Unconventional Ways To Boost Your Reader Engagement
Your content can be great, unbeatable, and very valuable – that still doesn’t guarantee stellar readership. Say your website is an ugly sight, irrespective of how awesome your content is, people might not read.
Creating good content is just the first step in a series of interconnected events that will eventually lead to a loyal reader base. I have heard people say in startup circles that they do not get visitors despite writing good content and undertaking aggressive marketing.
At my startup Hiver, when we first dived into content marketing, this was one of the biggest challenges we faced. We had excellent content, but user engagement was low, and bounce rate was high.
We used heat and scroll maps to understand our reader engagement, we worked on the low engagement parts of the content, we designed and revised our landing pages and website according to the results we saw. After many experiments and improvisations, we came up with a formula that fits us.
Hence, it is important to remember that you can figure out your strategy only through some experimentation, but here are some tips that can get you started:
1. Have a clean looking website
Never cram your website with plugins, ads, content, pictures etc.
Websites which look cluttered and too busy immediately repel the readers, however, great your content may be.
Some tips to have a clean looking website:
- Use the same typeface throughout the page.
- Don’t make unnecessary font size and color changes; even if you do, make sure it is aesthetically pleasing.
- Avoid displaying too many ads and images.
- Take very little space to display your social media widgets such as your Facebook, Pinterest etc.
- And please go very easy on ads should you choose to do it.
Here’s an example of Cluttered versus Clean:
2. Write shorter paragraphs
If you comb through websites like Hubspot, you will notice that one of the main reasons for their high user engagement despite having long posts is their short and crisp paragraph writing style.
The more white space you display, the better.
Make sure each para doesn’t have more than 3-4 sentences. Smaller chunks are easier on reader’s eyes.
Also, chunky paragraphs are boring to look at and are overwhelming to readers; it gives the impression that reading the para is time-taking and effort-taking.
3. Keep the page loading speed as low as possible
Okay, so a prospect is interested in checking out your website, he clicks on your post’s link and he waits…5 secs…10 secs…15 secs…that’s it – he instantly decides it’s not worth his time and bails on you.
Well, tell you what, he is right! You can’t take up too much of a reader’s time, not if you want to impress them.
Did you know that Google takes 816 ms to load – fraction of a second?!
Here are some tips to reduce the page load speed:
- Reduce the number of pictures for each post.
- GIFs can be more engaging and reduce your loading time compared to static images.
- You can use tools like CDN and Advanced lazy load to increase the speed.
Here’s a demonstration of how loading speed can affect your conversion rate:
4. Reach out to potential readers
True, if we want more traffic, more readers, more shares and more visibility it is very important to get social online and reach out to all possible venues such as the social media platforms.
What is even more effective though, is targeting your efforts to bring in those readers who potentially love and enjoy your content.
Instead of scattering your efforts on various platforms on several people, concentrate on fewer but more probable crowd. How do you do that, you may ask – here’s how.
- Pick out a few keywords that are relevant to the content you write.
- Punch these keywords in tools like Buzzsumo.
- These tools show you the amount of activity that is going on around your keyword, people who read and share content based on these keywords etc.
- You can find these people/influencers on twitter or other social media and broadcast your content to them.
- If they like your content, they will end up sharing it with more readers.
This way you are bringing in traffic that can really appreciate and get value out of your content. Also, you should use content discovery tools to figure out content topic trends and base your future content ideas on them.
5. Give a stout structure to your content
Remember this, when a reader scrolls through your article, before even beginning to read it, they must be able to understand the basic structure and flow of the article; if they don’t, it implies you did a bad job there.
Starting an article by first creating a basic outline can help. Here are some tips:
- Start off with an attention grabbing title.
- When you have a list of things to say, turn it into bullet points; it’s much neater like that.
- Make sure you split the content into points or sub-headings.
- Ensure that there is a font difference between headlines/sub-headings and normal content.
6. Don’t forget to use the right colors
The colors you use on the website should not put any strain on the reader’s eyes and should never be displeasing or too flashy.
Don’t use distracting colors like bright orange or radium, these colors would distract a reader from the content.
Use muted colors and complementary colors like blue and green, white and grey etc., and don’t forget to make sure that you choose the right color for the text. I have seen some websites where you literally have to squint your eyes to read the content.
Make sure you use dark and visible colors like black and brown for the content.
If nothing else, stay true to the conventional black and white theme, with a bit of color here and there. Here’s an interesting infographic if you want to know more about the color theory for web designing.
7. Add hyperlinks and statistics, be interactive
Putting links can be a great way to search engine optimize your website and be loved by Google’s search engines.
Plus, readers like to see stats and links as proof or basis for the advice you are giving them. This makes them trust your content even more.
But you must keep in mind that you have to place links which are very very relevant to the content and not just as a promotion tactic – you should not use your links as sales pitches.
Internal linking is the most often used strategy, where you add links to the content itself, but there is nothing wrong in outrightly mentioning links by saying ‘here are some related posts’.
Also, remember that boosting your reader’s engagement is not just about writing engaging content, it is also about finding a way to let that content reach the right kind of audience, website aesthetics, and content presentation. Every small detail, including the size of the share button, must be planned and placed strategically.