User engagement measures how frequently and for how long users interact with your website or application. This metric shows if your audience finds value in your offers, be it a product or service. Companies measure engagement by tracking user interactions like clicks, downloads, and shares.
Engagement is analyzed through analytic tools and metrics. A website, for instance, may analyze the number of page views or the time a user spends on the pages. Companies strive to improve user engagement since it affects the bottom line.
If you wondered what user engagement is and how to improve it, we’ve got you covered. Our team at CodeFuel prepared this guide with useful tips and steps to help you.

Why Is User Engagement So Important?

This metric matters simply because people engage with what interests them. The more time a person spends engaged with a product, it means the more invested they are in that product.

Having your visitors invested in your product or service increases the user’s recognition and connection with your brand, ultimately producing more monetization opportunities. User engagement is a measure that correlates to a product or service’s success or failure.

To put it simply: If users value your product and engage with it, they will likely purchase and recommend your product to others.

User Engagement Models

The user engagement model you use needs to adjust the metrics according to the type of website you have. Once you define which engagement model is the most appropriate to your website, you can define which metrics you should use.

Content-rich websites

If your website is rich in content, like a media outlet, news site, or publishers, should focus on user activity and loyalty. Specifically, improving the time spent on-site, the number of pages the user views, and the return rate. These metrics can be useful to track on content-rich websites, in order to keep users on their sites as long and often as possible.

E-commerce sites

On the other hand, commerce sites should focus on pushing users through their on-site sales funnel. Measure the usability data, for instance, the shopping cart abandonment rate and page view statistics. Check if users can find what they are looking for, or if they abandon at a point in the sales cycle.

Specialized sales sites

If you specialize in selling a specific product, focus on the conversion. When a visitor comes, your engagement efforts should center around pushing conversions. Check the time on site and conversion rates to see if you are on track.

How Do You Track and Improve User Engagement

To track user engagement you need to start by knowing which metrics to use. Application developers and website owners use different metrics to track user engagement. Nevertheless, it would be useful to review the most common metrics, we’ve prepared a list with the essential definitions, formula, and examples:

Bounce rate

Definition: Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors to a website that leaves after visiting only one page. A high bounce rate means your website is annoying or boring visitors.

What’s a good bounce rate?

Typically, the lower the bounce rate, the better. Since it is practically impossible that no visitors leave your site, a good rule of thumb would be aiming for a bounce rate under 40%.

  • Between 40% and 55% is an average rate
  • Between 55%- 65% means you need to improve your site quickly
  • Above 65% needs significant improvements as you’re losing more visitors than you’re gaining.

How do you calculate the bounce rate?

Bounce Rate Formula
The percentage of website visitors that arrive, didn’t complete any interaction and left

Bounce Rate = (Total visitors to the webpage that leave without interactions) x100

                   Total visitors to the webpage

Conversion rate/ goal conversion rate

Definition: Conversion rate measures when the user completes the action we want them to take. For instance, subscribing to an email list, purchasing from the website, or downloading the app. It refers to the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors.

What’s a good conversion rate?

A good conversion rate will vary according to the industry. Generally speaking, e-commerce conversion rates are an average of 3%, while across other industries can range from 2% to 5%.

How do you calculate the conversion rate?

Conversion Rate Formula
How frequently a click or a visit results in a user conversion into a client.

Conversion Rate = (Total attributed conversions ) x100

                         Total Nr. of Clicks or Visits

Click-through-rate

Definition: It refers to the percentage of people that click on an ad or a specific link of the total visitors of a page, email or advertisement.

What’s a good click-through- rate?

The average click-through rate on AdWords is about 2%, so if your CTR is above 2% it can be considered high. The benchmark is different according to the industry the type of ads and the advertising platform.

Median CTR in 2020 for ads on Google search decreased to 1.55%. For display ads decreased also in 2020. In 2021, the rates remained at 0.8% on average for Shopping ads on Google and 1.2% on average for Shopping ads on Bing.

For display ads, the rates are under 1%. And as for search ads, the highest rate is for dining search ads on Google with an 11.7% CTR and 6.93% on Bing.

How do you calculate the CTR?

