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In the fast-paced digital world, understanding user engagement is crucial for businesses looking to optimize their online presence and drive conversions. One of the most valuable and often overlooked metrics for measuring user engagement is session length. This powerful indicator provides insights into content quality, user experience, and overall website or app performance. In this blog post, we'll delve into the importance of session length as a user engagement metric.
Session length (session duration), is the amount of time a user spends on a website or application during a single visit or session. It is a metric commonly used in web analytics and digital marketing to evaluate user engagement and the effectiveness of a website or app.
Session length is typically measured in seconds, minutes, or hours and can be analyzed for various purposes, such as understanding user behavior, optimizing the user experience, or measuring the success of marketing campaigns.
For example, a longer session length may indicate that users find the content engaging and are spending more time exploring the website or app. Conversely, a shorter session length might suggest that users are not finding the content compelling or are encountering usability issues, leading to a higher bounce rate.
In addition to the overall session length, web analytics tools often provide a breakdown of session durations by individual pages or screens, which can help identify specific areas of a website or app that require improvement.
Session length is important for user engagement because it provides insights into how effectively a website or application is capturing users' attention and maintaining their interest.
A longer session length generally indicates that users are more engaged with the content and are likely to have a better overall experience.
Here are a few reasons why session length is important for user engagement:
Understanding the user expectation and behavior is critical in evaluating session length. Although mobile users, on average, spend around five minutes in an app, this number might vary from business category to category. Therefore, do not let the session length metric befool you by thinking that you are only doing better when your session length is longer. Hence, instead of focusing on the general average session length, it is more important to follow the category benchmarks and historical and seasonal trends.
If you are a product delivery app, you do not desire long sessions. In such cases, long session lengths might indicate some issues that your user might be having while using the app. Similarly, a game application’s session length has to be longer than other apps to see if it is engaging and interesting for the user.
According to Statista’s report relying on the data by Adjust, vertical-based average session durations in 2019 and 2020 are observed to be as in the graphic below.
Once you know if your purpose is being served or not, you can easily track the user behavior and make the necessary reforms in your app to enhance the typical engagement length. Additionally, by knowing the average engagement time, you know you can get information on the quality of the experience your application offers to the users. Finally, you can understand the flow, analyze the progress and work for better user engagement.
To calculate the session length, you need to know two things exactly: the time the user launched your application and the time the user exited or closed your application. Usually, the length of average engagement is measured in minutes and seconds. However, remember that you can even customize the calculation as per your business goals and objectives for the application. To make tracking more accessible, you can use various analytics tools such as Flurry, Mixpanel, or Firebase, to give a few examples among many.
If you want to do the calculation by yourself, the simple formula is as shown below:
Session length = Timestamp when the user closes the app – Timestamp user joins or starts the app
For example, your user opened your food delivery app at 9:01 pm and closed your app at 9:15 pm, and then the session length of this particular session would be fourteen minutes.
9:15 – 9:01 = 14 minutes
If you wish to find out the average number of sessions per user, then you can add all the session lengths in a given time frame and divide it by the number of sessions of the timeframe.
Continuing the same above, let’s say your user opens the same food delivery app in four app session intervals in a day for five minutes in the first session, three minutes in the second session, six minutes in the third session, and ten minutes in the fourth session. Now the average session length would be:
(5 + 3 + 6 + 10) / 4 = 6 minutes
Now that you know all about session length understand that it is not what your user engagement relies on. You must also take into consideration the quality of the session.
Another metric to track average engagement length per user has been introduced by Google Analytics: session quality. You can quickly know how close your user is to purchasing or availing your businesses’ service using the metric. Typically, you estimate how each session was about to turn into conversion by evaluating engaged sessions per user. You get results in the form of numbers that range from 1 to 100. If you receive a score closer to 100, your user was close to making the conversion. However, if the score is closer to 1, according to your mobile app sessions analytics, your user is far away from transacting.
When the results of both session length and session quality are combined, better results are generated, and high user engagement is observed. Therefore, do not focus wholly on session length. For you, the quality matters too, as it leads to a higher conversion rate.