Only 21.2% of Websites Track Audience Conversions and Engagement–Don’t Be One of Them!

Only 21.2% of Websites Track Audience Conversions and Engagement–Don’t Be One of Them!

  • A J-Lab survey shows that only 78.8% of all online news websites track audience engagement.
  • It’s highly important, for 88% of poll participants, to engage their readers as story sources.
  • To engage audiences through your written content, appeal to their emotions, speak to them one-to-one, and create unique insights.

A recent survey of local online news publications, undertaken by the prestigious J-Lab revealed that 21.2% of respondents don’t track audience conversions. Conversion, in the world of recent, local event journalism, can mean one of the several things—ranked by order of importance, as follows:

  • Crowdsourcing tips and leads for upcoming stories: deemed important by 88% of participants;
  • Having website visitors contribute stories or pictures: important for 77% of respondents;
  • Turning visitors into brand ambassadors: important for 66% of respondents, but not applicable to 16% of them;
  • Convincing visitors to donate: important for 55%, not applicable to 27%;
  • Convincing visitors to pay for a subscription: important for 25%, but not applicable to 47% of surveyed websites.

Volunteering, contributing, donating, commenting, and advertising are all legitimate conversions in the world of news websites, and such actions can be delimited into two discrete categories: social capital investments and monetary investments.

Although in the world of commercial websites, becoming a brand ambassador (i.e. investing social capital) comes at a different point in the sales funnel than an actual purchase, the parallel is valid. That’s why today’s post focuses on audience conversions and engagement strategies—regardless of the type of website you (or your client) run.

Only 21.2% of Websites Track Audience Conversions and Engagement. Don't be one of them!

Image source: page 11 of J-Lab’s Online Audience Engagement report

5 tested-and-true audience engagement strategies

The same Engaging Audiences report cited above also asked respondents if (and if yes, how) they engaged with the audience. The 227 respondents were first queried on whether they partake in:

  • Producing emotionally appealing content–this was favored by 64.3% of the respondents, while many of the remaining 35.7% said they purposely try to avoid voicing specific stances on subjects;
  • Engaging the community in telling its own ‘master narrative’–68% of respondents said their coverage does this, though it is not necessarily rooted in this;
  • Mapping the assets of their community–although this is a strategy that many social scientists cite for its empowering potential, only 29% of respondents engage in this and many don’t understand the term.

Then, the researchers looked at over 1,300 comments that described the respondents’ favorite tools for engagement. These were:

  • Facebook (and other social media), to draw traffic to the publications’ websites;
  • Offline events, like in-person meeting, to help coagulate the community around topical events;
  • Good quality, in-depth journalistic content, which stands to spark meaningful commentary.

So, what is the key takeaway for the astute B2B online marketer from all this? One possible answer has to do with the strategies one can implement, in order to connect with your audience on a relevant emotional level. Here are five techniques that have been known to work:

1. Appeal to emotion

This point has been drilled to death, but, like any demonstrable fact, it bears repeating. Actionable emotions, like joy, pride, and even anger, will generate engagement. There’s one survey which says people feel more connected to brands alongside which they experience fear. And, of course, if you can make them laugh, cry, or show them how your CSR/charity work proves your power of empathy, you will definitely win them over.

B2B Emotional marketing

Image source: Executive Board

2. Write to please one person

It was the great novelist Kurt Vonnegut that devised this principle of great writing, but it holds just as true for marketing and corporate blogging. Don’t write as if you were shouting from a bullhorn to the anonymous masses—they’ll sniff you out and resent you for depersonalizing them. Instead, envision sitting down with your clients for a good, home-cooked dinner, and speak to them from right across the table. This sense of intimacy is bound to foster engagement.

3. The hot topic

Ask your audience questions on topics you know are relevant to them (analytics and referral traffic research will provide you with a good starting list). Have them tell you your opinion and watch your content plan get filled up with good ideas. Your ultimate goal in asking questions, which you can do both via social media (Facebook polls, Reddit threads, Quora, etc.), is to get the opportunity to say “Wow, great idea. I think your question deserves its own blog post answer.”

4. Be the expert

Your audience needs an expert in your niche. They want decisive stances, backed up by statistics, research, and data culled from your own business experience. They don’t want someone who says “I think it might be like this…”, but an objective voice, who’s done their empirical research. Be that firm, resolute voice, and they will learn to trust you.

5. Give them your insights

Make sure these observations and conclusions are uniquely your own, tailored to cater to the interests of your audience. People are huge fans of exclusive, one-of-a-kind deals—and that’s precisely what you’ll be serving them: a perspective, which is so entirely yours, that your competitors couldn’t replicate it, even if they tried. For further reading on this topic, check out the concept of youtility.