CTR Formula
How frequently do people click on an ad or link

Click-through Rate = ( Total measured clicks              ) x100

                                           Total measured impressions

Abandonment rate

Definition: It refers to the percentage of visitors that abandon a shopping cart or complete the intended action. Online retailers measure abandon rates to track the success of marketing efforts.

What’s a good abandonment rate?

There surely be visitors that don’t complete the purchase or task you want from them. However, how much is too much? Aim for a rate of under 40%. A rate of about 20% is considered great. Visitors will still drop or due to payment issues, research, and browsing.

How do you calculate the abandonment rate?

Abandonment Rate Formula
The number of people that abandon the site before completing the purchase or intended task.

Abandonment rate  = ( Transactions completed  ) x100

                                           Transactions initiated

Returning visitor rate

 Definition: Google defines them as the number of users who visited your website before and does it again within a specific period of time.  It measures how often a user returns after an initial visit.

What’s a good return/ revisit rate?

It depends on the industry you are in, but generally speaking, a good returning visitor rate is between 30% and 50%. More than that and you are in a very good place. An RVR under 25% is not good and you should find out what is causing your visitors to stay away.

How do you calculate the returning visitors rate?

Returning Visitors Formula
How often do visitors return to your site

Returning Visitors  = ( Total repeat visitors              ) x100

                                           Total unique visitors

Time on site

Definition: The average time on site is simply how long a visitor stays viewing your site during their session.

What’s a good time-on-site rate?

For a good average time on site, the standard is about 2-3 minutes. This is enough time for users to read some contact and interact with your website.

How do you calculate the time on site?

Time on Site Formula
How long visitors stay on your page

Click-through Rate = ( Total time on site for multiple visitors                ) x100

                                           Total number of visitors – Total number of exits

Session length

Definition: Session-duration is the time where visitors are actually having interactions with your site. Some sites have a defined time duration (30 minutes) for example when if it doesn’t register activities it times-out the session.

What’s a good session-duration rate?

Obviously the longer the better, but on average, a good benchmark would be anything above three minutes.

How do you calculate the session duration?

Sesion duration Formula
How frequently do people click on an ad or link

Click-through Rate = ( Total time on site for multiple visitors              ) x100

                                           Total number of visitors

Time on page

Definition: this rate measures the actual time your visitors spend on a single page on your website.

What’s a good time on page?

Is calculated by measuring the time difference between the time the visitor landed on the page and when they move on to the next one. If the person exits the website without clicking on another page, the time-on-page is zero.

According to Google Analytics, a good time on page is no less than 2 minutes. Of course, the longer the user stays on the page, the better the engagement.

How do you calculate the time on page?

Time on page Formula
How frequently do people click on an ad or link

Click-through Rate = ( Total time-in-page for multiple visitors               ) x100

                                           Total number of visitors – Total number of exits

Pages per visit

Definition:  It indicates the number of pages a user views on each visit to the site. This metric is calculated by dividing the number of page views by the total number of sessions. For example, if a user has an average of pages per session 2, it means on average, users visit two pages before leaving the website.

What’re the good pages per session rate?

The average industry standard is 2 pages per session. This means the user goes further from the home page and visits an extra page.

How do you calculate pages-per-session?

Pages per session Formula

Pages per Session = ( Number of page views              ) x100

                                           Total number of sessions

Number of sessions per user

Definition: It is the number of sessions users started per day/ week or month. It records the number of times a user visits the website within a given timeframe.

How do you calculate the session count?

Since in Google Analytics, for instance, the default session expires 30 minutes after starting. And sessions are counted in 30 minutes increments. Therefore if a user starts a session, finishes, and then starts again, it could be counted as a single session. On the other hand, if the second session starts after 30 minutes, it will be counted as two different sessions.

Number of actions/events/ per session

Definition: Is the number of desired events or actions a user conducts on their session. For example, hover-over, or clicks.

What’s a good events/session rate?

It will depend on the specific action or event you want to measure. This will determine what’s a good rate for your site. The higher the number of events per session, it could indicate more engagement.

How do you calculate the average events/session?

