The old marketing funnel that some learned in school is out with Web 2.0. Visitors want quality content, but they also want to be engaged, asked to contribute and respected for their contribution. They may trust you, but they trust their friends and others more. To attract and keep visitors, you should ask:
- Who is your audience and what are they looking for? For example, if your website is about Pro Basketball, are visitors interested in players’ lives or fantasy teams? You can have many sub-audiences, but think about which is largest and most profitable.
- What unique and compelling content can you offer? This may include narrowing your focus to attract a specific sub-audience and/or serving up your content with new simplicity or pizzaz (e.g. mapping, videos). Maybe a competitor posts articles about players’ lives, but you could link/embed videos or photos that would be more compelling.
- How will your users get involved? The web has gone from dissemination of information to multi-way sharing of information – from facts and figures to opinion and perspective. Some examples include blog comments, polls, user ratings, forums, suggestion boxes, user-contributed articles, photos and links. How will you use these and other tools effectively without leading to utter chaos?
Answering these questions well should lead to functionality and content that draws visitors in and gives them a reason to stay.
Bonus – Enough to Make Your Head Spin.
For success, your users must help you build community and loyalty. They must think of you when they’re elsewhere online or offline altogether. You must prompt them to do this. There are way too many options – Newsletters, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, social networking, pinging, trackbacks. It’s all enough to make a novice’s head spin (it did mine). We’ll cover this more later, but bottom line, you want your users to help you build community by sharing the good news like any good evangelist.
Previous Post. 5 Steps to Choosing Your Website Niche.
When I started this journey, I knew what content I wanted. I saw what I thought was missing. Unfortunately, after keyword research, I found that it was missing because most of my audience didn’t care much about it. Don’t make that mistake. Do your homework.
In marketing they teach about a “Marketing Funnel” with 5 basic components.
- Awareness. Your first responsibility is to make your target audience aware of you (e.g. high ranking in Google search)
- Consideration. Once they know you’re there, they must consider you one of their top choices to become a . . .
- Preference. Once you’re considered, you’ve got to get them to prefer you over the competition in order to get to . . .
- Trial/Action. This is where they try you out. Notice, that the first 3 steps of the user experience happen BEFORE they even get to your site. Now that you’ve got them there, is the experience compelling? If it is, you have a shot at . . .
- Loyalty. In most businesses, return customers/users are the holy grail. To be successful, you want people to come back. We want them to come back and bring their friends.
This advice used to be good enough for building sites and even finding a mate ;-) However, the funnel is changing to respond to the greater interaction available online compared with print. Now you need to interact with your users and allow them to interact with each other. Some will be visitors, some contributors and some may become moderators that become the “elders” of your community. This is what makes for a truly “sticky” website.
21 ways to make your website “Sticky.” Collection of ways to engage users.
- Death of the Marketing Funnel.
- Website Functionality. Good list of things to think about when designing how your website will function for the visitor.
- Online Community Building: Gardening vs. Landscaping. Interesting take on how to structure user interactions.
- How to kill an online community in 10 easy steps. Heed these warnings.
In your comments, don’t forget to add other resources that might help readers.
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