FROM BUZZ TO IMPACT :
5 ways of correctly measuring 'engagement'
Engagement. A well-known word in the content marketing realm.
You cannot miss hearing about it. You cannot get bored of it.
If you are an average internet reader, we have got your attention for mere 15 seconds. So, here it is:
You are probably misled on your “engagement” because your analysis is driven by the buzz.
But, what does engagement really mean? How do you measure it?
Basically, it is all about this – Does your content resonate with your potential buyers? Does it reflect upon their interests?
If we had to define engagement, we would say it is the extent that your potential buyer is interested or involved in your content.
To judge whether or not your audience is interested, you need to understand their behavior.
It makes it important for all of us to identify the metrics that have the ability to capture the level of interest and involvement of visitors in your content.
According to a research by iSLAY, the following represents engagement according to a majority of publishers:
NUMBER OF VIEWS
If you are solely analyzing any of these variables (or all of these!) to measure engagement, let us break it to you.
You’ve been misled by the buzz!
Don’t worry, you are not alone (as you can see for yourself).
While the goal back in the early 2000s was to gain maximum reach and distribute content as widely as possible, today the same goals have lost their significance. From creating (what is still called!) a buzz, the focus has shifted to creating a lasting impact.
There are different metrics which can help you track success and impact.
Impact helps you to take your readers through an effective buyer cycle. After all, your content could have persuaded them to share the content with the relevant people at his/her company; or if he/she has left a comment (Hint: He/she took out the time to get involved in a conversation which means they might be a lead), you can start a meaningful conversation that etches your brand in their memories and leaving them wanting more. They will come back to your website once again.
It all adds up to form “impact” which ultimately leads to “conversion”
Let’s categorize it for better understanding.
Don’t fall into the buzz trap, your audience needs to be engaged. Welcome to attention web.
1. Page Views vs. Conversion
It is safe to assume that popular sites like Forbes, TechCrunch, TnW etc get more than a million views in a day.
Any business would want that, isn’t it? We would surely love it!
But, have you given it a more logical thought?
Page views mean little until it converts for you. You are creating content so your potential buyers visit your website, read it, love it, keep coming back to it and one day invest in your product/service.
You want them to take some kind of action.
This action is not measured by pageviews. However, a detailed study on conversions can allow you to optimize your content marketing strategy and skyrocket your ROI
Remember, we told you how marketing was called Link Baiting several years ago. You must have seen (and may have become a victim too!) clickbaits like
“MAN DIES AFTER HIS PORN COLLECTION COLLAPSE ON HIM”
“SCIENTIST RESURRECT THE DEAD”
“NORTH KOREA LEGALISES CANNABIS”
People do click on it. Sometimes, even I have done it (Guilty!)
They are tricked into clicking the link. They land on the website but leave immediately.
But, you still clicked the link and, there: an increase in page views (but without any return!)
The reader is not engaged (but may be enraged!) in the real sense. They are unlikely to come back to your website (forget, remembering it!)
Similarly, another vanity metrics which is misleading is the “Reach”.
Basically, “Pageviews” tells you how many users visited your page, (maybe because they liked the title) but it doesn’t say anything about engagement on that page.
Track conversions instead.
Do A/B testing on landing pages, titles etc and see what works on your page and what doesn’t. One of our favorites is analyzing which CTA works better with our audience.
Click through rates can tell you if your lead magnet is achieving desired results. Clubbed with scroll depth (discussed later and here), you can also know whether your audience reaches till the place where you titillate their interest with an awesome lead magnet. Restructure, reform appropriately.
One other metrics which you can track for conversion is the source. We call it
Channels by engagement. Understand what your visitors prefer, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google or LinkedIn? Comparing engagement across channels will help you strategize and invest on platforms where your leads spend time on. iSlay allows you to see channels for social actions, referrals and content view. You can sign up for the 14 day free trial and try it out yourself.
