“Linking, bookmarking, blogging, referring, clicking, friending, connecting, subscribing, submitting inquiry forms and buying are all engagement measures at various points in the customer relationship.” – Lee Odden
Engagement – it all seems as if the quote above puts engagement in the same boat as conversions. For the sake of this post, let’s consider engagement to be the completion of goals on your site.
Great content helps create an engaged audience – which means getting your users to complete some kind of goal on your site.
So the question is: assuming you’ve created great content already, what tactics can you use to increase engagement?
There’s a ton of effective ways to do so, and in this post you’ll find out 8 ways to maximize engagement.
1. Social Bling
‘Social bling’ is the social share buttons you usually see on the side, beginning or end of each post. If your content is good enough, people will feel compelled to share your content on their favorite social networks.
Although a lot of sites have adopted social bling with their content, many sites haven’t. If you haven’t added this to your site, do so now. It’s a set and forget thing and allows for your reach to expand further.
Social bling doesn’t have to just be used in a post though, it can be used to attract interest on blog homepages when people are usually just skimming through to see what headlines catch their attention. Why not bolster your strong headline writing(copyblogger link) with social bling to show readers what the interesting posts are?
Hubspot does a great job of showing Likes, Tweets, +1s, and LinkedIn shares on their blog homepage.
Social Media Examiner displays the number of tweets and comments per post. Showing the number of comments immediately tells readers that there’s a meaningful discussion going on and it might be worth taking a look.
2. Popular Posts Sidebar Widgets
If you want readers to stay around longer on your site, add a Popular Posts widget to your site. This box can include links to your most popular, most commented or personal favorites. People like seeing top posts and driving them to these other pages can help increase more engagement.
Hubspot displays its most popular blog posts and also includes its most popular posts according to Facebook likes.
Quicksprout has a box that shows its most current popular posts in the ‘Current Hits’ tab. The second tab shows the most popular posts of all time. Neil Patel, the blog owner, then picks out a few of his favorites and displays them in the third tab – ‘Neil’s Favorites’.
3. Make your e-mail opt-in box prominent
Copyblogger‘s Associate Editor, Jon Morrow, mentioned through testing that his e-mail visitors are 5 to 20 times more engaged than other visitors. That’s a phenomenal number.
Including an e-mail opt-in box gives your readers another way to stay connected with you. People treat their e-mails like gold, so as long as you make sure to deliver remarkable content, you’ll have a another great funnel to keep visitors coming back for more.
Copyblogger has a simple, but noticeable opt-in box with social proof hovering right over the box.
ConversionXL has a big blue opt-in box that includes the value proposition of actionable conversion rate advice for free.
It goes without saying that if you produce great content and people reach the end of each post, the chances of them opting in go up dramatically. You can even take e-mail collection one step further by creating a bribe. But I digress.
4. Slide Outs
Let’s say a reader finishes your post, enjoys it, and decides to share. What now? If you don’t add a little something to the end of each post, it means the reader’s journey on your site might end right there.
One thing you can do is add a slide out to relevant content at the end of each post so you give the reader a carrot to read something that interests them. If they’re already engaged, there’s a good chance they might be willing to see what else you have in store from them.
Quicksprout has a slideout with recommended reading:
Mashable takes a different spin with a slide out that includes not one, but two news items. The second link is usually a link to a partner through content distribution platform Outbrain.
5. Related Posts
Related posts at the bottom of content not only helps prolong a readers stay on your site, it helps with search engine optimization through internal linking.
But what do related posts have to do with engagement?
Simple. Readers that click through to additional pages means more opportunity to read, share, and comment on your content. Related posts simply increase the possibility of engagement.
Mashable includes 2 layers of related posts: Related posts in the category and Top related posts
Kikolani keeps it nice and simple with a few related links after each post
6. Check your Analytics Data
Not all content performs the same, so checking your analytics at least every month will help you make decisions on what type of content you should create next. Perhaps the latest interview blog post you had didn’t perform up to expectations and readers actually enjoy your ‘How To’ posts a lot more. Creating content that is proven to work with your audience is an effective tactic to keep them coming back for more.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t be trying new things out with risky or controversial content. That is important as well.
One model you can adopt is the Coca Cola model of 70/20/10. 70% of their content will be ‘bread & butter’ content while 20% will be more innovative and the final 10% will be ‘high risk’ content.
This healthy balance all translates to a balanced dose of engagement.
7. Survey Your Users
But what about the data that you don’t have? Analytics can’t tell you about what your readers have on their mind, so the best thing you can do is ask them what they want. Surveying users will give you a mountain of content ideas that you can stash away for the future.
Alternatively, you can send your e-mail subscribers an e-mail (don’t abuse it though), poll your Facebook fans or create a survey through Survey Monkey.
8. Bribe them
When you’re interested in a piece of content, like a webinar or whitepaper, you’ll see that accessing the content usually requires you to enter your e-mail. Giving people a gift in exchange for their e-mail is basically a bribe. Having your e-mail is golden to companies because it gives them permission to reach out to you whenever they want.
It can be even more powerful if you’ve consistently built trust with your readers with remarkable content. That makes them look forward to future e-mails from you because you’ve overwhelmed them with value.
One rule of thumb with your bribe is to create something that people will pay for. If it’s not good enough for people to pay for, then it’s not a good bribe.
Here are two examples of effective bribes:
Quicksprout’s Neil Patel offers ‘Explosive SEO Secrets Worth $5,000 per hour’. Neil is a well known online marketing expert and co-founded Crazyegg, KISSmetrics and KISSinsights. Anyone that reads his blogs knows that he’s worked with companies such as TechCrunch and Amazon to help increase their web traffic. So when a guy with Neil’s credentials offers free tips, readers know that they should be subscribing because of the valuable information they’ll get.
ConversionXL’s Peep Laja is a well known conversion rate expert who gives away incredible conversion rate optimization tips on his blog. His blog posts are easy to follow with plenty of examples and actionable advice. He grew his blog to 50,000 visitors in the first month(link) and outlines how he did it – an impressive feat for anyone. His bribe is a short and sweet guide on ’13 Things You Can Do Right Now To Increase Your Conversion Rate’.
Every website owner obviously wants to increase engagement on their site because it all adds into their bottom line. As seen in the examples above, there are plenty of ways to do this. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it and sacrifice your design and site speed for the sake of maximizing engagement. Something that works for one site might not work as well for you so it’s up to you to fine tune these tactics for your site.
What are some other tactics you use to maximize engagement?