Expectations surrounding websites have changed. A static, brochure-style site is so yesterday. To capture the interest of today's savvy Internet users, you need to design your website with interactivity in mind. The idea is to create a "sticky" site that keeps people engaged and encourages them to return. You can accomplish this through a variety of methods, from posting timely content to creating communities of visitors. Your company will benefit by:
- Developing better relationships with customers. The more compelling the site, the more visitors will come to rely on your organization for information or advice. This reliance ultimately leads to more customers, improved customer loyalty and lasting relationships.
- Better standing in search engine rankings. The more hits you get, the higher your Google ranking. Posting fresh content regularly will help you draw more traffic to your site.
- Insightful customer feedback. By using surveys and discussion forums, you can learn how customers feel about your company, products or services.
Add a blogPublishing a blog is a great way to share information of interest to your customers and to establish your company's voice. It's also a great communications tool for cementing relationships with prospects and customers. A blog, however, requires a time commitment on your part. You'll need to update it regularly, and make sure you have something to talk about on an ongoing basis. A boring blog is worse than no blog.
Add a podcast to your sitePodcasting is the practice of delivering audio files from the Web onto a PC or portable media player like the Apple iPod. You can make your own audio podcasts (like a radio show) about issues important to your customers. Make your podcasts available on your site so that visitors can download them at their convenience.
Keep your site chock full of fresh informationA static site is a turn-off. If your latest press release is months or (God forbid) years old, it looks as if your website is a low priority - or perhaps that your company has tanked! Also, a continually updated site generally gets regular hits from new and returning visitors, and active websites score higher in search engine rankings than dormant sites.
Create a resource "room" and stock it with relevant materialEducating visitors on topics related to your products or services will keep people coming back and will position your business as an authority in your particular arena. Along with posting the articles to your own site, offer them others to further drive traffic.
Refresh your site with a discussion boardForums help you create a community where visitors can discuss topics among themselves and communicate directly with you. The greater a sense of community your prospects and customers have, the tighter the bond with your company.
Conduct online surveysAdding surveys or polls to your site to get feedback on hot issues or to solicit input around product direction is a great way to engage customers. There are plenty of online tools available that make adding these capabilities pretty straightforward.
- Focus on content that best reflects your business - and speaks to your potential audience. When you're providing information - whether in news releases, podcasts, blogs or forums - solve your customers' problems, don't hawk your products. Addressing your customers' needs and interests will create a positive impact on your company and position your business as an authority.
- Maintain whichever interactive approach you take. Don't let resource rooms languish with outdated material or get lazy about keeping up your blog.
- Don't go crazy with too much interactivity. If you add too much too quickly, you won't be able to keep up.