Defining User Engagement Metrics And Their Importance To Your Business
When it comes to marketing and sales, a lot of emphasis is placed on attracting new leads to your website. While this is certainly important, boosting web traffic isn’t going to amount to much if you can’t capture your visitors or nurture your leads through the sales funnel. The only way you’re going to achieve any measure of success is by engaging your visitors. This is the entire reason why you have a content marketing strategy and a social media presence — to engage with your audience.
Without engagement, you are not going to be able to generate interest. Because of how important your ability to engage your audience is, you will need to pay attention to your user engagement metrics. Doing so will allow you to effectively judge your ability to engage users and to improve that ability by making adjustments to your strategy where necessary.
What Does User Engagement Mean?
User Engagement Tools
User engagement metrics help you measure and track how your audience is interacting with your brand at various touchpoints, thereby allowing you to make strategic marketing and sales decisions to improve engagement. There are many analytics tools out there that can be used to measure user engagement; however, the following are some of the most popular:
Google Analytics is arguably the go-to tool for tracking user engagement on your website — and it’s free to use. The tool allows you to track a wide range of metrics that give you tons of insight into how engaged your website’s visitors are and how you can improve user engagement. Some of these metrics include website traffic, average session duration, frequency of visits, bounce rate, conversion rate, and more.
Where other tools provide data in the form of numbers, heat maps show a visual representation of user engagement on a page. When using a heat map, you’ll see where users are most engaged on a single webpage by heat spots, which are areas of bright yellow, orange, and red colors. Areas where there is less engagement are represented by cooler colors, such as green and blue.
Heat maps are useful because they show you exactly what elements users are interacting with on any given webpage. They can give you a better idea of how to position different elements to achieve your goals for that page. For example, if you notice that there’s a lot of activity on the top right of the page but there’s very little activity at the bottom of the page where you’ve positioned your CTA (call-to-action), then you might want to consider moving your CTA to the top right to improve engagement.
There are several types of heat maps that you can use to identify different types of engagement. The following are a few of the most useful heat maps:
- Click maps – Click maps show you where users are clicking on your page. Not only can you identify where links generate the most clicks, but you can also identify elements that may not be clickable that users are clicking because they are mistaking them for clickable elements.
- Hover maps – Hover maps show you where users tend to let their mouse hover on your page. This can show you what areas of your webpage the user is most concentrated on while they’re on that page.
- Scroll maps – Scroll maps show you how far down your page users are scrolling. This can tell you how engaged they are with your content. If most scrolling activity ceases halfway down your page, odds are the page isn’t engaging enough.
PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns are a great, cost-effective way to bring more traffic to your website. If you’re running a Google AdWords campaign, you’ll want to take advantage of their user engagement metrics to track how engaging your ads are. You can track:
- Traffic metrics – Traffic-based metrics, such as click-through-rate, measure how many people are clicking on your ad, which helps provide you with an idea of how effective your keywords and your copy are.
- Conversion rate – Conversion rate allows you to see how many of the people who clicked on your ad converted (whether it was making a purchase, contacting your company, filling out a form, or any other such action). This engagement metric lets you determine your cost per conversion for each ad as well.
Google Search Console
Google Analytics provides you with metrics on how users are engaging with your site, whereas Google Search Console provides information on how search engines interact with your site. It’s a free tool that you’ll want to use to figure out how you are performing on Google’s search engine. This relates directly to user engagement in several ways — organic traffic to your site is the result of users being able to find your site on Google and actually clicking on the link to your site, which is a form of engagement in itself.
Keeping that in mind, some of the metrics you’ll want to track through Google Search Console include web clicks, image clicks, web impressions, image impressions, date range, average click-through-rate (CTR), average position, and more. You can use these metrics to identify your highest-traffic pages and CTR queries as well as identify when page rankings go up and down. All of this is important data that can help you improve your SEO efforts to bring in more high quality traffic.
Determining Your Website’s Traffic
Monitoring your website traffic over time helps you keep an eye on how certain marketing strategies, such as your SEO and social media strategies, are performing. If traffic begins to drop, it means that your marketing efforts may not be successfully engaging with your audience and they require adjustment. There are a lot of ways to monitor web traffic, but the most basic is page views.
The page views measurement tells you how many people are visiting your individual webpages. Google Analytics allows you to track page views over a given period of time. It also provides a page view analysis, which is helpful for identifying whether any changes to your pages have affected their traffic (such as a new page layout).
