Engage Your Readers
We’ve all been there. You know, the website where the author is “sure” that you’ll gain relevant, insightful information, and break out running to all of your friends to tell them about this wonderful article you just read.
Not. It doesn’t happen like that.
The web is a peculiar place, and you have to know how to engage readers if you want them to stay on your site. The first thing that you must do is capture their attention, much like I did in the first sentence that you read here. Did it work?
When visitors come to your site or blog to read your material, you’ve got to give them reasons to stay there and finish reading what you’ve written. There are multitudes of sites online where they could be, yet they’ve chosen to engage on your site. So what are some things that you can do to enhance their experience? Listed are five readily applicable suggestions that you can implement on your site right away to increase its value and start growing a solid readership base:
1.) Talk about the news
What better way to help readers than by giving them stories that are REAL and/or happening? News stories are timely resources since they are real, current and relatable. News stories are also popular because people inherently love to read about the lives of others, whether that’s in politics, entertainment or business. Make sure though that your news stories are applicable to your genre or industry. It would be just weird to write on something that’s totally irrelevant to your area of expertise.
2.) Talk “to” your readers, not “at” them
If there’s nothing worse for a reader to feel that you’re talking down to them, is to read that you’re talking down to them. It’s perfectly fine and within reason to use an academic approach in your style, but be careful to not sound too “preachy” or authoritative to the point where the reader feels offended, and clicks away. Let them know you’re on their side. Let them know that you understand. Build a kindred relationship where you’re with them rather than teaching them.
3.) Don’t sell; Be
If you operate in a profit mode, then you know how important it is to sell your product or service. That’s why you’re online 25 hours a day, and why you’re on all of the social networking platforms, and why you’re a re-tweeting machine. But be careful of this, because readers can tell when you’re doing all of this to get to the profits fast or when you are truly interested in adding value to their mission. Instead of selling them, just exist. Don’t make every post a promotional piece. Don’t make every outbound link one that leads to your sales page. Just comfortably navigate around the web, making your visits and selections relevant and your readers will see that you’re more tuned into what is really going on around the web, rather than only being interested in profit dollars. When you operate in this way, readers are more inclined to follow your material and trust what you say. In the end, gaining the readers trust is what you want anyway, as opposed to one-time hits on your site. The key is to build traffic and build relationships, and this is the pathway that leads there.
4.) Show Genuine Interest
Like their content, and they’re sure to like yours. But make sure you actually do like it before you say so. It never fails that one good turns deserves another, and readers will almost always check out your pages, posts and sites if you show an interest in theirs. That’s effective social engagement, right?
5.) Offer Solid Content
Don’t regurgitate the content, but make it good, really good. Good enough for the reader to share, retweet, Like and any other method of showing their pleasure of your work. Solid content is produced from one place: the heart. Readers know when you mean what you write, or if you’re doing it just for the sake of it. Including news, facts, statistics and other information doesn’t have to make your work dry. Use real-world examples, engage the reader with lively anecdotes and then always give them a benefit or solution when you’re concluding.
People say value is relative. I agree. What may be valuable to one person, may seem inconsequential to another. As far as the content on your site, the value in it is determined by the readers and what benefits they received from reading and applying what you’ve given them. If it’s good information, they will find immediate value in it. If it’s a good resource, they will experience ongoing value. If you don’t give them anything that enhances or changes the quality of their experience, then they would not have gained anything, and you are no more impactful for them as when they first encountered your site. Be sure to make a difference with your reader so that see value immediately.