Ah, summertime, and the living is easy. Time to crack open a cold one and watch the qualified visitors roll in. After all, if you read my last two articles, you’ve probably identified your audience, and have a plan for measuring the business impact of your traffic. Naturally, kicking back must be next on the list, right?
Merely driving traffic is not going to make you successful. Instead, you need to foster engagement and build a relationship with your users. Specifically, you need to make sure that they find value in your content, that they come back and visit often, and that they ultimately become your customer.
Making this happen is a must. However, the actual approach will vary depending upon your industry and UVP (unique value proposition). Today, let’s take a look at a few approaches that have worked well for many of my B2B clients. It should give you some ideas on how to improve your engagement efforts.
Branch out. If you want to engage your audience, you not only need to create a compelling offer, you also need to supply alternative means of access to it. Quite simply, access shouldn’t be limited to just your website; you need to offer them different ways to hear your message.
Unfortunately though, many people become too focused on driving everything to their website. This is a mistake. Instead, you should aim to provide diverse access, of which there is no shortage today. You can get your message out via direct emails, RSS, online video content, podcasts, or some combination therein.
For example, one of my B2B clients now offers an online “Tip of the Day” via their website, RSS feeds, and online video. As a result, they have developed a sizable following that often checks back to see the tip. This is a great example of how access diversity helped make the offering a success. Ultimately, the success or failure of an initiative shouldn’t be based solely on a website visit, but rather on whether or not someone heard your message.
Make them look good. One way to provide value to a potential customer is by supplying them with information that not only makes them look good in front of superiors, but also generally helps them do their job better. This is an area where industry research is particularly effective at doing just that. For example, supplying potential customers with relevant studies that contain interesting findings with important implications will surely serve them well, whether the material has never been published before, or is outdated and no longer accessible. Moreover, supplying them with such research will do more than provide them with value; it can also quickly enhance your organization’s credibility, and in turn help you attract loyal customers.
Ask for input. While it might sound like a “no-brainer” to have this item on the list, you’d be surprised to learn how few organizations actually ask customers for input on the types of content they would like to see on the website, or in studies or white papers. Personally, I have always found that when you ask customers what is on their minds, you get some fantastic ideas.
Offer premium content. A great way to start building a relationship with potential customers is by offering them premium content that requires initial registration and subsequent log-ins to view the material. This grants them special access to great content, and allows you to gain more information about your potential customers, such as their name, company, title, and email address. Clearly, this method is a win-win situation for both parties.
Leverage your players. Another way to foster engagement is to introduce your audience to some of the key contributors in your company. For example, a few of my clients allow different members of their organizations to contribute various types of content to the website on a regular basis. Doing so allows their visitors to “meet” many of the players within the company. An effective way to do this is to allow the different subject matter experts in your organization—and not just at the executive level—to contribute to a newsletter which can be sent to customers and members of your online community. In addition, you can also foster engagement by encouraging readers to ask questions and propose topics.
Facilitate connections. Many B2B organizations are reluctant to allow their clients to interact with one another in a relatively unsupervised format. Perhaps they’re afraid that they will get together and bash the organization. To be honest—it’s a risk—it could happen. However, doing so could also hold great benefit. For example, bringing clients together could facilitate a great exchange of ideas on how to better leverage your product or service. In addition, the community can also be a great source of feedback about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
Manage the flow. Regular communication with your constituents can greatly enhance the relationship, but only if the flow of information is carefully managed. Today, everyone is bombarded with information. Given that, be sure your communication frequency isn’t to the extent that it begins to annoy people. On the flip side, you need to communicate often enough; otherwise, if you disappear for too long, people will begin to forget about you. While I can’t provide you with specific parameters on how often to communicate with your community, I have found that an audience’s appetite for information varies by industry and level of engagement. The best thing to do is to be mindful about it, and gather feedback from your users.
Overall, just driving traffic won’t get the job done. You need to keep your audience coming back for more. So be sure to devote time and effort to foster engagement and build those relationships. The above methods are effective ways to do just that. They have been successful for many of my B2B clients, and I’m confident they will prove helpful to you as well.
Brian Kaminski is managing director of search engine marketing firm iProspect in San Francisco, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.