If you ever feel like your attention span is getting shorter, rest assured: it’s not just you. Surrounded by a myriad of potential distractions vying for a spot among our crowded thoughts, it can feel near-impossible to separate the trivial from the pivotal and focus on just one thing at a time.
If you’re a website owner, you’ll know that our ever-shrinking attention spans present a never-ending challenge when it comes to driving engagement. Getting a user to your site is one thing, but keeping them there long enough to convert them from a prospect into a customer? That’s easier said than done. Yet your website is vitally important.
When a user browses to your site, various studies (like this one) suggest you have somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds to captivate them before their interest evaporates and their journey continues elsewhere. So in an increasingly crowded and chaotic online space, how can you encourage users to stick around? Let’s look at some of the ways you can reduce those all-important bounce rates and drive up your engagement metrics.
Optimize The User Experience
Guess what? 88% of users are less likely to return to a website after a single negative experience, so your UX is step one to driving user engagement and keeping visitors glued to your site for longer. UX encompasses every aspect of a user’s interaction with your site (from the entry point onwards), so you need to consider every step in their potential journey and ensure their experience is as seamless as it is intuitive. A single hurdle or pain-point and you could lose them in a flash.
Also, consider this: by the end of 2021, 55% of all global online traffic came from a mobile device, so a mobile-first approach is a no-brainer when it comes to designing an effective UX and keeping thumbs a-scrolling through your site. Make sure your site is mobile-responsive and your interface is conducive to a smooth, straightforward experience.
Keep Your Content Fresh
You might have nailed the user experience, but what if your content lacks focus, looks sloppy or comes across as inconsequential? Users are infinitely more likely to engage with content which is not only useful but also up-to-date, relevant and visually appealing, while regularly updated content will send a signal to search engines that your site is highly active.
Features like tutorials and how-to guides (particularly if you’re operating in a niche area) will provide insightful and highly-relevant content that marks your brand out as a trusted, knowledgeable resource and an authoritative voice in its field.
If your site includes a blog (using a website builder like WordPress, for example) make sure you’re regularly posting fresh, up-to-the-minute content. If your most recent article is titled “What’s This Brand New Thing Called Coronavirus?”, your site will appear dated and unloved, and your visitors (and search engines, too) will assume your content lacks value.
Keep It Secure
If a user lands on a site and they suspect it might not be genuine (potentially putting their personal data at risk) they’re going to shut down their browser in a nano-second. Giving your visitors the peace of mind that your site is a safe and secure place to browse will not only protect the integrity of your brand but also make them more likely to stick around.
If you’re using a modern full-service cloud hosting solution, cybersecurity will be included as a core feature, ensuring SSL certificates are in place, suspicious activity is monitored, data is end-to-end encrypted, and the security concerns of both browsers and website visitors are satisfied. There’s not much you need to do beyond this aside from promote that security.
If you’re not, and you’re running your site on WordPress (as is likely), you should seriously consider migrating. There’s likely a plugin that can handle your move to one of the fastest WordPress hosting services (such as Cloudways, which has an official WordPress Migrator), so there’s no great reason to avoid it if you’re committed to improving your infrastructure.
Make Your Pages Scannable
It’s widely acknowledged that internet users don’t view online content in the same way they would newspapers, magazines or journals. They’ll rarely read every word on a page: instead they’ll scan it in an F-shaped pattern, looking for words and phrases related to the solution they’re trying to find or the task they’re attempting to carry out.
Taking this into consideration, it’s important to scrutinize the layout of every page on your website, ensuring it’s easily scannable, specific (keeping to one subject is advisable) and concise. When a user lands on your site, they should instantly be able to skim the content and see they’re in the right place.
If your content is rambling, text-heavy or poorly laid out, the user won’t be able to click the ‘back’ button fast enough. It’ll take a matter of seconds for them to decide your page isn’t offering them a clear solution to their query.
Incredibly, one third of the time internet users spend online goes towards watching videos. With that in mind, video can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to engaging your audience for longer. You need only be willing to take some risks by putting time into an unfamiliar format.
Whether you upload how-to guides, brand stories, behind-the-scenes exposés, product demos, expert interviews or user testimonials, remember to keep your video content on-brand (it should be consistent with your company’s image and tone of voice), snappy and to-the-point, otherwise users are likely to switch off in more ways than one.
And if you want to go a step further, brands like IKEA (via their IKEA Place app) are now offering augmented reality (AR) experiences that blend computer-generated content with the real world, helping customers to visualize how they’d use products before they buy them.
Offer Speedy Customer Service
One of the quickest ways to cease a customer’s visit to your site is to make it nigh-on impossible for them to find a solution to an issue or a query. We’ve all been there; you’re being sent round in circles when all you want is to speak to an actual human being! It’s profoundly frustrating and usually a huge turn-off.
Ensuring you have a range of easily accessible how-to guides, FAQs and self-service options will often mean users can find their own answers, but they should also have a range of ways to contact you (a contact form, an email address or a direct phone number) if they need a more hands-on solution.
One of the most effective ways to keep an otherwise irate user on your site is by using live chat software. With live chat, a customer can instantly connect with an agent at the click of a button, avoiding the strain of confusing “press 1 for X” instructions and incessant hold music.
So, there you have it. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but among the relentless scramble for the attention of internet users, these six areas are key. Work on them steadily and you should see your engagement metrics moving in the right direction.