Conversions are usually the first thing website owners track, and, in some cases, the only one. The issue is that conversions alone do not tell the full story.
While tracking conversions is good and should be a priority, you should also start looking at engagement. Engagement is directly related to conversions, even if they don’t always result in a sale. You first have to engage your customer in one way or another, and if you weren’t able to do it off-site before a sale, your website needs to do the work. Let’s take a look at why tracking customer engagement is so important and how you can measure it properly.
The Importance of User Engagement
Website engagement is all about capturing your visitor’s attention and piquing their interest enough to stay on your site and perform the desired action. One of the main issues with focusing too much on conversions is that some of your campaigns may be more successful than you think, but you end up scrapping them because they don’t result in immediate sales.
This is especially true if you’re in a business where your expertise is the main commodity. You can’t expect someone to hire you as a consultant after first bumping across your website, even if they like it. It could take months, or even years before someone finally decides to hire you. That means that it can be difficult to track the effect of things like website changes or different marketing initiatives on sales.
This is why you’ll need to focus on engagement metrics. Not only that, but you also have to be able to interpret that data correctly so you can take the proper actions.
One example of a metric that is often misunderstood is session duration. Many see this as the be-all and end-all of engagement, and it’s a reflection of it, but that’s not all.
You never know why sessions are longer. It might be that people drift away when they see your website because they’re only partially interested but they tend to leave it open in their tabs. Or maybe they went and picked a cup of coffee.
Another metric that can be misleading is bounce rates. Some people will assume that a higher bounce rate is automatically bad and that a lower one is automatically good. But some people may bounce right away because you did a good job at giving them exactly what they wanted, and they signed up or sent an inquiry. That’s clearly a sign of engagement and one that has a very strong chance of turning into a sale.
If the bounce rate is low, on the other hand, it could be that people are confused when they get to your website and don’t know what to do. Or maybe your navigation is bad. Even social media shares cannot be taken at face value. This is why metrics are nothing without a thorough analysis and putting them up against each other. Let’s take a look at some of the metrics you should concentrate on.
Attention minutes seem very similar to session duration at first glance, but with one major difference. It shows the time someone was active on a page, not simply having it open in the background. This means that the visitor has to be interacting with the page in some way, whether watching content, scrolling down, or clicking.
You should still know that this can be flawed. Again, someone may be frustrated that they can’t find what they’re looking for and aimlessly wander about trying to figure out how to get there. However, frustrated visitors usually stop after around 20 seconds, so you should concentrate on those who stay longer than that.
One thing you should know is that not all analytics tools will allow you to track attention minutes. If it’s not possible, your second-best bet is interactions. This will calculate how many times a visitor is interacting with your website within the average session.
Interactions can be downloads, shares, links, or comments. Not all interactions are equal, give more weight to those that are important to you. If you run a blog, for instance, you might want to pay more attention to the number of articles people look at. Someone perusing your site and reading more than one article is usually a reliable sign of engagement.
Another metric that could tell you a lot about engagement is visit frequency. A high number of sessions per user usually shows that they found your website helpful. But this isn’t the only view of this metric that you can consider.
You could also look at the number of days between sessions. And this has to be relevant to your efforts. For instance, if you constantly update your website but the average visitor only comes once every 30 days, there might be an issue. If you only update once a month, however, that wouldn’t be as alarming.
What makes this metric tricky is that your site can have a huge influence on it. If you have a portfolio website, for instance, multiple visits without conversions could be a sign of someone indecisive. Too many of those, and you might want to make changes to your portfolio or design. But if it’s for a blog, this is usually a great sign.
Another metric we have to speak about that is often overlooked is scroll depth. This might seem simple but checking how low people are ready to scroll down on your pages is one of the most trustworthy indicators you can use. While it is better to track engagement with a specific page and not the entire site, it can still be a great tool to optimize your pages or choose the best place for your call-to-action.
As you can see, measuring engagement is not that complicated. It takes some work, however, and an understanding of what metrics are truly trying to say.