How engaged a customer is with your website will determine whether they can be persuaded to buy, comment, download or submit their information for you to follow up on. Customer engagement goes beyond just getting the customer's attention, you must keep their attention. This can be done by providing your visitors near immediate gratification.

To do that you have to first know who your audience is, know what they seek and then also know their purpose for being on your site. Knowing all this then lets you work toward meeting the needs of your target audience. But it also means taking things a step further and building a relationship with them. The ability to build a relationship with your visitors can be crucial to driving them through the persuasion process. Relationship building starts the moment the visitor hits the website.

Getting attention

Every page of your site is a landing page. From the moment visitors land on that first page you need to grab their attention. This doesn't require any gimmicks, but it does require the ability to organize your information in a compelling and visually friendly way.

Reassurance

Each page of your site must continue to assure your visitors that they are where they need to be to get the information they came looking for. Placement and words used in page headings, contextual links, bullet points, etc. can all be used to reassure your visitors that you have the information they need without much more than a quick glance.

What's in it for them?

If your visitors can't immediately figure out "What's in it for me?" then you will quickly lose their interest. Your visitors need to quickly find resolutions to the questions, product information, benefits and ultimately the question of why they should buy from you. If this information cannot be addressed on each page, provide obvious links to the pages that do.

SEO vs. usability

On-page SEO should enhance, rather than distract from, the visitor's engagement on the site. If your copy is poorly developed because you're trying too hard to insert keywords into the text, then your visitors will be pulled away from, rather than engaged in, the message. Good SEO considers users, not just search engines.

Textual links

Textual links should be used as frequently as necessary to provide a customer-engaged navigation path. Contextual links, as opposed to standard navigation elements, allow visitors to click through finding the information that most interests them without forcing them to think about where they want to go next. Provide the path and they will follow. When you don't engage your visitors by providing them the information they want in a way that speaks to their wants and needs, then you're mostly just speaking at users rather than to customers. You want your visitors to have a personal experience as they interact with your website. Make them feel as if you developed the site just for them.


February 20, 2008





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(13)

These are some very true, helpful tips. I would add that every page should have some kind of call to action as well, whether that be something as simple as subscribing to an email newsletter, filling out a quote form, investigating a product further or making a purchase. After all, if you don't want people to do something on your site,why do you care if they come?

Good point manizesto. I didn't make the point in this post but have made it in several others in this usability series. Thanks for bringing that to light.

Great post! I think another thing that should be noted is (like you said), you want to grab the attention of the reader and not lose it in any way, shape or form. One big way to prevent users from staying engaged is by putting something unneccessary and distracting on your home page - such as a forum (if your site is new) and/or other brightly-colored ads or moving objects. These take away from the intent of your website and although may "look nice", may ultimately damage you!

Great stuff, Stoney. I would argue that the "What's In It For Me?" point may be the most important. As a small business marketing guy, I deal with hundreds of entrepreneurs who want to talk about themselves in their brochures and web sites. Successful marketing begins with knowing what your customers want.

Keep up the good work, mate.

Engaging an audience is so hard. When I make a landing page I try to put only enough content to keep the attention of the pre-qualified customer 6 seconds. After they see what they are looking for they select the text link.

Granted landing pages and SEO are slightly different. But the principals still remain the same when it comes to a conversion.

Great point Chris. Again I have made that point in other parts of this series but it really should have been included here as well.

"From the moment visitors land on that first page you need to grab their attention. This doesn't require any gimmicks, but it does require the ability to organize your information in a compelling and visually friendly way."

Really? This is so funny considering that I am sitting here trying to read this article on a page with so many ads and blinking junk that it's hard to concentrate.

I think this site might want to practice what they preach for awhile before handing out advice.

@LJ: "This is so funny considering that I am sitting here trying to read this article on a page with so many ads and blinking junk that it's hard to concentrate.
I think this site might want to practice what they preach for awhile before handing out advice."


Nah. Just because a writer makes a great suggestion doesn't mean it's great for every site or that I'm going to follow his advice.

Ads pay the bills. No ads, no site. If you can't put up with ads in exchange for free information, then this probably isn't a site for you.

I'm not trying to be harsh but neither writers, vendors, or the government accept happy thoughts as payment. Pesky critters all want money. :-P

Nice article! Very helpful tips. Folks can also consider A/B with specific pages as well to accurately measure what pages/features are working best! Thanks again!

Don't forget to measure the engagement using analytics. Without a measuring tool, you have no strategy for improving the engagement of your readers.

r. Dabney and Jay Hamilton-Roth... good points on both. thanks for your comments.

This a a very helpful post! One of the most important points is that it highlights how crucial it is to create a site that is specifically targeted to the type of visitors you are hoping to attract. You want the design, visuals, content, and layout to be geared towards those potential clients or consumers, otherwise they will inevitably lose interest before being convinced to explore your site further.

Nice. But there is simplier method. What If when creating website you feel for a while as your client? Do you know what your potential client thinks, feels and needs? What he is scared of?Hmm...

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > 5 Engaging Ways to Engage Your Audience