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How to Create Audience-Engaging Content That Drives Results

Driving traffic to your site is hard enough. But what is even harder is converting those visitors into customers or subscribers.

Don’t you feel sad looking at your site bounce rate in Google Analytics?

Don’t you wish more people chose to stay and read further at least?

Do you look at your content analytics wondering “Why do people just come and go? Is there any way to get more of them to leave something behind?”

The struggle is real. Most web users are lurkers: they don’t have time to hang around.

But it doesn’t mean you need to stop trying to engage more of your traffic.

What is an On-Page Engagement?

An engagement is anything a web user chooses to do on your page. It can be clicking a link, sharing your content on social media, posting a comment or opting in to your email list.

Note: This is not about social media engagement, which you can find more info about here. This is about engaging your site users with your own content elements.

Why Does Content Engagement Matter?

These days, when people move through the web much faster (scrolling through social media feeds, using voice search to ask questions, and clicking links while on the go), it has become much harder to get your site visitors to pause and look around.

Conversion channels have become much longer. You need to prompt people to first take a pause, and then—when you win their attention—try to pique their interest and prompt them to act.

This is where content engagement comes into play: It helps keep your users on your site. As Kristyna Torres put it, marketing without engaging your audience is basically a press release.

If years ago it was considered a bad strategy to divert users’ attention from your primary call to action, these days it’s almost a necessary evil. Unless you want to see people bounce right away, give them a reason to stay.

Here are a few ways to engage your content readers:

1. Work on Your Content Structure

One of the often-overlooked elements of a web page is its semantic structure, i.e. the use of H2-H3 headings that introduce the reader to sections and subsections of your content.

HTML headings make content easier for both human beings and search crawlers to scan and navigate, allowing readers to quickly locate the part that most interests them.

The structure of the headings reflects the hierarchy of your content:

Heading structure for an engaging piece of content

Many content creators and SEOs claim they have seen higher rankings and increased on-page engagement once they started implementing a thorough content structure strategy.

I believe there’s a lot in play here, but having well-crafted, enticing subheadings leading users deeper into your content definitely won’t hurt.

My own trick has been phrasing H2-H3 subheadings in a question format. It seems to work best for user engagement. Human beings have that natural reflex to pause and look for an answer whenever they are confronted with a question mark. Hence structuring your content in a question-and-answer format is a good idea.

This is a good example of my own content following that Q&A format:

Additional Headline structure example for engaging content

Notice that there is a clickable table of contents at the top of the article taking the readers directly to each question, followed by a clear concise answer.

Link map at the top of a piece of content

To quickly identify questions I am going to use as the basis for my article structure I use TextOptimizer, which is a semantic analysis tool that analyzes search results for any given query and extracts related concepts and questions from Google’s search snippets:

Example of TextOptimizer pulling concepts from search queries for content creation

2. Add Visual/Animated Instructions

I’ve noticed that auto-playing (and silent!) instructions quickly draw attention and seem to mesmerize users. Studies have shown that you have just under 7 seconds to capture the attention of your page visitors, so showing them animated instructions as they scroll down may be a way to go.

rose drawing gif

Example of an animated instruction: How to draw a rose

There are several ways to accomplish this. Creating mini-videos and hosting them with Wistia is one way. Wistia has 0 branding, and you cannot click the video to go to Wistia, which makes it a much better alternative to Youtube, at least for embedded content that is supposed to engage users instead of driving them away.

You can also put together animated GIFs showing step-by-step instructions on whatever you are working on. Placeit helps you put those together in seconds.

Animated tutorials allow your users to see a visual demonstration of your product or process in action without having to push a “Play” button. I also love using their intro maker to brand my videos for my courses:

Intro maker for your YouTube channel

There are more interesting tools to play with that allow to visualize your story and create videos as well as a few tools to create animated instructions.

3. Add a Smart Chat Bot

Most of web users need help navigating any website. They are either in too much of a hurry to find what they need or simply overwhelmed by the amount of information they see. If you’ve been trying to build an online tool, you’ll have seen traces of this in your customer support emails.

Believe it or not, most of your site users would only be able to successfully navigate your website if you lead them by the hand.

This is the idea of Alter, a smart marketing bot that subtly suggests your readers possible further actions once they seem to be lost or confused. Alter is a self-learning, self-improving algorithm that gets better and better as it watches and analyzes more of your audience behavior.

I have found it improving my content engagement and boosting my email list growth. I suspect that users simply get too curious seeing the bot trying to help them and feel willing to opt in:

Example of chatbot to keep your audience engaged with your content

Alter has a forever-free account, and it takes seconds to set up. There’s no configuration needed, apart from connecting your email marketing platform to send leads to. Alter can be configured to connect to most email marketing platforms sending collected emails right to your list.

In addition to making your content more engaging, a marketing bot can also make it more voice-search-friendly inviting a user to perform an immediate action by voice.

There are more chat bots I have heard of, so find one that fits the specific needs of your business.

Bonus: Keep an Eye on What Works

Finally, you cannot obvious improve what you are not measuring, so keeping an eye on how exactly your users are navigating your articles is very important. The easiest way to better understand your on-page engagement is using heatmaps but running tests too often can be quite expensive. I use this method on a monthly basis to record users’ clicks and mouse-move behavior on one of my recent articles.

For on-going monitoring I use Finteza, which is much easier to configure than Google Analytics. To monitor which links get most clicks and how exactly readers navigate my content, simply install their plugin and add events to monitor when creating your content:

How to add tracking links with Finteza

From there you can watch people following your conversion funnel (or bouncing) using Finteza Funnels. You’ll also see which type of traffic seems to work best for you in terms of converting your readers into customers:

Track where your readers are going with Finteza


  • Always break your content into sections, preferably using questions as subheadings to introduce each new section of your article
  • Create visual and animated instructions that would play as soon as the page loads. Make sure to make these instructions soundless. Auto-playing sound may be annoying
  • Install a smart AI-powered bot to walk your content readers around your site
  • Keep watching and analyzing your page engagement using heatmaps and web analytics

I hope these specific tactics will help you decrease your page bounce rate and engage your site readers. Good luck!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the Brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been into Internet Marketing for over a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of a weekly Twitter chat #vcbuzz.

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