It had to happen one day! I have been reading this excellent blog for some time now, but today finally I saw a post which I have issues with.
Avinash starts by saying that Engagement is not a metric, it’s an excuse. Then goes on to make comments which I think are well in a word wrong.
Engagement is not a metric that anyone understands and even when used it rarely drives the action / improvement on the website.
To me this depends on who you’re working with, how you’ve defined engagement and what your KPI’s are. MANY of my clients ARE using engagement KPI’s to optimize campaigns spend. Avinash’s point is that it’s used as an excuse by people who should be improving conversion rates of sales is pretty short sighted. Sales are rarely made on the first visit as he’s said many times in previous posts therefore engaging the visitors and answering their questions is not only needed, but imperative to improve sales.
But let¢¬¢s try to understand why in the context of web analytics so many efforts at measuring ¢¬Åengagement¢¬ have yielded almost no results…
Speak for yourself. Maybe your clients and colleagues are driving “no results” but mine have. I would suggest your engagement KPI’s are not well defined and therefore the information you have is not giving you the insights you require, not that engagement per se is at fault.
It is nearly impossible to define engagement in a standard way that can be applied across the board.
True, but who ever said it was possible to define an engagement standard? Who ever said that was a good idea?
At the heart of it engagement tries to measure something deeply qualitative
False. I have used quantitative engagement data to drive things like surveys and other qualitative studies, but never assumed the figures are trying to replace qualitative data. It’s simply wrong to do so, the data should compliment each other. Engagement metrics can be as useful as flags to take action on doing qualitative stuff like surveys, usability studies, heuristic tests and such like. But to simply say “replace engagement metrics with qualitative data” is naive. Why then do web analytics at all? Why not just guess at when to run surveys and usability studies? Expensive testing needs justification to suggest that a test is required in my experience.
One of my personal golden rules is that a metric should be instantly useful. This one is not.
Again, i completely disagree. I have seen incredible gains (millions of euros) simply by acting on engagement data with some of my clients. Again it’s got to be down to how you have defined your engagement criteria.
Most of all engagement is a proxy for measuring an outcome from a website
I agree with this, but so is measuring effective direct sale reach sources, so is measuring the effects of nurturing existing customers, so I miss the point you’re trying to make. All business (ALL) is about activation at the end of the day, everything else supports it. Surely you’re not trying to say that all measurement other than activation is a waste of time?
If we are measuring page views divided by unique visitors as a proxy of engagement
Page views per visit is one form of engagement, one miniscule minute form of measuring effective engagement, but as Avinash knows is by no means the end of the story. Rahul (the second comment on his blog) hit on a couple of the metrics we’ve used in the past when he talks about scoring individuals. We’ve segmented audiences based on session time for instance more than 30 seconds but less than 10 minutes. There are a number of others we’ve used, keyword engagement based on the above sessions for instance driving changes to SEM strategy. All of it is good and actionable data when used correctly and when defined well.
Avinash then goes onto re-define engagement in his own terms. Doing exactly what he mocked earlier in the post;
Pundits have pontificated. Bloggers have blogged. Guru¢¬¢s have spoken from their perches. Industry Analysts have given their brains to the cause. Vendors have¢¬¦. well tried. Hard.
What concerns me is that people have been agreeing left right and centre on Avinash’s blog that his article was right on the button. I disagree with those guys too. Sorry but I know for a fact if I asked most of my clients to do expensive qualitative data gathering with no justfification, no evidence to suggest a problem could exist then it is simply wont happen. What concerns me is the message this is giving to the masses. To suggest that engagement is a waste of time with powerful rhetoric like engagement is an excuse is in my view a bit off. We should be promoting the effective use of engagement metrics, not belittling their worth.
I for one know for an absolute FACT that engagement metrics when used well can lead to great results. I can think of three clients in the last couple of months in which engagement KPI’s have directly saved or made them money by taking action on the flag raised.
I am slightly surprised at Avinash’s post because it seems to be on the one hand mocking the idea of engagement and then on the other defining ways to measure it. So I don’t actually know whether I agree or disagree with him come to think of it. Maybe I should re-name this post, “Finally, I think I might be disagreeing with Avinash!”