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User Engagement Metrics

User Engagement Metrics

Web Design

15 Feb, 2022

7 Key User Engagement Metrics for Your Website

So… have you been tracking user engagement on your site?

Chances are you haven’t, and here’s why:

  • You’re not sending cart abandonment emails
  • Your website’s navigation is confusing – especially on mobile
  • Your product pages are boring and don’t include social proof

It’s okay. These mistakes are super common – but they’re costing you leads and customers.

And the worst part is, you wouldn’t even know which mistakes you’re making without tracking user engagement metrics on your website.

When companies track user engagement metrics on their website, they get insights into how their customers are behaving once they arrive there.

It’s almost as good as interviewing them yourself…


Are they bouncing straight off the home page?
Are they scrolling through a services page before getting distracted?
Are they clicking through the checkout process only to abandon their cart and crush your hopes and dreams?

With the answers to these burning questions, you finally have the power to make design improvements that lead directly to results.

But first, you need to know what user engagement metrics are and how to track them.

What Are User Engagement Metrics on Websites & Why Should You Care?

It’s a new era for Google analytics users. And even if you’ve never used it, just scrolling down your Linkedin feed you’ve had a pretty good chance of seeing people talk about it.

So what exactly is the fuss about?

In a nutshell, this new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) system has abandoned a couple of previously fundamental metrics and replaced them/created new ones to prioritize user engagement.

For example, if you’ve previously relied on tracking your bounce rates, you’d be interested (or slightly terrified, no judgment) to hear that bounce rate has been replaced by engagement rate.

Generally, Google seems to be focusing all its tools on user experience. It’s simple math, really:

Great user experience = users come back again.

In case you’re wondering, let’s illustrate how users are feeling about websites like yours:

  • 40% will stop engaging with a website if they find the layout or content cheap
  • 83% prioritize seamless experience across all devices
  • Sites with superior UX have 400% higher visit-to-conversion rates
  • Only 55% of companies are conducting any kind of UX testing

This is why website engagement metrics should become your top priority.

You need to track your UX to know how your users are feeling about your website. Then you can use that info to do better, make them happy, and drive them to click, purchase, share, or whatever else it is you want your customers to do.

Chances are, there are a few things you could improve, but you’ll only figure it out if you take a look at the numbers.

So, if you take a look, here’s the kind of thing you may find with user engagement metrics on your website:

7 User Engagement Metrics on Your Website That You Should Be Watching

Keep in mind that some of the old metrics don’t exist in GA4. In the old analytics, we would have included bounce rate and session duration.

But as it is, these are the most important website engagement metrics you need to understand now.

The problem highlighted by metricWeb design solution example
Slow loading images resulting in high abandon rates
  • Improve load speed by resizing and compressing images
  • Check your plugins
  • Enable browser caching
Low click-through rates on your website

Do you see what we’re getting at? Your web design choices have a tremendous impact on engagement and sales. That’s why you need to think about data-driven web design.

But before you start making changes left right and center, you need to know exactly what to track and what it tells you about your performance.

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1. Overall average engagement time

On average, how long are your customers hanging out on your site?

Longer is usually better. Off the top of our head, think: a stereotypical housewife shopping while her husband sits in “the chair” outside hoping it will be over soon, or a bookworm absolutely losing touch with reality while exploring a bookstore.

We’re not saying your customers need to become unhinged. But if they’re immersed in the UX, they’re more likely to buy from you, remember you, and talk about you.

That’s when you come in with a tailored product or offer and seal the deal.

A good engagement rate in GA4 is over 63% for B2B websites, and over 71% for B2C websites.

Your website users count as “engaged” if they tick one of the following boxes:

  1. They lingered on your website longer than ten seconds
  2. Viewed more than one page
  3. Completed an action

And based on that, this would be your formula:

Overall average engagement time = engaged sessions / total sessions

When it turns out that people leave quickly, and it happens to all of us at a certain point, here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure you scatter enough relevant internal links (within reason) throughout your site so people always know where to go next
  • Provide valuable content so there’s a reason for people to stay
  • Streamline your navigation so the important things are always a click or two away
  • And, no easier way to say this: have some personality, because being niche is much better than being boring

It’s fine to not be for everyone. Own it!

Jennifer Anniston gif

The core group of customers you commit to will appreciate and respect you that much more, so it’s worth losing the others who were never going to be convinced anyway.

2. User engagement average time

Wait. Didn’t we just cover this?

Kind of.

The difference is, this number shows you how long each individual lead is sticking around per user via page or screen.

