"Customer engagement" has become a popular buzzword in the online marketing industry in recent years, even inspiring a number of books and seminars designed to help creators and their clients get buyers more emotionally invested in companies and products.
On the one hand, this is a very positive development. Customer engagement is a very real and important topic, and the more engaged your buyers are with your business and brand, the more likely they are to keep coming back to you in the future. Not only that, but loyal customers place much larger orders, keep their accounts longer (even if you have customer service mishaps), and tend to refer their friends and colleagues. Obviously, those are all things any organization should be looking for.
But at the same time, a lot of what's being said about customer engagement is essentially fluff. The authors of these books and programs probably know this; because engagement is a hard thing to actually measure, it's easy for someone to say they are an expert without generating any real, verifiable results.
With that in mind, we'd like to offer a handful of quick and easy ways you can measure engagement on your business website. None of them are foolproof, but they should help you to see and understand whether your business is moving in the right direction or not when it comes to the way people think about you and your marketing messages:
1. The amount of time being spent on your site (or individual pages).
Here is something most digital marketing experts won't tell you: Getting traffic is fairly easy, once you know how to get started. Keeping readers on your pages, on the other hand, can be a real challenge. By measuring the time spent on your website, or sections, you can get a sense of how interested and engaged potential buyers really are.
2. Social media following and retention.
The same goes for social media marketing, at least to a certain extent. There are any number of ways that you can attract fans, followers, and "likes." But, how long you can hold on to those followers, and whether you can get them to respond to your messages or even pass them along, is the true test of the strength of your campaign.
An article in Forbes recently suggested that 80% of future revenues will tend to come from 20% of your existing customers,1 so holding on to engaged social contacts isn't a small matter.
3. Responses to your blog posts and other content.
Using the right title or keyword combination, you can get a sizable number of people to click on just about anything once. But, generating thoughtful feedback to a blog post, video, or guest article is much more challenging - and is where real customer engagement comes into play.
4. Referrals, re-tweets, and social sharing.
This can be even more important, because it represents an even deeper level of engagement. If someone takes the time to comment on your material, they're probably interested; if they pass it along to another person, then they have seen something of enough value that they feel like they can share it. Remember, when someone sends your digital content on to someone else, they are giving it their own stamp of approval as being "worth the time invested." That's a subtle thing, but it's important.
5. Sales opportunities.
Although this is usually the last indicator of customer engagement, and the one that's most obvious, it's worth keeping in mind that engaged customers will buy from you again and again. Consider this a "forest for the trees" piece of advice: If new sales opportunities are being generated at a regular rate, and it isn't due to simply having the lowest prices around, you're probably doing just fine with customer engagement.
In today's online marketing world, people like to focus on low-hanging metrics like web traffic and returning visitors. Those stats are helpful, but they don't measure levels of customer engagement, which can actually be more important to your long-term success.
So, take these five indicators and get to know them. Spend a little time understanding what they mean, and you'll be on the way to building a business website that helps you attract new buyer relationships, not just quick page views.