Events/Session Formula
How frequently do people click on an ad or link

Click-through Rate = ( Total events             ) x100

                                           Total sessions

Retention rate

Definition: This metric measures how many customers you keep once they come to your website. Customer retention is important since keeping existing customers is less expensive than investing in customer acquisition.

What’s a good retention rate?

Apps, for instance, have an average retention rate of 42% at 30 days and a 25% retention rate by 90 days. Higher-performing apps can reach 66%.

How do you calculate the retention rate?

Retention Rate Formula

Aggregate Retention Rate = ( Monthly active users             ) x100

                                                                    Installs

Companies can also calculate the retention rate at the end of a time period if they want to measure a specific cohort.

How to Calculate User Engagement

According to the nature of your product, is the metrics you need to use to improve user engagement. Generally, companies measure the number of active users by a set period of time (daily, monthly or quarterly).

If you have an eCommerce website, you should focus on measuring engagement with metrics related to the shopping experience. For instance, website usability, abandonment rates.

A blog, on the other hand, may monetize the site via ads or affiliate links. Therefore, the longer the visitors spend on the site, the higher the opportunity for monetization. Thus, blogs and news sites, need to focus on metrics like time on site or pages per session.

Applications typically measure engagement according to the number of apps installed, the time the users spend on the app, and the events per session the user completes inside the app.

Social media apps,  on the other hand, require checking statuses or posting updates. Users have a short span of engagement with social media apps. Thus, these types of apps need to measure user activity, events per session, number of installs, and similar metrics.

Key Mistakes in Measuring Engagement

Sometimes, you want to measure engagement but you reach different metrics than what you need. Let’s see some examples.

Mistake #1: Confusing reach with engagement

You may think you are measuring engagement when in reality you are measuring reach. If you are measuring the number of people that see your content, beware it can be easily manipulated. Think about all the clickbait headlines you get on your feed every day. For instance this one from BuzzFeed:

Confusing reach with engagement

But, having people that visit your site, is not the same as having engaged users. This creates short session times and high bounce rates. Also, the reach can be manipulated by paid ads.

Instead:  track conversions, or events per session.

 Mistake #2: Relying too much on Time-on-page

Is it good when visitors spend time on your page, right? Well, it depends. Sometimes people open a tab and then go away from the screen. Then you will have a user that in theory spent half an hour on your page, but in reality, didn’t. How can you ensure you are tracking engagement?

Instead:  combine time-on-page with measuring scroll-depth. This metric tells you how far a user goes on your page. Another way you can check if you’re on target is to use a heat map. This tool will tell you where visitors click, scroll or ignore.

Relying too much on Time-on-page

Source

Mistake #3: Not optimizing your session duration

You want people to spend a lot of time on your website or application. However, sometimes more isn’t always better. Different products can have different “ideal session times”. Most apps have users engaging between 3 to 10 minutes per session. But other apps require less time, for instance, productivity timers.

Instead: find how long is the ideal session duration for your specific product and optimize the analytics for that number. Use that as a benchmark and measure against it.

Mistake #4: Using too many metrics

You don’t have to use every metric available out there, or even all the metrics in your stack. When you measure everything all the time it makes it difficult to focus on the goal. Every app and website engagement effort should follow a clear strategy. Do you want to create more engagement? Optimize your conversions?

Instead:  Find the most critical metric and start by that one.

Principles of User Engagement

Now that we went over the basic metrics, how to use them and how not, it is time to think about the engagement strategy. There are a few key principles to follow if you want to succeed at user engagement.

  1. Usability and engagement

If your site or app is not easy to use, visitors won’t want to use it or spend time on it. Therefore, if you want to drive engagement, first, check the usability of your product. Verify that your site is easy to navigate and clean from the clutter that may annoy the user. Check that your app is easy to use and gives a good user experience.

  1. Focus on the user experience

To increase engagement, you should focus on the user experience. Aim for a user-centered app or site. Here are a few pointers:

  • Help users achieve their goals
  • Create responsive user interfaces
  • Create content and ads that are relevant and personalized.
  • Develop content that is visually rich and interactive.
  1. Add value to your users

Ultimately, your goal should be to add value to your users. The more relevance and value they get from your app or website, the more they will stay engaged.

