What is engagement? An answer in plain English

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When you have an online business and you’re running digital marketing campaigns, you’re going to hear the word “engagement” in almost every report. Usually, reports sent to you by Social PR agencies will be based around sentiment and likes on Facebook… but, putting nerd-speak to the side – is all this going to turn to sales?

Fact is, there’s a whole host of areas that “engagement” covers, and a lot of them happen before clicking the ‘Like’ button. So what aren’t your social guys telling you?

Don’t be blindsided by industry jargon anymore. Let me clear up a few things.

What IS engagement?

Succinctly put, engagement is any conversation with your customers. And, in our digital world, every aspect of your marketing is that dialogue between customers and your brand.

Everything you do leaves an impression on your audience: blog posts, advert impressions, TripAdvisor reviews and more are all part of that giant conversation.

Engagement is not a measure of its own, but a collection of smaller metrics. When you’re able to measure all this buzz, you can develop powerful insights around what your customers are interested in, what they think of you, and how your business can serve them better.

Four happy, engaged people holding up coloured chat bubbles in a field

How do I measure engagement?

Forrester (2007) breaks down engagement into smaller, realistic units: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence. I’d like to focus in on two parts that you can start measuring and understanding today: involvement and interaction.

Involvement

Involvement is instrumental to the success of your website. It’s a measurement of people: you’re looking at how many users visit your website and for how long. The key areas to measure are:

  • Website visits – how many user sessions have there been?
  • The time your users spend on-site – how many minutes do users spend reading your content?
  • The pages your users view – how many pages do they view? Which are the most popular?

You can go even deeper and measure bounce rate to see how initially involved your visitors are in your website. Fortunately, no maths skills are necessary to work this all out – if you have Google Analytics installed, all of this information is available to see from there.

Example screenshot of Google Analytics showing engagement

An example of the reporting found in Google Analytics.

Interaction

This is where we can measure how users respond to your brand online. Forrester’s model of interaction measures:

  • Blogs and social posts – how many contributed comments, likes and shares are there?
  • Reviews – what rating have you been awarded? How many reviews?
  • Product purchases – most importantly, how recently and frequently do your users purchase products?

While product purchases may be measured through your own e-commerce tools or tracked via Google Analytics, social media insights can be gathered and collected in tools such as Hootsuite. From Hootsuite, you can begin to understand your customers’ sentiments around your brand (intimacy) and the influence your brand is having across different types of consumers.

Will all of this get me sales?

Yes!! You just have to measure appropriately and act accordingly.

Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick (2012) caution that social media engagement is some of the easiest information to collect, but the least valuable in terms of how much value they drive to your business.

Instead, the valuable insights that will help drive sales are tucked away in your Google Analytics account. Studying the trends uncovered in your interaction stats will give you a clearer idea of what your customers like – and just as importantly – what they aren’t interested in.

Start building an engaging experience for your customers based on solid evidence. Then, the sales will come.

Need a hand?

We’re kings of engagement. Let us take a peek under the bonnet and we’ll tell you what’s going on – bullshit-free. Get in touch today.

Sources:

  • Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2012). Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. Harlow: Pearson.
  • Forrester (2007). The Customer Experience Index. Cambridge, MA.
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