Most businesses have a website. It’s the public face that they show to the world. It’s the pole on which they hang the flag of their brand. It renders their mission statement in HTML for all the world to see and draws new leads to their brand, facilitating organic growth. There are others, however, for whom their website is their business. If your business makes its money solely from ecommerce or if you’re a content provider for whom clicks mean cash your traffic is intrinsically tied to your livelihood. When your success or failure depends on your ability to attract and retain traffic it can be extremely upsetting and frustrating when it seems like your user engagement drops through the floor or your conversion rate plummets seemingly arbitrarily. When this happens we can either fire blindly at the problem, allocating effort, money and resources to potential causes at will… Or we can look to the past to better understand our future.
In any aspect of the technological world, it’s vitally important that you know your metrics. Your metrics can inform what will come by enlightening us as to what has been. In a fast moving technological landscape, an agile approach to web or software development can save a small fortune in wasted money, effort and resources. But aside from using agile metrics to measure productivity of your software development team one can use website engagement metrics to gauge the efficacy of their content and strategize accordingly. When first starting out, it can be difficult to know which metrics can inform how your business could grow and prosper and which are useless vanity metrics. Keep an eye on the following metrics and you’ll see your traffic increase exponentially. The more traffic you get, the better chances you have of a healthy and robust conversion rate, or the more you’ll make from sponsorship for your content…
Your reach basically means your ‘hit count’. In theory, the greater your reach, the higher your conversion rates. But while this tends to be quite a high number, many owners some discrepancy between their reach and their income. This isn’t that surprising when you think about it. In fact, some believe that reach is really a vanity metric as it offers no measure of quality of engagement. Like it or not, we live in the area of attention-grabbing clickbait headlines which are always attached to articles of little real substance. Ande let’s not forget the unscrupulous use of “click farms” in Turkey and Asia which some employ to manipulate reach statistics. While these have somewhat skewed the usefulness of reach as a statistic, it is not altogether useless. Consistently poor reach statistics for a certain product or type of content can be a convincing tell that these are no longer worth your time, effort and money. Moreover, you can convert reach numbers into something more meaningful by adding a compelling call to action, like a newsletter sign up or an opt-in for push notifications. This will transform reach statistics to conversion statistics which are much more useful and can help you to tailor your content in accordance with what resonates with users.
Time on page
Time on page can be a useful metric. It can show us that something on the page is going on to prevent bouncing. But it can also be misleading. A user can spend a long time on a page without necessarily engaging with it. Every time a user goes to make themselves a sandwich without closing their web browser, your Time On Page metrics get slightly skewed. However, if you cross reference time on page with scroll depth or consumption rate, this can show signs of quality engagement with content which should be emulated and repeated.
Mobile vs desktop visitors
Smartphones and portable devices like tablets are forever changing the way in which we consume content and shop online. More and more of us are browsing through our smartphone’s browser and making purchases through a combination of mobile apps and websites. If you haven’t taken steps to make your website more responsive and have noticed a steep drop in user engagement, this may be why. Have a look at your mobile / desktop user ratios. If mobile consumption is on the up, you need to plan accordingly.
In an era where so many of us are on the go and, as above, consuming content on mobile devices, every second counts. Thus, taking a long look at your page timings may address any issues you’ve been having with bounce rates. A page load time of just 7 seconds can increase your bounce rate by 32%. Thus, if your engagement metrics have taken a hit recently this may be the reason why.