Keeping website users engaged is difficult even during normal times. You have to compete for search result rankings with many websites.
When you put in so much effort into convincing users to visit your website, you want the visitors to stick around and also stay engaged. YOu want them to sign up for your newsletter, buy your products or service, fill out a quote. However, the attention span of a website visitor is getting shorter. Right now you have eight seconds.to convince them to stay
This short attention span is typically how long you have to convince users to stay. During the time of crisis, you might have even less time. People are anxious, stressed out, and more likely to look for news and information and may not be as interested in your services. So the chances of them sticking around are even less during stressful times. However, there are techniques you can use to improve visitor engagement, even during the COVID-19 crisis.
How COVID-19 Affects Internet Traffic
As more countries issue shelter-in-place orders, citizens are forced to use digital platforms for work, entertainment, and social interaction. Frequently, this means turning to the Internet and Internet-connected services.
Work from home often requires employees to be connected to remote servers. Being unable to visit family and friends means video calling. Rather than going to a movie or concert people are gaming and using streaming services. This has all added up to an increase in Internet usage, estimated at 50 to 70%. This includes streaming, which has increased by around 12%.
While many industries are struggling, digital and connected industries are benefiting. Many companies have had to place caps on bandwidth use just to meet customer demand. The eCommerce industry alone is expected to see around 5% growth in 2020, due to COVID-19 related purchasing. One upside to this pandemic is that it seems to be opening the door for significant growth throughout the digital sector.
Key Website Engagement Metrics
With people flocking online, now is an excellent time to gain new users and increase the loyalty of your existing customers. Differentiating your site or service now can help you increase your customer base in the future, and ensure that your site and business survive this crisis.
To ensure that you are maximizing engagement and providing the best possible experience for your users, you need to stay on top of your website performance. One way of doing this is to collect and analyze engagement metrics. These metrics can tell you how many visitors are coming to your site, what they are doing there, and provide insight into features that might be driving them away.
Valuable metrics to better understand your website performance include::
- Bounce rate—how many visitors visit your page and immediately leave, such as returning to Google. This metric can help you determine if your search engine brief or links to your site are misleading or uninformative.
- Pages per session—the number of pages on your site a visitor accesses. This metric can help you evaluate internal linking, page engagement values, and site navigability.
- Average session duration—how long visitors spend on your site. This metric can help you evaluate how engaging your site is, how effective your call to action is, and how efficient your UI is.
- Returning visitors—number of repeat visitors. This metric helps you understand your user base and can help you gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction.
How to Keep Visitors Engaged On Your Website During the COVID-19 Crisis
Current events, like the COVID-19 crisis, can play a big role in how engaging and useful your site is to visitors. These events can also provide you an opportunity to provide more useful content and to show users that your site is relevant to the here and now.
Below are a few strategies you can use to make your website more engaging regardless of what is going on.
Improve user experience (UX)
Make sure your site is easy to navigate and use should be a high priority. Even at the best of times, users are often unwilling to put up with annoyances and are likely to become frustrated by poor interfaces and experiences. When users are already stressed from current conditions they are likely to get frustrated even faster.
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One area of improvement you can focus on now is increasing user access to relevant products and features. For example, if you have a personal care website, you can move alcogel and lotion to the top of your inventory. You might also highlight videos showing proper hand-washing technique or add explanations of what products effectively kill viruses.
Share important information on the website and provide links to relevant resources. It shows your customers you care about what is happening and your community. Gaining trust and support from your customers is one of the best ways to build a brand. Take this opportunity and give something back. Your customers will remember and your business will benefit in a long run.
Your site should present a unified feeling for your brand. Using inconsistent fonts, colors, or menu styles is distracting and looks unprofessional. This consistency helps show your dedication to your site and gives users confidence in your reliability and professionalism.
This consistency should extend to COVID-related announcements and content as well. Do not rush to create a timely post and sacrifice the quality your users expect. This is also true if you want to display time-sensitive updates, such as shop status or support hours that are changing due to coronavirus. Make sure your notifications match your site style and aren’t intrusive.
And don’t forget to stay in touch using newsletters and social media channels. As many more people are staying home, they’re more likely to see your announcements. Use social media to stay engaged and be helpful.
Engaging with your users helps you build connections, Customer care and support is a powerful tool for increasing brand loyalty. This is especially true when it comes to site support and customer questions.
With decreased access to external shops and entertainment, you are likely to see more new users on your site. Some of these users may be entirely new to your services or web technologies and are likely to need help. Because of this, it’s important that you respond to customers promptly and go to extra efforts to help them.
Likewise, you should make sure that your contact information is up to date. If users are unable to reach you because your support numbers have changed or email addresses aren’t being checked due to reduced availability, you are likely to lose customers. Let your customers know you there to support them. Send them an email or post a message on your website telling them you are there if they need you.
Improve site performance
Many users expect sites to load quickly and smoothly. If they are streaming media, they want it delivered at the highest possible quality and with minimal buffering time. If shopping, they are going to get frustrated if payment processing times out or they are unable to purchase an item because it went out of stock while they were waiting for the checkout process to complete.
With more users online than ever before, you need to make adjustments to your site to ensure that performance remains consistent. Ideally, you want site performance to be better than your competitors. You may be able to achieve this by implementing a few optimizations, like lazy loading or compressing your media.
However, you may also need to upgrade your server and bandwidth capacity. To determine which is the case, check your current resources and see how your numbers compare to the visitors your site is seeing. If you are close to your limit, or over, consider upgrading.
During this time people are stressed and the sense of urgency is even more prevalent than during normal times. By making sure your site is fast and easily accessible you will help people find the information they need quickly, hopefully reducing their sense of frustration.
There are many around the globe who suffer from the consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are also industries and niches that are thriving. As demand for eCommerce and digital services increases, more room is created for new and existing businesses.
To help customers gain access to products and services, website owners must work on improving user experience and performance. You can also encourage engagement and create a personal connection between customers and your brand. Whichever engagement tactic you opt for, be consistent. This can help ensure that customers are well familiar with you, your brand, and the value you can offer them.