Getting people to engage with your website, blog, or social media outlets online can be tricky especially if you are selling “boring products.” Engagement is the third part in my series of posts about marketing boring products online. My first post was about how to find customers for boring products, and my second post was about how to start sharing content with your customers. This post leads into how to engage your customers through your online marketing channels.

There are lots of strategies to engage customers online. I am going to go over some of the most popular and my favorites: blogging, reports, contests, questions, comments, and infographics.

Blogging is Dead
There always seems to be news that blogging is dying and companies don’t need to participate for one reason or another. It is great news if your competition believes that blogging is dead. Blogs build your brand online, provide search engine optimization value, and help establish your company’s identity. Without a doubt, blogs are one of the best ways to engage customers. People who are potential customers want to know about your company and why they should be paying for your product or services. A blog is an easy way to publish content about your company and industry. Especially if your product is very technical and boring, a blog can show how your company is a leading expert source of information. Becoming an expert online takes time, but it is well worth the benefits. Once established as an expert, people will look to your company’s guidance and want to engage all the time.

Sharing Reports
Recently, a client asked me to do research on Gartner’s marketing for my clients industry. Gartner is a public company and is great at marketing boring consulting services. How? Gartner produces a great deal of detailed white papers and reports about industries that spark public engagement. For example, in a press release, Gartner released detailed information from its expert analysis on the mobile phone industry. The press release is shared and referenced on pretty much every large technology publication and lots of mobile phone related technology publications. Understandably, not every company is as large as Gartner, but if you have some expertise to share you can get people to engage with your content.

Remember like the Gartner example, the purpose is not to advertise directly, but to provide value via content to your target customer. Sending press releases directly about the company or product can work, although it is not what I am discussing in this post.

Holding Contests
Who doesn’t like to win stuff? Contests are one of the oldest tricks in the book, but they work. Giving away stuff will get your prospective customers to give you their information and engage with your company.

Questions
Ask questions all over the web, whether on social media channels, blog posts, forums, or comments on other blogs, etc. Asking questions is a great way to generate natural engagement. A great San Diego breakfast restaurant, the Big Kitchen Cafe, likes to post fun questions on their Facebook page. Here is a screen shot of a recent question that they asked:

inspire-engagement-with-facebook

This Facebook post is a great example of posting a question to generate engagement and make their followers think about their brand.

Questions and Comments
One of my favorites is asking other industry experts questions on their blog posts. This is a bit more tricky, but it can be very effective. To start, you usually have to follow the expert’s blog and comment often, so they recognize your comments. Well placed questions on a blog post can spin out an expansive conversation thread and even inspire new blog posts. Other readers (who should be your target customers) will read the comments and click your name (which should be linked to your business).

Infographics
By far infographics are my favorite form of content to spark engagement. Here is an infographic about infographics from Think Brilliant.

Infograph-about-infographs

How do you inspire engagement?

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Who is really ‘reading’ a blog?

Posted by Arshya on Monday Sep 5, 2011

How many of us really read an entire blog and how many of us expect others to read every sentence of our blog? Think about it…who is really ‘reading’ a blog?

As usual, this meant asking myself the question before I write about it. If I spent time reading an entire blog during work hours, in between meetings, I would probably finish no more than four blogs per day. To then actually read a blog, digest what it’s saying and give an opinion about it might mean that the count would come down to about 2 or 3 blogs per day. So when I tweet or RT a blog that I think is ‘interesting to share’, really, my question is – how many of us really ‘read’ a blog before we share it?

Has the new-age of short tweets and updates made it tough for us to give our attention span to anything for longer than a couple of seconds? When we skim through a blog – do we really digest what it’s saying and read it entirely to understand a writers view? Probably not.

This brings me to a very basic topic that has been discussed plenty of times – ‘the art of writing’. This art has been engraved within us from school’s essay writing competitions to university’s dissertations.

However, I believe what we need is the ‘art of writing for this new-age audience.’ The lack of attention span that we have from our audiences can make them yawn all over a completely ‘content rich’ blog!

We need to almost re-learn know how to get maximum eye contact between our words and our readers.

So what makes me read a blog?

1) The topic… needs to be ‘Kick Ass’.

Sure we know that already, nothing new about this right? The reason I brought this up is because I am tired of seeing “10 best ways” “10 top tips” “10 strategies”. To really kindle my interest, I’d prefer topics like “blogging is dead…if” “Social media is useless…”. The point I am trying to make is that get out of the box and really make the topic tough to not click on.

2) Reduce the length of each paragraph

After a couple of sentences, your reader ‘will’ try to move on to the next paragraph. Why…simply because, in a reader’s mind, a new paragraph is adding something new to the blog. Try it out – go read something with 4 long paragraphs…. When do you feel like moving on to the next one?

3) Image Images Images…!


Yes, a picture really can really speak a thousand words! When I see an image while reading a blog – the writer’s words and sentences just automatically make sense! Trust me, even a number crunching geek’s head would pause for a few seconds on the image to see what it’s trying to describe in an article. The result of images is magical – anything written after becomes easily understood.

4) Bullet points are my magic potion


Ok – I am a list person. I have a list of things to do, for my list of things to do! But then, it’s not just me. Whether we know it or not, when things are listed the key points just jump out at you.

5) Simple words

Now, I love reading a dictionary as much as the next person, I really do. But when it comes to blogs – I’d rather just understand what the writer’s opinion on the topic is.

6) Punch line


I have seen enough number of great bloggers do this tiny mistake…and it’s like missing the cherry on the top of a beautifully baked cake! A solid punch line at the very end, a crusk, and a gist – is the finishing touch of a neatly presented blog. This is when you do a little something that makes the reader ‘share’ your blog or come back to your writing!

So folks, writing comes easily to some and it takes a wee bit more learning for others. I believe, to kick off that ‘First Blog’ is what it takes. After that, there is no looking back.  But to really keep your readers coming back, actually ‘reading’ the entire blog, digesting it, having an opinion about it and hopefully sharing it – try out some of the ideas that I shared here and let me know if it helps. I would love to hear from you – and hope that you actually ‘READ’ this blog! ;)

Disclaimer: All links and images posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

 

 

Tags : , , , Marketing, Social Media | 8 comments »