Most people that come to your website will never buy anything.
You finally got their attention, drove them to your website, but they still didn’t buy anything.
They didn’t buy anything because you missed a step.
Customer engagement is the “missing link” in your online marketing process.
And it’s stopping you from making sales and growing your business.
Uncovering the “Missing” Link
Seth Godin published Permission Marketing thirteen years ago.
The premise was both simple and radical at the time: the future of advertising (and marketing) will be less about “interruption”, and more about engaging, and earning “permission”.
This seems obvious now. But before Google, Facebook and Twitter, it wasn’t so.
Fast forward to 2009, and the founders behind software company HubSpot published, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs.
Different title, same premise.
You (the marketer or company) offer value to potential customers in hopes of luring them in. Instead of using mass-media advertisements, you create content and utilize new technologies to match the way consumers buy today.
Instead of pushing your messages out, you pull people in who are looking for it. Getting their attention is your number one marketing goal online.
But there’s also a problem.
You need to transfer their attention, into interest and trust before getting them to purchase.
That middle stage, interest and trust, starts with engagement.
5 Principles of Engagement
Engagement is essential to the internet marketing process because it’s showing you that people are both interested and building trust.
And without those two key ingredients, sales won’t happen.
But how do you create, nurture and grow engagement?
It’s not by using Twitter more effectively. It goes much deeper than that.
To increase engagement, and get more sales, you need to master these 5 principles.
Principle #1: Benefits, Benefits, Benefits
Companies struggle with the transition from traditional advertising to online marketing because they come from two different worlds.
The old world pushes product updates and company news. Because as long as you could afford it, you could always interrupt people’s attention.
But when you’re trying to lure people in, talking about yourself won’t cut it.
Instead, you need to be laser-focused on the audience – not your company, product, service or industry.
Everything you do online, from the copy on your website to the email newsletters you send out, needs to be focused on your target customer’s benefits. You need to solve their pain and give them assistance with losing weight, saving for vacation, impressing others, making more money, etc. etc. etc.
Principle #2: Get Emotional
If your customer’s don’t emotionally connect with you on some level, then they’ll never fully trust you. And if they don’t trust you, then they’ll switch to your competition or some other alternative the minute they can.
From a high level perspective, you need to create marketing messages and transform your company culture to focus on making a connection with other people (by focusing on their benefits, needs, wants, and desires).
And when it comes to internet marketing, creating emotion should permeate everything you do. Look at your own content headlines for example.
The best headlines are passionate and elicit emotion from people. They talk about protecting yourself from threats, avoiding mistakes, and creating simplicity in a chaotic world.
Principle #3: Increase Frequency
In the new online world where attention is a precious asset, you need to increase the frequency or touches you have with someone.
Companies used to send the obligatory monthly email and call it a job well done. But that may not be enough anymore.
Your first job in online marketing is to get attention. To break through the clutter and be noticed.
But then you need to increase the touch-points and build engagement over time.
And increasing frequency shouldn’t sacrifice quality. Instead, focus on doing more with less. Pick one channel, or one tactic, and do everything you can to make it the best possible experience for your customers.
Principle #4: Create Open Loops
If you ever saw the show Lost, then you were either hooked or infuriated.
They were masters of creating open loops. The show was notorious for leaving questions unanswered, and the audience guessing. Even when they did answer a burning question, they would create three new ones before the show was over.
This created intrigue, mystery and curiosity. But more importantly, it got people to pay attention and stay involved.
Be a tease – don’t give away everything in sequence. Try planting these “seeds of curiosity” by creating anticipation for what’s coming next.
Principle #5: Increase Interaction
Finally, you should always try to get people involved.
In the “online” world, that means using Calls-To-Action (CTA).
Typically, CTAs refer to sales opportunities. But it goes beyond that. People want to feel included and a part of the show. So what do you want reader to do next?
- Sign up for…
- Click here…
- Tell me about…
- Look out for…
- Stay tuned for…
Every blog post or email newsletter should have one main Call-To-Action. And it doesn’t have to be a hard sell.
You can use them to let people know what’s coming next week, creating an open loop to hold their engagement.
How to Measure Engagement So You Can Improve
Now how can you gauge or measure engagement, so you can improve?
Fortunately there are a few simple ways.
But before we get to them, let’s talk about what you should’t measure.
Vanity metrics are notoriously misleading and incorrect. Things like Twitter followers, Klout scores, and even… blog comments.
The 1% rule of the internet is a quick rule of thumb that says most people (90%) will consume content, while very few will interact (9%) or create it (1%).
These numbers are even more skewed when you look across industries. “Bloggers” and “social media gurus” love to talk about blog comments – because people in these touchy-feely industries actually leave comments.
But the majority of the world doesn’t. So the type of person each industry caters to says more than the actual, real engagement. You will never get as many blog comments as a “personal development” or “minimalism” blog.
And that’s OK! Blog comments don’t pay the bills.
Instead of paying attention to these red herrings, you should focus on real data.
Take a look at your blog analytics. Three easy-to-find metrics are:
- Pages Per Visit: More than 2 pages per visit is good. Higher is better.
- Time on Site: Above one minute should be a starting point. Again, higher is better.
- Bounce Rate: Blogs tend to be higher, but try to keep it under 70%.You can also tell by looking at your email marketing data. Email open rate’s aren’t always statistically accurate, so look at the Click-Through-Rate instead. This is a better measure of engagement, because people are actually showing interest in whatever they’re clicking on.And unlike vanity metrics, you can actually use this information to make better decisions.
How to Improve Engagement and Increase Sales
Now that we’ve discussed some principles behind engagement, how do you improve it?