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What is arguably THE most important and revealing metric to monitor and improve on your website?
Traffic? Nope. If you get the "most" important metric working, it will help you get more traffic.
Conversions? As important as it is, something is even more important. The more important metric, if done right, will lead to more conversions.
What is this crucial metric you need to be monitoring and improving?
Website visitor engagement.
The level of visitor engagement on a company's website is an often overlooked dynamic that can tell you soooo much about how well (or how poorly) you are doing when it comes to connecting with your prospects.
When a website visitor is engaged, they stay on your website for a longer period of time and typically go to more pages.
They are grooving with you and what you offer because:
Conversely, when someone comes to your website but then quickly decides to leave, what does that tell you?
It's going to be hard to turn these folks into leads and customers.
Website engagement levels help clue you in on whether or not you are on the right track with your messaging and even the layout of your website.
But, there is a surprising additional benefit when you get it right...
Higher website visitor engagement is so valuable because it can also lead to MORE traffic.
How? Over time you become the recipient of what I like to call Google Love.
Google Love is what Google bestows upon websites it deems relevant to searchers. Remember one of the core values of Google is helping the searcher find what they are looking for (a relevant website) as quickly as possible.
Part of that equation is what the searcher does once they land on your website.
For example, if a searcher comes to your website after searching for "email platforms for media companies" (which, for this example, is one of your products) and they spend a good amount of time on your website (presumably consuming content) and visiting numerous pages, Google concludes the searcher found what they were looking for.
The next time someone searches for "email platforms for media companies" Google sends more of that traffic to you. If, over time, you are able to engage the right people with the right content, Google notices and keeps sending you more and more of this valuable targeted traffic… for free.
Google Love is a wonderful thing.
You might be thinking, "Okay, I get it. Website visitor engagement is really important. What can I do to improve mine?"
Here are three proven ways to boost your website visitor engagement:
1. Narrow your focus.
Since you can't (and shouldn't) be all things to all people, you must choose 3-5 visitor types (or buyer personas) who you are trying to attract. You then create content that's important to them and addresses what they want and need to hear.
The more specific you can be (as if you've been in their head and you feel what they feel), the more you will engage these MVPs: Most Valuable Prospects.
Here's a great article that explains in more detail how this narrow focus can work for you.
The biggest objection to this approach is thinking that you must cast a wide net to catch as many fish as possible.
However, the reality is the opposite. The wide net actually has wide gaps in the netting, which leads to fewer fish.
If you try to be all things to all people, you will ultimately be meaningful and engaging to a very small percentage, if any.
2. Change your focus.
So much website content out there is written from the perspective of the company.
Instead, your content (initially) needs to be focused on your prospects: their needs, their pain points and desires, using language they can relate to.
Once they sense you understand them, their needs and what's important to them, THEN you can introduce yourself.
Think of it like this: Which sales person would YOU more easily engage with (and ultimately buy from)?
Your website should work the same way.
3. Reduce friction points on your website.
In a nutshell, friction points are anything that make interacting with your website harder for the visitor. Examples might include:
People will choose easy over difficult every day of the week. If your website is too difficult for a prospect to find what they are looking for, they will go somewhere else.
Even if they fight their way through and stay on your website, research has shown that they become a harder prospect to reach. The extra work forces them to rely more heavily on the part of the brain that is highly cautious and skeptical about truth claims.
In other words, increased friction causes a person to be more on guard and less easy to persuade with respect to the value of your offering.
Have you ever tried to persuade someone who is guarded and skeptical? It's a tough road to take. Do all you can to reduce website friction so you can avoid putting visitors into that state of mind.
There are several tools you can use to accurately assess your website visitor engagement—some of which are free. We consistently work with the first three listed below, but there have been a lot of recent developments in this space (some involving Artificial Intelligence), and there may be other platforms that better suit your needs.
Website visitor engagement is like the x-ray machine that reveals the broken bones in your online efforts to grow your business.
When you shore up those areas, using the tools above, you will be utterly amazed as to how well your website will work, in an automated way 24/7 at gathering more leads and new business.
YOUR TURN! Is website visitor engagement something your company has worked on in the past? If so, what's the one thing that has helped the most?
Patrick McDaniel is our resident Paid Search and Social Strategist. He likes figuring out how people work – in between facts and figures on organic search rankings, lead gen and engagement techniques, you’ll find hints of psychology and buying behavior in his writing. He loves helping readers understand how to reach and connect with their best prospects!
Tags: Website & Graphic Design