Your website serves as a gateway for consumers to not only view your products and services but to learn about your company and engage with support staff. Without that site, your company would miss out on opportunities you might not otherwise have. That is why it’s so important that you give your website the attention it deserves.
Yes, that means work. In fact, keeping your website working for you and not against you takes more work than you might realize. Your company website is a garden that needs constant tending, otherwise, it can wither and become useless.
That would be a shame. Not only have you put the time and effort into creating a beautiful website, but you also created the website with one goal—to serve as the means for clients and customers to access everything you have to offer.
To that end, you do put the effort in. Most of that effort is probably geared toward making the site aesthetically pleasing. And although that is a very crucial factor, there are other essential goals you should have. Among them, the single most important should be improving website engagement.
What is website engagement?
Simply put, website engagement is how likely your users are to stay on your site and take action (such as purchasing products or services, subscribing to newsletters, interacting with support, or learning more about your company or products). Website engagement is measured as an average value (in percentages) of time spent on the site and total unique visitors at a given time.
This value helps you understand how long each user spends on your site, which is an incredibly important metric. For example, if a user comes to your site and only spends a few seconds there, you know they aren’t engaged. If, however, a user comes to the site and their time is measured in minutes, you’re doing something right.
But how do you improve audience engagement on your website?
It’s important to understand that users make very quick judgments about your website, so first (and immediate) impressions are crucial. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can improve.
#1 Address your site layout
As stated earlier, users are very quick to judge a site. If they land on your online portal and find it cluttered and hard to follow, you will lose them immediately. Your website needs to be laid out in such a way that is easy to navigate and follow. Give each block enough space to be clearly delineated from the other items. Don’t be afraid of whitespace.
You should also arrange your site in such a way that groups related bits together, so it’s clear to users where they can find menus, new items, featured items, help, and company information. If you throw all of that together, users will become instantly confused and leave the site within seconds.
You want to use banner images at the top of the site, which serve up things like special deals or featured products. Below that serve everything in easily consumable blocks, remembering that the average person reads from left to right, so you’ll want to place the next important bit in the top left corner.
#2 Refresh, refresh, refresh
Once you have everything laid out properly, you want to make sure to keep refreshing the content on your site. If you “set it and forget it,” user retention will fall fairly quickly. Instead, you need to regularly update the content on your front page. This can be handled in the form of a rotating banner, which gives the impression of something new all the time.
If your site includes a blog, you must update it regularly. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it should be no less frequent than weekly. New and regular content is what drives user engagement. If you let that content go stale, people will be much less likely to be engaged.
#3 Optimize for speed and mobile devices
This can’t be said enough: Your site must be optimized for mobile devices. Why? Because over half of your audience will be interacting with your site via a phone. If your website isn’t optimized for those small screens, it will be off-putting to users. Because of that, you really need to make sure your site is optimized for phones.
It also needs to be fast. Remember, it only takes seconds to turn a user away. If your site doesn’t load immediately, users will assume something is wrong and go elsewhere. So it’s not just about optimizing for screen size, but for speed. Make it fast and flexible. No matter if your users visit from a desktop or mobile browser, ensure the page displays in a way that is suitable for the best possible experience.
#4 Improve your internal linking
Once upon a time, it was fine to link to another page by adding the link to a word like here (as in go here). You could even underline it to make sure the user knew it was a clickable link.
That is no longer the case.
You must guide your users along. So if you need to link to your Contact Page, you would make sure to say something like “Check out our Contact Page.”
In the same vein, you should consider adding related content. For example, you have a blog post about a new innovation for Widget X that you sell. Somewhere in that post, you should have a block that includes a link to purchasing said Widget X. If you don’t want to link to a purchasable product, you could link to another blog post of related content.
#5 Be consistent
Your website needs to have a level of consistency throughout. Blog posts, item descriptions, help information, documentation—everything should be in the same voice and style. If you opt to go with humor in your product descriptions, make sure that style is found in everything.
If you’re not consistent, it’ll seem as though the site is less than genuine. If, on the other hand, everything within your site is on-brand, users will find it honest and be more engaged.
To that end, you need to know your audience. For example, if your product is purchased mostly by millennials, you need a consistent style that appeals to that generation. Or, if your site is all B2B, don’t pepper your content with snark. If you don’t know your audience, do the necessary research before you tackle V2.0 of your site.
#6 Add a search box
You might have a website that is perfectly designed. Every element is laid out in such a way that anyone can jump onto your site and immediately be able to find anything. Or so you think.
There will be users visiting your site searching for content or information not prominently displayed. Because of that, you need a search feature that can help those users find exactly what they’re looking for. One thing to understand is some users default to searches. With every site laid out differently, sometimes it’s just not always obvious where things are. A search option alleviates this issue and puts the power in the hands of the user.
Besides, those users who come to your site to find something specific don’t want to have to dig around. Instead, they want to pop in, run a search query, and get the information they need. Make this possible and your users will thank you by being engaged.
At this point, you might think it’s going to take a Herculean effort to retool your website. It won’t. You can take the bones of what you have and rebuild from that base. In no time you should see better engagement, which will lead to higher client/customer retention and a much-improved bottom line.
Who doesn’t want that?