Online engagement as a measure of success is not a new concept. However, online engagement means different things to different people. Some organizations might see engagement as a purchase in their online store or perhaps a paid subscription to their online service.
But what happens if you don’t sell anything online? Did you know that less than 3% of all visitors to a retail site actually participate in a purchase, does this mean the other 97% of visitors aren’t engaged with your website?
In the first part of my blog series on engagement, I am going to explain what online engagement is and why you should be measuring it. I believe that everyone has the capability to measure engagement and could be doing it themselves; however, here at MaassMedia we have developed custom engagement models for our clients and are capable of doing it for any type of organization in any type of vertical.
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”.
So according to the above definition, 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.
In order 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 website.
Why measure online engagement?
Defining online engagement was the easy part, now comes the hard part. Why would you actually measure online engagement?
There are many reasons why it is a good idea to measure the engagement of your visitors to your website. Let’s explore a couple of possibilities
1. Increase Ad Revenue:
For publishers, selling ads on their site is one of the main streams of revenue for the company. Publishers sell ads on a cost per thousand basis (CPM) and for most publishers, the goal is to get the highest CPM possible from the advertiser. Advertisers want their ads to appear in the most favorable location on the website such as the homepage or perhaps a section of the site that they believe a user will most likely be interested in their product such as the sports section.
What if you, the publisher, could sell higher CPM ads on the most “engaged” content on your site or, perhaps, to the most engaged visitors to your website. If you measure the online engagement of your visitors and then monitor them in real time, this becomes a real possibility and then you can go to your advertisers and charge a higher CPM for your “engaged” audience.
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 on these metrics to 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 their engaged behavior on your site. Not only can you use the engagement as part of the model but you can include other aspects of your traffic to become even more refined, such as traffic source, keyword, recency of visit or visit number.
We all know that every visit to your website is different, 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 are getting from each visitor in order to personalize their experience on your website? This is just another reason that online engagement should be measured. By knowing what type of content each individual visitor is most engaged with, you have the ability to then serve them the content they want to see.
Is this a new concept? Not at all, but it must start with measuring online engagement. Is this just for content? Of course not. 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.”