Engagement and optimisation: Success Metrics

sale You hear alot about engagement, and not just in the UX community.

How do you engage your website users? What exactly constitutes the different parts of a website’s content that will attract people and make the website an enjoyable experience for them and a profitable one for your business?

In the first of seven parts, I’ll take a look at what goes into creating an engaged website audience and an optimised site.

I have prioritised the list below in order of how an existing website owner my look at their site and assess how to get their audience more engaged.

  1. Success metrics
  2. Defining behaviours
  3. Architecture for Optimisation
  4. Developing a compelling message
  5. Motivational calls to action
  6. Enhancing interactive flow
  7. Iterative testing and relevant reporting

Success metrics


First up its defining your success metrics but what has this to do with engagement?

Though it may not strike us immediately, any enterprise that has a successful business will have an audience that is engaged in some way with their product. There is no difference online, only that we have the means to define what success looks like as it appears in real time.

Success metrics feels a more emotive and emphatic term than key performance indicators. Semantics perhaps, but metrics (or KPIs) reflect the details of how you are succeeding or failing against a benchmark set by your business.

Every site has different success criteria. These metrics fall into four groups reflecting different purposes of a site. There are obviously other sites that may show characteristics of several types, but these four are clearly defined in their purpose and are unique enough to provide a good illustration.

E commerce


Site objective:
Persuade visitors to purchase products or services online. Web analytics allows you to ascribe a value per visitor, crucial in measuring the persuasive qualities of your site against actual revenue.

• Revenue
• Orders
• Profit
• Conversion Rate
• Revenue-per-visit
• Profit-per-visit
• Average Order Value

Content and display advertising


Site objective:
Attract repeat visitors who explore the site in depth. The more pages consumed the better here. This type of site relies on returning visitors as much as e-commerce sites.

•Page Views
•Visits and Unique Visitors (Reach)
•Average Page Views per Visit
•Conversion Rate (Actions/Visit)

Lead generation


Site objective:
Capture information about a visitor to use in future communications. Although shown here as a site, it is just as likely to be a landing page, specifically built to gather leads.

•Conversion Rate
•Newsletter Sign-Ups
•Partner Referrals
•Price Quotes
•Demo Quotes
•Collateral Downloads

Customer support


Site objective:
Quickly and successfully answer customer questions and address customer problems online. Keeping the customer satisfied is a prerequisite for any business and effective online help is a major cost-saving for businesses.

•Visits, Unique Visitors
•Web Inquires
•Percentage of Successful Support Inquires
•Call Center Volume
(Unique Web number)
•Customer Satisfaction Index
•File downloads

Taking metrics to the next level

Aside from the metrics stated above there are also some others that are becoming more important as different audiences mature. The domain of digital marketing needs to have these metrics in mind as people become more vocal online within new communication arenas.

Customer reach (click through and open rates)
How far your message goes and being able to measure the reach is another useful aspect to analytics. Do people actually open what you send them? Do people click on to the next page?

Cost driven (cost per click, cost per keyword)
Analyse exactly how much investment you make in acquiring your visitors and then contrast with how much they are worth to your site. An engaged audience will return, and that cost of acquisition will go down in direct relation to their frequency of returning visits.

Consumer attitudes (brand awareness, frequency)
The amount of visitors coming to the site through search using the brand as a search term is an indication of how much your brand is known. Even a company strap line entered as a search term gives an idea of brand strength in the market place.

Cross-channel (customer lifetime value, return on marketing objectives)
How your audience arrives will often be a mixture of many different online and offline methods. Being aware of these paths into your site, and adjusting the user experience to suit, is an important factor to successfully converting users.

Ensure calls to action are relevant and clear. Synchronise off line activities (such as call centres) to be in tune with activity online.

Linking the overall experience, the essence of the service, will help build the message and the various mediums into a cohesive, and measurable marketing exercise.

Perceptions (sentiment online, levels of interaction, attitudes)
Monitor known channels of communication around your site’s subject area (blogs, forums, trade sites, news wires). Twitter is currently the  marketing darling, and well read blogs can be genuine authorities that are listened to.

If your site is perceived negatively the ‘noise’ will certainly be louder than positive comments and obviously more disruptive. Your reputation hinges on your user’s perceptions. Their perceptions colour how they view you, and if they are likely to recommend you to others.

Peer referral is a major force when the way of consuming your content is also a communication channel through which they can inform or broadcast their own views.

Defining success

So this post has been about success, and all sites crave a bit of that. Each site will have different criteria when it comes to what constitutes the winning formula but some common rules apply;

stats Decide on business objectives and work out the actual metrics that will define success for your site and your business in achieving its goals.
webpage_magnified Always choose metrics that reflect the objectives directly – their values will have an impact on what constitutes success.
face Once understood, the site owners need to be aware of the key metrics and see reports regularly.

There are two parts to engagement; one is the building of a site that is optimised and doesn’t hinder a user’s discovery or use of the page. The other is ensuring the content is sufficiently attractive and desirable to rely on consistent repeat visits.

The two parts are very different and require different specialists to ensure the tasks are executed in the optimal way. Having these people in place will help define real success, not just the numeric kind.

Next, defining behaviours….

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