Research says that it takes 6-8 touches with your brand to generate a sales lead. So, what does this exactly mean? Just because you are increasing website visibility in the SERPs and driving website traffic doesn’t mean you will boost your conversion rates. To do so, you first need to build a consistent brand presence, gain users’ trust, and deliver value to them. Your goal is to provide seamless user experiences at each stage of a buyer’s journey and engage your audiences.

Sure, you will also need to track the effectiveness of your digital marketing practices by measuring audience engagement. Here are a few vital metrics to track.

Measure Page Views and Pages Per Session

For digital marketers, website traffic is one of the most significant metrics. It shows how visible your website is in the SERPs and whether it is relevant enough for users to click on it. However, when it comes to audience engagement, website traffic may be a vanity metric. Observing it in a vacuum is not enough, as it does not tell you anything about audience engagement. You want to know what happens when people land on your website page. For example, if you generate high traffic every month but most of your visitors leave without engaging with your content, this indicates that you are either targeting the wrong audience or that your content is not relevant enough.

Precisely because of that, you also need to measure pages per session to get better insights into audience engagement. They tell you how many unique pages a visitor viewed during one session. The increase in pages users view per session implies that they did not just land on your website page, read the content, and then left. This metric shows you that your content, navigation, and interlinking were so relevant and engaging that the visitor could not stop clicking through your website.

To measure page views, you can use Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and your dashboard will show you the pageviews in decreasing order. Pages per session can be measured from the Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels section. To calculate pages per session, you should divide the sum of all pages each user landed on by the total number of sessions. 

Session Duration

Session duration is another important metric to measure when observing audience engagement. This metric informs you about how much time people spend on your website. A high session duration tells you that a visitor is more engaged with your brand and that they are readier to convert. The industry standard is 2-3 minutes.

Now, session duration is the sum of the time a visitor spends on all website pages during one session. You can measure the average session duration in Google Analytics that divides the total duration of your sessions during the reporting period by the total number of sessions during that reporting period. You just need to go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.

The Conversion Rate

No matter if you are a fashion blogger or an eCommerce website, the goal of your audience engagement strategy is to encourage users to take the desired action. Now, depending on the type of your website and your niche, this could be anything from buying your products and services to submitting a form or downloading your latest ebook. Unsurprisingly, conversion rates inform you about the effectiveness of your marketing tactics. The high conversion rate indicates that your marketing tactics are effective and that people trust you since they are willing to complete your end goal.

You can track the overall conversion rate, keyword conversion rate, marketing channel conversion rate, and so forth. There are many tools to use, too. For example, you could rely on the built-in analytics features all social media giants provide. You could also use Google Analytics that lets you track data based on goals and even set eCommerce tracking. If you are using multiple tools to track multi-channel conversion rates, you can also use automated reporting software and centralize your website analytics tools under a single marketing dashboard.

The Bounce Rate

This is one of the fundamental metrics to measure as it directly indicates that online visitors are not receiving enough value out of your website content. They come to your website pages via social media, paid ads, or email marketing campaigns and probably click on your link because of an engaging and intriguing title. However, if the rest of the content does not meet their needs, they will simply ditch the page. 

You should be careful when measuring the bounce rate. Remember that the bounce relates to a single website page session. Therefore, if a visitor lands on your blog post, spends 10 minutes reading your content, and then leaves it, your bounce rate will still be 100%. Still, a high bounce rate often indicates that user engagement with your website is poor, as well as that there are serious UX problems you should solve fast.

Both the bounce rate and page exit rates can be measured in Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Studies say that the average bounce rate is between 41% and 55%, while 56-70% is considered higher than average. 

Top Exit Pages

An exit page is the last page a visitor lands on before leaving your website. Logically, the exit rate tracks the percentage of users that leave your website from the exit page. Exist pages are closely related to the bounce rate, given that they are both related to the last spot a user visits when clicking through your website. The main difference between these two metrics lies in the fact that the bounce rate measures the number of users that leave a website after visiting a single page. This is where measuring the exit rate can be incredibly important, as it helps you understand what your major UX problems are during the customer journey.

Similar to tracking the bounce rate, to measure top exit pages, you should go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages on GA. It is calculated by dividing the number of times a visitor exited a page by the number of page views.

Still, you need to observe exit pages wisely. For example, some pages, such as your contact page, are specifically designed as exit pages. A user is supposed to land there, find the information, and then leave. Therefore, on such pages, high exit rates only mean that a user has completed the desired action and left. 

On the other hand, if a page is not designed to be an exit page and, yet, your exit rate is high, this may mean your site is experiencing one of the following problems. First, your website hierarchy is poor, meaning that a user cannot find the content they are looking for and, therefore, leave. Second, you are not providing clear or persuasive CTAs. Not knowing what to do next, a visitor simply leaves the website. Third, you may be providing an overwhelming amount of data on a page, discouraging a user to convert. 

Your goal is to identify the most common reasons for high exit rates and optimize them. For starters, optimize the website’s hierarchy, create more relevant content, and simplify the buyer journey by providing clear guidance and persuasive CTAs.

New vs. Returning Visitors

Google Analytics distinguishes between new and returning visitors. When a user lands on your site and Google Analytics cannot find the cookie, it recognizes them as a new visitor. On the other hand, if a tracking cookie exists, GA will recognize a returning visitor. Simply put, a new visitor is the one coming to your website from a device for the first time, while the returning one has come back to your website. 

Now, if a visitor uses their mobile phone to access your website and then revisits it from their laptop, Google will count that as two separate visits. Google defines new visitors within two years. If one comes back to a website within the past two years, they are considered a returning visitor. On the other hand, if there have been more than two years since they visited your site, they will be identified as new visitors again.

Tracking new vs. returning visitors is easy. Go to Google Analytics and then Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning, where you can observe the behaviors of new and returning visitors. The number of returning visitors indicates how loyal your audience is. The higher the number of returning users, the better. This means that people find your content relevant and that they trust you enough to keep coming back. 

Page Depth

Page depth tracks how carefully your audience consumes your content. There are two key factors that impact your page depth. The first is the user-friendliness and readability of your content. If your content is legible and easy to read and digest, people will want to scroll down the page and read the rest of it. The second is the interest in your content. If your content is unique and intriguing, people will want to go down the page. 

You cannot measure page depth from Google Analytics. To stay on top of this metric, you will need to install Scroll Depth Google Analytics plugin or Google Tag Manager that measures the percentage of your page where your users stop scrolling down.

Interpret your data carefully to understand where people stop interacting with your content. Then, try to understand why this is happening. Test your website responsiveness across multiple devices to detect any UX issues. Also, audit your content quality to determine whether it is relevant enough to your visitors.

Over to You

The audience engagement metrics you will follow depend on your specific needs, audiences, and industry. However, those are some fundamental KPIs that may serve as your solid starting point. The good thing is that you can track most of them directly from Google Analytics. Still, when combining multiple audience engagement analytics tools or wanting to observe your campaign results in real-time, you can always automate them by using a digital marketing reporting tool.

Posted by Raul Harman