Imagine this: you’ve got a website up and running and it gets a respectable amount of traffic, but you know you can do better.
Maybe you have a goal to reach a certain number of page views per month. Or maybe you want to get more customers, or you are determined to hit a certain number of subscribers on your email list. These are all wonderful things to aim for and work towards, and luckily one of the easiest ways to get you closer to that growth is to engage with your website audience!
If you want to grow your website, it’s super important that you build and nurture a following of loyal readers/visitors/customers. And you can’t do that if your website is one-sided! Give and take, y'all.
People want to connect and develop a relationship with YOU and your business, and that’s often step 1 before getting them to transition into being a client or customer. This is why you must engage and interact with your website audience! You can’t have irregular communication with your followers and expect them to feel a close connection.
There are six ways to engage with your website audience that I’ve found actually work and best of all, they make running a website even more FUN!
Let’s take a look.
1. Create quality content
Whether it’s through website copy, blog posts, Youtube videos, social media posts, or an email newsletter (like mine!), you should always offer your audience something in exchange for their time and attention. Think about it: there are millions (billions?) of websites out there and for whatever reason, your audience has decided that your site and content is worth their time. Reward them for that by delivering quality content!
This quality content can be informational, educational, entertaining, or even personal - all that really matters is that you are creating a bond between you and your audience. When you regularly create quality content, it encourages people to come back to your site, view multiple posts, follow and engage with those posts, and even share them with their own audiences.
2. Allow and reply to comments
Not every website is setup to allow comments, and that’s totally fine - you have to do what’s right for you, your business and your website. My friend Jessica Stansberry doesn't have comments enabled on her website and her business is still thriving!
That being said, I DO think that comments are an awesome way to encourage and create discussion between you and your audience.
Comments show that you want to hear from your audience, that you care about their thoughts, and that you value their participation on your website. If someone wants to take time out of their day to leave a comment on your site, let them! Obviously you can filter out any mean or bad comments, but I’m a huge fan of encouraging readers to leave a comment and then actually taking the time to reply to that comment. Bonus points if your reply is thoughtful and not just a generic “thanks!” because it’ll go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your audience. People like to see that the time they spent commenting on your site is rewarded with a personally reply.
Also, did you know that legit quality comments (i.e., not generic “great post!” or spam-y comments) on a post actually are recognized by search engines like Google, which means that your site’s authority is increased and rewarded with better SEO? That’s a win, folks!
Related: Click to view all posts in the Squarespace SEO Series. <--- I've got loads of articles and videos here so it's worth checking out!
3. Answer reader questions
As your website grows and you develop a following, there’s a 100% chance that you will start getting asked questions by your audience on the regular. This is a GOOD thing and this sort of engagement should be encouraged!
These questions might come in different forms across several platforms, for example in the comment section of a blog post, as a reply to an email newsletter, or even as a DM on social media. Do what feels right for you and your brand/business so don’t feel pressured to answer personal questions if it feels out of scope. But if someone takes the time to ask you a question, it’s a great way to engage with them and promote participation from the rest of your audience!
If someone asks a question in the comments of a blog post, reply there. If someone sends you a DM on Instagram but you think they rest of your audience would like to know the answer, screenshot their DM question and share the answer in your Stories (feel free to block out their account information to keep it anonymous). If someone replies to an email newsletter with a question, the answer might inspire a whole blog post that you can then share publicly with the rest of your audience!
When you get a good question from your audience, there are so many ways you can reply and get creative with your response. Be sure to credit the initial question if you’re creating a new blog post or email newsletter replying to that question because it shows other readers that you are creating content/products/services/offerings from what your audience comes up with. This kind of engagement goes a lonnnnng way in developing a solid, long-lasting relationship!
4. Publish a case study
The only thing people love more than talking about themselves is hearing other people talk about them! Everyone enjoys having the spotlight put (positively) on them every now and then because it gives us confidence and reminds us that our hard work is paying off.
This is why case studies or client/user spotlights are so effective. Not only do they give you a chance to talk about how awesome your audience is, they also show that your readers are getting real results and achieving cool things thanks in part to the content on your website. Someone might read a case study on your site and think “if they can do it, so can I!” and that could snowball into more engagement, a stronger relationship, deeper trust, or even new business.
Also, FYI people are likely to share press coverage or "media mentions" with their own audiences, so a case study blog post often gets a higher level of engagement compared to regular posts on your website.
5. Point them to other platforms
Let’s say someone finds your website through a Google search or a Pinterest pin. They arrive on your site for the first time and everything about you and your brand is totally new. How will they know about all the awesome stuff you do if you don’t tell them?
If you have a weekly newsletter (like I do), make sure to talk about it in blog posts or have opt-ins in different places on your site. This way people will know to put in their email address and actually get something out of it. Same thing goes with your Youtube channel - point them to your videos and ask them to subscribe if they want to stay updated on your content there. If you’re active on social media and want to grow your following on those platforms, don’t just rely on the little social media icons to get the point across - TELL PEOPLE about your profiles and ask them to follow you!
Engaging and interacting with your audience on different platforms is a great way to show people how much you value them and all the awesome ways that you’re serving your community. People might not check your website every day (yet) but odds are that they will like to see regular updates from you on social media, or receive your weekly emails to stay up to date with all the awesome things you’re doing.
6. Collaborate with others
You might be thinking “how does collaborating with others help me engage with my website audience?” and that’s a valid question. Here’s the thing: people want value from your website but it doesn’t always have to come from you - in some cases, it might be best coming from someone else!
For example, let’s look at my Expert Advice Roundup series on my blog. In these articles, I round up advice and quotes from leading people in certain industries and share their insights with my audience on my blog. These posts are interesting and my audience gets lots of valuable information from them. I’m also introducing my audience to other awesome people who aren’t my direct competitors, and it’s a great way to find new people to follow online.
Other ways you can collaborate with others in a way that engages with your website audience is by co-hosting a webinar, being a guest on a podcast, guest posting on another site (like I did recently here and here), sharing video content or tutorials from someone else on your site, having a “guest editor” write your weekly email newsletter, etc.
It’s totally cool (and fun!) to show off people who compliment you and your website but aren’t necessarily your direct competitors. Mixing up the voices on your website can be a really positive thing and your audience will appreciate that you’re bringing them value, no matter where or who it comes from.
There are so many wonderful ways you can engage with your website audience and honestly, I can’t see a downside to it. It takes a bit of time but the effort always pays off. Not only will you strengthen your relationship with your audience, you will also build that “like, know and trust” factor which might even lead to more business opportunities in the future. People who visit your website like to know that you value them and care about interacting with them in a legit and human way - you’re not just a bot that puts out content and never replies with anyone.
Whether you’re starting small by replying to comments on a blog post or engaging with people on a higher and deeper level, it always pays off.
Now it’s your turn to tell me, how do you engage with your website audience? Are there any other websites that you see doing a great job at this? What’s your favourite way to engage with people online? I’d love to know so leave me a note in the comments below (for real!) and I promise I’ll reply :)