My friend Tim Frick has recently published a great book about online engagement called: Return on Engagement.
Surely you’ve heard of ROI before, but what about ROE? ROE stands for Return on Engagement and that is exactly what Tim’s book is about.
Below are ten tips from Return on Engagement: Content, Strategy and Design Techniques for Digital Marketing to help you build credibility and ultimately foster engagement with customers, connections, community members, and so on.
Fostering online engagement that yields tangible results can be as simple as starting a conversation on someone’s blog or as complex as building and promoting a web application.
All the elements that make up your digital footprint–your website, social networking profiles, shared videos, blog feeds, email marketing campaigns, tweets, and so on–should work in tandem with one another to present a consistent brand image and build engagement with people in your network.
If the goal is to remain relevant in an online world where buying power and the ability to make or break brands resides in the hands of users, one does so by consistently providing content that people need and connecting with them in as personal a manner as possible.
1. Keyword Tip
A combination of broad term (e.g. ‘MP3 Player’) and long tail (e.g. ‘iPod Touch 3G’) keywords and phrases peppered throughout your written content can help search engines better understand your content and serve it up in search results.
Just remember not to overdo it. Keyword density over 8 to 10% of total word count may not only penalize your pages with search engines, but could come off sounding unnatural to readers as well.
2. Design Tip
Reading gravity is the natural pattern our eye takes when viewing or reading a page, typically top left to bottom right (a concept also known as The Gutenberg Rule).
Design your pages with this in mind, putting items with strong brand identity such as logos and important content headers at top left and calls-to-action at bottom right.
3. Content Tip
Using a content management system (CMS) will not only help simplify the process of making site updates, but since regular content updates tend to incite search engine crawls, it could help your site’s ranking as well.
Plus, people are infinitely more likely to return to a website that they know is regularly updated versus one that is static. Drupal, WordPress, Expression Engine, Pixelsilk, Plone and Joomla are just a few of many options available.
4. Blog Tip
Comments spam is one of a blogger’s biggest nightmares. Using plug-ins such as Disqus, WP Spam Free, Captcha and Akismet on your blog can stop spammers in their tracks and help entry comments serve their intended purpose of exchanging ideas and connecting people.
5. Syndication Tip
If your site has large amounts of video content, Google will let you submit a Media RSS (mRSS) feed as a video sitemap. An mRSS feed has RSS 2.0 features plus the addition of media-specific metadata that helps search engines better categorize your media content and serve it up in more relevant results pages, leading to a better experience for users trying to find specific information.
6. Email Tip
Using Google Analytics‘ Campaign feature and URL Builder to include GA-specific links in your email campaigns will allow you to track user traffic from the moment they click on a link in their email to show pages per visit, average time on site, percentage new visits, and bounce rate.
This will give you valuable information on levels of user engagement, allowing you to provide more relevant content to those people in future mailings.
7. Social Media Tip
If social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are too ‘all-purpose’ for your needs and you can’t find a niche social site that serves your community, create your own. Ning, a hosted social network creation site, has been around for a while, but others–like Social Engine, BuddyPress, and Pligg, for instance–allow you to quickly build social sites on your own domain with custom design, architecture and features.
8. SMO Tip
Social Media Optimization (SMO), content marketing, call it what you will. At the end of the day it’s all about content in context, so put the extra effort in to make your content work specifically for the medium in which it is being deployed.
Conversations tend to work differently on Facebook than they do on Twitter, for example, so take that into consideration before starting one. Knowing where your audience is and the dynamics for interacting with them across multiple platforms will make a world of difference in their level of engagement.
9. Web Video Tip
Tools like Blip.tv and Tubemogul have allowed you to upload once and distribute your video content to multiple destinations for quite some time now. To date, these tools have been limited to a few dozen sites.
In April 2010 Tubemogul released Destinations, a publishing suite that automates video transcoding and uploading to any site, including niche video sites, custom FTP sites, content delivery networks, cable outlets, and so on, vastly increasing potential audiences for your content. Just remember that content engagement will increase exponentially if the videos you post are relevant to the community site to which you post them.
10. ROE Tip
Returns come in many forms–financial, personal, communal, and so on. The best way to figure out your own return is to start measuring the results of your efforts. There are hundreds of analytics tools that will give you metrics data on everything from site performance to blog traffic and your influence in social media.
Start using them. Web apps like Woopra, Google Analytics, Compete and Adobe’s Omniture will help you analyze site traffic patterns while Social Mention, YackTrack, Tweetmeme and others will help you track conversations across the social web. Google’s Blog Search, BlogPulse and Trendpedia will do the same for blogs.
I’m sure these 10 tips for return on engagement are more than enough to convince you that Tim seriously knows his stuff. So what are you waiting for? Go to Amazon and buy Tim’s awesome book!