Generating interaction between site and user is a valuable way of encouraging loyalty. The benefits of the return traffic that comes from user loyalty can include repeat sales and gaining new customers through word-of-mouth recommendation.
Some examples of multimedia elements that you can utilise to encourage user engagement include:
Video can be used both on and off site with the goal of increasing traffic and brand awareness. Video can take the form of product demonstrations, testimonials, education or just for plain fun!
You can get lucky, but creating a video that goes viral is not always a happy accident despite many giving that impression. Careful planning and promotion is usually behind any successful viral content campaign.
One tip: if you are going to add hosted video to your site then add a video sitemap and submit it to Google via Webmaster Tools to aid with indexing.
Adding a review facility to your site to give your customers a voice is a good way of encouraging interaction. Positive reviews are great of course but, with careful management, negative reviews can be turned to your advantage. If you are seen to take criticism and suggestions on board, taking subsequent action to improve your service, you are creating an environment where users feel valued.
Publishing high quality podcasts can raise your profile significantly in a competitive marketplace. There are numerous sites and blogs targeted to a niche audience, but not so many offering podcasts. By publishing regular podcasts you are engaging with your audience in a more intimate way, more difficult to achieve with text.
The appropriate use of images to enhance text on a site can engage a viewer. For example, a recipe site with photos of ingredients and prepared meals is far more enjoyable to use that one with just plain text. In addition, if you give users the facility to upload photos of the meals they had prepared using recipes from your site you would be encouraging some great interaction.
Polls are a great way of engaging with your users whilst at the same time gathering valuable feedback or data. Polls allow viewers to voice an opinion and, in turn, they often enjoy checking results to see how other people feel on a given subject. Polls are easy to set up using the many free and paid resources which are available.
6. RSS Feeds
If you add regular new content to your site (and you should be doing), then having one or more RSS feeds available for people to subscribe to is a good idea. Subscribers are immediately updated when new articles appear on your site. You can also easily inform users of any special offers and promotions.
One obvious use for adding a map to your site is to give the location of and directions to your premises. You could expand on this by adding local facilities and attractions, this is great for hotels! There are numerous other uses. One of my favourite sites, for instance, is for runners and it allows you to plot and save routes for your own use and to share with other people who run.
Adding a forum to a site brings many benefits, including allowing your users to communicate with each other. Forum members often make friends online and revisit the site regularly to keep up to date with the latest news from fellow users.
Forums are also a great way of gaining user-generated content that should bring additional visitors via long tail searches.
Blogging is becoming more and more popular. Enabling the facility to comment on blogs gives viewers the opportunity give feedback and ask questions. The reader gets more out of the article if they can interact with the writer.
One of the most common blog platforms is WordPress. It’s simple to set up and has many useful plug-ins to aid with SEO and usability.
10. Social Bookmarking
Add obvious social bookmarking tools to your site to make it easy for users to save and share your content. This is a great way of generating extra traffic as well as providing valuable back links.
You can also take advantage of this facility yourself by signing up with popular social sites to submit your own content. There are automated applications that you can utilise to do this for you.
More advice about getting started with social media optimisation.
The goal of increasing user interaction is to give visitors a reason to come back to your site. In addition to increasing loyalty, adding the above engagement objects will help with the optimisation of your site for inclusion in universal search results.