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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
By far infographics are my favorite form of content to spark engagement. Here is an infographic about infographics from Think Brilliant.
How do you inspire engagement?