It’s worth noting that while page views can give you a basic understanding of how any given webpage is performing over a specific period of time, you’re not going to understand the reasoning behind these numbers unless you use them in conjunction with other related metrics. For example, a high number of page views would indicate that certain marketing efforts are working well to drive traffic, but it doesn’t tell you where that traffic is coming from or what visitors are doing when they arrive on your site. There’s always a chance that a lot of those page views come from users who are bouncing around your site because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Determining The Quality Of Visitors
While page views can help you gauge how effective your marketing efforts have been over time, you’ll want to dive a little deeper to find out who is actually visiting your website. There are several metrics you’ll want to monitor using Google Analytics in order to determine the quality of your visitors, which, in turn, provide a much more detailed look into your web traffic. These metrics include the following:
Some of your visitors may be visiting your website on more than one occasion. You won’t want to count multiple sessions from a single visitor as multiple visitors. Otherwise, you’re not getting very accurate information about your web traffic. Unique visitors tells you how many individuals have visited your site during a specified period of time. Google is able to do this by assigning client IDs to each unique visitor in their browser.
New users are defined by Google within a two-year time frame. This means that if someone visits your website more than once within a two-year period, they are considered a new visitor. Tracking new visitors provides you with more accurate information regarding any marketing efforts (such as SEO or PPC) to generate new leads. If none of your visitors are new, it means you need to adjust your marketing strategy.
While new users are important to growing your business, you’ll also want to track returning visitors. New visitors indicate the quality of your marketing efforts outside of your site, where returning visitors give you an idea of how effectively you were able to engage those visitors during their first visit (the more engaging your site is, the more likely visitors are to return). If all of your visitors are new, it means that your website probably needs some work.
Determining How Long They Are Engaged
Identifying the number and quality of your website’s visitors is important, but determining whether they’re engaging with your website is just as — if not more — important. The following are a few important metrics you should track to see how engaged your website’s visitors are:
Sessions refer to the duration of time that users spend exploring your site, whether they stay on a single page or view multiple pages. The longer their sessions are, the more engaged you can assume that they are. The average session duration is a metric you’ll want to track. It divides the total number of sessions within a specific time period by the total number of seconds spent by all users on your site during that same period.
Pages Per Session
Pages per session goes a little deeper into your sessions data. It refers to how many pages a visitor viewed during a single session. You can assume that a user that viewed more pages during their session was generally more engaged with your site. It means that they were probably exploring your website further following their initial visit using your navigation bar or by following internal links. However, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean a low pages per session number is bad — some visitors may stick to one or two pages if they’re reading longer content and may return at a later date to explore your site further.
The scroll depth plugin allows you to measure how far down your page users are scrolling. This Google Analytics tool measures four scroll points at 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, and 100 percent down your page. Whenever a user scrolls down to one of these points, an event is sent to Google Analytics, which is recorded as a point of interaction or engagement. Besides being able to view how far down users are scrolling (which can tell you how engaging your page is), you can also track when users scroll down to specific elements on your page (such as images or CTAs).
Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors that left your website without visiting more than one page. It means that they did not engage in anyway. This is a good metric to follow because it can give you strong hints as to any problems you might have with a page. For example, if a page has a particularly high bounce rate, then you know that something is keeping visitors from being engaged. It could just be that the content is bad or irrelevant to their search or it could be because there’s a technical issue that’s hurting the user experience (such as slow loading speeds).
Exit pages are the last pages that users visit before they leave your website. Every page is going to have an exit rate of some kind since visitors may leave at any point. However, you should track the exit rate of your webpages because a particularly high exit rate can tell you that something is wrong with that page. Some pages are going to have high exit rates no matter what, such as contact pages and thank you pages. But if the page wasn’t designed as an exit page but has a high exit rate, it could be because:
- The visitor doesn’t know where to go next due to a lack of a CTA
- The visitor can’t find the CTA because the page is poorly formatted
- The page is filled with content and is too overwhelming to read
- The page has technical issues so they left
The abandonment rate refers to any conversion action that the visitor was in the midst of completing before they left your website. For example, if someone placed a product in their cart on your ecommerce page but left your site without checking out. You’ll want to keep abandonment rates as low as possible. If you notice an abandonment rate that is much higher than usual, you’ll want to inspect the page on which it occurred. For example, maybe customers aren’t checking out because there’s a technical issue that’s preventing them from doing so (perhaps once they input their address, the next page doesn’t load). Or maybe something else made them change their minds, such as your shipping costs.
