Content marketing is finally getting the attention it deserves. While many write about how a content marketing strategy can drive traffic to your website, this article addresses how to improve the engagement of visitors once they arrive.
You might use Google AdWords to drive paid search traffic or banner ads for remarketing. I hope you’re taking advantage of social media and spending time on SEO to improve your organic results in search engines. But how much effort are you spending on the content you are serving your customers? More specifically, how engaging is it?
When you finally get a visitor are you doing everything you can to keep them there? Are they returning?
1. Your Content Marketing Strategy Should Start with Web Analytics
Before you dig into tactics, you need to know what areas will give you the biggest payoff. You can easily be overwhelmed with analysis paralysis, but some basic areas to look at include:
- Session Duration & Page Depth: Establish benchmarks by looking at the average time spent on your website and number of pages an average user looks at.
- Bounce Rate: This is an obvious one. Look at the bounce rate of your home page and other high traffic pages.
- % Exit: Often overlooked, this is a key indicator. While bounce rate simply shows someone went back a page (maybe from the “about us” back to the home page), your exit rate shows where your visitors hit the eject button. Maybe they found what they were looking for (address to your physical location) but more likely they did not.
- Browser & Devices: If a large percentage of your traffic is coming from smartphones, but your website is clunky to navigate on mobile, you have a problem. Alternatively, I’ve seen many test their site on IE and Chrome, but forget to see how their pages render on Safari or Firefox. And what about Amazon Silk? Have you considered older versions of Internet Explorer? All these questions can only be answered by looking at your website’s analytics data to ensure you are addressing the appropriate ones.
- Demographics: Don’t forget basics like age (font size appropriate?), gender (graphics and color palate too feminine for your heavily male audience?), education (writing too technical?) and so on.
What is the percentage of visitors who look at a single vs multiple pages on your website?
2. Test Other Engaging Content Marketing Formats
A number of years ago I was talking to a friend about a book I had just read called ‘Game of Thrones’. His response, “I’ll wait for the movie.” While a TV series did eventually come out, his comment is relevant for digital marketing: Not everyone consumes content the same way.
How interactive is your website experience? Are the dozens of articles you’ve posted on your blog your complete content marketing strategy?
Do you break up your copy with visual diagrams, animated GIFs or infographics? Have you created a video demo or have a message from your founder you can post?
Neil Patel of Quick Sprout collected data from a number of different studies. Results showed a diverse content marketing strategy was most effective.
Do you offer high resolution photos of your products and allow for zooming in or rotating 360 degrees? Even offering lower tech solutions like a downloadable white paper or brochure can often be a better experience than requiring your prospect to click and scroll page after page.
Not only does the variety increase user engagement, it can have positive effects on your SEO strategy as well. Google likes great content and it can often have an impact on your search rankings as well.
3. Have a Content Marketing Strategy that Supports the Buying Cycle.
Besides making your website more interesting, your visitors consume content differently based on their buying stage. I stumbled on this funnel created by the folks over at Adido which demonstrates an integrated approach matters.
4. Create Interactive Online Tools
Content marketing doesn’t always mean lots of content. By providing interactive tools like calculators, questionnaires, training tools and more, you can provide value to your customer while assisting them in a potential purchase.
If a customer walked into a shoe store, they could ask to have their foot measured. They would try on the shoe. They might ask questions about which running shoe was better for addressing high arch. A shopper who is trying to pick out an all-natural herbal remedy for helping with allergies is likely to have questions about which product is best for addressing their specific needs.
Brooks Running Shoes offers an interactive tool called “Shoe Advisor” that asks 5 easy questions to help shoppers find the perfect shoe.
Feedthepig.org offers a variety of tools to increase engagement for their users. A good content marketing strategy consists of varied formats.
5. Create a Resource Library
Often a company doesn’t have the resources or sophistication to produce a podcast or build interactive programs. Providing bite size content in the form of tips and guides is just as useful.
Manya Chylinski published an article at the Content Marketing Institute about the benefits of offering a resource center as a sound content marketing strategy. Benefits include:
- It enables customers and prospects to easily find the information they seek.
- It encourages serendipitous discovery of content. When prospects look on your resource page for one product line or in a particular market segment, they may also notice content that addresses other questions they have.
- It increases “stickiness” of your website. Customers are more likely to stay and browse when visiting a resource center because they know where to return to find updated content.
- It helps spread your influence. When content is easy to find and interconnected, people are more likely to share your links and recommend your content to their colleagues and clients.
6. Offer Effective Calls-To-Action and Clear Direction
One reason visitors to your website might not stay is because they are confused or overwhelmed when they arrive.
Don’t put too many options in your readers’ face and limit the number of choices you want them to make in the beginning. Ease them into your site and then offer them more as they go on.
It’s easy to see from these two financial services websites which one might overwhelm a first-time visitor.
7. Earn Repeat Visitors. Getting Them Coming Back For More.
You built great content on your website and provided a service to them. Give them an offer to stay connected. Use content marketing to bring them back.
Offer a weekly podcast they can subscribe to or an exclusive report that will be emailed to them along with a weekly newsletter subscription. Provide custom SMS or email alerts when something goes on sale or loyalty reward points for each return visit.
As is the theme with this article, continue to provide value whether they purchased or not.
While this article only scratches the surface on how to leverage content marketing to make your website sticky, this should provide you a good start.
Use your website’s analytics data to identify opportunities for improvement and remember that ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. Providing engaging content in different formats and continuing to provide them reasons to return to your website afterward are keys to success.