With web analytics, it is always important to understand how your audience interacts with your content. To get the best results, it is important to ask the right questions. Otherwise, how can you know that users are reading or looking at your content? While there are more options than ever to measure the data from website visitors, finding true value in website data analytics can be a confusing and difficult process.
In the past, page views and numbers of clicks determined the popularity of content, but these methods do not necessarily determine the success of a page. Page views show how users are navigating through your site and how many are landing on any given page, but this metric will not provide the strongest insight about what interests your readers. Additionally, the number of clicks show some level of page engagement for site visitors, but it is still an incomplete metric when it is not combined with other data analytics for your site.
The following four metrics can be used to provide a true understanding of your page’s online success.
1. Engagement Time
Today, engagement time is a better tool to assess whether an audience is reading or engaging with your content. Engagement time is the amount of time a user spends interacting with the page, when scrolling, clicking, highlighting or opening tabs. Unlike time on page, which measures the amount of time a visitor spends on a page before going anywhere else, engagement time is the amount of time a visitor is active on the page.
Because “engagement time” does not come out-of-the-box with standard analytics solutions, a plug-in like Chartbeat or Riveted will be necessary to pull and analyze this data.
Take Medium, for example, the communications platform. At Medium, engagement is collected and understood through Total Time Reading (TTR). By comparing a user’s time on page and scroll position, Medium can estimate how much of the content gets read, and how quickly. This helps them understand engagement, with a pretty good picture of how users read, skim, cite or abandon their content.
2. Bounce Rate
When a visitor lands on a page and then leaves without triggering anything else on your site, that counts as a “bounce.” In Google Analytics, your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (people who enter a site and do nothing else before leaving) divided by all sessions. This value is important for determining what percentage of your audience continues to explore your site after discovering the initial page through an ad or a search.
While high bounce rate may not necessarily be a bad thing, site metrics must be understood in relation to your site’s purpose. If your site is designed to encourage an off-page call to action (i.e., a clicking on an ad banner, or placing a phone call), then a high bounce rate can be expected. Make sure the page content is relevant to the headlines and search terms that advertise it. And make it clear how your user can navigate through additional pages (toward a conversion) on the site. This may help lower your bounce rate.
Just like with anything in web analytics, each metric is only a small spotlight on the bigger picture. For some context, Quicksprout published this graphic to illustrate bounce rate benchmarks associated with various kinds of sites.
3. Pages Per Session
If a user doesn’t bounce, then it will be helpful to track how many pages they visit in a session. A session is a group of user interactions that takes place within a given time frame. A session with many page views may indicate a high level of engagement from the user. (Ideally, if ample time was spent on each page.) Because so much of the enterprise is built around a single purchase with a lengthy buying process, many page views may mean continued evaluation, leading to a sale.
Tracking page visits per session is a good way to understand user behavior. Trends may illustrate what users are doing, and what users are not doing on your site. This insight can help you improve your customer experience. When you compare actual user behavior with your web strategy, you can expect a better picture to help your users interact and convert.
Conversions are completed activities that are important to the success of your business. Google Analytics categorizes conversions into two parts: micro conversions and macro conversions. A macro conversion is usually the sale of a product. A micro conversion is any number of smaller interactions that lead to a macro conversion like signing up for a newsletter or attending an event. By setting a goal for these conversions, you may find success by optimizing your pages and content around micro conversions, which can increase quality traffic, leads and sales.
To make the most of metrics data, it’s important to ask yourself if your visitors are accomplishing what you set out for them to do. A restaurant with a welcome page, a menu page and an online delivery form would hope to see a low bounce rate, steady click-through and a conversion on the checkout page. In the enterprise, success can be understood across many goals, with or without the success of sales. If your website is optimized, but not personalized, then adopting a personalized marketing strategy may drive traffic and increase your conversion rate further. It depends on what interactions you’ve set out for your audience to perform.