Attracting visitors to your business website is only half the battle. The real goal is making those visitors feel welcome and interested in exploring all that your site has to offer. This will significantly increase the odds that they sign up for your free newsletter, take advantage of a special offer or promotion and move closer to the ultimate decision to purchase.
But this is only possible if you’ve done everything possible to engage visitors and give them a good reason to stick around.
Remember—almost everyone makes the decision to stay or go within seconds of clicking on your home page. So how can you more fully engage prospective clients?
Make things easy. Your website should be designed specifically from the user’s perspective. Content should be easy to read (actually, easy to scan)—with boldface headlines, bullet points, call-out quotes, etc. Navigation should be intuitive and logical, one page leading to another in a way that makes sense to the user. Sub-pages should be categorized in a coherent way and simple to find from anywhere on the site.
No glitches or “404 errors” allowed. Has it been awhile since you or someone on your team has checked out the functionality of the website? All it takes is one bad link to frustrate a visitor and send her elsewhere. Take time to do a comprehensive “check-up,” eliminating any duplicate page titles and “Page not found” error messages.
Give something away. Content of value should be immediately accessible (and prominently displayed in order to catch the user’s eye). This can be anything from brief “how-to” pieces to blog posts relating to topics of interest to prospective clients. From there, reward visitors who agree to provide their email address by offering material of even greater value—for example, an in-depth white paper or PDF addressing an issue of concern to those in your field.
Focus on compelling content. When it comes to creating content for your site, what’s the cardinal rule? Don’t be boring. Whatever business you and your clients are in, there are always inventive ways to make the topics more interesting. You just have to use your imagination. (If people aren’t entertained while they’re being informed, they will generally opt out.) Use stories and personal anecdotes to make your content come alive.
Keep content dynamic. The most engaging websites offer content and images that are always changing. Use such devices as sidebars that can load new content every other day. Offer customer surveys. Feature videos and photos. Compile a list of “Recently Featured” or “Most Popular Links” that draw visitors deeper into the site. People are always interested in what other people are looking at. Another great idea: Add two or three “recommended articles” to the end of each post or feature, encouraging visitors to stick around longer.
Think links. As you accumulate content on your site—with articles, blog posts, client surveys, etc.—you can create internal links to archival material elsewhere on the site. Be judicious in the number of links you include in any given pieces. And make sure those links take visitors to a page directly related to where they started (or matching the keyword they click on). Nothing aggravates users more than clicking on an internal link that takes them to an unwanted sign-up form.
Make content easy to share. Social media icons (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) are a dependable way to engage your visitors. Make sharing your content easy to share on social networks and let people know how many likes, tweets and comments your content is generating. This will make visitors curious about learning more.
It requires time and energy to maintain an engaging website. But the pay-off—in terms of time spent on the site, pages seen per visit, bounce rates and search engine rankings—is well worth the effort.