Key Action Takeaways
- Current marketing psychology suggests the primary goal of a website is to establish relationships with users, by increasing the time users stay on site and the frequency that they return.
- The “stickiness” of blogs and websites has resurfaced as the key to creating loyal visitors who eventual migrate to purchasing your product or services.
- Superior content in large quantity and variety sticks to users, slowing traffic down and maximizing time spent on your pages.
- Bloggers and marketers use psychology with Internet marketing tools to create sticky content and establish strong relationships.
Features of Blogs That Create Sticky Sites
What comes to mind when you hear the word “sticky?”
When I hear the word, images of bees and golden honey flash through my mind or Winnie the Pooh, with his dripping honey pots and gooey paws.
You have your own personal connections to the word, a context in your brain that helps you make meaning from words. You also use clues from the context of the situation or reading to understand language. The human mind is programmed to make these associations to create meaning from sensory input. To create meaning, you use the context of the word on the page and related memories in your brain.
My mind creates many images and ideas about that signify “honey,” based upon the contexts and associations in my neural networks, based upon past experiences and memories. Neural networks are flexible pathways and collections of nerve cells in your brain that you create over your lifetime, based on ideas and information you observe.
Every word you know lives neural networks that allow you to remember information in complex and inter-connected ways. Even for a simple word like “honey,” your brain has neural networks with many kinds of rich contextual connections: a basic dictionary-like definition, synonyms, memories, tastes, images, smells, and texture.
The features that contribute to a website’s stickiness fire neurons in your brain’s networks, providing a context for understanding in your brain. A sticky website ignites the brain in a huge number of complex neural networks, and a slick (opposite of sticky) does little to stimulate the brain.
“Sticky” Trumps “Viral” on the Content Marketer’s Scale
I start with honey because I want you to remember how the term connects with marketing. The word "honey" connects with a richer context in your brain, and you will remember the concept of sticky content more efficiently if I add sensory stimuli.
Sticky websites have unique, engaging, fresh content, which involves the reader so intensely that he or she feels the need to stay on the page and to return often. The impact of the website is so intense that you bond with the brand, and you remember the site days, months, and weeks later.
Sticky is more broad and significant than “viral,” which refers to a single piece of content shared widely through social media. Viral videos, for example, are very sticky pieces of content, but the connection to a specific website is weak, and the video has little online context. The engaging video that spreads widely, rather than the whole website (usually). You gain little traction in marketing with a single viral piece.
You don’t create a long-term relationship with a viral video.
Marketers have discovered that viral content is not what leads to massive conversions and ROIs. A viral video becomes powerful publicity for your company, drawing a lot of traffic and exposure, but if most of your site is shallow, non-interactive content, visitors will bolt directly after consuming the video. Connections are not reinforced, and you build no brand relationships.
The stickiness of a website determines the relationship created with visitors. If your site displays a lot of sticky, engaging content, visitors will not only stay longer, they will return and make purchases. A relationship of trust with your brand empowers your company, and consistently sticky content creates the necessary environment.
The Sticky Features You Can Create in Your Blog to Build Relationships
Stickiness is the most powerful feature of your site, and if you nail it, you will accomplish all your objectives. This is a revolutionary way to consider websites, and it empowers you to create a site with sticky features that will establish relationships and convert clients.
Remember that nurturing relationships by providing sticky content is your fundamental goal, believing that the trust you build will turn into conversions. You build positive relationships by:
- Engaging your reader by providing them with clear benefits
- Being brief with all of the rich content you offer
- Learning how to make stickier content over time by analyzing your communication with them
- Deliver content that is likely to engage existing neural pathways and form new ones with your brand included
Engage your reader on a cognitive level, and you will be on your way to sticky. However, you need methods and actions to achieve the goals above. Below you will find a list of actionable items that will enhance your sticky content.
- Write Down an Analysis of Your Target Audience. Evaluate the audience you want to attract to your site in written form and make it a living document, meaning that you keep and adapt the profile. Emphasize psychology in your analysis so you can uncover what motivates your visitors. Answer questions about their character: Who do you want to engage? What do they need from you? What will you give them? Why? These are just a few examples, and the more specific and detailed you are, the better you will be able to create sticky content. Atomic Reach has the best resources for helping you pin down and connect with your audience.
