Web Analytics and Visitor Engagement… Again!

After a few months of quiet the engagement debate came back around. I wondered when it would happen. I commented primarily on Erics blog to find out about a tool that sounds interesting, but then Omniture’s Matt Belkin also wrote a post I felt I had to comment on. I can see more of this coming but I’m just going to repeat my humble opinion (taken from my response to Matt’s post) here.

This is a recent excerpt I posted on WebAnalyticsDemystifieds’ Future of blog talking about the same thing (engagement);

It goes back to a point I first read about ages ago on Eric’s blog (late 2006) and then when Eric published his engagement formula became the legendaryengagementdebate I’m sure we all remember, on Occam’s Razor, Jims site, my site and a bunch of others. It got quite heated at times as it should. Passions were ignited and people were drawing lines in the sand. At the time I took a step back and looked at what we all were saying and came to the conclusion we were largely debating semantics though we all agreed on some things.

What we pretty much all agree on is that the more ways we have of identifying ways to get more customers and take actions on our metrics the better. Note the “take action” part. I think most of us agree if you can’t act on the KPI then why use it.

We all agree that we have to use quantitative (clickstream), qualitative (voice of customer, attitudinal) and competitive (comparison) data to drive the best insights. Learning to combine these data sources is the way the industry will move.

In the “legendary debate” Avinash argued the same point as Matt makes and I’m not disagreeing with either perspective here. The whole point of everything is conversion eventually.

The problem was one guy was discussing engagement in the context of RF models. One was discussing engagement in terms of bounce rate, one was discussing engagement in terms of scoring actions and I was defining engagement segments. Then everyone else was throwing their 2 cents into the mix till you had a whole big bag of ideas labeled as engagement.

I have used Omnitures (and other) tools successfully to save clients millions of euros using nothing but engagement segments as I define them. No conversion was made initially but the likelihood to convert later (measured via RF) was much higher and by using engagement segments to optimize keyword spend and banner placements we saved clients a lot of money.

As a consultant using (Omniture and other) tools it’s our responsibility to make or save our clients money. I often find that in order to do that I have to do a lot more than simply measure conversion funnels because all that does is show low hanging fruit which will only give you so much (and only works for some sites).

The puzzle I am being asked to solve more and more is this.

How come multi-channel campaigns for the past 12 months have shown only average or unremarkable conversion results and yet our profits are still rising exceptionally? Which part of our ad money are we wasting? Something is working but which is it?

In the above situation conversion rate alone is worthless. Much like engagement index alone, or bounce rate alone or page views alone.

The point I think folks might be missing is that it’s not about “one engagement metric to measure all” it’s about taking various metrics in context to each other and knowing how to interpret and act on those metrics.

Till someone replies! :)

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in General, Web Analytics
2 comments on “Web Analytics and Visitor Engagement… Again!
  1. Mark Patron says:

    Something very similar happened with offline direct marketing twenty years ago. Business was booming and no one was worried that 98% of people didn’t respond. A growing market is very forgiving until it stops growing. Engagement is similar to offline response. In the same way that database marketing’s killer app. is trading consumers up the loyalty ladder (for example suspects, prospects, customers, multi-buyers and ultimately advocates). In the same way segmenting by engagement helps trade consumers up the engagement ladder (for example first time visitors, repeat visitors, quote, register, purchase). I agree that engagement should not be one size fits all. If KPI’s follow goals then engagement measures have to depend on and vary with those goals. Engagement measures are different for websites and email for example. We find that we use different engagement measures for different industries.

  2. @Mark,

    Funny you should mention direct marketing. The first ever article I wrote back in November 2003 was about comparing offline direct marketing techniques to web analytics techniques.

    It’s here if you want to take a look.

    I think your summary is spot on.
    Some businesses get it right and aren’t losing 98% of their traffic and this is the point. But you don’t get that to happen without measuring more than simple conversion and simple funnels.

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