If your soccer program is struggling to grow engagement or interest online, you’re not alone. Breaking through the digital clutter and reaching people can be challenging, especially if revenue is dwindling. Many businesses and non-profits are in the same boat, but there is good news: some minor tweaks can put you on the path to long-term success.
Discover 10 ways your soccer program can increase online engagement:
The key to upping the amount of registrations for your services, programs or activities is simple: reach your clients/prospects where they are, which is online. You’ve probably heard that one before, but the fact remains that most community organizations are still having trouble making the necessary adjustments to forge lasting relationships with the next generations of recreation enthusiasts.
Not a tech genius? Not to worry: Even if you’re not an internet or social media expert, the fixes outlined in this blog post are easy to implement and will produce noticeable changes almost immediately if done properly. More importantly, with pre-established SMART goals and messaging objectives, you’ll be able to monitor those changes and adjust your approach as needed. Long-term flexibility is crucial to increasing online engagement.
When it comes to increasing online engagement, these improvements should be your biggest priorities:
Weed Out Your Website’s Technical Issues
Nothing drives people away like a website full of technical issues. Not only will finding important information on your site be a difficult and frustrating experience for end users but you could be turning off potential participants or current clients for good.
The solution? Make sure your website does the basics well. That means no 404s or broken links in any of the navigation menus or webpage text your organization has published online. In addition to that, all your site’s URLs should be of the HTTPS variety, which ensures that basic data encryption standards are being met. Failure to make these changes could result in your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking taking a bit hit.
Speaking of factors that will making your organization more noticeable to those Googling for local recreation options is your webpage load time. The search engine giant has long since made page load speed a ranking factor, which means that slower load times will hurt your SERP visibility. For more information on your website’s performance and a quick overview of areas that could use major improvement, HubSpot’s website grader is a great free tool to get started.
Mobile Optimize Your Site
Recent research indicates that 50% of mobile search engines queries are aimed at local businesses. Therefore, if your organization’s website isn’t optimized for viewing on a smartphone or tablet, it’s a major issue you need to address immediately.
Not only does mobile optimization give your SERP placement and overall online visibility a huge boost but it’s also a direct link to generating more engagement and securing more participants. In fact, 50% of smartphone users will visit an organization’s storefront within 24 hours of looking it up via search. You should be capitalizing on those opportunities, not letting them get away.
How do you make sure your website is mobile-friendly? The key is in responsive webpage templates. Whether your site was designed in-house (potentially using one of our favorite online web development tools) or through an external agency, not all templates are created equal, so make sure you’re using ones with flexible design elements. If you’re unsure, talk to your IT team or webmaster to get more information.
Take Your Content Seriously
Whether you’re thinking of increasing your blogging output, making more videos on your social media accounts or even starting your own podcast, giving your engagement prospects a shot in the arm starts with your content creation and how seriously your organization takes it.
Simply put, consistent content output is another big factor in making your organization more visible to the online masses. If you’re looking to make an impact and build a larger audience organically comes down to two main factors: frequency and quality.
Only blogging twice a month? That kind of inconsistency isn’t going to help you in the long run. Waiting on an external team to shoot one social media video for you every 2-3 months? This won’t be much use to you either. Even if it’s a team effort, prioritizing content creation will make it so much easier for others to engage with your brand.
When crafting your next blog post, video or podcast episode, keep the following best practice points in mind:
Make sure your content is relevant to your audience and offers them some sort of benefit. In other words, people should care about consuming what you post.
Your content should always be clear and concise (i.e. – no unnecessarily flowery vocabulary or overlong blocks of text).
Your content must align with your brand’s value proposition and unique position in the industry. A unique voice is a must.
Prioritize Video Creation
I’ve hinted at this already in the previous section but, from a content creation standpoint, upping your video game is a must. Not only is it a great way to communicate key information in a captivating way to your audience but, if done consistently, can open your organization up to far more online traffic going forward.
Don’t just take my word for it either – the statistics about video consumption online don’t lie. More than 50% of internet videos are consumed via mobile (yet another reason to make sure your templates are responsive) and more than 90% of people who view them on social media are sharing them with your friends. Also, with over a billion active users, YouTube is now the second-biggest search engine out there, behind only their parent company Google.
Essentially, if you’re only putting out text-based blog articles with no visual spice added to them at all, you’re not doing your engagement numbers any favors. Once again, clarity and brevity are the watchwords for success in the video realm, so much so that they often take priority over production value. You don’t need to be a cinematography expert or have the most up-to-date camera gear to be effective with video – you just need to get them out there and do so often.
Make Your Website Design Intuitive
Another visual element that will directly impact the level of online engagement felt by your business or non-profit is the design of your webpages, widgets and other website elements. Nothing inflates bounce rates more than a site that is confusing to navigate, bloated and just not easy to use.
