[Audience Engagement] 3 Ways to Keep Your Readers

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You've worked hard to bring in the traffic, now you need to keep it.
You’ve worked hard to bring in the traffic, now you need to keep it.

It’s a big enough challenge driving traffic to your site. The last thing you want to happen once they get there is a hasty retreat. But it’s possible that your very best efforts to grow your website could be driving away business.

Keeping readers engaged and coming back requires a positive experience. You don’t like visiting websites that are more trouble then they’re worth, and neither does anyone else. The trick to audience engagement is figuring out what your readers want, and making it happen.

Here are three of the biggest annoyances, and ways to avoid them and keep your readers:

Clumsy or Confusing Navigation

If readers aren’t sure what to do next, they’re a lot more likely to go somewhere else after reading what they came for. They might not even make it that far.

Make things easier, not harder; simpler, not more complex. When your audience has to look for navigational elements, they may or may not find them. You can’t assume that because you know where to find everything, your audience does, too.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways Personal Essays Stir Up Audience Engagement

Navigational suggestions and links clustered in one place help simplify the user experience. If that’s not feasible, at least ensure all navigation elements are obvious and presented in clear terms. No one needs a fancy ”next page” button; they do need to know where to find it.

Make Comments More Interactive

Comments aren’t anything new, but interactive comments make your audience part of the story. Companies such as LiveFyre help you turn your comments section from a string of messages into active audience engagement and conversations.

Time Magazine uses LiveFyre, as do many other well-known publications. When a user wants to comment, login looks something like this:

LiveFyre logins showing social media connection for audience engagement
LiveFyre brings social media into your comments.

Interactive comments bring social media into your website. Users log in before commenting, which removes any anonymity. They can use Twitter or Facebook logins, and they can also tag their friends. When your audience feels like they are part of the whole experience, they’ll want to continue the conversation by coming back to see what others have to say. Bonus: The social media aspect drives even more traffic to your site.

Here an Ad, There an Ad, Everywhere an Ad-Ad

Ads are part of the reality of revenue. Although resistance is growing stronger, and is assisted by ad-blocking software, they still help bring in necessary revenue. And not all ads are viewed as a nuisance, anyway.

But when readers are bombarded with ads and need an obtrusive amount of time to click out of pop-ups just to view the first page of your site, you’re going to lose visitors. When an oversized ad slides down the screen and blocks your content, and then takes time to load, that can be even worse.

Without revealing the source, this is exactly what you don’t want your readers to see. Underneath that ad — that’s what you want to see:

Drop-down ads may hinder audience engagement
Oversize drop-down ads cover up your content.

Until you perfect better way to generate revenue, you’re going to need ads. Just don’t wreck the user experience with them. If something besides your content holds all of your prime website real estate, it’s a lose/lose/lose situation. Your readers are distracted away from your brilliant material, your advertisers aren’t getting clicks because the audience is annoyed, and ultimately you lose revenue.

If you want a genuine idea of whether your site is more annoying than informative, visit it with fresh eyes. Only then will you know whether you need to scale back on the ads you’ve got and focus more on the user experience.

Keeping site visitors is as critical as getting them in the first place. You want them to stick around, view more pages, spend more time, make comments, and share with others on social media. That’s not going to happen unless they like what they see.

Once you identify snags that are interfering with the user experience, you can scale back and rework what you’ve got. But the only way to do that is with an honest and unbiased eye.

A slew of ads and fancy layout might read as profit and art to you, but to a user, they often stand between them and the stuff they want — your unique content. Keep it simple, and everyone wins.

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