User engagement is everything. It’s quite a direct statement to make, but at the end of the day, that’s what it really comes down to.
When someone is using the internet, they are doing so for three different reasons:
- To buy something
- To find information
- To be entertained
If your site content or service isn’t catering to exactly what your audience is looking for, then they will leave within a few seconds and likely never come back.
Unfortunately, this is something that happens millions of times per day across millions of sites on the internet. Too much emphasis is being placed on creating content and not enough on personalizing content.
With user engagement, interests and browsing habits being collected and tracked more than ever before… websites and blogs of all sizes should be using this data to improve user experience through site content, navigation, calls-to-action, and user intent.
Here are some useful tools, solutions, and tips on how to improve your site personalization.
1. Personalized search and browsing
One of the very first forms of personalized content many of us will remember is Google AdSense. Publishers seeking to monetize websites with the advertising platform would place a line of code and start delivering ad content to audiences based on trackable information that Google had on the user. Today this is much more advanced, but this simple introduction to personalized advertising and content paved the way to what we are now seeing today at scale.
It’s easy for Google to come up with relevant content to surface for their users since they are working with billions of keywords and articles from their directory. If someone was to perform a search on your site or blog, what type of results would they see?
AddSearch is a solution that is focusing its efforts on personalized search results for sites of all sizes – using previous behavior and browsing activity. As mentioned earlier, depending on the type of site you have and the amount of data you are working with, the results from your personalized search results will vary.
Below you can see an example of what is possible when someone makes repeat visits to your site and how their browsing activity is monitored.
Through the use of AddSearch’s sophisticated, managed solutions, site owners have 100% control over the personalization settings, triggers, and weights for the content or ad placements. At the same time, personalization settings can be influenced by user views, clicks to different pages, or the way they search on your site and previous buying history.
As you can imagine, this type of personalized site experience works great for content sites but even better for eCommerce sites that can track and break down user profiles based on purchases, ROI, and sales conversions.
2. Chatbots and chat boxes
If you’ve been making the rounds through any SaaS or eCommerce sites lately, you are probably seeing a fair amount of them with “live agents” or AI-powered chatbots on their site.
Sometimes these might seem annoying, but for someone who is contemplating whether or not they want to spend money on a purchase, they are perfect for that immediate engagement without needing to look for more information, sending an email or calling support.
As pointed out by InformationAge, chatbots and chat support both play a key role in improving customer engagement, retention and experience – however, they aren’t required on all sites, and if used incorrectly, they could actually hurt user experience.
In order for a chatbot or platform to work efficiently on your site, it needs to improve the experience for the end-user. The last thing you want is to have someone use your chat feature, only to be annoyed and never come back again.
3. Remarketing on social and search
As mentioned earlier in the first point, Google was one of the first companies to really dive into the aspect of customized ads with their AdSense program. However, this wasn’t their only advancement in this area.
Remarketing, which is the concept of delivering ads to an audience after they have completed a task (such as visiting your site, joining a mailing list, or clicking a link), is something they’ve really developed over time as well.
For example, if you have a free trial of software on your site that you didn’t upgrade yet, you might see ads for that same software or application on YouTube. I know I am getting blasted with Grammarly ads all the time as a result of it!
However, more than anything else, this should just be a clear example of why and how remarketing ads work so well. From a user engagement standpoint, this is providing value back to the end-user by showing them ads that are relevant to what they’ve already acted on or didn’t complete the first time around – and they work extremely well when being served through Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
You can see a winning example below of an ad one might see from BestBuy after someone purchased or viewed a mobile case on their site. This is relevant because they either didn’t complete the purchase the first time around or might have viewed a similar product.
The important thing to remember here is that remarketing doesn’t always need to be focused on trying to make the sale. Since we are focused on user engagement, there are plenty of ways to create custom ad copy and landing pages that simply ask the user if they found what they were looking for, how you can provide more value, and simply making the end user feel appreciated.
4. Personalized content recommendations
Something every content creator and blogger can relate to is the “recommended articles” section that appears on the sidebar of most websites and blogs. These are often your best articles and content, but they might not really be the best for everyone coming to your site.
By tapping into data signals from audience behavior and site usage, the ability is now there to actually serve personalized content recommendations on an individual basis and not just a one-to-all scenario.
As you can see, Inc. has been using these methods for a while now – while also often using third-party ad serving solutions to accomplish it. But keep in mind, there are many different third-party solutions and WordPress plugins to bring this process in-house as well.
Other personalization recommendations featured within this same article include retargeting on social media and one-on-one conversations through Facebook or on-site chat.
5. Emails catered to your audience’s needs
User engagement doesn’t stop at your website or social media, but it continues throughout the life of your relationship with the end-user as well.
With most people having a shorter attention span than ever before, site owners are going to find people searching for something in Google, ending up on their site, then leaving and maybe visiting again through their mobile device. It’s this type of sporadic behavior that makes a more personalized experience required. Another great way to accomplish this is through the use of email marketing and tailored mailings.
Gone are the days when mass emails were effective. With so many options in place for split testing, list segmentation and creating autoresponders based on the actions of your audience, each step is getting us closer to a more personalized experience.
As pointed out in this article from CampaignMonitor, email personalization comes in many forms, which can range from using personal names; different ad copy based on gender, buying habits and account stats; and follow-ups based on actions and purchases made.
For site owners and content creators, generic email list hosting solutions might seem like they are good enough, but when you start looking at how to really improve your ROI and engagement, a lot is being left on the table.
Making site personalization easier
There is no doubt about it, machine learning and AI are both playing bigger roles in our lives every day. It also seems like more websites are “asking for our permission” on each visit to provide us with “better experiences.”
Before new regulations and laws came into effect, this was already being done to some extent without permission. But surprisingly, people are quite open to the concept of having their online browsing habits and actions be monitored so they can have a more personalized and engaging experience.
Now the question is, will your brand be taking the leap to provide your audience with a better experience – or will it be seen as just another generic site that treats everyone like the same person?