- Be as Brief and Simple as Possible. This principle applies both to specific pieces of content and your website as a whole. You always want to write with efficiency, saying the most you can in as few words as possible. Avoid confusing jargon, and monitor your writing so that you are sure it is easy to read. Keep in mind that your site should be helpful to your visitors, so cut the extra fat out of your site, minimizing advertisements, and maximizing useful content and tools.
- Create Engaging, Interactive Features. Think outside the box as you add content to your site in order to keep your visitors active on your site. Include a variety of content rather than only blog posts. Consider including multi-media content, infographics, checklists, white papers, ebooks, podcasts, videos, stunning visuals, forums, comments, polls, surveys, and quizzes. Neil Patel provides an awesome checklist for creating interactive content.
- Write Articles with Information and Tools That Fill Your Readers’ Needs. If your blog is not the centerpiece of your website, make it so. This is an easy way to update your site with fresh content. Daily posts are ideal, but not always necessary. The minimum to keep your audience engaged is writing a new blog post twice a week. Search engines also love this new content, which will attract organic traffic to your site.
- Provide Newsletters and RSS Feeds That Motivate Return Visits and Loyalty to Your Brand. Your email list and RSS feeds are essential to maintaining constant contact with your target audience and to establishing a relationship of trust. Make it easy for visitors to sign up for your newsletters and RSS feed. When you create newsletters, be sure that they are useful and not spammy. With new updates, links, offers, and information, you will motivate your audience to stay involved.
- Update and Alter Your Site Frequently. Think of a time that you have returned to a site you liked only to find that nothing has changed. There was nothing new. Rather than stimulating return visits, you were likely turned off by the site, not returning again. Your readers crave new information and visual stimulation, so frequently add new content. You show your readers that you are actively involved on the site. The article “How to Make Your Blog Deliver Real Value to Your Readers” provides great ideas on creating content that will be essential to your visitors.
- Deliver Unique and New Information. Establish your authority in the field by saying something different and unique. Your visitors want your creative new ideas that help them in ways that other sites can’t.
- Provide Content That Is Easy to Connect With and Share. Researching your target audience through social media makes finely tuned adjustments to your message easier to accomplish. You can connect with your target market directly through social media, and use the information to make the content you create more shareable and sticky. In the Atomic Reach Blog, “10 Traffic-Driving Things to Do After You Publish a New Blog Post” emphasizes the importance of connecting and sharing through social media. Become involved in your social media communities with a special emphasis on one or more of these platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Establish yourself as a leader in communities within these powerful social platforms.
- Use a Personable and Casual Tone. Visitors tend to engage better with material you present in a conversational style. You may not have that writing style yet, but you can practice your writing skills. When you are revising your material, pay special attention to the tone of the language you use. The Atomic Editor is awesome for revising your tone to persuade your target audience.
- Make Your Content and Web Design Easy to Scan. You have anywhere from 2 to 5 seconds to capture visitors and keep them on the page. Characteristics that will make your visitor linger on your site include snappy images and captions, strong textual features (font size, style, color, bold, etc.) a captivating title, opening line, and introduction. Your reader will judge the content of your entire article based upon those few verbal and visual qualities. If you don’t engage them instantly, you will lose them.
Employing any of these features appeals to many neural networks in the human brain, compelling potential leads to remain on site longer. If you really connect with your audience, the sticky features will come naturally, and your readers will bond with your brand, making sales and marketing a matter of carefully placing neurological triggers such as opt-in forms and landing pages.
I would love to hear your feedback and respond to your questions in the comments below. What do you offer your visitors to keep them stuck on your page? What ideas do you have for creating sticky features?
Author's Bio: Darin L. Hammond owns and operates ZipMinis Freelance Writing, and he dazzles clients with his powerful writing. Check out his innovative blogging now at ZipMinis: Science of Blogging. Speak your mind in a comment below, and he'll respond. Darin rocks professional blogging, writing, teaching, and leadership. He enjoys publishing on power sites including Technorati, Blog Critics, B2C, SteamFeed, LifeHack, and Social Media Today.