Energize Your Website Engagement

  • AUTHOR: Tom Shapiro
  • DATE: 09/11/2008

Amazon.com. Dell. Harley-Davidson. Hewlett-Packard. LEGO. Netflix. The Office (TV show). Reebok. Starbucks. Seventh Generation. Stonyfield Farm. Threadless. VIBE.

What do these successful brands have in common?

Each brand has created a website that engages its site visitors.

Customer Engagement

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Why is this so important? The reasons abound. Customer engagement helps you to:

  • Build customer loyalty.
  • Create fans and brand evangelists.
  • Spread word of mouth.
  • Hear directly and learn from your customers.
  • Build an interactive relationship with your customers.
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Provide personalized products, services and/or customer support.

How does customer engagement make these websites so intriguing? What is it that makes site visitors spend so much time on these sites? What is it that makes these websites so effective in generating customer excitement?

The answer is that the sites empower the customer. And once customers taste empowerment, they often become addicted. And once customers become addicted, they help build your brand by thinking and talking about your brand more, spending more time with your brand, and getting others excited about your brand.

Engagement can be customized for each website, tailored to the site’s objectives and to customer interests.

Examples of Customer Engaged Websites

The following are examples of websites filled with customer-engagement opportunities, and a list of several engagement tactics on each site respectively:

Amazon.com

  • Upload text- and video-based product reviews.
  • Create recommendation lists.
  • Participate in customer discussions.

HPShopping.com

  • Check out hundreds of projects in the site’s Activity Center.
  • Watch movies.
  • Take online classes.

LEGO.com

  • Join the LEGO Network.
  • Play games.
  • Participate in message boards.

MyStarbucksIdea.com

  • Propose ideas to improve the Starbucks experience.
  • Vote on ideas.
  • Discuss ideas.

NBC.com/The Office/

  • Get The Office widget.
  • Take The Office personality quiz.
  • Challenge your friends to a game of Office trivia.

Threadless.com

  • Upload t-shirt designs.
  • Vote on others’ designs.
  • Join the Threadless Street Team.

VibeVerses.com

  • Participate in contest.
  • Create and upload a rap video.
  • Promote your rap video via embed code supplied by VIBE.

Popular Blogging Platforms

As you can see, the manifestations of customer engagement can take many different shapes and forms. An easy way to get started in building customer engagement into your website is to start a blog and enable your site visitors to comment on the blog posts. You can also ask your readership direct questions, solicit feedback and publish polls through a blog. To start building customer engagement through a corporate blog, check out the following popular blogging platforms:

Widgets, Wikis & More

Another quick, easy way to empower your customers is to provide various feedback mechanisms, such as online forms, email links, polls and surveys. To engender excitement, you can run a contest. To build buzz, you can develop and offer free online tools, calculators and widgets. To get started in building surveys and widgets, check out the following popular websites:

For more interactivity, you can start a wiki, which is a collaborative website that enables any member to contribute and modify content. Available wiki platforms include:

For social networking interactivity, in which members can share, discuss and rate ideas, available platforms include:

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom Shapiro
Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro is CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a strategy, design and marketing agency that fuels clients' business results. DigitalMarketingNOW.com Twitter: @DigitalMN

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