Think about this for a second and be honest with yourself: how often do you see a commercial on TV (maybe it’s for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk) and then immediately get on to your laptop to research it further? Not only do you go to Jeep’s website, but you also go on to other sites like YouTube to see it in action and join 4X4 forums to see what people are saying about it.
No sooner are you online than you get bombarded by ads about other seemingly better, cheaper and flashier 4X4s that you should be considering. Before you know it, you have a dozen tabs open, and you have veered off the subject and are now researching the best fishing lakes on a mountain! (You know because you are buying an off-road vehicle and you will be able to go to these places now.)
The point is, there are a million different things that will easily capture your attention once you get online. Reader engagement has never been more difficult to capture and retain as it is in this day and age. Especially since we live in a digital world where people have so many different avenues and devices through which to view this information.
Google put out a study that shows 90% of web user switch from tablets, smartphones, computers and their TVs to do their research and get information. Unless you are giving them a reason to stay and engage with your content, they will move right on and do business with your competitors. That’s how easy it is to lose your traffic.
Why Does Reader Engagement Matter?
Some studies show that anywhere between 75% to 95% of first-time visitors who happen to find themselves on your website will not return. That is a huge attrition rate. And it is not that your content was lacking or anything like that (although that’s usually a very big factor), it is because there is just so much content online.
No matter which field you are in there are always a million other people doing the exact same thing and working day in and day out trying to differentiate themselves to attract the very same readers you want.
The reason websites like Forbes or Huffington Post see so much return traffic is because they have found ways to engage with their readers. Without engagement, you will not:
- Get return readers
- Turn readers into clients who take action
- Increase your search engine ranking
- Make money
It is that simple. Reader engagement allows you to achieve your objectives online (presuming that your objective is to make money through your website in one way or another).
Tips on How to Increase Reader Engagement
The truth is, no matter how excellent your content is, there is a good chance that there is someone else in the same niche who will have better. The only thing you can do (apart from continuously putting out excellent and informative pieces) is to find ways to keep your readers engaged and coming back.
Here are some tips on how to increase reader engagement:
Make Your Content More Visual
Research shows over 46% of readers believe that websites with more visual elements such as images of employees and videos showing customers how to use their products or service are more credible than those who don’t have such visual effects. It is therefore advisable to provide your readers with an eye-catching experience through visuals, at least 46% of them will be more engaged.
Encourage Your Readers to Contribute
User-generated content is not only an excellent way to get more material for free, but it is also a wonderful way to encourage reader engagement. The sad fact is that every one of us loves to hear ourselves talk. Well, in this digital era, that talking has been transformed into comments, likes, and shares.
By asking your readers the right questions or, even more effectively, asking them to ‘caption this,’ you are giving them an avenue to be heard. Doing so on your social media posts will get you more comments, likes, and shares but most importantly, it will get you the social proof that comes with user engagement. The more people comment and like the more people will want to join the bandwagon.
Give Away Free Stuff
People love getting free stuff. It could be a discount, a surprise gift or maybe even a coupon…it doesn’t matter, as long as it holds value in the eyes of your target audience, giving it away for free will get them excited. You, however, have to predicate that ‘free gift’ on certain terms. Maybe tell them that the hundredth commenter will get a $20 coupon or that once you get to a thousand likes, you will select a winner at random.
Not only are you offering a gift, but you have infused an element of competition and luck into the whole mix. People love that and will be more than willing to engage and participate if only to prove to their friends that they are the luckiest of the bunch.
Keep an Eye Out for Trends
On highly engaged platforms like Twitter, unless you are talking about the currently trending #hashtag, then you are missing out of a windfall of free traffic. You need to keep an eye out for trends and leverage that to your advantage.
However, you should not abuse these #hashtags. Only participate if you are adding value to the discussion. The most discerning readers will see you for what you are and will be more than willing to engage with your brand as long as it informs them and makes them look good.
Share the Spotlight with Others in Your Niche
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but some studies have shown that mentioning, linking, and sharing informative content from the leading brands and influencers within your niche is a wonderful way to increase your readership as well as engagement.
The fundamentals of it all are the same as they are in human interaction while in high school: if you hang out with the cool kids, it doesn’t matter how uncool you are, people will gravitate towards you because of your association with the cool kids.
In content marketing, sharing the spotlight only shows that you are willing to educate your readers even if you are not the teacher. They will appreciate you for that and who knows, the influencers will be inclined to return the favor thus sending a chunk of their own readers your way.
The truth is, a great deal of content marketing involves a lot of trial and error. You have to try things out to find the ones that work for your particular niche and readership. However, simply sitting back and hoping that they will come will not get the job done.