How to Create an Engaging Web Presence That Instantly Wins Customers
Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you have a web presence.
A website is a digital footprint of files, texts and images that tells users about your business. A web presence, on the other hand, is so much more than just having a website. It involves your brand story, your social media engagement, how you treat your site visitors and the value you provide for your long-time members and subscribers.
But why does it matter if you have an “engaging” web presence? Isn’t having a website enough? Well, if you’re reading this, then you already know the answer…
Why Web Presence Matters
Within three seconds, your website needs to tell visitors what value you have to offer, because studies also show that 96% of first-time visitors won’t return unless something on your site grabs their attention.
Not only does your website need to grab attention, it also needs to provide a certain level of value to users once they’ve been on it for more than three seconds. There are typically two reasons a visitor will stay on your site and engage with your company beyond the initial meet-and-greet:
1. The site itself has a great user experience
According to a report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), 77% of agencies believe that poor website user experience is the most significant weakness associated with their marketing efforts. “Poor website user experience” can include anything from poorly optimized mobile loading, slow loading times, missing or unclear information, confusing navigation and/or lack of search functionality. Great user experience would be the opposite: fast loading, easy to navigate and full of helpful calls-to-action.
Source: Experience Dynamics
2. Your brand has a deeper purpose
Chalk it up to the rise of social entrepreneurship, but people expect more out of the companies they follow these days than just being able to buy products or services. They want to engage with businesses that have a value for giving back to society or otherwise helping to improve the world.
Think of socially conscious companies like, Toms, Classy or Groceryships, as they all incorporate some level of charity into their business models, whether it's selling shoes, providing a service or simply delivering groceries.
Tips for Engaging Your Audience
So how do you create a web presence that not only incorporates a great user experience but also engages users on a deeper level? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Clean up Your Design
Unsurprisingly, 94% of a website’s first impression is design-related. And, according to Adobe, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain when given the time to consume content, and 38% of people will stop engaging a website if that content (or layout) is unattractive.
Basically, design matters. Use white space, sharp images and a minimalistic layout with an emphasis on usability (more tips here).
Engage with Mobile Users
Mobile usage is quickly growing, with 44% of adult consumers under 35 visiting websites on their mobile phones on a weekly basis. 85% of those adults believe that a company’s mobile site should be as good or better than their desktop site, too.
Create a Living Presence
They say that branding is everything, but branding is not just about showing your audience your logo and telling them your origin story. Branding is about creating what’s called a “living presence” – or an ever-growing and shifting glimpse into the deeper purpose of your company.
Remember, you don’t want to portray that message that you’re in the game just to make a quick buck. You want to show your visitors, subscribers and/or members that you’re made up of real humans who have their best interests at heart. The more socially conscious your story can be, the better.
Hydros Bottle, for example, sells environmentally friendly water bottles and not much else. But as soon as you visit their site, you know that their company is about more than just selling you a product.
Even their slogan — “The Movement to Fight the Global Water Crisis” – is less reminiscent of an e-commerce company and more inline with a major charity. If you need a good idea of what makes an awesome living presence, Turndog has a list of 50 companies with excellent brand stories.
Emphasize your Social Media
If you want a strong web presence, you need to do more than just create a Facebook page and call it a day. You’ll also want to branch out into more engaging networks like Instagram and Snapchat, or even video-based channels like Vine or Periscope.
Of course, social media engagement isn’t just about having profiles on those sites. You actually have to connect with your users on a daily basis. Companies like Slingshot, LLC, for example, use their Instagram to share about events, show snapshots of customers and provide a visual representation of the daily workings of their company.
Include Engaging Content
Even if your business is well designed and socially engaging, you still need to provide something of value in order to truly be digitally engaging.
A few ways to create engaging content for your users include:
Starting a blog or forum. Use your knowledge base (or the knowledge base of your users!) to provide helpful topics and articles that provide added value.
Have expert Q&A. This can be in the form of a webinar, an article or a live Q&A session (Periscope is the perfect social platform for a live-streaming event like that, FYI).
Send out a newsletter or email course. A newsletter or email course is basically like a valuable blog post that goes directly to your subscribers. There’s no waiting for them to find you because you’re bringing the content directly to them.
Develop an ebook or guide. How-to guides are very popular, and you can put together a short e-book, a downloadable PDF or even a how-to video on YouTube for your visual crowd.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate content to your site, just remember to make sure that your content is actually helpful for your target audience and not just there to fill space.
Web presence isn’t just about having a website out there in the digital universe, it’s about what that website has to offer potential users. You want to make sure you have a clean and engaging design to snag the attention of first-time visitors, but that you also have content that keeps their attention once they’ve landed on your homepage.
You should also consider crafting a brand story that not only shows the origins of your business, but that lets potential customers or members know that you’re thinking about more than just yourself – you’re looking to add value to the world at large.
Joanne is a writer who specializes in educating online site owners about building a thriving membership business.