Engagement is Conversation

Well I’ve just come back from the RBI eMarketing conference, where I did a couple of speeches. The second one was on A/B testing, where I did a couple of examples and got people to vote (thanks to all those people that I nicked slides from). However, I thought I stick this post up here about the first one that I did with James Kelway on Engagement building and metrics (before he has a chance). What I’ll do is briefly cover his bit on building engagement (and link to his post when he writes it) and concentrate mainly on my bit of measuring.

I’ve talked about Engagement before on this blog (and so has Kate when she described how people are cats and not dogs), so I won’t go into too much depth. I thought what I’d actually do is mention what the metrics that we are using to describe engagement are:

  • Non homepage entry visits
  • Bounce rate and visit duration
  • Conversions and micro/step conversions
  • Brand search term strength
  • Frequency
  • Emotional responses

Thanks to Dave Chaffey actually for this, because I used much of his slides and melted them down into smaller versions.

Ok, so our first measure is all about non-homepage entry visits. I tried to stir it up a bit here, by claiming that “the home page is dead“. I only mean metaphorically, but it gives you the right impression. For many of our sites the home page doesn’t get more than 50% of the site entrants. For some of them it is 15%. We need to focus on the other areas that visitors are arriving at the site and optimise them for landing pages. Specifically I always think the best way of doing this is to group your content into either content groups (or if you are using Google Analytics into your url structure) and then surveying each group. You can then work from this to work out the areas you need to be concentrating on most.


I won’t wither on too much about bounce rates and visit durations, because I’ve posted about bounce rates and visit duration before. I always think a better way of looking at bounce rate is to look at the visits viewing more than one page. They are the important ones and we want to increase them. And then we can focus on these people and work out how we get them to stay for a longer period of time (ie how many visits last for more than one minute).

So having got them into the site and managed to get them to stay for more than one page, our ideal situation is not them wandering around aimlessly for hours on the site. We have key things that we want them to do on the site – the conversions. How many of them go on to convert? For each of our marketing campaigns how many of them go on to convert? These are the areas that we need to focus on. Having got that information, we then need to go back a step and wonder what we can do with it. This is where our step or micro conversions come into play. We need to look at each of the individual steps along the way to the conversion that the user has to take and work out why they are dropping out at each stage. We need to do this not only as a whole site, but also for each of our individual marketing campaigns.

Now we come onto the most important thing for our Marketers. Online, the user experience is the brand experience. If your users are having a good user experience online, then they’ll remember it and they’ll come back because they’ll remember the brand. How will they get back there? They’ll search for you in a search engine. It’s vitally important that you measure how much traffic your brand related traffic is generating and measure if it increases or decreases. There may be other factors that will effect this including television and radio advertising.

I haven’t ever posted before on frequency. It is something that I quite often put out there to the Business though. We want people to come back more frequently (in Google Analytics they call it Visitor Loyalty) and hence one of our key measures should be how frequently our visitors visit the site (how frequently do we want them to visit?). I always think a good way of looking at this is the volume of visitors that visit more frequently than once in your set time period. We also have a recency metric, whereby we can see how long ago visitors visited the site. Any that visited over a certain time period ago are no longer going to be engaged with your brand and should be treated as new visitors. Up to a certain point though, you want to keep them as ‘active’ as they’ll remember you if you market to them.

Finally, there are the emotional responses. These are what the user thinks. The best way of finding out is either to ask them using email surveys, exit surveys, etc. Or you can go to your expert groups (on facebook, on your blogs, etc) and ask them to let you know. This can’t be underestimated. Whilst the above measures will show you what the users do, the emotional response will tell you why they are doing it.

Let me end on the bit that James looked at. These are the methods for building engagement (as measured above):

  1. Content – build for focus and deliver on what is promised
  2. Calls to action – give clear choices and ensure relevance.
  3. Context – build trust and credibility by using visual hierarchy

Remember that measuring engagement is a waste of time if you aren’t going to do anything about it. Get that focused content out there, get the context around it (scent!!!) – where people are coming from and where they’ll want to go to – and then give the clear calls to action on the page.

And so this finally came down to our point. What is engagement? We couldn’t find a definition anywhere – so we made one up.

Engagement is conversation.

It is about your users conversing with the website. Whether that be by reading it, posting comments, looking at another page, buying the product, signing up to the email newsletter. You can’t easily converse back mind you…

Posted in Engagement, Web Analytics
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  1. […] we’re going through when measuring our success (or not) on the web. His recent post, Engagement is Conversation is well worth a look. Now, if only I could wean my colleagues off starting their personal blogs […]

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