You’ve decided to put your home up for sale. You’ve hired a realtor and she’s scheduled an open house for the coming weekend (paid search). Your listing is up on Realtor.com (content syndication). You’ve emailed friends and family, asking them to spread the word (email to the house list [pun intended]).
You cleaned and dusted and even got the kids to tidy up their playroom. You planted new flowers out front and have chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. A stream of guests enters through the front door.
This makes you very happy. You invested countless hours fixing the house and building that extra bedroom. You can now rest comfortably knowing that it was a sound investment. But wait! Visitors to your open house want to chat with your “nosy neighbors,” to ask them what the neighborhood is like.
You see, the house is only for viewing. Conversations are “not supported here.” You and the neighbors will have to go elsewhere to converse.
Your Website is Your Home
It’s no wonder they call it your “homepage.” In the analogy (above), your home is your website. The visitors to your open house are sales prospects. Sales prospects wish to converse with your customers? Sure! Just visit the customer community (it resides on an island). I’ll give you directions on how to get there (this usually involves a few extra clicks and/or another tab in your browser).
Don’t let this happen to you! People visiting your site should have the opportunity to engage with you right then and there. Let’s consider five reasons customer engagement should happen directly on your website.
1) You capture them in the moment.
In other words, “strike when it’s hot.” You’d never make open house visitors leave your home in order to ask questions to the realtor. If you did, most would leave, forget the question and never return. The result? A lost sale. Same goes for your website. The best time to engage with a visitor is while they’re actively engaged on your site. Managed to gain a visitor’s attention? Now, hold and sustain it.
2) Your engagement data is consolidated.
You have a sign-in sheet for your open house. Since questions were not permitted during their visit, you’ll have to drive over to the realtor’s office to get the sheet with visitors’ questions. That’s two sets of data that you need to manage. When you engage with visitors directly on your website, you have a single set of data. This makes it far easier to understand your visitors’ (customers or prospects) needs. You can analyze their navigation through your site, along with interactions they had with others.
3) You increase the likelihood of “high value actions.”
“High value actions” are those that create value to your organization: submitting a “contact me” form, downloading pricing information, requesting a free trial, registering for a webinar. Where do these high value actions take place? On your website, of course. If you take visitors “off” your website, they may never return. Your best chance of generating a high value action is during the current visit! Chances increase even further after visitors have a meaningful interaction on your site (e.g. finding an answer in a discussion thread). So keep them on your site, let them engage there and value will be created.
4) You provide a single user experience.
Imagine trying to re-create the look and feel of your home in another venue. You’d find it very challenging to do. Similarly, you could spend a lot of time customizing an online community site to have the same look and feel of your website. But after all the time you spent, it’s just not the same. When you provide customer engagement on your site, it’s a single user experience. In addition, registered users have a single destination (your site), a single login and a single password. One user experience.
5) You (nearly) guarantee that visitors find what they’re looking for.
It’s true: some websites are organized in such a way that it’s hard to find things. I don’t have an easy solution to that, which is why I wrote “nearly guarantee” (above). But consider this: what happens when visitors need to find a pricing sheet, FAQ or product documentation? If they’re “off” your site, they may never find it. If they’re already on your site, on the other hand, they will. Nearly guaranteed.
You spend a lot of time and energy to drive visitors to your website: SEO, paid search, blog posts, inbound links and more. Once visitors land on your page, you’re busy optimizing metrics such as time on site, time on page and pages viewed per visit. Your navigation is perfect and your content is optimized. So what do you do when your visitor is ready to engage with you? That’s right: make it happen, right then and there. Welcome home.
About the Author
Dennis is Director of Content Marketing at DNN (@DNNCorp), where he’s focused on product and content marketing. Dennis is a contributing author to the book “42 Rules of Product Marketing” and is a frequent contributor to the DNN blog. Feel free to reach out to Dennis via email, email@example.com or find him on Twitter, @dshiao.