Enhanced Website Metrics: Getting a Better Sense of Engagement
April 20, 2015

Many destination marketers anchored their efforts in content marketing and storytelling well before they became trendy marketing terms. The challenge with this type of marketing, however, is that it can be difficult to get a true sense of how well stories are performing. Fortunately, there are low cost measurement tools that can provide a more detailed understanding of website user behavior and enable marketers to optimize and improve their efforts.

The Challenge of Measuring Engagement

As opposed to direct response conversion goals like sign-ups or bookings, content marketing is measured on information consumption. Standard website metrics, like page views, bounce rate and time on site, work well for transactional conversion funnels, but are often insufficient to accurately determine what people are viewing or reading. For instance, the bounce rate metric (traditionally the number of visitors taking any action on a page divided by total visitors), offers little insight into whether or not visitors absorbed any of the content on a page. A visitor who leaves the page immediately is counted the same way as a visitor who read a two-page article and left without clicking anything on the page. Similarly, the time on site metric in Google Analytics assigns bounced visits with “0:00” time on site. In order to overcome these data challenges, there are enhanced web analytics measurement tools available that provide deeper insights for content marketers.

Scroll Tracking Example

One such tool, which Brand USA has recently implemented, is page scroll tracking. This software allows for the precise measurement of how far users navigate down web pages. Scroll tracking not only measures how far a user went down a web page, but also the time it took to do so. Layering these two data points together allows for greater insight into whether users are actually reading content or doing a quick, cursory scroll down the page. Segmentation enhances these insights and can provide results specific to groups such as mobile visitors, traffic from a specific advertising campaign and more.

 

Figure 1

      How far down the webpage did users scroll?
  Page Views Bounce Rate 25% 50% 75% 100%
Page A 3,000 63% 40% 34% 28% 13%
Page B 2,980 66% 84% 80% 71% 18%

 

Figure 1 provides an example of just how beneficial this information can be. The table details scroll tracking results of two web pages with similar page length, but different content. By relying on bounce rate as the key measure of performance, Page A looks to be a slightly more effective page. The scroll tracking data, however, indicates that Page B does a much better job of encouraging users to read more of the content. The vast majority (80 percent) of Page B visitors made it half way down the page, as opposed to only 34 percent of Page A visitors. Layering on additional context is essential, however, as content quality is not the only factor in consumption rates; traffic sources can vary greatly in the quality of users delivered. Analyzing scroll tracking by traffic source can therefore help optimize targeting and make advertising activities more cost efficient.

In addition to scroll tracking, heat map and visit playback software offer additional insights into website user behavior. Heat map software creates a visual representation of all the mouse movements of website visitors. This capability is helpful when evaluating which section of a webpage is gaining most of the attention. If understanding the detailed behavior of individual users rather than the overall trend is more appropriate, then visit playback software can be a helpful solution. The software allows you to view a recording of individual user visit, capturing every mouse movement and click. Seeing a website through the eyes of the consumer can reveal a number of important things, including design flaws and opportunities for enhancement.