The Myth of Visitor Engagement


The Myth of Visitor Engagement

Like it or not, marketing a business means embracing data. All too often that data does a poor job of measuring activities that make a real difference. Visitor engagement is a case in point.

Visitor engagement is a widely-accepted measure of the interest that prospects have in your brand in a virtual space like your Web site. Tools like Google Analytics claim to measure visitor engagement by equating the ease by which it collects ‘engagement data’ to the actual value of that information.

For many years, online marketers used this ‘easy data’ to advise their clients. Allegiant believes it’s time to question this habit, and to move our clients beyond it.

The three ways marketers measure Visitor engagement

Page views per session. This data shows how many pages a visitor looks at during a single session. A page view is one screen view of whatever information is presented. One visitor can have many sessions, and one session can include many page views.

Bounce rate. A ‘bounce’ is the number times a visitor leaves a Web site after reading only one page. The bounce rate is the percentage of single page visits in relation to other Web site sessions.

Average session duration. Take the total duration of all Web site sessions  and divide those by the total number of sessions for that hour, day, week, etc. That’s the formula for average session duration.

FACT: We really can’t measure Visitor Engagement

These three widely-accepted metrics aren’t as accurate as many believe. The reason has more to do with how engagement data is collected, and less to do with the quality of the Web site itself.

In the past few years the validity of page views has sparked such a debate in the publishing community that many now believe page views – and the black art of click-baiting it spawned – should be completely scrapped.

Page views only measure the quantity of a visit — not its quality. For most B2B Web sites, quality matters a whole lot more.

What about the bounce rate? According to renown e-consulting firm Wolfgang Digital, “We’ve always felt bounce rate is one of the Web’s most overemphasized and misunderstood metrics. Bounce rate is more a measure of the quality of a traffic source than the quality of your website.”

So much for bounce rate. 

That leaves average session duration — another highly questionable metric.

Here’s why:

Let’s say a prospect spends three minutes reading your home page and then leaves.

Google can’t measure the amount of time spent reading your home page unless the visitor concludes that page visit by clicking to another page on your site.

If they go to another site or log off, Google can’t report how long the page visit was.

Do three minutes spent reading even one page of your site count as engagement?

You bet it does.

This is why your Web site is probably doing a better job of engaging your visitors than you realize.

Why is this important to you?

The myth of Visitor engagement is that it provides reliable information about the quality of your Web site.

The truth is it can’t, nor can it tell you anything your business can really use. So, here are two important questions you need to consider:

  1. Does ANY engagement on your Web site yield sales for your business?
  2. Would MORE engagement on your Web site lead to MORE sales for your business?

I hope you answered ‘yes’ to the first question. Any opinion of your product or service — even one gleaned from a single visit to your Web site — is far better than no opinion at all.

As for the second, I think you answered ‘I don’t know’ — and that uncertainty could be costing you money.

Allegiant has the means to remove this uncertainty with a new method of collecting and evaluating your Visitor engagement data — one that transforms it into reliable customer intelligence that can help your business succeed.