“Sticky” has become a buzzword, describing everything from the memorability of a catchy tagline to the rewatchability of a viral video. From a marketing perspective, “sticky” is a differentiator, describing content that has the power to retain or captivate a given audience, rather than content that gets lost in a sea of white noise. With infinite options and low attention spans, today’s audience needs sticky content if you want their attention for more than a nanosecond, or if you ever want them to revisit your site.
If you’re currently driving traffic to your website through SEO, social media marketing, or some other means, you need to make sure your users are sticking around long enough to take action. After all, traffic and conversion are co-dependent; without one, the other doesn’t matter at all.
Here are 20 ways to optimize your site to retain inbound traffic:
1. Immediate, Intuitive Navigation. Right away, your visitor should know where to go and how to get there. You can do this by presenting your most useful or relevant pages prominently in the header, with a detailed sitemap in the footer for everything else you offer.
2. Your Business Information. New visitors should immediately know what your page is about. You can have a tagline, a slogan, a short paragraph describing who you are, or even a single image — but you need to establish your identity firmly or people will be tempted to leave out of apathy.
3. Easy-to-Find Contact Information. Make sure there’s a phone number at the top of your page, and a contact page somewhere on your site. It’s a sign of open communication, which your users will love. Plus, search engines love to see contact information and proper sitemaps.
4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). FAQ sections serve multiple purposes. First, it’s a demonstration that people are using your site regularly, which increases your visible authority. Second, if your users are even slightly interested in your business, they have an easy place to find volumes of common information.
5. Consistent, Apparent Branding. Your brand is your identity, and if you keep it consistent, your users will come to see your site as a familiar and welcoming place. Keep your colors, imagery, and voice consistent throughout your site to establish a unique and recognizable experience.
6. A Well-Designed Blog. You need to have a blog, plain and simple. That blog should also be well-designed if you want to retain your readership. Make it easy to find and inviting for your users; avoid cluttering your blog with advertisements, and ensure your text is readable on any browser and mobile device.
7. Social Media Integration. Social integration adds to your credibility, gives users a chance to engage with you, and offers you a chance to self-promote through your audience’s individual profiles. Include links to your social profiles throughout your site, and opportunities to share content wherever you have it.
8. Fresh Content. It’s not enough to have a handful of blog posts in your archive. You need fresh content and new offers regularly to retain your inbound audience. Include a “what’s new” section on your homepage to showcase your latest posts and newest products. It will subconsciously prompt people to come back regularly to check what’s new.
9. Subscription Invitations. Let people subscribe to your blog or to a weekly newsletter by offering an easy signup form on your homepage and blog page. If you really want to boost your numbers, use a popup window. Once subscribed, you’ll have an easier time prompting them to come back.
10. Personality. People like to interact with other people; not with companies. Include personality on your website, wherever you can. Highlight your blog authors or include a biography page that features images and short bios of your team members. It makes your company seem more real and more inviting.
11. Reader Engagements. Your blog audience should have many opportunities to engage with you, including social sharing and comments. Let your readers subscribe to each post’s comments feed, and have your authors respond and join in the conversation. Reader polls and surveys are also good ways to build reader engagement.
12. A Highlight Reel. In addition to a “what’s new” section, you can also include a highlight reel that includes best sellers (if you have an e-commerce site) or your most popular blog posts (if you have a strong blog). You can also have a Twitter feed highlighting user mentions of your brand or products.
13. A Competition or Free Offer. One of the easiest ways to maintain your users’ interest is to give them something worth their while. Present a free offer or some kind of reward in exchange for a few pieces of information, or hold a sweepstakes-style competition on your homepage.
14. Videos. Integrated videos are great ways to keep your users’ attention, at least for a moment. Demonstrate a product, verbalize your services, or present information in a unique way, in one to three minutes if you can. Feature one or two videos on your homepage, and include others wherever they’re relevant in your internal pages.
15. Signs of Trust. This is especially important for e-commerce sites. Your website should have a number of signals that inspire trust in your visitors, including any accreditations you have, security verifications, and money-back guarantees.
16. Testimonials. User testimonials and reviews are extremely important in establishing your credibility for new users. For e-commerce platforms, reviews are an indication of reliability. For B2B companies, testimonials are a glimpse into the type of relationships other businesses have had with you.
17. Prominent, but Non-Aggressive Calls to Action. You want your users to give you information and click key buttons (add to cart, subscribe, etc.) on your site, but you can’t be too pushy or people will be turned off. Short conversion forms, floating information boxes, and small popups are all good, but avoid lengthy, overly frequent, or aggressive tactics.
18. Awards and Press Releases. Show off who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Feature your recent awards on your homepage, and consider adding a press page to house your most important and recent press releases. As an added bonus, it’s also good for SEO.
19. Forums or Community Pages. Depending on the size and dedication of your readership, forums and community pages are often great ways to encourage your visitors to stick around. Create a membership portal, start new topics, and let your audience run wild with their own communications.
20. If You Liked This, You’ll Love… One of the best ways to get your users to stay longer and delve deeper into your site is a tease into similar content. For instance, at the end of your blog posts, you can link to similar-themed posts you’ve made in the past, and in your product descriptions, you can detail similar or complementary products.
Every brand is unique, so it will take time for you to find the perfect retention strategy for your audience, but these 20 sticky features are a great place to start.