What is Website Engagement?
Website engagement is a general term that is used to describe how much interaction visitors are having with your site. It is important to have good levels of visitor engagement with your site when your goals are to take visitors down a path of making a purchase or other types of conversion.
How is Engagement Measured?
Since engagement is such a general term, it can be defined in various ways, such as how long visitors stay on your site, many pages they view within your site, or how many actions they take within your site (such as clicking on a button or watching a video). Engagement can be measured by just one of these or any combination of them.
The usual way that website owners measure the types of engagement mentioned above is with Google Analytics. When properly installed in your site, Google Analytics automatically lets you know the time an average user stays on your site and how many pages the average visitor views on your site. When event tracking is configured within Google Analytics, it becomes possible to look at the average number of actions a visitor takes in your site such a signing up for a mailing list or clicking on a specific button or external link, if that is a type of engagement you would like to measure.
How is Engagement Improved?
The crucial first step in optimizing user engagement is to take baseline measurements using Google Analytics over a long enough time period that you’ll have a good sized sample of visits. Typically, a month of traffic may be used, but if your site only has a few hundred visits per month, it can be important to get baseline measurements across several months. When only a few hundred visits are used for measurement, the time on site measurements may not be as accurate on average as when a thousand or more visits are used as the sample.
From the baseline measurements, take a look at time on site and pages per visit, and event tracking if you have that capability installed. Then consider what the number of pages you would expect a profitable website visitor to view. If your goal is to have visitors make a purchase, you may want to see them looking at product details, adding to the cart, and going to a checkout page. If the average pages per visit is below 2, this could indicate that users are on the average not completing the path you want them to take toward making a purchase. With this information you can take a look at the baseline time on site measurement as well, and then make strategic changes in your site content or the types of encouragements you provide – such as the text on buttons – to entice visitors further into your site. After each change, you can then take another sample measurement of time on site and pages per visit, and then compare with the baseline to find out if your changes were useful. It is important to make sure you have at least as big a sample of visits on measurements after changes as you used for the baseline. So if it took a month to get sufficient visits for a baseline measurement, you’ll likely need to spend another month of gathering visits before you can have a good value for comparison after your changes to the site.
Engagement Optimization Can Take Months
As mentioned above, if your site only receives a few hundred visits per month, you’ll need at least a month or more of visits before you can gain a sufficient sample to have average values from which to make good decisions on whether changes you’ve made to the site are having a beneficial effect.
If you have 2000 to 5000 visits or more per month, you may be able to get enough visits within 1 to 2 weeks in order to make good decisions regarding improvements. Over 5000 visits per month can make for faster turnarounds on the order of days instead of weeks.
The time required to make strategic decisions can be reduced by using the crowdsourced tools at http://ismywebsitegood.com . Running the suite of tests available at this site, and selecting a large sample size of visitors, allows for decisions to be made in minutes instead of days or weeks or even months. Comparing to competitor sites that are known to be successful can also be done with the tools on this site.
Engagement testing is also beneficial for political campaigns. To most quickly gauge whether there is sufficient enticement to venture further into a site to find out more about a candidate or an issue, consider running the welcoming test and call to action test at the site above.
If you believe your site could use engagement optimization, contact us today to learn more about our service offerings including measurement and strategic planning for improving website engagement.