User Engagement vs User Experience

If you are an online marketer, website, or app owner, chances are you hear about user engagement often. Increasing your user engagement encourages customer loyalty, gets more brand recognition and more sales.

Often, people confuse user engagement with user experience. Still, user experience is not the same as user engagement. To put it simply:

User experience is one of the factors that impact user engagement. 

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Let’s review the differences:

User experience

It refers to the way you feel when you visit a site.

Do you find the site easy to use? It is attractive and useful? You can easily complete what you want to accomplish from it? All of these elements form your user experience. Nowadays, with most people using their mobiles for daily tasks, user experience is a critical part of the success of an application.

Some of the elements of the user experience include utility, usability, and design. Is your website useful? Does it provide the answers your audience is looking for? Usability refers to the ease of use and navigation. Finally, the appeal of the design is also important. The design of the website or app should be pleasing, clean, and help direct the user to their goal.

User engagement

User engagement refers to the user behavior towards the app or website. The difference between user experience and engagement is like going for the trial session at the gym (user experience) and signing up for a membership afterward (user engagement).

User engagement represents the actions the user takes after experiencing or interacting with the website, product, or application. It is the link between catching the attention of the user and inspiring them to act. The more engaged a user is, the more likely they are to return to the site or use your application.

How to Engage Customers Emotionally

What Is Emotional Engagement

Emotional engagement refers to targeting the emotions of the customer. The more you tap onto your audience’s emotions, the higher the engagement. In fact, according to a study, websites that have a stronger emotional impact cause a greater purchase intention.

When you appeal to your customer’s emotions, you generate a connection with them. That is one of the reasons emotional campaigns perform better.  According to the Neuromarketing Institute, campaigns with purely emotional content perform twice as well as the ones with only rational content.

That is why you always remember those emotional SuperBowl ads or the ones with cute puppies.

Tips to Engage your Customers Emotionally:

  • Find your audience emotional triggers:

Every audience is different. Therefore, find out what makes your customers feel the emotion you are looking for with your content or application. Here are some psychological triggers identified by marketers:

  • Bring authority figures: People trust authority figures. If you establish your brand as an authority, you will improve your sales.
  • Tap onto the FOMO: Fear of missing out is a powerful trigger. Tapping into this fear can help you drive your customers to your product or service.
  • Put your foot in the door: Getting your customers to agree to a minor request (for instance, a free download, or a trial period) makes them more open to further requests.
  • Bring social proof: People trust the opinion of others. That’s what prompts you to search for reviews, stars, online scores before buying something online. Add testimonials and reviews to your content.
  • Create anticipation: Announce the release of a new feature, event, or launch with enough time and support campaigns that create a sense of anticipation in the user.
  • Create controversy: Sometimes, it is good to rock the boat and create a controversial social media campaign or content. Controversy is a powerful way to draw people in.
  • Create a community: Your customers will be more engaged if they feel part of a community of users. How does your content, product/service, or application make customers feel like they are part of a community?

Besides tapping on these emotional triggers, you can tap into humor, tell a story, appeal to empathy and compassion to emotionally engage your customers.

Create Your Own User Engagement Model

Experts agree that user engagement should be centered around key concepts:

Key concepts

  • User experience: This is essential to every service and product. If you want to monetize a website, develop an app, the user experience must be the center of your marketing, monetization, and design efforts.
  • Cognitive engagement: This measures how intellectually connected the users are to the experience. You can measure this through heat maps, eye-tracking studies, and neuromarketing research.
  • Interaction engagement: Interactions are the base of engagement, showing how the user perceives the overall value.
  • Sensorial engagement: It refers to the user’s physiological responses to an experience, that reflect their overall engagement. You can monitor the heart rate, pupil dilation, and similar, to measure how effective is the design and user interface.

 7 Rules of User Engagement for a Website

You know what makes your user trigger, and want to start building your user engagement strategy. Here are 7 rules you should follow to drive successful engagement to your website.

1.   Personalize the content:

Personalized marketing always performs better than impersonal and untargeted content. Use user tracking and analytics to give you the insights you need to improve your content and thus increase engagement.

