Measuring website engagement can be a complex process that is often initially oversimplified. Many businesses focus on an increase in pageviews or a decrease in bounce rate, but those metrics alone do not tell a full story. It could be that pageviews increased and your bounce rate decreased because your website had a poor user experience and users were getting lost trying to find what they needed. So how can we get a clearer picture on engagement besides looking at these metrics so that we can optimize your digital experience?
Using Event Tracking to Better Measure Engagement
An event is a dimension within Google Analytics that can measure user interaction. Using Google Tag Manager, you can create events that track things like button clicks, form submissions, scroll depth, downloads, video interaction and more.
Instead of just looking at pageviews, event tracking can help you to see more detailed engagement. At first glance, pageviews could have increased, but with event tracking you may see that users are not clicking the call-to-action button at the top of your page or they are not scrolling to the bottom. While engagement may have looked good at first, with event tracking, an opportunity for improvement has been identified.
Implementing Cross-Domain Tracking
If your website uses third party vendors for things like applications, it is impossible to track through the entire marketing funnel without some analytics customization. If your goal is to increase online applications or account openings, without implementing cross domain tracking, metrics like bounce rate and session duration will be skewed. For example, if a user clicks from your website to open an account on another domain, although they are performing the desired action, Google treats this as the user leaving your website. This is going to increase bounce rate, increase the exit percentage, lower session duration, etc.
It will also skew conversion/referral traffic data. If a user clicks to another site to fill out your application, without cross-domain tracking, once they have left your domain there is no way to see what traffic source they came from. For example, if a user clicks to your website from a paid search campaign and clicks to the third-party site and completes the application, there is no way to attribute that conversion point back to your paid advertising. This of course means that tracking the ROI from that campaign is impossible.
Cross-domain tracking allows you to record hits on multiple domains under one session in Google Analytics. This provides for more accurate metrics like bounce rate, but it also enables you to accurately attribute conversions back to their traffic source. Once cross-domain tracking is implemented, you will get a much more accurate representation of a user’s journey and overall website engagement, and be able to better measure ROI as well.
To see how to setup cross domain tracking visit this blog. This can get complicated quickly, so many companies rely on an agency to help with this.
Returning Users & Website Engagement Factors
Paying attention to returning users is important, but it is not always the best measurement of overall website engagement. An increase in returning users could mean that users remembered your website and came back organically. On the flip-side, it could mean that a user that has been to your website before is coming back to your website via a paid ad where they would have already come back organically. It is also possible that a returning user is not performing the actions that you would consider “engagement.” A common example for financial institutions that we see is related to online banking. Unless you have event tracking and are excluding events like clicks to online banking, returning users is not a good measure of website engagement.
Measuring website engagement accurately requires an investment in time and resources to ensure you have proper analytics tracking in place, but once setup, you will be able to gain better insight on how users are engaging with your website.
If you are looking to implement any of these tracking tactics, ZAG is here to help! Contact a ZAG representative today to get started.