How to Measure Engagement

You’re tracking engagements on your website, but are your analytics giving you the insights you need?

Avinash Kaushik has some interesting thoughts on measuring Engagement in his latest book, Web Analytics 2.0.  Here are the highlights:

Do ‘time on site’ and ‘repeat visits’ really measure engagement?
Fact is, measuring engagement with only quantitative data (web analytics) is a challenge.  Your web analytics tell you the “what”, but not the “why”. 

For instance, your site visitor spent 15 minutes on your site, but your analytics won’t tell you whether or not your visitor spent happy or frustrating minutes with your site.   Also, your analytics won’t tell you whether or not your visitor ran off to fix a sandwich for 10 minutes, meaning, he really just looked at your site for 5 minutes.  Further, your visitor came back 2 mores times (which your tool will count as a returning visitor) , but was he returning for updates or trying to find your contact information for the third time?  Unless he closed a sale (which assumes a happy experience), you really don’t know if your customer had a positive or negative engagement with your site.  You get the point…

Avinash notes that web analytics is “limited in that it can measure the degree of engagement, but not the kind of engagement.”

Based on this definition, recency and frequency of site visits really reveal just the degree of engagement.  So, five visits in a one-week period (the degree of engagement) doesn’t tell you if the visits were negative or positive, which Avinash refers to as the “kind of engagement”. 

In summary –

Degree of Engagement
– Web analytics measure the degree of engagement.
– It’s important to measure the degree of engagement along with outcomes.  Outcomes will tell you how successful the engagement was.  For instance, did the customer end up buying from you (outcome), as a result of coming back to your site a few times?

Kind of Engagement
– Surveys and  primary research measure the kind of engagement someone had on your site.
– Most likely someone who is making repeat purchases from you is happy with your products and service.  They keep coming back for more.

In order to measure engagement on your site, you should look at both – degree and kind of engagement – web analytics and qualitative data.

What are your thoughts on this and how are you measuring online engagement?

2 thoughts on “How to Measure Engagement

  1. Hi Patricia,

    You are asking the right questions! Love it.

    Here is my 2 cents:

    – On-site engagement: is the site engaging?…the pre-requisite is that it provides ways for people to engage (leave a comment, retweet something, post to digg) and then measuring how often people are using those.

    – Off-site engagement: are people repurposing some/linking etc…

    Here is a interesting post on a similar topic:



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