Engaging Your Visitors

When someone gets involved they tend to be more committed to something than someone just passing by. When people interact online they may be doing a multitude things like instant messaging while surfing the web. As a web site owner, you really have no idea whether you have a visitors full attention since you are not physically together. What you have to do is come up with something that gets them involved. Here’s how to get started.

To engage you visitors may be easier than you think. Since social networking sites have taken over the web, blogs, discussion groups, surveys and forums are part of most internet users daily activities. These are all ways to get a visitor to stop for a moment and interact with your site on an increasing basis. If you get them to become a regular visitor who wants to interact with your site it will start to fell like a home to them. They will start to take pride in contributing to your site and they will feel the sense of ownership.

Several forms of marketing like direct mail use strategies that include what is called an involvement device to push prospects to become engaged. It is normally something a prospect can feel and touch and designed to get their participation. It might be as simple as a scratch off section of a call to action card or peeling a sticker and pasting it onto an order form to signal an acceptance of an offer.

It might seem like an overly simple approach to try and increase sales, but it does do just that. If a prospect becomes engaged in a sales process they are more likely to devote their attention and follow up with a purchase. A prospect’s resistance to a sales pitch becomes lower if they become involved and commit to an action.

Of course, not just any involvement device can be used and must relate to what you sell. Facebook is an excellent example. There is a growing popularity of applications which engage people in participation. Those are involvement devices and if there is a web site’s address associated with an application, users are engaging with that site.

Probably the most successful example of using involvement devices in the t-shirt industry is Threadless,
which has built a strong community from them. Submitting designs, voting for and critiquing designs, communicating with other users and many other methods that Threadless uses are basically involvement devices that keep their members engaged and coming back. Just a quick visit to http://www.threadless.com will demonstrate the strong identification that members have with the company. Threadless has gained the success they have by pushing to the front their many involvement devices almost to the point that t-shirt sales seem to be secondary to the community.

The key for Threadless is that all of the involvement devices that have been employed directly relate to t-shirts.
Now while your business model may not go to the lengths of Threadless you can still employ involvement devices. Getting a comment on a blog is getting a person to take an action and involves them with your site. Will you make a sale from that? Probably not, but maybe down the road as the visitor continues to return and their resistance lessens. The best involvement devices will be related to what you are selling and get your visitors engaged.

By Anthony Marsh