In 2016, engagement and monetization will become the next big thing.
As users become locked into habitual online behavior patterns, engagement is becoming the key metric for successful monetization. Now, attention spans are concentrated into a smaller core of apps, websites, social networks, and other digital channels.
Most forms of monetization depend on user engagement, such as advertising and in-app purchases. Bloggers and website owners who earn money through affiliate marketing also depend heavily on user engagement.
Engagement Vs. Traffic
SEO has become extraordinarily competitive and traffic no longer determines the success of a business. Customers are less sensitive to online advertising and marketing. Gone are the days when a stray visitor will make an impulsive purchase.
So businesses have turned to content marketing to inform, entertain, and engage. Through long-term content marketing programs, businesses can engage their customers, build relationships, and influence purchase decision.
The old marketing aphorism remains true to this day: it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. In the case of online marketing, we can compare traffic to users.
Traffic typically refers to website visitors, though it could also refer to traffic that passes through other digital channels, such as social media profiles or app description pages.
Users, on the other hand, are those who have actually engaged with a product, website, app, or service. Since they are already engaged with a product or service, it is easier to market to them. An engaged user is also easier to influence and monetize.
Essentially, engaged users are customers. So publishers, app developers, website owners, bloggers, and everyone with online assets should be finding ways to engage their users, rather than just selling to them.
Why Engagement Is the Next Big Thing
Companies like Google and Facebook have built their empires on user engagement.
They provided much-valued services that feed the informational and social needs of internet users. And, as a consequence, these two platforms eat up the lion’s share of user’s time online.
Other companies, from Microsoft to Amazon to small businesses, are attempting to engage their users through an immersive stream of products, services, and content. Multi-channel monetization and marketing effectively hinge upon multi-channel engagement, which is why so many tech companies are also becoming media companies.
Technology has drastically changed the way communicate, which means it’s also changed the way we live, work, shop, and interact. These changes have caused major shifts in the way we behave online.
While salesy websites and traffic may have been the key to success 10 or 20 years ago, today things have changed. People’s online behavior has become somewhat routine and predictable.
To understand why user engagement is the next big thing in monetization, we need to look at this online behavior:
- Today’s users are fickle. When value is everywhere, there’s no need to waste time on products or services that don’t deliver immediate results. Apps and websites can be dismissed in an instant, which is why brands and companies have turned their attention towards user engagement.
- No one wants to be marketed to any more. The internet is saturated with advertising, which is one reason why so many are turning to ad blockers. People want authenticity and transparency, so brands need to engage users with content that adds value.
- The internet is a goal-driven medium. When a person reads a book, they usually have to start at the beginning and go straight through. With the web, users can search for what they want and click hyperlinks to take them straight to their goal. Sites or products that don’t facilitate the achievement of those goals will fall by the wayside.
- Shoppers use the internet to perform product research. The best way to earn these shoppers’ trust is by providing them with the information they are looking for. Engaging them during the product research phase will position a business as an authority and increase the likelihood they will trust that business with their purchase.
Next Steps Businesses Should Take
Businesses who have any vested interest in online monetization should make a few changes to their online strategy:
- Don’t focus exclusively on traffic generation. Driving traffic will always be an important part of every monetization strategy, but without an engagement follow-up, business will lose out on major profit potential. Engaging attention spans will only become more important as the internet becomes even more complex in the coming years.
- Cut back on noise and increase usability. Irrelevant content or ads only distract users. Interfaces that don’t help people accomplish their goals will increase bounce rates. Instead, study your analytics, find out your users’ goals, then help them accomplish those goals.
- Enhance the user experience. Design, usability, engagement, and value are all centered around improving the user experience. Today, that means mobile-friendly websites, engaging user interfaces, rich visuals such as video, monetization solutions that add value, and personalized content.
Today, businesses compete for attention spans instead of traffic. To grab and hold that attention, you need to build a product or service that engages. Start by prioritizing the user’s goals and then delivering an engaging experience that helps them meet those goals.