As the web continues to mature, the latest and greatest challenge is driving web engagement. Regardless of the platform on which content is consumed, the focus of the modern web is how to better engage the visitor as opposed to just driving the number of visitors up. This makes sense for obvious reasons as engagement serves as a key indicator for determining if you've correctly targeted your audience, increasing continued visitorship for brand loyalty, and consistent messaging. Web engagement is the new black.
While web engagement can take many forms, the most common is the cross correlation of content to provide visitors with information that is related to what they are currently viewing on your website. This is often talked about as an easy implementation but the truth is it's far more complicated than using taxonomys to correlate content. If you leverage a platform like Drupal or Magento this is an easier implementation, but doesn't change the need for custom blocks and the key definition set to be established.
Establishing a Definition Set
To establish a baseline of how you want related content to be associated you have to start at the highest level and work your way into the weeds. The best way to do this is to start with the overall objective and then get into what content is available or planned for you to associate to that objective. Remember that getting a visitor to view more than a single page is no easy task. This can be particularly challenging for professional services firms as everything can feel a bit "salesy". Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the end action I want a visitor to take? Are you clear on the overall goal you want a visitor to take on your website? It's quite possible that depending on where an individual lands on your website you may have multiple goals/actions to consider. It's best to keep this list short and concise. A better focus yields to better planning and increased opportunity for you to apply the correct amount of focus to continual refinement.
- What information is available to help facilitate that action/goal? If you don't have anything that helps facilitate the engagement you're looking fo,r you need to define what changes you're willing to make so that the reality matches the vision. You can't have engagement on a website that has little information to offer.
- What content would be compelling to your visitors? What information is compelling to the visitor based on your experiences on the particular subject matter? It's not what's interesting to you but rather to the visitor.
- Do you have different types of content to offer? This is a major sticking point for me. It's important that you diversify your content into different types as some people like to consume their information differently. Different content types as defined by me are PDFs, White Papers, Blog Posts, Case Studies, Videos, etc.
Into the Weeds - Further Establishing Definition Sets
Now we'll get into the weeds of establishing content relevancy and driving engagement. The series of questions listed above are more general to help get the process started. Once those are answered, we can talk about design and functionality. Here are some key questions to ask yourself to determine how the content correlation will actually work on your site:
- Does your design support the ability to create different blocks that allow for related content to be consumed?
- What is your configurability/control of those blocks?
- Do you want separate blocks for different content types or would you like to present related content in a grab bag that's contained within one block?
- How is the order of importance defined? Newest to Oldest? White Paper over PDF? Entirely date driven?
- Do you want the association of related content to be taxonomy driven for automation? If so, which individual tag for a piece of content is primary and how is the association defined?
- Do you want manual override control and how does that effect any automation you may have instituted?
- Is there a set number of items you want displayed or would you prefer flexibility to expand or reduce the number of items? Does your design support this?
- Who has control over assigning taxonomies? Do you want tiered taxonomy for greater controls in association of like content?
The above is just a sampling of some of the considerations that go into establishing like content and driving web engagement. There are plenty of use cases of successful and unsuccessful implementations of related content. The best part about the web is if it doesn't work you can continually make modifications to help drive better web engagement. Ensure you have strong tracking in place and set up custom funnel goals within your analytics to see if you're meeting with success.
If creating advanced analytic tracking isn't something you have time for, be sure to focus on the following statistics: visitor's time spent on your website and the number of pages viewed per visit. This should give an immediate metrics at a high level so that you'll at least know that some of the practices you've put in place are having an effect.