Online engagement means different things to different people. Some organizations might qualify an engagement as a purchase in their online store. Others might consider it to be a paid subscription to their online service.
But what should you measure if you don’t actually sell anything online?
What is online engagement?
One of the basic definitions of engagement is as follows: To hold the attention of: ENGROSS – “Her work engages her completely” To induce to participate – “She engaged the shy boy in conversation.”
Thus, engagement is the ability to hold the attention of an individual or to induce the individual to participate in some sort of activity.
To take this a step further, online engagement can be defined as a website’s ability to hold a visitor’s attention or induce the visitor to navigate through the website.
To measure online engagement, an organization must first define which metrics will indicate how the website will hold a visitor’s attention or induce the visitor to click around the content.
Why measure online engagement?
There are many reasons why it is a good idea to measure how engaged visitors to your website are. Let’s explore a couple of possibilities:
1. Increase Ad Revenue:
For publishers, selling ads on their site is one of their main streams of revenue. Publishers sell ads on a cost per thousand basis (CPM) and their goal is to charge the highest CPM possible to the advertiser. Advertisers want their ads to appear in the most favorable location on their website, such as the homepage, or perhaps a section of the site that they believe a user who is interested in their product will visit.
What if you, the publisher, could sell higher CPM ads based on the most “engaging” content on your site or, perhaps, to target the most engaged/active visitors to your website? If you measure the online engagement of your visitors and then monitor their activity in real time, this becomes a true possibility. Then, you can go back to advertisers and charge a higher CPM based on where your audience is most engaged with your site.
2. Predictive Modeling:
Another reason to measure online engagement is to use it as a baseline for predictive models. By analyzing your past engagement metrics and running a correlation analysis between engagement and the conversion events on your site, you can find out which events on your site are the best at predicting success. You can then create a predictive model that scores visitors in real time based on how engaged they are with your site. Your model can also analyze the relationship between engagement and traffic source, keyword, recency of visit or visit number.
We all know that every visit to your website is different, and each visitor expects a different experience even if you are not giving them one. But what if you could? What if you could use the data that you acquire from each visitor and personalize their experience on your website? This is just another reason that you should measure online engagement. By knowing what type of content each individual visitor is most engaged with, you can gain the ability to serve them the content they want to see.
You can learn so much information about your individual visitors by measuring their engagement with your site. Are they prone to comment or review? Do they prefer to share your content via email or social media? All of these actions can be measured and then used to further engage the visitor on your website, in real time.
How you ask? That will be the focus of the next blog in the series, “How to measure online engagement.”