Many businesses have websites that are stiff and unchanging. Those websites “talk at” the target audience. There is no interaction that occurs and there is no human contact that is established. It is important to understand that there is a vast difference between a website that doesn’t change or move and one that is constantly evolving and that has the capability to encourage discussions.
It is all about the engagement
The concept of a static website is pretty old school. For a very long time (and it was a challenge to even get business owners to recognize the need for a website at all), website pages were built and they remained exactly as until the end of time. The concept of having a website that changes, evolves, promotes interaction, etc., was positively unheard of.
When it comes to engaging with your target audience, you should always think in terms of being on equal footing with the other person. That means that the other person’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc., are just as valuable as yours. It is human nature to want to feel as though everyone’s opinions are important. The truth is that those opinions are important, even if you don’t happen to agree with all of them.
If you promote interaction through your website, the result will be that your traffic will increase and more and more people will pay attention to what you have to say and to the discussions that you have with other people. At this point, you may be wondering why it is so important to have an interactive website.
- You don’t want to take over the discussion, you want to be an important part of it: The role that you play in this case is one of leadership. If you are thinking that you can control what is being discussed to any great degree, you should remove that from your thoughts. However, you certainly can drive the discussion and steer it in a certain direction. The other thing that you need to understand is that the discussion will not stay on a straight path (nor would you want it to do that). It will branch off in many interesting, different directions. However, it is your job to make sure that the discussion doesn’t stray so far from the path that you lose the original concept completely.
- Persuade your target audience to choose the actions that you wish them to choose: If your content is sound and compelling, it will produce the results that you are hoping for. The objective of your content is to connect with the other person on an emotional level. If you achieve that, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. As you are building your website (or having it built), you should keep in mind the objectives that you want to reach once that website is finished and you start to interact with people. The content that you have on your website should be thought-provoking and it will hopefully encourage people to leave comments, questions, etc., so that discussions can begin and will only become more and more interesting and more and more valuable. It is important to remember that you are interacting with human beings. They have their own way of thinking and your interactions will be large contributors to those discussions and the direction that those discussions ultimately take. Remember that you are not the only person who should get something out of the interaction. The other person should benefit just as much.
- Always keep in mind that the other person has free will: It is critical that you remember that the other person doesn’t have to continue to interact with you. He or she chooses to do so. If the interactions go well, the next step (after the appropriate amount of time) will be to interact on a one-to-one basis, either online or in person. However, you should also be prepared for the possibility that they may take advantage of whatever incentives you are offering before they start to interact with you on a more personal level (blog, newsletter, white paper, eBook, etc.). It is important for you to keep in mind that taking advantage of what you are offering is another legitimate way to get to know you and your brand more thoroughly.
A static website will not do very much for you as far as bringing in new traffic is concerned. It also may create a perception in the mind of the other person, a perception that says that you don’t care enough about your business to involve other people. Static websites are a thing of the past (or, at least, they should be). If you want to engage your target audience members, you need to be able to interact with them in some way. It is that simple.
Interactive websites, on the other hand, give other people the distinct impression that you value their contribution and you value what they think. An interactive website captivates the other person and there is no doubt that it is far more interesting than a static website. Why would anyone want to visit a dull website when they can visit one that is compelling and exciting, not to mention educational and valuable at the same time?
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.
His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.