Understanding Engagement: 3 Key Metrics and How to Interpret Them
Dealing With Data
If you’re looking to get a real estate blog or website off the ground, chances are you’ve begun exploring the amazing mathematical world of web analytics. But no matter how powerful your tools for measuring your website’s performance, it’s up to you to interpret the data, which often begs two related questions: “What am I looking at, and what am I looking for?”
To answer the first question, you’re looking at various data sets, or metrics, that characterize your visitors’ behavior on your blog or site. To answer the second, you’re looking for the best possible result of those metrics—namely, a pattern of customers consuming and interacting with your content meaningfully and repeatedly. This pattern is called engagement.
Let’s look at three of the most important metrics for developing a complete picture of your engagement.
Simply put, your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your blog or website who leave without performing any additional actions—clicking an internal link, navigating to another page, commenting on a post, etc. The higher the bounce rate, the worse your engagement…or so many would have you believe.
In fact, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Sometimes, a high bounce rate can be a positive sign—that is, visitors don’t need to look elsewhere for answers to their questions because your posts are doing the job. Nevertheless, your goal is to add value not just for your visitors, but also for yourself by converting them into customers.
This means encouraging them to interact more with your site. You can do this by being more clear about what you want your visitors to do once they’re done viewing your content, whether that means providing a clear call to action or including several links to related posts or pages.
Time On Page
This one is pretty self-explanatory: it’s the average amount of time your visitors spend on your posts or pages before moving on, either to another corner of your site or to an external site. Generally, it makes sense that the more time people spend on your pages, the more engaged they are with your content, and vice versa.
Again, though, there’s more to time on page than that. After all, the amount of time people spend consuming your content depends on the length of the content itself. A one-minute average may be low if you’re writing blog posts of 1000 words or more, but it’s pretty normal if your posts are closer to 500 words. When interpreting your time on page, be sure to take into account how long your content takes to consume, then measure it against that standard.
New vs. Returning Visitors
While the last two metrics examine engagement in the short term, the long term can be every bit as important. Your ratio of new to returning visitors will tell you whether your blog or website has the necessary depth and quality of content to attract visitors even after you’ve answered the question that brought them there in the first place.
When interpreting this metric, you should always view it in the context of your overall audience and the age of your blog (or the specific campaign/strategy you’re tracking). An audience that’s 90 percent new isn’t a bad thing in your first couple months; but if your repeat visitors don’t increase after a while, it probably means your visitors aren’t finding your content very valuable.
Conversely, a blog whose audience is largely made up of repeat visitors probably isn’t experiencing any growth. Look to maintain a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of new to returning visitors.
Of course, these are just a few of the many metrics that affect engagement on your blog or website. Have one you’d like us to discuss? Tell us in the comments!
Published on July 17, 2011