The sound of silence can be a dangerous thing in business. You’re working hard to build an engaging brand and enjoy the interaction between you and your target audience. So what do you do when your audience stops engaging and goes silent? How can you jump-start the conversation between you and your audience?

Let’s start by discussing a few key areas in your business where you may have noticed your audience going quiet. You know your audience has gone quiet when you see a decrease in your email open rates, & click-thru’s. A decrease in your Retweet’s on Twitter and conversation/likes on Facebook. A decrease in blog comments, a decrease in referrals, and even a decrease in incoming phone calls. All of this can and will lead to a decrease in sales and opportunities.

You may notice a decrease in just one of these areas. If that’s the case the fix can be fairly easy. If every channel has gone quiet then the first thing you need to do is check and see what you’ve done. Any brand can screw up, especially personal brands. Sadly, I see a lot of people damaging their personal brand via social media on a daily basis. A strong opinion on something controversial can make your audience run the other way in a hurry.

But assuming you haven’t massively screwed up, then fixing a silent audience can be quick & easy. Let’s dive into a few channels…

EMAIL: Regardless of what company you use for handling your email list…iContact, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc almost all of them provide stats on open rates and click through rates. You should monitor these and watch for trends & changes. If you see that your open rates have decreased then the 1st thing you should focus on is the Subject Line.

The subject line of an email is THE most important part. It’s the headline that determines whether or not your email is gonna get opened. You MUST write great subject lines. I spend more time working on the copy of the subject line than I do the email itself…it’s that important.

EMAIL CLICK THROUGH RATES: Your click-through rate is the number of times your subscribers click the links in your email. One mistake I see marketers make frequently is including too many links in their email!!! This drives me insane. Do you want them to click the link to your blog post or your LinkedIn profile? You can’t have it both ways. Your readers are busy and aren’t looking to go back and forth and check out every single resource you mention in the email. Focus on one clear objective for each email.

Also, ALWAYS include a link in your emails. Never break this rule. You see, most people send out an email filled with juicy content & helpful information…but no links. Then they send an email a few days later with a fancy link to a sales offer. The problem? You’re subconsciously training your readers to know that if they see a link you’re trying to get their money. So they stop clicking. But if every email…even the ones that are 100% content require them to click a link to get to it, then you are training them to be in the habit of clicking your links. [this tip alone is worth the price of admission to this blog]

BLOG COMMENTS: Comments are the lifeblood of your blog. If they are few and far between or you’ve noticed they’ve dropped off from what they used to be then there are a few things to fix. The first thing is to ensure you are commenting back.

It’s an honor for someone to take the time to comment on what you’ve written. You owe it to them to comment back & engage them. Secondly, make sure you’re writing blog posts that your audience WANTS. Give them what they need and keep on giving it to them.

Blogging shouldn’t be about what you want to write about. It should be about what your audience wants & needs. And don’t be afraid to leave a post open for conversation. For example, you may be thinking of an area of engagement I’ve missed in this post. Well then, by all means leave me a comment!

FACEBOOK COMMENTS/LIKES: The best way to keep conversation going on FB is to ask questions. People love to give their 2 cents on…well, anything. Just like blog comments you want to be sure to comment back to people. Engagement is a 2 way conversation. You’ll receive more interaction and ‘Likes’ to your postings when it’s relevant to your audience and most importantly, when it’s not boring. Nothing will kill the vibe of your community faster than being boring.

RE-TWEETS: A drop off in RT’s from Twitter is a super easy thing to fix. First, like your blog, put out great content. The content needs to be relevant to your target audience.

Don’t always quote someone. An original thought is far more likely to earn a RT. Also, remember that the shelf-life of an average tweet is next to nothing. This is why frequency becomes so important. Post good content often. You’ll find certain days, and certain times of the day will bring you more RT’s. But the key is to post a lot and post often.

(Also, don’t ask for a RT unless it’s for charity or some other good cause important to you. If you’re stuff is good it will get a RT, asking for it seems desperate & is like asking for help before the person has gotten the value themselves. It’s okay to encourage people to share, but trust your audience. They’ll take care of you if you take care of them.)

REFERRALS: Something that frequently comes up when I’m consulting with a business is that they’ve seen a drop-off in referrals. My response is always “what are people saying when you ask for them?” to which their response is almost always “uh, we’re supposed to ask for them?”.

Yep, if you want more referrals start asking for them. It’s amazing how simple business can be sometimes. They are 3 types of people…those who will always send you referrals whether you ask them or not (God Bless these people!), those who will never send you a referral no matter what (screw ‘em), and those who will…if you ask. No one wakes up and says “I’m gonna see what I can do to help __________’s business today”. Wow your customers with an incredible experience and let them know you appreciate AND expect their referrals. You’ll be amazed at how effective this is.

PHONE CALLS: What the heck was I thinking? I have no idea why I put phone calls on here. I hate phone calls and if I saw a decrease in them I’d be thrilled. Only very close friends & family know my cell phone number and the truth is too many of them know it. Set up your communication channels the way you prefer to communicate. Most of my conversations are through email, and then we take it to the phone when needed. I love phone calls…when they are scheduled. Otherwise it’s a distraction…or my mom wanting to know how my day was. I love my mommy.

Consistency is a huge factor in engagement. A lot of people will read this and say “duh”. Those are the same people who are not consistent and have little to no engagement with their audience. The best personal brands in the world are the ones who have a strong community of followers. That community LOVES engagement. Don’t let your audience go quiet on you. It’s not up to them…it’s up to you.

P.S. If you have any tips on making a mother-in-law go quiet without going all ‘Dexter’ on her, I’m open to suggestions.