Monday morning, site stats time. The numbers look ok but not really what you were hoping for. You've been working hard to get this great looking blog up, filled with great content. There are more and more visitors, but they don't to do anything.
Many site owners are on the look-out for ways to optimize their site and improve conversion rates. But no matter how hard you work to create an awesome site/product/blog/game, there will be people that don't seem to respond.
Jakob Nielsen and friends did a study on user participation in online communities:
- 90% of the visitors are lurkers, who just read.
- 10% might engage now and then, they are light contributors
- 1% of the visitors are the heavy contributors, they are the core of engagement
Numbers vary for different types of communities, but most tend to skew even further.
- Blogs: 95-5-0.1
- Wikipedia: 99.8-0.2-0.003
Who is your real audience? The 90% silent ones, or the 1% that continues to show up?
Which conclusions do you draw from your engagement metrics. Is a success the same for every visitor?
If you use one indicator for your whole audience you disregard 90% of your users. They are very different: maybe they aren't as tech savvy, not aware of the benefits of engagement or maybe they just don't care.
If you use a blog to gather feedback for your products, new feature requests might just be the 1% most heavily engaged users (not necessarily heavy product users) telling you what they want. Getting closer in touch with users might be a good way to get additional information.
But these numbers aren't set in stone, what can you do to engage the lurkers?
Make it as easy as possible to participate
Rethink forms, captchas, confirmation pages, etc. Every barrier is a reason to give up.
Edit, don't create
Instead of making users do all the heavy lifting, give them a template they can edit. Example of this are the templates behind Tweet this buttons, already with a text and link. All you need to do is send, or make some small changes.