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How to Measure User Engagement on Your Website

Ideally when you design a website, it should have a specific goal or purpose. For some people, their website offers a virtual resume for themselves or service provided. For others, they are looking to sell a product rather than themselves. Or you might just be trying to attract attention to generate revenue from ad space on your site.

For all of those cases, a key point is ensuring that you are engaging your users. You want them to get to your site and stay on your site until they have done whatever it is you are hoping for such as filling out a contact form or placing an order.

But, how do you know how effective your site truly is? That is where metrics come in.

Using Analytics

Plenty is said about analytics, but honestly how many people actually take the time to actually learn about them unless it is your primary job. For smaller companies and those on limited budgets it might be a business owner or manager who is in charge of handling the website, along with a ton of other things. So you are forgiven for not investing time in understanding and using analytics.

However forgiven should not be forgotten when it comes to such a valuable tool!

Things like Google Analytics, or comparable options such as Adobe Site Catalyst or IBM’s Unica NetInsight, help provide detailed statistics about a website’s traffic. These numbers are meant to be used more as a marketing tool rather than a webmaster tool to help understand things like how people get to your site.

The use of analytics will let you understand how effective your website actually is rather than how effective you hope it will be.

What to Focus On

  • Page Bounce Rate – This captures how many people land on a specific page and don’t visit other pages during that visit. Instead they “bounce” to another site. You want a low rate.
  • Site Bounce Rate – Like the page rate, but is considered for your entire site.
  • Pages Per Visit –
    Pretty self explanatory. You want this number to be higher and not lower which means people browse around.
  • Average Time Per Page – This is a variable number that will depend on content and the goal of a page. However if the average is extremely low then you know people bounce right off it.
  • Exit Rate – This counts when people just leave from the page they are on without looking around. A high rate means you aren’t giving them what they expect to find when landing on your site.
  • Goal Completions – You usually have to set this up in your analytics. It will capture if a specific action is completed, like filing out a form. Higher is better here because then people are doing what you want.

How to Increase Engagement

There are a lot of things to do that can increase engagement which we will cover in another article. However a few basic points that can be done cheaply are:

  • Better Headlines – You want people to find what they are looking for easily and also be interested. A snappy headline can tease or inform.
  • Break Up Content – Use bullet points, sub-headlines and graphics to help direct attention. One headline and tons of text makes it time consuming for the visitor.
  • Better Layout – Some people end up cramming too much stuff into a visual space and it overwhelms a person. Rather than search all over the page, you can just hit the “Back” button and check the next listing.
  • Different Font – Size does matter and so does style. Trying something slightly larger and easily read can make a difference.
  • Smaller Images – Larger images are nice, but they dominate space too easily and make people ignore important text.
  • Create a Focus Group – Ask 10 friends and associates to give honest feedback about your site. Unless you paid a design firm to already do this, it is nice to get feedback from people who will see things differently than you will.
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