Increasing traffic and increasing conversion.
It seems like that's what everybody is talking about these days—but what about increasing engagement?
Is engagement even important enough to be something that we should increase?
To me, absolutely—and I'm sure that's part of the reason why this blog has grown as fast as it has.
What is Engagement?
There are metrics to measure “engagement” like time spent on a page and bounce rate, but the kind of engagement I want to investigate goes beyond the numbers.
To me, engagement is all about involvement and participation.
When people participate in something they feel included. They feel like part of the team and that they're contributing in one way, shape or form.
And here's the kicker: that participation, involvement and contribution often lead to massive support and constant sharing of you and your brand.
Because a recommendation from one of your friends for a product is far stronger than any recommendation the owner of that product could give you.
This is why social media is so important to businesses—friends sharing with friends exactly what's hot and what's not.
It's powerful stuff.
Let me tell you a quick story.
Until my junior year of high school, I was always less than 5 feet tall. I'm 5′-9″ now.
Yeah, late bloomer.
Anyways, a lot of my friends loved to play bastketball and were very serious about it, and because they were my friends they invited me to play too, which was nice.
Unfortunately, I was no Michael Jordan, so I wasn’t really the best person to give the ball too. In fact, I never got the ball, and it wasn’t fun. I was always last picked too.
I was on the court, but I wasn’t really involved.
Then there was this 3 on 3 half court tournament here in San Diego that they wanted to sign up for. Of course, I wasn’t invited to join any of the teams because I wasn’t good enough, but I was invited to come and watch.
Honestly—I didn’t even want to go because I didn’t feel like a part of the team. There was no reason for me to feel committed.
But, if I were thrown the ball a few times, given a chance to be captain every once and a while and pick my own teams, and actually have a chance to shoot the ball, I know that I still wouldn’t have been participating in the tournament, but I would have tagged along and been their biggest supporter at the event.
Getting people involved in one way or another can go a long way, and if you don’t engage with your audience, you’re not building a relationship, and that relationship you have with your audience should be the most important thing to you. You have to take care of that relationship—nurture it, feed it and protect it, because in turn those people can become your biggest fans and give back to you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Here are two quick things to think about when attempting to engage with your audience:
1. Nobody Can Engage With You If They Don't Know Who You Are
The fact is, it’s human nature to be defensive against things we don’t know about. We put up a wall to protect ourselves, and online those walls are miles high, and miles thick.
The way to break down those walls is to be real, to show yourself and sort of virtually put out your hand like you’re offering a handshake.
People want to make friends and trust real people.
How can people engage with YOU if they don’t know who YOU really are?
I believe this is why SPI has grown as much as it has, because there’s nothing for me to hide and people know exactly who I am and what I have to offer.
2. Engage Deeper and Don't Be The One to Stop The Conversation
Here’s a question: is the end of a blog post really the end?
I like to think of the end of a blog post as a starting point for thought, opinion, questioning, taking action, and involvement.
If you end your post and it sort of just ends without requiring any sort of participation or action from your readers, then there’s nothing left to do and the engagement stops.
Ask questions, leave things open ended from time to time, encourage people to leave their opinions and have them participate in whatever it is you’re doing—and make it easy for them to do so.
And engagement isn’t just on your blog. Anywhere there is a communication there's a chance to further engage your audience—Facebook, Twitter, forums, Google Plus, and even your email list. You can always keep the conversation going by doing the exact same things.
The next time someone leaves you a message somewhere, ask a question back and try to learn more about what they're asking. It’ll surprise a lot of people, but you can be sure that most of the time they are going to answer you back and that's when a real connection is made.
Then you begin your relationship together (or strengthen the existing one) which is important to have before any sort of exchanges or action taking can happen in the future.
Let me finish off by saying this:
Every time someone leaves a comment, or thinks about something and responds to you, that is time they spent out of their day thinking about YOU and what YOU had to say.
That is the kind of attention businesses are looking for because they know that’s when transactions will happen the most, and that’s what we should all look for in order to grow our blogs and online businesses.
Traffic is important—yes. Conversion rates are important—absolutely.
But I've found that the key factor that many people miss is the engagement factor. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage.
Now tell me what you think—how would you rank engagement against traffic generation and conversions? Is it the most important? Least important? Does it even play a role?
Please leave a comment below because I’d love to hear what you think. Cheers!