If you’ve been doing business on the Internet for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “sticky” or “stickiness” used to describe the ability of a web site to engage it’s audience.
If a site is sticky, it is one that attracts customers and keeps them at the site for unusually long periods of time. Sticky sites are a good thing!
Why? The reasoning goes that the longer you can keep a customer on site, the more apt that person is to eventually make a purchase and to make additional return visits.
In addition, if you can attract a person to come back to your site over and over again, they will be more likely to buy products over and over again and be more inclined to tell their friends and associates about this place online where they spend a lot of their time.
Another advantage of a sticky site is that not only are you keeping your prospects engaged for long periods of time, you’re also keeping them away from your competitors and spending money with them.
So, how do you make your site sticky? That’s an easy one – simply add more and more value (in the eyes of the prospect) to your site.
Now comes the hard part, the challenge: determining what is valuable to your niche and delivering it in a unique and cost effective way.
Here are some of the things that, traditionally at least, seem to add value to a web site and lend to its stickiness.
Of course, every niche is unique and it will be up to the business owner to identify what his niche customers really want.
For online businesses, at least, a professional image, store front, and selling practice (system) and policy is a must. There is nothing that “turns off” a potential buyer quicker than an unprofessional looking site that shouts “I’m a fly-by-night artist,” here today and gone tomorrow. Being professional is often equated to being trustworthy and credible and having authority in the niche.
If a prospect or customer can’t find what he wants or get where he wants on your site easily and quickly, he’ll be gone to one of your competitor’s sites in the blink of an eye. Try to make everything on your site accessible in two clicks or less regardless of the starting point. Remember, your site is there to help and cater to your customers and prospects.
Lots of relevant, quality content
This may be the most important sticky trait of your web site. People go online to find information on the topics of their choosing. If you have good information, your visitors will stay longer and they will return often to get more good information. Just make sure it is relevant, interesting, top quality, and preferably unique.
If possible, a great way to engage your customers is to give them something to do. Let them communicate with each other and with you, the site owner and niche expert. An active niche forum can keep folks coming back to your web site numerous times in a single day! Surveys and user-generated content are also examples of interactive methods.
Sometimes we don’t like to admit it, but most everyone likes to be entertained online. If you don’t believe it, just look at the top search engine queries at any given time. The top twenty searches will almost always include several movie star names, movie titles, rock singers or bands, sex related words, the word “jokes,” a name or two of human interest items or people in the news, the top video games, “google” and “yahoo” (for web surfing), and sports names or teams. In order to provide entertainment on the web site, some owners include puzzles, games, music, videos, fun downloads, human interest news, jokes, viewer-submitted stories, and many other “fun” things. Of course, “general entertainment” like this may not be appropriate for every niche site. Can you find or create some “niche entertainment” that might keep visitors at your site?
News within the niche
An important reason for being online is to find out the latest news on a host of various niche subjects. If you can provide timely news about your niche, include news about events, industry leaders, niche businesses, new technologies, etc, you will attract the news junkies and additional daily traffic as a result.
Unique and one-of-a-kind commentary
Readers love to hear the opinions and even rants and raves of charismatic niche experts. Have you ever watched Jim Cramer’s TV show on stock market investing? That’s what I’m talking about. Many people will love you and some will hate you, but all will find you interesting and worth coming back to again and again. Remember, online you don’t need to have everyone in the niche think just like you. All you need is a passionate loyal following and you have the main ingredient for a very successful web site and business.
Freebies and/or downloads
Internet users love free niche products, services, goodies, downloads, reports, guides, tips, you name it. If you can provide a constant source of unique and usable (as in niche-related and valuable) freebies, your customers will come back time and again. Some discourage this practice because they feel that legitimate businesses shouldn’t purposefully try to attract “freebie junkies.” You’ll have to decide if that is the case with your business and niche.
Whatever you offer, keep it fresh
Whether it’s news, commentary, content, entertainment, whatever – it has to be current – fresh! Stale news is no news at all; it is simply history when it’s old. If your web site visitors find the same thing at your site they found the last time they visited, soon they will stop coming to see what’s new. This is maybe the top suggestion for keeping your site sticky. Keep everything fresh, current, and new and you’ll have a very contented audience. When you think about it, isn’t that why folks come to the Internet in the first place? They want to know what’s happening right now!
You owe it to your prospects and customers to give them the very best web site experience that you can. Always remember that they are the reason you are in business … they are the ones that sign your paycheck. Remember that in most cases, they have plenty of other alternative ways to spend their time and money.
To your online business success!