The Gray in Your Engagement Results

Marketers like us can’t help but think of numbers as a measure of success. Our primary incentive used to be revenue, but then we learned to appreciate the value of the target customer’s interaction with the brand.

Our new obsession is engagement – engagement volumes, engagement rates and low costs of engagement. Digital marketing makes measuring all three possible. However, the story isn’t so black and white – it’s not all about “successes” and “failures” – as there are many factors that influence engagement. We need to look beyond just numbers and dig deep into the results. Below are just some of the factors to keep in mind when you interpret your engagement results.

Measuring capability and opportunity:  When engagement is missing in your results, remember that the measurability of engagement is possibly absent, and not that there were zero engagements during the allotted time frame. You may not have tags or performance-recording tools installed on pages where there is engagement because you consider those pages less important to your strategy. Or, you may have tags correctly installed where there is engagement, but you’re not promoting those pages in your campaigns. Make sure you’re not missing the opportunity to send target users to the right pages in your campaigns. Also, make sure you’re not missing the opportunity to learn from engagement on pages where you don’t record activity.

The mindset of the audience visiting your brand page: If you were to sit down with a car owner and a public transportation user, and asked both to watch you change your car tire, who do you think would be more interested? Car owners would likely be more interested because the actions they’d see would be more relevant to them. Similarly, if you showed a math problem to two students but only told one of them that the problem is expected to be in the exam, who do you anticipate would listen more attentively? You’re right again – it would be the student who knew he/she would have to replicate the solution. Your website audience enters the site experience with a specific mindset and intention, the same way the student enters a class. Segmenting or placing your audience in the right bucket becomes more important when you’re planning their journey ahead.

This is why audiences reached through retargeting tend to show more engagement than those reached through prospecting – because the audiences have differing levels of interest and knowledge of your brand. This is not to say that low engagement is an absolute no! It all eventually ties back to your objective. Did you intend to familiarize your audience with the brand and deepen their knowledge, or did you want to remind them that you exist?

The smooth journey: Once you can point out where the target audience is coming from, you can plan their journey ahead. Remember that your target audience’s enthusiasm was at its peak when they entered your website with that first click. Now, it’s all up to you to decide where you take them. Often, landing pages have drop-down anchors or jump links that send audiences directly to parts of a landing page that are more suitable to them. Alternately, you may design specific landing pages for an audience group or send them directly to the page on your website that would interest them most. 

Let’s assume that your target audience is a college student looking for discounted or secondhand books. Think of a website experience that would be appropriate for this audience and compare that to another segment of the audience that prefers brand-new books because they’ll smell and look nicer for their home library. The pace of the audience on the website will differ as the former would want to quickly find discounts on books they know, while the latter wouldn’t mind browsing and exploring their options. Both groups should engage with your website on different paths.

Easily connecting conversion points: Imagine you’re telling a bedtime story to a child but stop abruptly with a cliffhanger. The child might ask, “What happened to the donkey then?” That is good news because it indicates that the child is still interested. And you better have an entertaining answer or conversion point!

When laying out the map for your landing page, two things should not be ignored:

  1. Your conversion points should be easily accessible from your landing page.
  2. Your conversion points should make sense in light of your landing page.

Both go hand in hand. Your website should tell a well-connected story with the answers or next steps (conversion points) easy to find. If your audience visits the different conversion points, it indicates that the story kept them engaged.

  • Did you invite your audience? Were there impressions on your promotional content?
  • Did your audience visit? Did they click on the promotion and land on your website?
  • Did they stick around? Was the website experience relevant to the way you promoted it? Was the experience engaging?

Engagement results are not the end, but the means to an end – they create opportunities for learning. The trial-and-error approach is one of the best things about digital marketing. Whether good or bad, the results reveal the nature of the audience group, the website experience and much more. Do yourself a favor and make it a practice to count engagement numbers less, and study the gray areas and trends more. My colleague Jim gives preference to quality in marketing in his blog where he debunks the myth “quantity over quality.” I couldn’t agree more.  Read about that here.  

Yazmina is a senior digital campaign analyst at MCC. With global experience behind her, she handles both global and local clients for Texas Instruments. She has conducted tutorials for the subject ‘Modern Business in Comparative Perspective’ for the University of London in the past. Having taught this subject, she learned to appreciate the different ways to work with global clients. Yaz received a master's degree in management from Southern Methodist University, where she developed a keen interest in digital marketing and consumer behavior. On a personal level, she is intrigued by the treasures hidden in languages, expressions and cultures – and discovering them is her guilty pleasure.

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