This, by extension, tells you a couple of things:

  • Whether you have quality content on visited pages
  • How well you’re speaking your ideal customers’ language
  • If you’re getting what they’re all about or not so much

Essentially, this shows you how well your site is working on a smaller scale and allows you to zero in on the problem areas.

If your site feels suspect, unconvincing, or overly complicated, people will up and go just like that.

Don’t take it personally!

We’re all guarding our internet time these days so the smallest inconvenience is enough to turn us off.

But that isn’t to say you can’t improve.

In Google Analytics 4, start by calculating yours like this:

User engagement average time = user engagement durations / number of triggered events.

Google Analytics 4 screenshot

And then you can optimize it:

  1. Make sure you’re on the same page (we couldn’t resist) with your customers (surveys, polls, calls, social media are all good options to get feedback)
  2. Leverage your sales and support teams for insider tips
  3. Revise your content and copy to reflect the core needs of your target customers
  4. Be clear and helpful

Remember that people want to know what you want them to do.

From there, they just need a good incentive to proceed and you’re golden.

3. New vs. returning visitor traffic

If people tend to come back to your website, it means they found you valuable enough the first time around, right? You gave them a reason to return.

Unsurprisingly, return visitors add items to their cart 65.16% more than new visitors, and they convert 73.72% more as well.

But this is a tricky metric to track because:

  1. Google still hasn’t perfected the system across devices, meaning you could come back using a different device and be seen as a “new visitor”
  2. For some industries, the situation drastically changes between seasons, so you have to know what general behavioral patterns are to be expected

For example, in real estate, using this website engagement metric as a “be-all-end-all” every month wouldn’t be useful if you missed the seasonal context.

If you want to know the real picture, you’d need to compare your returning traffic to the same month last year.

Return users = users who have both cookies and client or app ID.

If your returning visitor traffic is low, you’ve got some convincing to do:

  • Highlight user-generated content
  • Create a sense of community
  • Provide more value for your customers
  • Show testimonials, reviews, social engagement, etc.
  • For eCommerce, consider adding samples or freebies to go with your products

4. Conversions

Next up, we’ve got the most obvious and important website engagement metric. Conversions show how many visitors have come to your website and completed at least one wanted action.

Like signing up, downloading a file, requesting a demo, etc.

In a way, that’s the most telling user engagement metric on your website.

Every other number is basically trying to help you score this one because, well, then you’ll get paid and your site will grow.

So how do you track it?

Here’s the basic formula: users who completed action / total number of visitors.

Great, and what do you do with it now? And why even bother calculating anything else?

It’ll make sense in a second. See, if you want a more precise overview of your situation, you need to think about what the users did before they converted (or not).

If you’re selling a product, but a portion of your leads never got to the products page, that’s a different situation than if they got there and still didn’t convert.

But you can take this difference into account.

In this instance, you may want to add “page views” into the equation to calculate only the conversions that included users seeing the product page, like this:

Conversion rate = (Users who completed action / total number of visitors who viewed the page) x 100

And if your conversions are low, this will at least suggest as to why that is.

Brown and Brown Insurance, one of our clients, increased their closed deals rate by 50% after some simple web design readjustments that focused on their brand personality, improving navigation, and customizing CTAs.

custom call to action example

So here are some ideas for you:

  • Work on your conversion copy and CTAs
  • Make sure your visitors have all the info they need, like pricing, shipping, etc.
  • Don’t overcomplicate it with unnecessary extra steps in your forms/buyers’ journey
  • Optimize shopping cart
  • Add customer reviews
  • Show your values and personality at every stage

5. Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR lets you know what does a good job of pulling potential customers in and what doesn’t work for them.

For example, tracking the CTR of an online ad that links to your landing page can show you how many people were interested.

You can post a couple of paid ads and then compare the success of their copy and CTAs to see what works best to increase your brand awareness and get more leads.

CTR can measure the success of PPC campaigns, social media, email and blog hyperlinks, and landing page CTAs.

If you are successful once, you can repeat it.

If not, you can make a better-informed try #2 and increase your chances of success. Win-win.

How to calculate it: CTR = (click-throughs / impressions) x 100

If the results aren’t great:

  • Invest in your copy and website content
  • Pay attention to your headlines
  • Use your target customers’ language and humor
  • Add compelling CTAs
  • Make your website accessible and easy to scan

Above all, keep it relevant to your ideal customers. Put in only the things they would care to know or gain value from, so they will naturally want to explore your website.

Discard all the fluff.