Determining the Rate Of Complete Engagement
Complete engagement occurs when you’ve successfully engaged a visitor to the point where they convert — meaning, they perform the action that you desired, whether it’s providing you with their personal information, contacting your company directly via your contact form (or by calling or emailing you), or by completing a purchase. You can determine the rate of complete engagement using the conversion rate metric.
Conversions are the end goal but there can be different end goals. As such, you’ll want to tailor your conversion rate using specifics, such as keyword conversion rate or marketing channel conversion rate. You can also strictly monitor your overall conversion rate, which will give you an idea of how successful your efforts to convert visitors to your site have been. When it comes down to it, the higher your conversion rate is, the better.
Other Overlooked Metrics
The previously listed metrics are the most commonly used and for good reason — used jointly with one another, they are a great way to judge how engaged your users are. However, there are a few additional metrics you should monitor as well that tend to be overlooked. These include:
Comments (whether in the form of feedback, questions, or blog post comments) are a clear indicator that your users are engaged. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have bothered leaving a comment. You should track what pages generate the most comments to give you an idea of what’s engaging your visitors.
All of your content should have social share buttons to all of the social channels that you maintain a presence on. This makes it easy for visitors to share or like your content with the click of a button. You’ll want to track these social interactions as this provides you with insight into what kind of content to focus on in the future (content with more social interactions is going to provide your brand with more reach).
Why Are These Metrics Important?
Keys To Achieving Favorable Indicators
Paying attention to user engagement metrics allows you to create a better overall user experience for your audience. You’ll find that it will become easier to figure out what their questions are, thereby allowing you to provide the answers that they are looking for. That said, the following are a few tips that will help you to achieve favorable engagement indicators:
1. Produce Interactive Content
The more engaging your content is, the better. While there’s nothing wrong with having text-based content available, you should vary your content. For example, visual content tends to be more engaging because it draws the eye. Things like videos and infographics are particularly effective.
2. Produce Valuable Content
While producing interactive content is important, it doesn’t matter how interactive it is if it’s of poor quality. Your content needs to be well made (whether it’s written text or produced video content) and it must offer value to your audience. If the content is not helpful or relevant to their needs, then it won’t engage your users. Additionally, when producing written content, make sure it’s easy to read. Break your content up so that it can be easily scanned. A giant wall of text is not going to be engaging.
Remember to align your content with the buyer’s journey as well. You should have content that addresses the needs of your visitors at every stage of their journey — no matter what platform they’re on.
3. Create Beneficial Headlines In Your Blogs
Put some effort into the headlines for your blog posts. You’ve spent a lot of time creating the blog content itself, you’ll want to make sure that it’s read (or viewed). A good headline should capture your audience’s interest by showcasing the solution to a problem. A good headline will help engage visitors and convince them to continue exploring your website — not to mention attract visitors to your website in the first place.
4. Provide a Favourable User Experience
A good user experience can help prevent a lot of the issues that hurt user engagement. For example, make sure that your webpages load within two to three seconds. Slow loading pages hurt your user experience. Make sure that navigation is easy and that your website’s layout is user-friendly and easy to explore.
5. Provide Clear Calls-To-Action
A clear CTA is the driving force of a high conversion rate. If a visitor is highly engaged, then you need to provide encouragement and direction in the form of a CTA. Without direction from strong CTAs, visitors will wander through your site until they leave, which means you’ll have missed out on the possibility to convert.
6. Run Effective Campaigns
Having a user-friendly website certainly helps with engagement. However, it’s your marketing campaigns that are going to bring traffic to your site. Without traffic, you can’t engage anyone, after all. Successful engagement will rely on strong content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and SEO campaigns.
Which Ones Should You Rely On For Your Business?
It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but monitoring these metrics will allow you to see how your website and marketing efforts are performing and will give you a good idea of what you need to address in order to improve engagement. It’s worth mentioning that there is no single metric that’s better than the rest — engagement metrics work best when they are used together. By using them together instead of independently, you’ll obtain the context you need to identify specific areas or issues that need to be addressed. However, don’t get too lost in your analytics. After all, at the end of the day, the most effective way to engage your audience is to provide value.