Naturally, humans are creatures of habit. We visit the same restaurants, stick to the same daily commute and speak to the same people on a regular basis. According to a recent report developed by Hootsuite, people spend an average of two and a half hours on social media each day, browsing the same feeds and reacting to the same media brands.
So what exactly does this have to do with your company’s website? To put the answer simply: shaping those repetitive user behaviors on your site can help your brand build a loyal online community.
NiemLab published an article detailing how to turn subscribers into loyal followers based on their habits. In the article, NiemLab outlines how The Wall Street Journal tracked the actions of new members during the first 100 days after subscribing, and then used the data to create an engagement strategy that would improve retention rates.
“We know that publishers are focused on habit formation,” explains Dan Seaman, Viafoura’s product director for engagement tools. “All the definitions of loyalty are starting to converge around habit signals. A company’s website engagement strategy should be adjusted based on those behaviors.”
Loyalty is fueled by habit. This means that in order to convert website visitors and subscribers to loyal brand followers, each company must create a unique strategy to improve user engagement habits.
The Wall Street Journal also found that the top trends in retention were driven by habits: repeated visits to a website section, reading regularly-published content and interacting with more passive media like video.
To help kick off your own company’s retention strategy, our engagement specialists suggest following a few best practices:
Gather as much raw data as possible
Before you can begin suggesting new ways to engage and re-engage website visitors, you need to have a thorough understanding of their regular behaviors.
To do so, be sure you have a way to gather raw data — in a secure, lawful way — resulting from every onsite action, including subscriptions, app or information downloads and other forms of website engagement. You can then analyze your data to gain valuable information on the habits of your company’s online community.
Maximize the opportunity for interaction
“It’s not just newsletters and content itself that drives loyalty,” states Seaman. “It turns out that there’s a broad range of actions people take and habits they form that contribute to retention.”
In other words, it’s important to serve up plenty of tools and features right on your website to engage your online community over and over again.
As Viafoura’s product manager, Mehrad Karamlou, explains, one of the key takeaways from The Wall Street Journal’s study is that “the first 100 days after a person’s first interaction with your company is your opportunity to re-engage them.”
Give your website visitors the opportunity to interact with your company in multiple ways during that impressionable period. After all, boosting engagement is a great way to boost retention.
Include a social layer on your site
Adding a safe and well-managed social layer to your website, where users can share information with one another, is a great way to encourage ongoing interactions from visitors.
Tools that enable meaningful conversations include real-time chat, live blogging & commenting, site-wide moderation, community management and push notifications. They help to ensure that people interacting on your owned and operated digital properties are forming meaningful connections with your brand.
At the end of the day, every brand is completely different and will need to create a unique strategy to build loyal visitors.