6. Shopping cart abandonment rate

Big deal alert:

  1. 69.57% is the average rate of cart abandonment across industries, and it’s even higher for mobile users
  2. This equates to a $18 billion loss in sales revenue each year for eCommerce brands
  3. Checkout optimization can increase conversions by 35.62%

We know, it’s really the worst when people come all the way to the finish line and then suddenly decide to drop everything and bounce. But they do it for a reason.

Typically, it’s one of these four:

  1. They have to re-enter credit card info
  2. A discount code doesn’t work
  3. The checkout screen takes too long to load
  4. Unannounced extra fees at checkout

To calculate it, you need to know your cart conversion rate.

Cart conversion rate = number of completed purchases / number of shopping carts opened x 100%.

From then on, it’s pretty simple:

Cart abandon rate = 1 – cart conversion rate

Optimizing your shopping cart means selling more, so it’s safe to say that if you’ve got one, you should make sure it’s well-oiled and good to go.

And the solution can be surprisingly simple: remind people that their cart is full via email or text.

This will sound crazy, but half of the people who abandon their shopping carts will return and make a purchase if gently reminded.

Other than that, provide all the necessary information on time.

Don’t suddenly make people register during the checkout process or spring extra fees on them out of nowhere.

Think of it like this: if you’d be exhausted filling in all the blanks and working through the process, don’t make your customers do it either.

Because… they won’t.

2 Case Studies For Improving User Engagement Metrics on a Website

Website engagement metrics are just math until you learn how to leverage them. Unless you have someone else covering that part for you – that’s one of the benefits of professional web design services after all.

They’re supposed to help you make excellent decisions, not scare you into deer in the headlights mode.

These two case studies should show you how it’s done.

Natural Creations (construction)

example of hero image being used by a pool construction company

Natural Creations is an award-winning construction company that specializes in building your dream swimming pool.

But their website didn’t always reflect the awe-inspiring work they do.

In fact, it looked pretty tired and outdated. And, although they did have some traffic, it wasn’t really converting until Natural Creations reached out to a web design agency and had a major overhaul.

Here are some of the changes Thrive made to remedy this:

  1. They brought the website into the 21st century with modern design
  2. Added dynamic elements showing the custom pools in full glory
  3. Streamlined, two-click navigation
  4. Our favorite: developed a state-of-the-art cost estimate tool that gives customers an idea of what they can expect without having to make any calls or send emails (instantly qualifying them as leads)

This last list item is a HUGE deal for customers when considering such a big investment, and a snag most websites fail to address.

Here, they can simply select the features and requirements they have and figure out if they wish to proceed.

As you can imagine, the website upgrade skyrocketed the company’s conversions, with 5 secured qualified leads in the first two weeks from re-launch.

With the average pool priced at around $400,000, this was a major success for all parties.

Hello Wonderful (eCommerce)

Hello Wonderful homepage snapshot

Hello Wonderful is a beautiful place where you can find inspiration and creative drive for activities to enjoy with your kids.

They contacted State Creative (yep, that’s us!) for help with web design, hoping to increase their site engagement, improve rendering and navigation, and make their website reflect their values:

Simplicity, creativity, and community.

This was the solution:

  • Fresh, playful logo
  • Added option to save favorite activities/content by logging in (conversion)
  • Infinite scroll for fast page load times
  • Interactive API with popular posts based on site interactions for better CTR
  • Social plugins for easier brand interaction and community engagement

So a lot of strategic tweaks to cement their brand positioning and promote overall user engagement. Did it work? You tell us.

search result statistics after launching new site

People started talking about it on social media, Hello Wonderful has been featured on Buzzfeed and Good Housekeeping, and Google Adsense has become a revenue stream.

And that’s just a glimpse of what professional web design can do. 😉

Convert More With an Expert Web Design Agency

User engagement is not impossible to track or figure out.

And now that you know all about the crucial website engagement metrics, you’ve got some work ahead of you.

The way we see it, you’ve got two options:

  1. Do the homework, DIY and see what happens
  2. Team up with a trusted web design agency to set you up for long-term success

With GA4 rolled out and ready to take over, overlooking user engagement is out of the question for seriously competitive companies.

Just imagine yourself as a customer with virtually infinite options: why wouldn’t you go for the company that cares about your experience?

If you want their attention, let alone engagement, you have to earn it.

We’d love to help! State Creative has won awards for awesome web design work fixing and maintaining websites like yours.

If you’d prefer to stick around and learn more, we suggest you read this other article we wrote about ways to increase engagement on your site.

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