Opt-in rate tells you how many leads have you received with your opt-in forms. You can then analyze which of your content pieces have given you maximum opt ins and learn lessons from there.
One of the other reasons why we say pageviews cannot be the yardstick to judge success is because website traffic is not the only means of conversion. There are other methods to do achieve the same results. You may have a brilliant email list or you are good with cold emailing.
Tracking conversion rates will help you understand how many of your viewers actually turn into customers.
2.Time & bounce rate vs scroll depth and content affix
It is legit.
Your argument that time spent on a page is an evidence that your content is interesting. Clubbed with bounce rates, it can tell you a lot about your content and your investment in content marketing.
Dwell time is basically the time between the visit to the first page and the next page. But, when was the last time you actually browsed and read anything on the internet so systematically?
We do not browse in linear modes and we click open multiple links in multiple tabs. We save them as bookmarks and leave our devices or we start doing another activity on the internet.
Yes, we are on the page. Just not reading, may be?
It artificially inflates the time on page.
Also, there are ways and means of browsing websites that search engines do not account for. This makes time on the page a questionable metrics.
Instead, track scroll depth and content affix.
While scroll depth will show you up till where your viewers scrolled (or read), content affix will detail the points where readers spent their maximum time. If you focus on attaining the right goals for these two metrics, you can fix your time spent and bounce rates issues automatically.
That is why scroll depth and content affix metrics are more accurate in understanding effectiveness of a piece of content.
3. Likes, share vs comment, conversation & sentiments
Now that you know why tracking time and reach isn’t as beneficial as you thought, we can move onto the next buzz – shares
People share content only when they like it or find it useful?
May be, but not always!
There is no denying that we all want people to share our content. It helps increase reach.
But should you rely on this metrics to define success? We prefer, not.
After all, people tend to share stories and content from social media accounts without clicking the link or reading it completely.
Would you call such readers engaged? Mostly not!
A close look at the chart will tell you that the articles where reader spends a lot of time are generally not shared as much as the others.
What should you be tracking then?
Comment is an option. Visitors comment on something only if they are genuinely engaged (except the spammers, of course!). With iSlay, you can track comments as well as likes on a particular content piece.
However, in the world of social media the idea of comments on posts is obsolete and the trend of social media conversation is gaining fashion. People prefer to retweet with quotes, tweet or react in the comments section of Facebook.
So, instead of only keeping a track of comments on your page spend some time reading sentiments and analyzing “social listening”. It can help you understand user behavior and get the desired reactions from your visitors which will eventually result in customer happiness and loyalty.
4. Reach vs article analysis
We already told you how reach is misleading but what we did not mention before is the “Article analysis” feature of iSLAY.
It gives you a comprehensive analysis of each article in terms of social power, sentiments, the number of articles viewed by the users, other content read by the users who read content A etc.
It can help you do the following (and much more)
- Decide which topics are trending and liked by your audience
- What social channels are they using so you can invest more on those platforms
- What length of articles do they generally prefer to read
- Which devices they use so you can optimize content accordingly
Article analysis will help you increase engagement as well as retention. You can opt for the 14 days free trial here and try it out yourself.
5. New and returning vs loyal readers
Engagement can be gauged based on content stickiness. It is the measure of how many times readers come back to your content after they first read it.
Publishers and marketers use this data to drive campaigns, promotions and earn more loyal readers.
iSlay categorizes readers into new, returning and loyal on the basis of frequency and time of visits.
Now that you know what you should be tracking instead, we can assure you a rise in engagement for you.
You can learn and implement more and more if you look at the full picture – buzz and impact. While one tells you the health of the content, the other tells you how engaged and retained is your audience.
Both together it will help you understand the value created with each content piece.
And, this is important because
We believe (and you should too!) in what Blaise Lucey, senior content strategist had to say, “Every content marketer should be able to point to a piece of content and say, ‘This content generated this amount of value for the company.’”
So, what is the best metrics to gauge engagement according to you?