POSTED : August 7, 2014
BY : Linda Corisdeo

In the last few years, we’ve heard a lot about “engagement” with respect to web visitors. For the first time in history, we’re not just interested in the fact that we have site visitors, but we’re finally asking what do they do when they’re here, exactly how interested are they, and what makes them move further down the sales funnel? We can get that data with engagement analytics.

Let’s start by thinking of a site visitor’s interaction with your site as a conversation. A consumer visits your site and you start by providing free information that the site visitor consumes. If there’s low interest, the visitor moves away quickly. If there’s a higher-degree of interest, the visitor clicks around your site, interacts with pages, explores links, and consumes content.

There is an exchange of communication and commitment that takes place here and, knowingly or not, the high-interest site visitor leaves a tell-tale trail that can now help delve into the next level of analytics. Sitecore’s Customer Engagement Platform features Engagement Analytics, which gives marketers the chance to better understand what makes for a low-interest versus a high-interest site visitor. In sales speak, this is the difference between a low-level, top-of-funnel lead and a bottom-of-funnel, qualified lead or prospect. And most marketers know that this is exactly what the sales department is looking for.

Marketers can now understand what drives engagement and produces bottom-line results, not just aggregate numbers or average results. Engagement Analytics measure quantity, quality, and the relationship between the two. Quantitative data refers to the site statistics you collect from web analytics tools already. Quality refers to the level of customer commitment exemplified across your site. The real magic stems from understanding how these two combine to help define what’s working.

Digging into the data

Let’s start with the quantitative data. Historically, this is the life-blood of web reporting. These are the numbers marketers report to their executives to show what a great job they’re doing. But the problem with these analytics is that they aggregate information or average important numbers (i.e. number of visits, percentage of new visitors, page views, bounce rates, most popular entry pages, etc). Quantitative data shows us a bigger picture of how mass users use your website, and while they may provide us with some overall trends, they are not helping us understand what part of our marketing mix creates the greatest impact. These tools are reporting traffic volume, when what we really want to know is which traffic results in high engagement, high impact, and the greatest potential for sale.

Qualitative data, on the other hand, refers to the information that comes directly formulated from the users themselves. It provides very specific knowledge about specific areas and helps us uncover the value of customers. Sitecore starts to connect the dots by asking marketers to think about and assign an Engagement Value to the different actions of a site visitor on your site. Think of them as critical points of engagement along the ongoing conversation, measured in Engagement Value Points (EVP’s), which you can assign. They may be transactional (i.e. signing up for a newsletter, requesting a sales call, or providing an email address) or referential (i.e. a specific page is viewed or a specific asset is being downloaded).

Even if you think assigning the value is arbitrary, they are at the root of identifying higher interest leads. Let’s take this example. Let’s say we assign:

Watched a Video   5 EVP’s
Newsletter Subscription  15 EVP’s
Webinar Registration  25 EVP’s
Request for Quote  50 EVP’s
Request a Call 100 EVP’s

Even with just three values assigned, we force ourselves to think systematically about the value of an engagement. As a worst-case scenario, you start by assigning value based on your intuition, but you can later validate and refine the Engagement Values through analysis. Sitecore makes it easy to apply EVP’s to critical points on a website without coding.

Applying Engagement Analytics to your marketing

Engagement Analytics can show you the value and marketing effectiveness of your website over time. We’ve talked about measurement of how relevant your website is to visitors and their level of commitment. What we haven’t discussed is how you can combine Engagement Analytics with other variables including: traffic sources, channels, campaigns, traffic sources, entry pages, or a variety of others to help you determine areas of greatest value.

Your ability to combine Engagement Analytics data with other variables provides a higher level of insight that helps you make better business decisions. For example, you can accelerate your marketing effectiveness by understanding exactly which digital marketing campaigns drive the highest Engagement Value. And while you may want to diversify your marketing approach to ensure that you have prospects at all parts of the lead generation funnel, ultimately, your ability to dial-up more qualified leads is the key to effective marketing.