A Modest Proposal: Measuring User Engagement on Your Site

In our ongoing series about how to measuring your website’s success, we’ve already talked about informational sites (where content is the draw), and ecommerce sites (which entice people to spend mucho dinero).

But what if you want your site to foster a deeper connection between your organization and your target audience? We call this an “engagement-based” model. Non-profit organizations and member associations often fall into this category. If you have an engagement-based site, you’re not necessarily selling anything, but you want your users to somehow interact with your site—by signing up for a newsletter, registering for an event, completing a survey, or something similar. You may not be used to thinking of these user actions as transactions, but they are. Better yet, they’re trackable. (Cue Google Analytics, please.)

The simplest way to judge whether your site is working is to measure how many users are actually completing the transactions you’re offering to them. As always, monitor the number of transactions completed for a few months, to set a baseline, and then start testing and tweaking to see if you can pump up that conversion rate.

Beyond looking at completed transactions; however, there are other ways to measure whether your site is achieving maximum success. Namely:

How are people finding you?

Take a look at how people are arriving at your site.

First, check out the mix of keywords that are driving people to the site. Are people searching for the name of your organization, or are they using generic search terms that gel with the services and content you’re offering? In other words, are they searching for The Xavier Zaborsky Heart Foundation or are they looking for “heart disease charity organizations.”

Ideally, you’ll have a mix of both, indicating that you have healthy brand awareness, but are attracting people who don’t already know of your organization.

If you are engaged in any social media efforts, you should also expect to see some referrals from those channels. In Google Analytics, look at the Traffic Sources and Referring Sites, and search on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, your blog, and any other social media channels.

What are users doing once they arrive?

Of course, once people get to your site, you want to make sure that they’re fully engaged. As we stated above, the most obvious way to check this out is to look at the degree to which they’re completing the transactions.

However, you can also take a look at the tried and true combination of Time on Site and Pages per visit. You may remember that we talked about these metrics on our post about informational sites, but they’re also valid for engagement-based sites. Why? Because if a users aren’t spending enough time on the site, or visiting a sufficient amount of pages, they’ll never be invested enough to interact with you.

If you’re seeing problems here, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate the structure and content on your site.

Beyond Metrics

So now that you can measure how your site is performing, what’s next? It’s the blessing and curse of web analytics that you’re always finding new things to test, new ways to improve. Even if you find that your site is wildly successful, there are probably still many ways to make it perform even better. Need help figuring that out? Why, give us a call, won’t you?

Lisa Crotty

Marketing Manager

Lisa is a Senior Optimization Specialist at Innate – her friends even teased that she A/B tested her name change. Lisa studied Philosophy of Science & Technology at Virginia Tech and is always asking why.

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