the difference between online success and failure. Below are 5 steps to facilitate the process.
1. Build a Community
The first step toward engagement involves a community. You must create a place for your customers that allows them to interact with you. Whether you use an existing social media platform or build your own, look for an option that allows for sharing and real-time communication. Reach out to your existing contacts and encourage them to invite others. By taking the time to build a community, you’ll be creating an environment that allows for positive involvement.
While a single social network or community can be your “hub,” you need the ability to reach other individuals across networks. Look for integration options that allow comments and content shared on your main site to be shared on others. Social media and communities are about making a maximum impact. Integration makes this possible.
3. Post Relevant Content
A community must offer visitors a way to find it in the first place, and a reason to return in the future. Crafting excellent content can help draw in new listeners and keep them coming back to your site long afterward. Posting content regularly increases search rankings and overall interest in the community that you’ve created. Mix it up; post answers to frequently asked questions, reactions to news that’s related to your industry, basic informational pieces and customer testimonials. Look for stories that will allow your customers to react, increasing engagement potential. Make content creation a part of your regular operations for best results.
4. Encourage Opinions
Engagement is not one-sided. Advertising can often be limited because customers do not feel as though what they have to say matters. You can change this. Ask questions, or host contests based on customer engagement and feedback. Ask for your customers’ opinions often — on stories you post, world events, product releases and more. If you take the time to include a question at the end of the post, you’re more likely to garner feedback and reactions, which is what a community needs to last and grow.
5. Offer Exclusives
In addition to content, users need a reason to take time out of their pre-established social networking activities to visit your page or site. Make it easy. Offer exclusives to members of your online community. Coupons, pre-sales, special offers and other incentives show that your community is valuable to you, which makes users feel like they matter.
Whatever strategy you implement, be sure to place a priority on growing and interacting with your online community. A well-engaged and growing community will create brand ambassadors who will spread the word and promote your product among their social circles, ensuring your brand will continue to flourish.