How Can You Measure Customer Engagement?

The world of ecommerce is full of buzzwords.
It often seems like a new one is introduced every single day.
This can make it extremely difficult to tell which ones matter and which ones should be ignored.
Customer engagement is clearly not a buzzword, but many companies treat it that way because it seems tough to measure. With hard-and-fast metrics to use like conversion and click-through rates, it’s easy to ignore something as seemingly vague as customer engagement.
This is a huge mistake.

What Does It Mean to Measure Customer Engagement?

Customer engagement can mean something very different for different ecommerce websites.
However, we can settle on a general definition that it is the willingness of your website’s visitors to actively spend time on it.
We’ll elaborate on that a bit more when we discuss “activity time” below, but it doesn’t count if someone clicks on your site, gets distracted for an hour, and then leaves.
That’s not engagement.
Measuring customer engagement means setting up certain metrics that will tell you whether or not visitors are taking actions in your buyer’s journey.
For example, a consultant, may know that the way they earn customers is through this sequential process:

  • Attract people to their site
  • Get them to read a blog
  • Encourage them to sign up for their newsletter

Once they’ve signed up for my newsletter, the consultant knows it’s only a matter of time before many of them become customers.
Therefore, they’d want to find out if people are reading my blog once they get to their site and then how many of them are signing up for that newsletter.
Just as important, though, they’d also want to do everything they could to ensure they’re engaging them properly so both those things happen.

Should You Measure Customer Engagement?

In a word, “yes.”
Of course, you should absolutely measure customer engagement on your ecommerce website. If you care about influencing how your customers act – whether that means making a purchase, reading a blog post, joining your newsletter, or anything else – you need to invest in customer engagement strategies and then monitor their success.
According to a Gallup study, customers who are completely engaged represent a 23% premium. That same study found that customers who don’t feel engaged will spend 13% less.
Could your business use those advantages?

3 Metrics to Use When Measuring Customer Engagement

Knowing customer engagement is important, but now let’s look at three ways you can actually measure it.

1. Activity Time

You may have also heard of this metric as “session duration”, but activity time is slightly different. The former is a measurement Google Analytics provides which shows how long a visitor stays on one of your webpages.
Activity time shows how long they interact with your page.
This is far more helpful. If your customer engagement efforts have paid off, people should be spending more time on your page, but they should also be interacting with it more, as well.
Otherwise, an impressive session duration could really mean that users are literally walking away or opening another tab – not actually interacting with your website.

2. Visit Frequency

How often a visitor returns to your website is an incredibly powerful customer engagement metric, as well. After all, if they were truly engaged, they should probably return again and again.
That being said, you need to think about your various buyer personas when assessing this metric.
For example, if your buyer persona is someone who should be returning to your website every day, then you want an extremely high visit frequency.
On the other hand, you may sell a product that will last customers for a year. Therefore, you probably shouldn’t see them returning several times during that 12-month period.
If you do, it could mean a number of different things. However, if it’s not paired with a high conversion rate, it’s probably a sign that you’re in close competition with one or more businesses and are coming up short.

3. Core User Actions

Everyone’s ecommerce website is going to have different core actions it hopes its visitors will take. When users consistently take those core actions, it’s viewed as a positive indication of adoption.
For example, if you have a blog, core actions would include things like:

  • Click to Expand Post
  • Read Entire Article
  • Comment
  • Click to Share
  • Subscribe to the Blog

There may also be new features, though. When users begin exploring those, it shows that adoption is growing further. These users are now clearly enjoying the experience your site provides.
On the other hand, if you notice that the activity-time metric is high, but your core action use is low, it probably means that your users don’t know how to carry out those actions, so there’s a usability problem you have to address on your ecommerce site.
Obviously, if you’re not seeing any core actions being taken, your customer engagement is suffering and, as a result, you’re unable to earn the desired actions your company needs to turn profits.

The Key to Customer Engagement: Ecommerce Personalization

Knowing the customer engagement metrics we just discussed is valuable. Tracking them will make a big difference, too.
However, you could spend a lot of time and money on trying to improve your results and still not move those metrics as much as you had hoped.
The secret for doing that is ecommerce personalization.
In short, this is a form of customer engagement that actually modifies your website in real-time.
Going back to our earlier example, a consultant could use ecommerce personalization to ensure that a returning visitor saw the blog posts that most reflected their interests. This would improve customer engagement because they wouldn’t have to go searching for the information they need and run the risk of leaving because they couldn’t find what they wanted.
That means they’ll have a much quicker path to signing up for that newsletter and eventually becoming a paying customer.

Taking Customer Engagement Seriously

You now know how important customer engagement is to your company’s bottom line. You also understand three ways to objectively measure how well you’re doing at it.
The next step is to take it seriously.
Create an action plan for improving your company’s customer engagement (including ecommerce personalization), implement the aforementioned metrics, and then continually revise your approach for better results.