How Do You Measure User Engagement?

As a site owner, you already know that user engagement is important but how do you measure it? You can use simple tools such as Google Analytics to identify the number of users that land on your pages, how long they stay on your pages, the number of pageviews, and your bounce rate. Analytic tools give you some numbers that you can use to identify the success of your site, but you can use other metrics to give you a bigger picture.

User engagement is a key foundation for your site’s growth and success. It’s affected by several factors including site quality, navigation, organization and especially performance. Getting massive amounts of search engine traffic is not enough to create  a successful site. It’s what you do with your site once users land on your pages that matter more — this is the starting point for user engagement.

Time Spent on a Page

Google Analytics reports the amount of time users spend on your pages. It can be difficult to address this metric because bots will skew these numbers. Bots hit your pages and bounce immediately, so they reduce the amount of time reported by actual users when you review averages.

It might take some time to differentiate between bots and actual users, but when you’re able to filter out bots (by IP or user agent) you can get a more accurate amount of time spent on your site. The longer your users spend on the site, the more they read your content. Users that spend a few minutes reading your content are finding what they are searching for and are more likely to engage in other content or buy product.

Purchases and Referral Pages

Purchases (also referred as acquisitions) mean that a user bought your product, but what pages on your site are engaging users and compelling them to buy product? It’s important to track pages that are funneling to your product pages. These pages are the ones that sell and increase user engagement stats. They can be used to create new content that builds on your current pages for increased visibility.

With acquisition stats, you can also identify popular products and what is commonly viewed. Popular products can be more prominently positioned to increase acquisitions and revenue.

Direct Referral Traffic

You know that search engines, links, and ads direct traffic to your site but what about direct traffic? Direct traffic tells you that previous customers came back to your site or you possibly have a word-of-mouth referral. Direct referral traffic comes with popularity and good reviews from previous customers that talk about your site with friends and family.

Adding a section that asks how users heard about your site helps identify direct traffic referrals. You can add this section in account creation pages or in the shopping cart process. Direct traffic is one of the cheapest ways to acquire customers, because it costs nothing more than hosting a web page. You want to foster these relationships and attract direct traffic by giving current customers incentives to refer your business.

Retention Rate

How many customers buy product or download your app and never return? Retention rate is the number of customers that return to purchase more product or keep your app after testing it out. Along with direct referral traffic, repeat customers are some of the cheapest acquisitions because you just  need limited advertising to get them to buy more product. Some customers come back willingly.

“Churn” (lost customers) is a number that depends on your industry. If you have monthly service and your customers don’t return the month following their first order, you could consider this a lost customer. Customers that buy product might buy it again next month or a few months in the future. These customers are considered easier to resell, but the methods that you use and the frequency of purchases will depend on industry. It’s up to you to determine your churn rate based on your industry and stats.

What Affects User Engagement?

After you determine user engagement, you should know what affects it so that you can work to improve. User engagement numbers will never be perfect, but you can cater to common user interests based on your own statistics. Several general issues affect user engagement and these issues could be present on any site in any industry.

Content quality is always an issue. When users open your pages, they should be able to easily find the information that they were searching for. If it’s hard to find, they will leave your site and find another one in search results.

Poor navigation leaves users wondering what to do after they find your pages. They can’t find more information or easily find product. Always make navigation clear and include menus in common locations at the top or left side of the screen.

Finally, site performance takes a huge toll on your user engagement statistics. A slow site cuts your prospects in half after only a few seconds load time. A CDN can greatly reduce these load times and improve user engagement on sites that suffer from performance. This commonly happens when site owners don’t scale their site resources as marketing efforts increase and the site attracts more visitors. You can take advantage of a CDN and keep your current ISP for as little as $.01/GB.


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