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User engagement is a measure of how much users are actively participating with a product or service. It encompasses a range of behaviors, such as commenting, sharing, liking, and returning to the product or service over time.
Essentially, it's about how invested users are in their experience, and how likely they are to return and continue engaging with a product or service over time.
There are lots of ways that individuals engage with brands. Some examples include signing up for an email list in response to a pop-up that offers a discount for new signups, opening an email campaign and clicking through to a new blog post, and commenting on a brand’s social media content.
User engagement is important because it helps to build and maintain a strong relationship between a user and a product or service.When users are engaged, they are more likely to use a product or service frequently, provide feedback, and recommend it to others.
High user engagement can lead to increased customer loyalty, higher retention rates, and ultimately, greater business success. Additionally, engaged users tend to be more willing to pay for premium features or services, further increasing the revenue potential of a product or service.
User engagement is best measured by looking at several KPIs rather than just one. While it’s simple to calculate engagement rates with the formula below, it can be helpful to decide which kinds of engagement are most valuable for your goals, and how those can be measured.
Tracking user engagement is a great way to see if your strategies are working, and which are most effective. To calculate your user engagement, first decide on a time frame, and then on a KPI. (See below for some suggested engagement specific KPIs) Then, divide the number of engaged users (those who comment, click, share, or consume your content) by the total number of users over the same period of time. Multiply the result by 100 to express the value as a percentage.
For example, say a product page devoted to a new collection features a promotional video, a place for comments, a link to share, and a “notify me when available” field. To calculate the weekly engagement rate, take the number of visitors who engaged with the page either by watching the video, signing up for the notification list, sharing with their social circles, leaving a comment, or a combination of these actions and divide by the number of visitors total. When expressed as a percentage, this will give you an engagement rate for the week, which you can then compare to other time frames, or product launches.
A click-through rate is the percentage of visitors who click through an ad or message to access more information or make a purchase.
The time on page metric measures the amount of time sent on a specific web page. This can be an especially important engagement metric for content sites since it can often indicate how many visitors are consuming a content piece in its entirety. Longer page times don’t always indicate higher engagement though- sometimes users stall on a page due to confusion, indecision, or abandonment.
The returning visitor rate is the percentage of website visitors who have been to the site before and can often indicate brand investment or valued content.
The page-per-visit metric measures the average of how many pages of a website are visited per session.
The session duration refers to the entire length of time that a visitor stays on a website or in an app. Session duration can be evaluated on an individual basis, or as an average taken from all visitors over a certain period of time.
Retention rate is the percentage of customers who continue to subscribe to a product or service over time.
Just as with many metrics of success, there is no single standard of what is a “good” user engagement rate. In order to evaluate your strategies, it’s best to compare against your own previous metrics (can you track an improvement) or seek out rates from comparable companies in comparable industries. By identifying realistic and relevant targets for your engagement, you will be able to craft and track a much more valuable map of progress than by comparing to an irrelevant “standard.”
Below are some common metrics for user engagement, but the most valuable measurements are always going to be the ones that correspond to your individual goals. If one of your goals for your app is to increase app stickiness, for example, you’d likely want to increase your number of daily active users, but focusing on reducing session intervals (bringing users back to the app more often) might be the first relevant KPI to follow on your way towards that goal.
Active users can refer to website or app visitors and can be measured by various time frames, such as daily active users (DAU), weekly active users (WAU), or monthly active users (MAU). Active users can be a valuable metric on its own, for example, 50k DAU, or as a percentage of a total audience as in 3% of an app’s users, open the app daily.
Session length refers to the amount of time that a user spends visiting a website, or inside an app.
Session intervals refer to the amount of time that passes between visits to a website or app.
When an app is referred to as “sticky,” it means that its users find it valuable and return to it regularly. The measurable components of app stickiness include a low churn rate, high DAU and MAU, an engaged user base, and high retention.
Retention rate is the percentage of customers who continue to use a product or service over time.
Conversion rate is defined as the percentage of prospective or active users who complete a desired action. Within the sphere of eCommerce, conversion most often refers to purchases, but it can also mean email signups, social shares, or loyalty program participation, depending on the goals of the campaign.
In its broadest sense, the user engagement rate refers to the percentage of total users who are engaged with a brand, i.e. participating in the social conversation, making purchases and referrals, or interacting with content.
Churn rate refers to the percentage of customers, users, or subscribers who disengage from an app or brand over a certain amount of time.
Google Analytics remains the top tool for tracking user engagement, though there are many platforms that specialize in engagement tracking including Mixpanel, Amplitude, and Appsflyer.
The best tool for tracking user engagement is always going to be the one that’s easiest for you to use, and which tracks the KPIs that are most relevant to your goals. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to track and why when looking for engagement analytics tools and see which can be most compatible with the ones you already use.
Since user engagement is best earned through providing valuable content and a reliable customer experience, the most common mistakes tend to involve neglecting these factors. Artificially rushing brand loyalty, or not having a good idea of which metrics you want to improve or why, can both get in the way of your engagement goals. Overwhelming new customers with calls to action, allowing bad automation to sabotage existing customer relationships with irrelevant messages, and neglecting customer service can all lower engagement rates, and keep you from reaching your goals.