First, similarly to the technical issues I mentioned earlier, make sure your navigation menus are clearly defined and follow an intuitive thought progression so that submenus and links to other pages are easy to find. For example, your “About Us” page shouldn’t be difficult to find if someone lands on your website, nor should your organization’s contact information. Simplicity in design will streamline the user experience and make it more involving for all visitors.
If your organization has already developed a dense ecosystem of landing pages, blog pages and other website material, a good place to start an optimization process would be to declutter your existing design as well as your content. If it’s out-of-date, not in use or superfluous in any way, time to trim the fat and make your online presence a lean, user-friendly machine.
Use Social Media to Forge Community Relationships
Social media is more than just for sharing organizational updates and cute pictures of someone’s cat (or dog). Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more can be leveraged as an amazing communication tool that allows you to speak directly to community residents and visitors alike.
How does your program get to that point of relationship-building on social platforms? Well, it’s a by-product of a typical marketing approach to social, which is to create buzz around your brand. This can be accomplished by offering special promotions exclusively on one specific network or by hosting events that your organization’s followers can share with their friends and family – remember, the objective is to get people talking.
Another great way to up online engagement through social media is to invite people to leave comments and/or reviews online. This means both the positive and the negative, by the way; Make sure you respond to each one personally, warts and all. That way, your connection with reviewers will become more human and those commenting online will know that their feedback is noticed and appreciated.
Get Community Ambassadors to Engage with Your Brand
You’ve heard of celebrity endorsements, but not all social proof has to involve multi-million-dollar contracts and expensive photo or video shoots (unless you want to go that route). In fact, seeking out local experts or public figures and getting them to act as an ambassador for your organization can bring some valuable gravitas to your organization’s brand.
This can be as simple as an Instagram picture that gets shared to a wider base of followers or a longer video testimonial that is planned out ahead of time. The bottom line is that 83% of consumers trust more personalized recommendations over other forms of marketing or brand awareness campaigns. The more you can lean on social proof as part of your online strategy, the better.
Not sure if this applies to your soccer program? You can mold this method to your means, depending on what will have the biggest impact on your audience. You can get your mayor, city council or other more political figures involved if you want; however, another tact could be to highlight participants reviews. Setting up a referral program can be a great way to get more recommendations for your services, programs or activities circulating online.
Give Away Free Stuff, Especially to Your Best Customers
Have loyal brand enthusiasts who stick with you year-round? Make sure you reward them with some freebies. This is a low-cost investment that can bring about a strong ROI if the positive word-of-mouth is translated into new registrants and eventual return business.
From a recipient’s perspective, they’ll have the chance to share their post-giveaway joy with their friends on social media, which will only add to the positive aura surrounding your organization. Further to that, if there’s incentive for current customers to encourage friends and/or their family members to sign up as well, enthusiasm for any such referral process will be that much stronger.
Using freebies to recognize loyalty and performance shouldn’t be limited to customers either. Have a Staffer of the Month prize too and make sure the community knows how awesome your employees are. As a bonus, your organization will also be seen as one that truly cares about its staff members and giving back to those who deserve it.
Send Your Email Subscribers Updates They Want to Read
Contrary to the opinions of certain online circles, email isn’t dead. In fact, by 2020, the communication tool will boast 3 billion users worldwide. However, emails sent to a subscriber list or a specific demographic are only going to convert community members into participants if people read them and click through to your site.
Like any other form of content, readers should care about what you’re sending them and find it valuable. How do you write more engaging emails? The trick is not to overthink things and start with the basics. Use action-oriented language (e.g. - “You can” and “I do”), get to the point quickly and make sure you hook recipients with something exciting off the top. Boring emails equal low engagement rates.
It may take some time for your organization to fine-tune its voice and tone where email is concerned but don’t despair. Keep at it and make changes where necessary based on click and open rates. For beginners, check out HubSpot’s marketing email writing guide for insight and examples.
Monitor Performance and Adjust Accordingly
Finally, we have the least exciting part of this whole process: waiting and interpreting your website’s engagement data. Increasing community engagement can be a long process but it’s for the best. Growth and long-term sustainability require a more measured approach and the avoidance of band-aid fixes.
Make sure you have a solid analytics and database system in place. This will allow you to take all your website’s information and distill it into manageable, insightful action items for the future. After that, you can focus on making tweaks to your overall plan, follow up after a certain period of time and make further improvements down the road.
Also, don’t just talk about making changes. Actually make them. Focus on attracting new generations of community members and keeping those already using your services, no matter what approach you take from a content, design, social media, email marketing or participant interaction perspective.
Remember: methods of working and communicating online will change. Consumer trends and recreation habits will too. Real human connections with community members, however, is the one resource your organization can build organically that will stand the test of time. To boost engagement and maintain that level of enthusiasm for your services or activities over time, you need to start and end with lasting relationships in mind.
Want even more tips that can help your organization blossom into a local mainstay? Learn more about Amilia today.