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Engagement Analytics

Make 2009 the year for engagement analytics

Which resolutions have you made about your online marketing in 2009?

With less budget available for investment in media in many organizations in 2009, it makes sense to resolve to engage more of the visitors you attract to your site. Improving on-site engagement is a worthwhile area to focus on which requires relatively limited expenditure.

With Google Analytics freely available to all businesses to help them review and improve engagement, you should look at whether you are really getting the most from your site statistics.

In a companion article on How to configure Google Analytics for marketing, I give specific advice on how you should configure Google Analytics to get the most from it. Google Analytics provides great insights from the moment you install the Google tracking tags, but specific configuration to setup the site to track performance for your own business will give you greater insights on where to focus your efforts.

In this article, I will take a top-level view of online engagement and the different aspects of engagement you can be measuring.

What is online customer engagement?

Customer engagement is often front-of-mind for me since I work as a consultant in the Customer Engagement Unit at agency cScape.

We have recently released our annual Customer Engagement report for 2009. In the report, my colleague Richard Sedley defines engagement as:

Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand."€

This is a great definition since it is succinct and shows that online customer engagement involves much more than an immediate conversion based on functional design of a site, instead online engagement involves:

  • A series of interactions as visitors return to a site prompted by offline and traditional media;
  • stimulating continued interactions after an initial transaction such as lead, sale or registration to involve customers with a brand, often through direct communications like email and direct marketing which will attract return visits such as community, offers or valuable content;
  • Influencing, measuring and analyzing softer emotional measures as well as the number and type of interaction

So what is engagement analytics?

It follows that engagement analytics is about improving results from your online marketing by measuring how engaged your online audience is with your brand.

Different categories of engagement analytics measures

Which measures of engagement should you be looking at within your web analytics system such as Google Analytics?

Here are my thoughts on some of the most important categories of Engagement Analytics which companies should consider for reviewing their online channels Google Analytics. Specific details on configuring Google to measure these attributes is in the companion article:

1. Conversion analytics - Some site visits are more valuable than others depending on which pages your audience visits. In Google Analytics you should setup Conversion goal pages to review how many people engage to achieve your goals and which media support converion best.

2. Page engagement analytics - Visitors will enter a site on many different pages from many different sources.

Use Google Analytics to find out which pages are engaging your audience and which aren't by looking at your top entry combined with page duration and bounce rate.

Bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors to a page who leave immediately through clicking the back button, searching again or going directly to another site. If your bounce rate for a popular entry page is over 50%, this should set the alarm bells ringing since the page just isn't engaging.

High bounce rates are a particular concern if you are paying for visitors through paid search since these are all wasted clicks and may suggest poor targeting.

3. Customer journey or clickstream analytics - engaged site visitors may visit several pages before they convert. Use reverse path analysis from a conversion goal page to find out which pages and customer journeys are effective in influencing conversion. Use forward path analysis to find out where visitors drop out of the site.

4. Digital campaign analytics - Some digital media used to drive visitors to your site will give higher quality traffic which engages your audience better. With a default installation you can readily see which searches drive visitors to your site from different search engines and the balance between paid search and natural traffic from your search engine optimization (SEO).

What you can't see so clearly is how other forms of promotion such as advertising and email marketing are influencing engagement. This requires additional coding of links as explained in the companion article.

You should also think about how well you track the influence of offline media as explained in this post by Google Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik.

5. On-site search analytics - Web users love to search as we know from the popularity of search engines, so many will also use a search engine on your site, provided it is prominent enough. Google Analytics now has improved functions which will show searches performed, where searches are successful and more importantly where they fail returning zero results, so requiring improvement.

6. Intention-satisfaction analytics. Finally, remember that Google analytics can be used to infer a lot about visitor behaviour and how it is influenced by your web marketing.

But it can't tell you what your visitors thinks about your site and whether they are satisfied with the experience. You will need to ask visitors directly through survey research to get this information. While many companies will ask for general opinions from free survey tools such as Survey Monkey or Zoomerang, questions often aren't focused enough.

Better to focus on these 4 questions which are available in the free 4Q / iPerceptions survey tool:

  • How satisfied are my visitors?
  • What are my visitors onsite to do?
  • Are they completing what they set out to do?
  • If not why not - what are their opinions on the experience?

Try the free tool at the 4Q iPerceptions site":.

I hope this article has prompted some ideas - all the best for improving your online measurement and results in 2009!

For a more in-depth analysis on engagement - more specific to websites rather than broader customer communications read Eric Petersen's Engagement Whitepaper or view his engagement formula.

Additional analytics not mentioned:

  • Search marketing
  • Brand
  • Loyalty
  • Social engagement
  • Multipoint touch management

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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