Drive down any highly-trafficked highway and you will see billboard after billboard lining the sides of the road. From hotels and restaurants to fuel stations and nearby attractions, each billboard carries a well-defined, targeted advertisement.
You may wonder why an article about increasing audience engagement rates would start with something as static and, let’s face it, dated as highway billboards. Bear with us: pick up your phone, open your favourite social media site or app, and give it a quick scroll.
Did you notice anything interesting? The ads you encountered were likely tailored specifically to your interests, the platform, and even the slim window they had to catch your eye before you scrolled on past.
In a modern world that has been revolutionised by technology, society hardly ever slows down. That means your audience—current and potential—is likely to go flying by your content like they’re breaking the speed limit on the highway.
So, how do you keep up with and counteract this fast-paced modern lifestyle to grow your brand? By adapting your strategies! This is, of course, easier said than done. That’s why we’re here to get you started with five ways to increase your audience engagement rates. Read on to unlock the potential of your brand!
Know Your Audience
Think about the billboards that get your attention as you drive past them—why were those particular advertisements effective? A large part of it can likely be attributed to one key factor: they appealed to your pre-existing interests.
In essence, audience engagement is communication (more on this later) and as such, you need to know with whom you are trying to communicate. From the moment you meet someone face-to-face, you are analysing their body language, the tone of their voice, and so on in an effort—sometimes even subconsciously—to best communicate with them.
The same concept applies to your audience. You first have to identify their key traits in order to build a profile that can then be used to more effectively tailor your engagement strategies to them. There is one glaring obstacle, though: learning the nuances of people you’ll never meet.
Thankfully, technology allows brands to get to know their audience through gamified market research tools. From demographics and groups with similar preferences to individual quirks, certain tools make becoming acquainted with your audience a relatively simple process.
The better you know your audience, the more effective your engagement strategies will be. Before you dive any deeper into increasing your audience engagement, take the time and make the effort to be truly familiar with who you’re interacting with.
Provide Pertinent Content
You’ve likely heard the phrase “content is key.” While this is true in a general sense, you need to make sure you are providing the right kind of content—the kind that fits what your audience wants.
Those billboards that target you and thousands of other travellers each day are full of appropriate content—fuel stations, restaurants, convenient stops, and so on—which makes them more effective in a competitive space. How many times have you been swayed to one station or another because of their roadside advertisement? Probably quite a few!
Again, this is an overly-generalised metaphor, but the principle holds true: you have to know who your audience is and what they want; otherwise, you’re playing the game blindfolded.
To make your content more appealing, and thereby more engaging, you need to not only make it relevant but also give it depth. It should both capture attention and retain it rather than being something your audience merely glances at before closing out or scrolling by.
From content that is specially-tailored to an individual or group’s interests to using incentives to encourage audience retention, the first step is knowing who you are communicating with; the next is giving them what they’re looking for.
Consistency is Key
You could have the best content ever created by humankind, but if you are inconsistent, that content could fall flat. People value reliability, especially in the sources they frequent for content.
Consistency can mean many things in the world of audience engagement. From the quality of your content to the regularity with which it is generated, your audience wants to know what to expect and when to expect.
Clearly, this does not mean that you should be pushing cookie-cutter content out just to maintain a schedule and a certain level of quality. Instead, it means that you should always aim to provide excellent content on a predictable timeline.
Hand-in-hand with the quality and timing of the content come the topics contained by it. While you do want to keep your content fresh and interesting, you shouldn’t go from sport-themed content to highly-technical medical journal with no warning.
Your audience is more likely to return to and engage with your content if they know what it is they will be receiving. In other words, consistency helps you become a go-to source for certain content.
Timing is Everything
As you drive down the highway, you probably pay little attention to the billboards unless the timing is right. You might drive past 100 advertisements for fuel, but when your tank is running low, those advertisements suddenly become more interesting. The same can be said for restaurants, shopping centres, and so on.
People browsing the internet or downloading apps are the same way: they almost always have a reason or direction. It’s your job, then, to identify that reason and provide exactly what they’re searching for in a particular moment.
As a sports brand, you have a few key events that are sure to drive traffic toward your content if your content is time-appropriate. Whether it’s the biggest rivalry game of the season or a blockbuster trade, your audience will be scouring for information before, during, and after.
This pertinence of time directly correlates to preparation. In order to provide timely content, you have to have your finger on the pulse of what’s about to happen and prepare your content for it. In the age of the internet, being a step behind is almost like a death sentence—especially in the ultra-competitive world of sports.
Don’t be a billboard that doesn’t receive a second glance; be strategically timed. Audience engagement is about content, but that content is nothing if the timing is wrong. Stay on top of things, be prepared, and beat your competition to the punch.
Listen and Communicate
Our billboard metaphor has been pretty useful up to this point, but it’s time to put it to rest. Unlike static advertisements on the roadside, you and your content have the ability to interact with your audience, adapt to their wants and desires, and communicate with them by both listening and responding.
This communication can take several forms, but there are a few exceptional strategies that you can employ. Identifying and addressing areas of need based on audience feedback, encouraging engagement through interactive content, and incorporating calls to action in the form of coupons and incentives are three great places to start.
One of the only ways to correct areas of weakness in your audience engagement is to analyse the data available to you—data that is generated by your users. In other words, listen to the audience you’re attempting to engage.
This is a prime example of how engagement can be a two-way street. Rather than blindly sticking to a calendar and pumping out content, take the time to address the concerns brought to light by those you’re trying to reach. Doing so will give you a much clearer picture of what your brand’s flaws are and how you can reimagine your approach.
Interactive content is another effective way to engage your audience in a more communication-based manner. Whether it’s through gamification that allows users to interact with and compete against each other or through customer-brand interaction such as surveys and polls, content that is more dynamic and allows an audience to be involved is more interesting and engaging than stagnant, one-directional content.
Providing your audience with incentives is another prime example of increasing engagement through communication. Whether it’s a reward for loyalty, a discount for answering a survey, or a coupon targeting audience members you’re at risk of losing, incentivizing people to participate in and engage with your content is a simple yet effective way to increase audience engagement rates.
Our Final Thoughts
Increasing your audience engagement rates can seem like a daunting task. While the revolution of modern technology has brought an interconnectedness that is unprecedented, it has also led to extreme competition and the necessity of a nuanced, multi-faceted approach to engagement.
That’s why we’ll leave you with this final tip: when in doubt, take advantage of the professionals and tools available to you. The job of engaging with an audience is a monumental task that involves many sub-tasks—from analysing the intended audience to actually generating engaging content. Going at it alone or trying to be an expert in every micro-category leaves you overburdened and at a distinct disadvantage to your competition.
Employing modern tools that can provide you with the analysis and information you need, generate custom leads, and aid you in increasing audience engagement rates through incentive and gamification programmes allows you to specially tailor your strategies like never before.
Armed with the correct data, tools, and strategies, your brand is bound to grow as your audience engagement rates spike to new highs. Don’t be a static billboard in a world of fast-paced, individualised content. Adapt, evolve, and elevate your brand using these tips and the modern tools available to you.