Back in the late 1990s, “stickiness” was the big term; how to get web visitors to return to your site – hopefully, again and again. Today, the strategy has evolved into “Outbound Stickiness” – going out and pulling that visitor back in. Going back in time, there were many sticky techniques including the hosting of tools, calculators, forums/bulletin boards, and of course – my favorite – “favorites”. “Favorites” pre-dated good search engine results. Back then, you as a site owner would proffer your favorite links. Typically, they related to your industry and gave web visitors the opportunity to explore other related sites. Well, as the search engines of the day improved their results, the favorites section lost its favor. It became very hard to become an authority site. Many a client of mine back then created a “lounge” or “portal” type of section on their site hoping to be the center of their respective universe. But web surfers soon preferred to get their informational direction from a Yahoo search. Site stickiness never lost its allure. And now, new techniques have come into play in order to gain that coveted repeat visit. This time it’s an outbound effort. Content is created that travels out from the website to seek out users. It’s driven by RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and it’s used to distribute all kinds of information including news, blogs, and podcasts. We have evolved to Outbound Stickiness. Currently, most blogs and podcasts revolve around time-sensitive events and writer opinion. However, they are just too darned valuable to be left to those noble endeavors. Businesses, big and small see (or will soon see), RSS and its related content as an opportunity to reach out and touch someone – again and again. This trend doesn’t bother me in the least. I’ve always gotten educated or stayed current on my industry by subscribing to informative newsletters, magazines, etc., be they of the printed or electronic variety. I even appreciate advertising as an information source in its own right. The difference is that now I have the convenience of having all of my sources being dropped into a central place for pickup. It’s on demand and I like many others are demanding it. Outbound stickiness is going to include not only news of the day, but education on the tried and true. In order to be credible, businesses are going to need to educate through these mediums as opposed to simply advertising or branding. If they want to keep you as a subscriber of their feed, value is going to need to be continually delivered. Something easier said than done. This all presents opportunities and challenges on a variety of levels. First, there is creation of the content. Someone is going to have to acquire and consolidate the content. To get good traction with and grow a subscriber base, recycling someone else’s content will not do the trick for long (sorry, you can’t just steal it from the net). Next, not all of us are writers or recording artists. Internal or outsourced resources will need to be hired to actually deliver the information in an effective style and format (e.g. blog writers, podcasters, video podcasters, etc.). You’ll need information marketers to continually review the information that has been previously published for accuracy and relevancy. Because information created and distributed to the Internet is difficult to eradicate, it won’t be a matter of just deleting old files. New information will need to be created to supersede the old. And the whole cycle will begin again. A credence of mine (that I obtained from somewhere now unknown), is “if you can’t get out of it – get into it”. Let me tell you – you can’t get out of this one. If you don’t already have a strategy to deliver some Outbound Stickiness, get it going now. It’s just not for news-junkie/conservative/liberal/techie/egocentrics anymore. My recommendation is to publish by series. If you sell paint, do a series of 5 blog entries, podcasts, etc., on color. Next, do a series on prep and application. Next, on design trends. You get the idea. By publishing to a series you escape the pressure of continually coming up with and extending your subject. Also, if you need a break, take it between series’. Then you won’t look like you just jumped on the bandwagon, ran out of ideas, and fell off. Additionally, mix time-specific information and opinion with tried and true educational content. Good luck with it all! For some of you it will be liberating, for others it’s fingers on a chalkboard (by the way, we’re going to need to come up with a new idiom for that one – who uses chalk boards anymore. Any suggestions – email me). If you want some advice or have any comments – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.bastioninternet.com. We’re a web marketing firm located in Southern California and are happy to help.
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