Every small business loves the exposure, empathy and sense of community that having a website that’s a daily destination for consumers can generate. But getting people to visit on a regular basis can be a challenge, especially if updates are infrequent or all you have to offer is the occasional monotone press release or product announcement. Thankfully, building a website that’s “sticky” enough to keep users engaged and coming back doesn’t have to require investing thousands or reinventing yourself as the next online media empire. All it takes is a little elbow grease and personal touch, as indicated by the simple strategies below, each designed to send your homepage’s daily number of visitors soaring:
Connect and Communicate: Make no bones about it: Blogging should be an essential part of any modern website. After all, a few clicks is literally all it takes to post updates in real-time around the clock, creating a steady stream of content that promises something new and exciting with every visit. Better still, professionals at all experience levels have the capability of readily doing it, and the practice also helps put a personal face on your organization, shining the spotlight on the individuals behind it. However, to really captivate an audience enough to keep them returning, take note: You’ll also need to provide content that’s dynamic, unique and offers measurable informational or entertainment value, plus speak in a language that all can understand. In short, the occasional pre-approved sound bite from the HR guy or gal won’t cut it. Rather, you need to address audiences like you’re having a normal conversation, and provide content with meaningful substance to the reader. Making-of articles, features detailing how to get more from your products, partner profiles, project diaries, step-by-step how-to guides, interviews with notable personalities or internal stakeholders: All present compelling ways to connect with audiences while also keeping them interested and informed, providing ample incentive to keep coming back.
Emphasize Community Building: As social media insiders well know, creating a sense of community around your website is one of the most powerful tools for engaging and ultimately enthralling prospective fans. But doing so doesn’t simply mean throwing up a sponsored message board then leaving it to stagnate, or e-mailing customers sporadic newsletter updates that regurgitate existing material easily found elsewhere. Rather, you have to not only encourage discussion and actively take part in conversations by dedicating internal time and resources, but also make customers feel as if they truly have a voice in the discussion by listening to their concerns, responding and sourcing feedback at every opportunity. Implementing programs that recognize and reward valued contributors is also vital, as is creating fan-based initiatives that allow community members to contribute and share ideas, concepts and creations of their own. Even simply giving enthusiasts the chance to submit designs for your next fundraiser’s logo or arranging times where they can chat with top execs to provide input on upcoming ventures won’t just engender goodwill. They’ll also excite and empower a legion of amateur brand ambassadors–an essential source of free ongoing updates and constructive conversations, which will both attract users to and keep them enamored with your site.