Last updated June 14th, 2018
Engaged users increase your pageviews, time on site, and ultimately, revenue.
But what is an engaged user exactly?
Simply put, it’s a website visitor who is actively involved with or interested in your brand. In a study led by researchers from Google and Yahoo, they categorized user engagement in four ways:
- Bounce: user did not engage with the article and left within 10 seconds after arriving
- Shallow engagement: user stays and reads 50% of the article
- Deep engagement: user reads more that 50% of the article (means he had to scroll down which indicates commitment)
- Complete engagement: user posts a comments or a reply on the article
We would define an “engaged user” as anyone who likes, dislikes, shares content or comments, posts a comment, replies to a comment, or follows content/authors/other users. The more actions they complete, the higher their engagement.
It’s also important to note that some actions are “worth” more, or signify higher engagement. For example, a user who posts a comment is more engaged than someone who simply likes content, because they are taking more time to provide a personal opinion. A user who follows an author, story, comment or other user is more engaged than someone who shares an article because they are proactively choosing to be informed and updated in real time, showing significant interest.
So how do you engage your users or encourage them to perform these actions?
Audience engagement tools increase social interactions
Audience engagement tools give users more opportunities to engage with your brand and other community members, much like social media.
Media brands and publishers using these types of tools can expect to see significant increases in comments, replies and likes. One such brand, Graham Media Group, saw the following results after implementing engagement tools across seven of their news sites:
We also found that users who visited pages with engagement tools produced a 248% lift in weekly pageviews per user and a 364% lift in time-spent on site per week.
|Total Weekly Pageviews|
|Total Weekly Attention Time|
|Did not view engagement tools||2.07||4.07 minutes|
|Viewed engagement tools||7.20||18.80 minutes|
*From analyzing the data across 600+ media organizations
Additionally, across our network of 600 media brands, 80% of all user registrations occurred on pages with engagement tools. And users who register generate 5x more return visits per week compared to non-registered users.
Now we come to the final question: how do these KPIs impact revenue?
Increased ad revenue
Research from data scientists confirms that not only do pageviews per visit increase ad revenue, but so does session time per user, as depicted in the graphs below. It’s also evident that getting users beyond the first few pageviews or seconds offers exponential revenue potential.
You’ll notice that session time has a surprisingly similar positive correlation with revenue as pageviews. Increased attention time means that there is more time for the ads to load on the page, and there is also a greater chance that a user will see an ad and potentially click on it.
Increased subscription revenue
Researchers Zalmanson and Oestreicher-Singer found that a user’s willingness to pay for premium services is more strongly associated with their online social activity than their content consumption.
In other words, users who engage more with other community members and with content are likelier to subscribe. In order to raise engagement levels, Zalmanson and Oestreicher-Singer suggest content producers should invest in a platform that provides the social engagement tools necessary to encourage active participation.
Doing so can increase subscriptions significantly, as witnessed by a New England media company that saw digital subscriptions jumped by 410% over three years after implementing automated audience engagement and targeting tools. Additionally, by displaying relevant content to anonymous visitors, they were able to increase the number of registered users by 9%.
Interestingly, Zalmanson and Oestreicher-Singer also found that users are more likely to subscribe if they have connections with other subscribers. The more subscriber friends that users have, the likelier they are to pay for premium services. This is likely due to the psychological phenomenon of social proof or social influence, where people mimic the actions of others because they assume it’s the “correct” behavior. Knowing this, publishers may want to consider how they can highlight their subscribed users so that their followers or friends are aware of their purchase decision.
If you have the right audience engagement tools in place, your audience will return to your website organically and regularly. It’s also less expensive to encourage your current website visitors to engage than it is to purchase new eyeballs on an ongoing basis. Not only will you save on marketing and advertising costs, but you’ll also increase your pageviews, attention time, online interactions and – most importantly – your advertising and subscription revenues.