7 Strategies for Sustaining Your Audience and Turning Them Into Advocates

build-your-audiencePaid search. SEO. Social media marketing. Retargeting. All important elements to help drive traffic to your website. But what then. How do you keep them coming back, and more importantly, how do you turn them into brand evangelists? (And why does it matter?)

It was once said, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That is not the case on the World Wide Web. Keep your friends (visitors) close, and shower them with love and attention. You do this by providing them with what they came for in the first place, be it information, products, insights, or a chuckle. And, sometimes, by providing them with something they didn’t even KNOW they needed!

Here are a few simple things to keep in mind regarding your audience.

Keep Your Audience’s Attention By…

Personalizing their experience: The web is a messy place. There are so many options and so many sites vying for your attention. If you’ve been able to do the above things right (SEO, SEM, social, etc;), then you have started the uphill climb of obtaining visitors – and getting them to come back. If they’re new, show them a message about what is most currently relevant or trending and you stand a better chance of keeping them engaged and on site longer. If they’re coming back, show them content based on what you already know about them. Do they like sports, did the come from a promotional email? If only there was a tool that helped you do this! By showing the right message to the right person at the right time you’ve started the conversation with a leg up.

Showcasing what’s new and what’s popular: Create content that is engaging and informative. We’ve gone into this in detail a while back regarding your content strategy, and it still holds true with both returning and new visitors. We recently talked about evergreen content on your blog. But coming up with new content keeps your site fresh and makes visitors coming back to your site. If you’re selling products, don’t keep your homepage the same product week in and week out – highlight popular products, sales or seasonal lines. A nice combination of knowing what’s a “best seller” vs. “new and relevant” is key.

Creating a good UX: Make things easy to find. Once upon a time websites were all about putting everything on the homepage so that it was easy to find. But that’s confusing and not really a good user experience at all. Instead, treat this as an opportunity to engage with your audience. Ask them WHAT they want and pay attention to how THEY use your site. We do this with almost all decisions we make and it’s a truly valuable exercise to go through when getting ready to make a large decision regarding your website.

Ask Them to Help You Grow Your Audience By….

Getting them on your email list: Ask both new and returning visitors to subscribe to your email distribution list so they can keep up with what’s going on with your company. Promotions, weekly updates, tips, trends, etc. It’s one of the easiest ways you can engage with a highly qualified audience. Use AddThis Audience Targeting to help target the right message based on how they got to your site and their interests.

Encouraging your visitors to share: As you can imagine, I frequent a LOT of websites. My colleagues do as well… and we circulate the ones we like with each other because we’re friends here… and friends share. Happy visitors to your site and users of your product will let other people know about it (and this goes both ways, if they aren’t happy, chances are they moments away from tweeting about it). Give your visitors a chance with each interaction to share a product or piece of content they like and be sure to update your profiles to keep them engaged on your social sites as well as your regular site.

Turn Them into Brand Advocates By…

Showing them you care: It’s easy to get wrapped up in social media. Between Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube… the list goes on and on. But when used well it can be a very good indicator of what your users want, how they interact, and what they think of you. We get a lot of signal from our Twitter feed regarding new features and blog posts. On the flip side, we use our Instagram account to mostly talk about corporate events and life at AddThis. But influencers on social media can be huge advocates for your brand and, essentially, an extension of your marketing team. Treat them nicely. Send them a sticker to thank them. Tag them in a post with a high five. It’s a simple act that shows you care. But don’t friend everyone that friends you. Some people are not that nice (remember the enemies quote above) and can become a major time suck on social media. Try to respond and engage with people who you think are genuinely looking to give you feedback in a constructive way – not those that are trying to be destructive. Remember, a large follower list is just a list if it’s not quality followers.

Launching a referral program: There are a lot of simple ways to thank users for being supportive of you and a referral program is a way to do that the benefits you as well. A basic referral program is when one of your users recommends someone they know to use your product, and they use a code that indicates they came from that recommendation (or referral). The referrer gets a gift (dollar amount, credit to their account, gift card, etc;) and the referee starts using your tools which gives them an opportunity to join the referral program. The best thing about a referral program is that the new user is coming from a trusted source and can be considered a highly qualified user.

What are some other ways you’re building and retaining a good audience?