User engagement models are all based on the same underlying principles.
Namely, engagement is characterized by positive interactions, being “captivate” by the technology, frequency and duration of use, and similar metrics. However, each website, app, product, or service is characterized by its own sales funnel and usage pattern. Therefore, engagement models should also be unique.
First, we’ll cover the essential metrics and ingredients you need to include in your engagement model, then explain how to create your own customized version for your products and services.
Essential Concepts for Any User Engagement Model
Experts agree that user engagement models should be centered around a few key ingredients:
- The User Experience – The user experience is primary to every service provider and product creator. Whether you intend to monetize a website, develop an app, or create any other type of product, the user experience must be the focus of your marketing, monetization, and design efforts.
- Cognitive Engagement – Cognitive engagement is tied to the information design of a product or service. This measures how intellectually connected users are to the given experience. This can be measured through eye-tracking studies, task-based research, and even neurological research.
- Interaction Engagement – Interactions, such as clicks and time spent on pages, are often reflective of the overall value being received. Interaction design and engagement focus on the users’ behavior, which can reflect such qualities as emotional engagement and usability. Metrics include website analytics and data science.
- Sensorial Engagement – A user’s physiological responses to an experience also directly reflect their overall engagement. Technology that monitors physiological factors, such as heart rate and pupil dilation, can be used to gauge the effectiveness of sensorial design: graphic design, audio design, and so forth.
Metrics to Consider
When examining these aspects of user engagement, there are a number of metrics that should be examined. The vast majority of businesses rely predominantly on analytics, user feedback, and user testing. However, as wearable technology becomes more mainstream, physiological tracking will add new metrics to the mix.
The Apple Watch, for instance, can measure heart beats. And Google has indicated interest in technology that can monitor pupil dilation, which can be a direct physiological measurement of sensorial engagement.
Today, though, most businesses should focus their efforts on analytics that indicate positive user experiences.
Here are some core metrics to consider when developing your own user engagement model:
- Popularity – The number of users indicates the overall popularity of a product or website, and should be one of the fundamental metrics used in any user engagement model. How often and how frequently users return are also essential metrics that indicate popularity.
- Activity – Frequency of page views, time spent on pages, and time spent on site all indicate a user’s level of activity, which reflects the positivity of their interactions, their satisfaction, and how much value they are receiving.
- Loyalty – Return rate, frequency of returns, average sessions per day (week, month, etc.), and similar metrics are all good indicators of how loyal a customer is to a business, brand, site, or product.
These concepts are essential for any accurate measurement of user engagement, but they are just a start. For more detailed analyses of user engagement metrics, modeling, and methods, visit our blog.
Creating Your Custom User Engagement Model
To develop a user engagement model that works for your product or website, you need to understand how people use your service. Metrics should be weighed differently based on that understanding.
Here are a few examples of products and how users engage with them:
- Social Media – A recent study found that social media users engage in “snacking” behavior. That is, they pop into the network once a day for a few minutes at a time.
- Games – Users will spend lots of time in app, with a low frequency of visits.
- Search Engines – These have an extremely high frequency of visits, but time spent on the site is minimal.
- News Sites – Users will often come once or twice a day, spending a few minutes at a time per visit.
- Special Sites – Some sites may be visited only one time and time spent on site may vary based on the nature of the site.
- Commerce Sites – These sites’ usage patterns can vary, depending on the products being sold.
When developing a user engagement model for your site or service, first examine the nature of your business. Then you can derive appropriate usage patterns.
A commerce site specializing in replacement parts for dishwashers, for instance, may focus its user engagement around on-site time, page views, shopping cart abandonment rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates. A large retailer that provides a variety of items, however, may also include return rates, frequency of visits, and other loyalty metrics.
To develop the right user engagement model, start with the ideal customer pathway and build from there. A content-rich publisher’s ideal user would be someone who visits frequently, views many pages, and stays a long time.
Having a customized user engagement model will ensure that you are able to optimize your service to meet the needs of your customers. After all, the more engaged users are, the more profitable they are.