2.   Try to keep users onsite

You should use every trick on the book to try to keep your users longer on your website. For instance, use internal links on your pages. This will keep your users reading your content, extending the time on site and decreasing the bounce rate. Also, you can add a content recommendation engine to deliver relevant content with the goal to keep people onsite longer and decrease bounce rates.

3.   Ensure your site loads fast

This is basic website 101. Every second your website takes to load, the bounce rate increases dramatically. There is a widely known study that shows that as little as a 1-second delay in page loading speed decreases conversions up to 7%.

4.   User experience first

We already talked a lot about the critical role of user experience. There are a couple more pointers though:

  • Make sure your site is responsive: Those days, if your site is not responsive is like it doesn’t exist. Users don’t have the patience to zoom in or are fickle with the mobile screen trying to read your site. They expect the same easy-to-use interface on whichever device they use.
  • Incorporate dynamic and visual content: Visual content is a must as it attracts more attention.

5.   Test and analyze your content

It is not enough to apply the metrics, you need to test your strategy constantly to refine your strategy.  Analyze comments, feedback, analytics, and other communications to learn what users think of your site or app.

6.   Pull users through your funnel

Besides engaging your users, your site or app ultimately needs to pull users through your funnel. Ensure your content or application solves the user’s problem or fills their needs. That way it would pull your users through your sales cycle. Content-based sites should encourage users to opt into email lists or follow social media channels.

Examples of User Engagement Models

We covered the basics of user engagement and what do you need for your strategy, but how do you choose the right engagement model for your business? It will be determined by your product and your audience. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Omnichannel customer engagement: combine all the channels users utilize to connect to your company including live chat, email marketing, social media, to drive engagement. You can reach out to clients with proactive messages, or automate client onboarding.
  • Send welcome messages: as soon as a person downloads your app or buys from your website, send them an onboarding message. This can improve their customer experience. According to studies, welcome messages have the highest open and engagement rate.
  • Design a loyalty program: A rewards or loyalty program can help retain existing customers. See this example of Nike. The Nike Plus Membership offers plenty of benefits for the users, such as personalized promotions, discounts, rewards for workouts.
  • Add gamification: This is one of the latest trends, gaining momentum in the last year. You can run a contest, create a quiz, or a short game, to bring a fun experience for your users.

The Top 3 Strategies to Increase Your Website User Engagement

Mastering user engagement may seem straightforward, but it can be tricky. Follow these 3 essential strategies to increase your website user engagement.

Data-driven research

Research forms the base of your knowledge. Make sure you research your audience, industry, and your vendors. Whatever you learn about your audience and their needs can be useful to discover how your product or solution solves that need.

Use content monitoring and to learn about the industry, don’t miss the trends on your marketplace. This will allow you to exploit popularity spikes. You can also use these tools to monitor competitors and new vendors on the market.

Improve your content

Invest in an accurate SEO strategy. If users can find easily your site, they can engage with it. That simple. The right content also helps drive engagement. The content grabs the user’s attention and retains it.

Based on your audience research, design the right content that fits your marketing and your product. The key is to offer the right answers to your audience’s queries. Be sure to mix content formats, including visuals and media.

Optimize your engagement rates

Once you have your research, established your user-engagement model, and planned out your monetization, you can optimize your engagement rates. Some tips:

  • Refine your content strategy with analytics. Constantly monitoring and using the analytics insights helps you refine your content strategy.
  • Implement user testing and split testing. Split testing can help you see which strategy is the best.
  • Find a content monetization platform that adds value. One of the things that disrupt the user experience is interruption advertising. Therefore, find platforms that monetize while adding value. Therefore, your monetization efforts won’t ruin your engagement efforts.

Optimize your User Engagement with CodeFuel

Regardless of your product or service, whether it’s a website, an app, or a video game, you’ll need to improve user engagement to stay competitive in today’s digital marketplace. To do that, focus on adding value and optimizing the end user’s experience. Adding a monetization platform that improves the user experience is critical for your success.

CodeFuel delivers relevant search results and ads transforming your site experience into a native and easy to use. Start monetizing smartly with CodeFuel today.