Measuring Engagement Without a Ring
If the goal of your content marketing strategy is to bring people to your website to read and engage with your content, then it helps to be able to measure whether you’ve achieved that goal or not. A comprehensive content marketing strategy can take a long time to be effective so it also helps to be able to see how you’re doing in terms of engagement so you know where to improve rather than having to wait months just to see if something is working or not.
How to Measure the Intangible
Engagement refers to how people consume and interact with your content. How can you possibly know what people are doing on your web pages without employing those secret cameras everyone on Facebook insists Big Brother is using to monitor us all? By measuring what they are doing once they arrive on a page.
There are many actions people can take on a web page. If they don’t like it, they’ll click the back button. If they like it a lot, they might share it to their social media feeds or email the link to a colleague or friend. If it’s already on a social feed, people can click a like or other reaction button or share the content. If there’s an area for comments, people can leave a reply or join a conversation. If it’s a long page, visitors can scroll down the page. If there are links, people can click them.
Resources such as Google Analytics and other metrics aggregators can provide you with concrete metrics for these actions to help you understand how you’re doing in terms of engagement.
The Metrics of Engagement
The biggest metric to consider is your conversion rate. This number will tell you lots of things in addition to engagement, and it’s the most important to consider as it tells you how many people visiting your website are turning into customers or otherwise entering your sales funnel for further nurturing. Here are a few examples of numbers to watch on your Google Analytics dashboard.
Time on Page. Each page on your site will have its own average time. There’s no singular number to aim for as a page with thousands of words should have a higher number than one with very few. However, if the time is very short—just a few seconds—it’s likely that people are not finding what they want to see on the page and it needs improvement.
Internal Traffic. Are people engaging with one page of your site and then leaving? Or, do they stick around and read other articles, visit product pages, or otherwise stay engaged? The exit rate of each page will tell you how many people are leaving your site after visiting that page; the ones with the highest exit rates are likely to need some work.
Organic Traffic. Engaging your readers is essential, but engaging the Google Bot is also important. The higher that organic traffic ranks on your overall traffic sources, the more you’re engaging the Google Bot. Improve this number by improving your overall SEO efforts.
Specific Strategies for Concrete Goals
Improving your overall engagement rates is a good thing to do as people who are bored and uninspired probably won’t do business with you. Making sure that all the content on your website is of high quality—well written, clear videos, interesting visuals, helpful information—is critical no matter what your goals are.
On the other hand, it can be helpful to set a specific goal and then use corresponding metrics to see if you’ve achieved that goal rather than focus on a more general sense of engagement with your website. That’s because people find all sorts of things interesting, entertaining, or otherwise worth a few minutes of their time, even if they have no intention of buying anything from you. Having the occasional piece of irrelevant but entertaining content is usually a good thing for most companies. However, unless your content creation is centered around acquiring customers, you’ll be doing a lot of work to entertain people for free.
A better strategy is to set a goal, build pages and content meant to achieve that goal, and then check the engagement metrics of that set of content to see if it’s working to bring you closer to that goal.
For example, if you want more people to sign up for a consultation, first choose a very specific service to focus on. Then, create blog pages or articles centered around keywords people may use when searching for that service and include a call-to-action for that service. Point all those calls-to-action to a landing page to collect information from those who want a consultation. Then, rather than having a look at your overall engagement metrics, focus only on the pages dedicated to getting more consultation signups for that service, and use the conversion rate of that landing page as an indicator of success.
How Can I Be Engaging?
Every business has the potential to be interesting and engaging. I’ve been tasked with writing compelling copy for some of the seemingly driest industries on the planet. The trick is to always start with who you are creating the content for. There is almost no way to make high-tech topics interesting for both my mother and for a dev-in-training at a new startup.
The good news is that there’s also no need to do that as even if there are products and services meant for both groups, each will have a totally unique path to arriving at the purchase. The path for my mom won’t be successful if you’ve packed it full of acronyms and detailed explanations. The path for the dev-in-training will be useless if you explain everything like your readers are old ladies who have trouble operating a TV remote.
Read more about engaging content here: 5 Ways to Improve Your Web Content
If you’re still stuck on how to be more interesting and engaging, I can help! I’ve helped businesses in every sector—from plumbing to industrial manufacturing to finance—find the right path to speak directly to their best audiences and get results from their content marketing strategies.