How to Boost Your Site Engagement with GA4 Insights and Customized Visitor Journeys

How do you measure your content?

February 5, 2024

Today, we are going to talk about content metrics. What are the things you should track? What are your opinions about what metrics may be vanity metrics, what may not be, and what should you track and what should you not track?

I am a firm believer in death-to-vanity metrics. There is a seductive lure to vanity metrics. Basically, they are things that look impressive on the surface but do not actually tell you anything. Common vanity metrics are things like impressions, likes, comments, open rates, views, traffic, and time on site. These things all look really good on paper and provide substantial evidence of ROI or customer lifetime value or revenue, so it is not like they are entirely useless. They can measure things like brand awareness, for example. But I think with marketers, you need to prove that you are bringing in revenue and you are bringing in customers. I think the way you can do that is through metrics that track conversions.

I guess for those metrics, are those things that you typically just kind of say I am glad I have that information, but here is what I am really focusing on? Is that how you differentiate them?

Yes, I think there are non-transactional goals like brand awareness. If there is a huge dip or a huge gain, that tells you that something is happening. It is good to keep those in mind. But when it comes to marketing, you really do want to focus on how you are actually contributing revenue. I think the switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 was a really pivotal time in content marketing, and I think a lot of content marketers were really opposed to it because it meant that we had to kind of reframe our education on metrics. The great thing about GA4 is that it made us return to engagement and action, not just time on a page. It is what is actually converting, so conversion metrics in GA4 are incredibly important. One of my favorite metrics is engagement rate. Everybody was upset about the bounce rate being gone, but the engagement rate is ten times better. Engagement rate is when people came to the page and did they take action. Were they on there for more than ten seconds? Did they do a conversion event? And did they see more than two pages or two screens? I think that tells you a whole lot more than how many people showed up and then left.

If you are looking at engagement rate, do you have recommendations for benchmarks? What would be some of those baselines for people to consider?

I would say that the 60% engagement rate is pretty good. There are a few things to consider, such as the engaged sessions. How many people showed up, and how many people were engaged? How many people did a conversion event? It is a formula, but I would say 60% is a pretty good conversion rate. My company had a 47% conversion rate, which told me there was room for improvement. Now, we are hovering about a 65-66% engagement rate. If you are around 60%, then I think you are doing something right.

When you are talking about GA4 Universal Analytics, what are some other metrics that you love from the platform that you are tracking and that you think are important?

One of my favorites is page or screen views. When you have multiple page views during a session, that is a great indicator of engagement. GA4 considers sessions with more than one page or screen view as more engaged, so I like the fact that there is an engagement rate that encapsulates a lot. Page and screen views are really important, especially now as we are talking about customer journeys or buying journeys. If you have 1.5 page views per session, then people really are not going on much of a journey; it is a step and a half. On my old website, we had about 1.3 pages per session, and now we are hovering about 4.5-5.3 pages per session. That is telling us a lot of people are going from page to page, and they are getting engaged with the content. They are taking action. I think that is the key when people come to your site and take action.

How did you make the increase? How do you get people to go down this rabbit hole of content discovery and really just intrigue them to keep searching?

The thing I wanted to keep in mind is that everybody’s journey is different when it comes to a website. Some people are first-time visitors, and maybe they just want to get an idea of the territory. Some people are returning visitors, and maybe they are looking for something they saw before. I want to provide a journey that is customized based on if they have been here before. We want to welcome them back. For a lot of first-time visitors, we have different CTAs based on that, so if they are a first-time visitor, it may be a tough ask to ask them to download an eBook or sign up for a demo. So, for first-time visitors, we have it customized for them to sign up for a newsletter, check out our blog, and share with them other kinds of content that get them acquainted with who we are and what we do. For return visitors, we have some different CTAs that appear around asking if we can run a specific report for them. We may take a look at the IP address and see where they are coming from, and we might see some room for improvement with their Lighthouse score, so we could ask them if they would like us to run a report. This would not be great to ask a first-time visitor. However, for a returning visitor, it can be an alluring piece of content.

The other thing I did was I wanted to have action throughout a page, so on our homepage, I would do an introduction to an idea and then have them go learn more. Instead of keeping CTAs at the top or at the very bottom, where people have to scroll to find what they want, I give them little steps on their journey throughout the way. So, when someone does eventually download and eBook or sign up for a webinar, I know they have been two or three pages deep into the website. It is important to remember that your homepage is just a place to introduce ideas, and if someone is a first-time visitor or a returning visitor, they are going to want different things. It is all a work in progress, but I think that is part of what has contributed to that increase in pages per session.

Do you have the same approach with landing pages as you do with homepages?  

Yes, that is why I think the navigation bar is incredibly important. I think that is the way not to be obtrusive and not be pushy, but it gives people an avenue to choose their own adventure. A navigation bar does not have to be crazy, but it does need to be well-worded. Make sure the navigation bar is really clear to understand. That allows people to go on their own journey. I am not super concerned about headers because I do not think they are really important, but I do put a lot of focus on the navigation bar. It should be clear and concise. If people are interested, they can skip ahead to whatever journey they want to take. A navigation bar that stays with the user is really helpful. I do not want to change the reading journey, but I do want people to have an out to navigate new threads and skip ahead if they want to. This is why I put a lot of importance on the navigation bar.

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