The purpose of any website comes down to two factors: engaging a person and getting that person to take action.
You must create sufficient interest with visitors for them to stay on your page. Failure to engage and get users to take action renders your website purposeless. What good is the small business site that doesn’t get potential customers to call, purchase or contact? What good is the ecommerce site that doesn’t get someone to buy?
Social media keeps people engaged on their platforms more than any other website types because that’s their business model. They’ve invested hundreds of millions — if not billions — in making sure people stay glued to the screen and stay on their site.
There’s quite a bit of psychology that goes into these website designs in order to get them to be as addictive as possible. And while there’s an ethical discussion to be had about how far the line has gone in the addictive nature of social media, we’d be foolish to not take lessons and apply them from the observations above. Thanks to their research, we can “growth hack” what works and take key lessons and leverage them for our own gain, without spending millions of dollars to do so.
1. Use dynamic content
In order to get people to routinely visit your site, you need to give them a reason to continuously come. Static content simply doesn’t do this, as the nature of static content is to have a relatively unchanged page that you can continuously reference.
Dynamic content is more about information and entertainment. It’s about having a regular conversation with potential customers and being able to provide them with ongoing value and insights that they wouldn’t necessarily think about. Blog entries are dynamic content types most commonly associated with websites, but there’s so much potential variety here that your site can embrace to give people value again and again. You could mix up short content types, post video content from YouTube that you’ve created and also mix in long-form posts.
In effect, what you want to do is have something that is consistently updated, but also varied so people who are viewing the site can consume the content in the format they most prefer.
2. Make your content brief and give people a way to read more
People scan content before they commit to reading, watching or listening. Not only is this a basic human tendency to scan before committing to reading the whole thing, but it’s also being drilled into us as a habit by every single social media and multimedia platform out there. Netflix gives previews of every show with highlights, Twitter exclusively only allows brief communication and Facebook posts cut down the extra stuff until you click to see more.
Properly done brief content is powerful, authoritative and gives you expert status. When you’re able to consolidate complex ideas into small snippets and chunks of information that people can understand, that’s true expertise. Start with brief content and allow your audience to delve deeper into more information.
3. Your content must be visually appealing
Recently, while watching a friend of mine’s newborn son, he began having a crying episode. What ended up calming him down was exposure to bright colours and animated colours. He was delighted with the vivid colours and movement on screens to the point of fascination.
Adding visual stimulus — even if it’s just changing the background colour — enhances engagement with your website because it makes something primal in us say “Oh, what’s this?”
Social media heavily uses visual stimuli and movement to attract and keep attention. You need to have strong and consistent visual elements and cues.
4. Use a variety of content types
Different people have different preferences. Some people are readers, some are watchers and others are listeners.
As a business owner, it’s not up to you to decide what content is best for your clients. Rather, your clients are going to have varied tastes. For me, I want to read things before I watch or listen. It’s why I’ll write content first and then make video and audio out of it.
Allowing people to consume content the way they want means achieving a very simple result: more conversions, more leads and more customers.
5. Find ways to encourage interaction with your website
At the heart of everything, social media is interaction. Sharing on social media gets the other person to become an active participant rather than just an audience member.
While having social media-esque interaction on a small business site probably isn’t going to happen due to the nature of your site, you can take lessons from different platforms. Allow people to comment on posts and content you put up. Actively encourage them just like you do on social media. Add buttons for people to like or share your content directly from your site to the social media of their choice. Provide plenty of buttons that call to action. Any number of these micro- interactions get people involved and doing new things on the site, rather than simply being a casual observer.
At the end of the day, interaction gets people to take action. If visitors on your website are taking action, you’re one step closer to profit.