Customer engagement is “the process of interacting with customers through a variety of channels and strengthening your relationship with them,” according to Hubspot.
Why is this such a big deal? Because there’s a good business reason for companies to invest in being more engaging. Customers who are fully engaged represent a 23 percent higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth – all important business outcomes.
But, engaging your customers hinges on knowing their preferences, psychology, and motivations. Fortunately, that can all be understood – provided you know which customer engagement metrics to use (and how).
Search ‘customer engagement metrics’ and you could be forgiven for thinking that customer engagement falls solely under the purview of marketing. But the reality is, customer engagement isn’t confined to one particular channel or touchpoint or business function. Rather, it’s spread across a number of different mediums such as email, social media, your website, and even product usage.
And this can make things rather confusing. In fact, a Marketo survey found a variety of opinions on exactly what customer engagement represents:
With such a lack of clarity, even simply defining customer engagement – let alone measuring it – can sometimes feel overwhelming. But it’s precisely this complexity that makes it such a powerful concept. What other process takes place throughout the marketing and sales funnel, and carries on all the way through to purchase and beyond? Customer engagement not only impacts who becomes your customers – it determines how loyal they are, too.
With the right metrics in place and a structured approach to tracking them, you can gain unparalleled insights – ones that will show you how to create an engaging customer experience throughout the customer journey.
Picking the right customer engagement metrics is all about capturing the right customer engagement data for you – the data that will help you make better, more targeted, and more precise business decisions.
To get there, you need to first make sure your metrics are:
Keeping these requirements in mind will help steer you towards metrics that are suitable for your business. To help you with choosing your own KPIs, here are some customer engagement metrics that businesses rely on.
In 2020, there were a mind-blowing 3.6 billion global social media users. With such a huge audience, social media has proved one of the most popular ways for businesses to reach out and engage with customers.
You will often hear people talking about reach (e.g the number of eye-balls they got in front of). But that doesn’t tell you much in terms of engagement.
What you really want to know is if and how people have reacted to your social media activity and the followers you’ve gained. Depending on the type of content you’re posting you may have other relevant metrics. For example, if you’re using video, then you’re going to want to know how many users have watched it, or if it’s a poll, how many have voted (and of course what for!).
Although each platform may have their own engagement metrics (for example LinkedIn allows unique reactions such as ‘support’, ‘celebrate’, and ‘insightful’ above and beyond the ubiquitous ‘like’), most platforms still wrap up a whole bunch of different actions to create one overall “engagements” metric. Below you can see exactly what the bucketed engagements metrics consist of on the major social media platforms:
|The number of people commenting, reacting, sharing, or clicking on a post.|
|The total number of likes, comments, and saves of a post.|
|The number of times people comment, react (including likes), share, or click a link – plus the follows created from that post.|
|The number of times people comment, like, retweet, or click on a post.|
A common way to analyze how successfully you’re engaging your audience is by calculating the engagement rate. This is useful because knowing the overall numbers of engagements doesn’t necessarily show how engaging a post was. For example, if two posts from different companies both get 7,000 engagements, but one of those posts was seen by 1,000,000 people and the other 100,000, it’s clear the latter is creating proportionally more engagements.
You can work out this engagement rate by dividing the total number of engagements by the total number of impressions and multiplying the outcome by one hundred.
Engagement rate = (total engagements/total impressions)*100
So in our above example:
Company 1 engagement rate = (7,000/1,000,000)*100 = 0.7%
Company 2 engagement rate = (7,000/100,000)*100 = 7%
Quite a significant difference.
Engagement metrics can be taken directly from the social platforms, but if you want to manage multiple accounts in one place, or drill a bit deeper into reporting on the data, you can also use a separate platform such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Buffer.
Email may be old school, but it’s still an extremely popular way for brands to communicate with their customers. In fact, according to Statista, email usage is predicted to grow by 2 to 3 percent per year from 2018 to 2023.
When it comes to email metrics, you primarily want to know if your customers are opening and reading what you send. And with 14.5 billion spam emails pinging around globally every day, cutting through all that noise to get an email open is getting harder than ever, so make sure you keep things as relevant and personalized as possible – and track your open rates over time using software such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Sendinblue.
But there’s more to it than just open rate. That might tell you if readers found the email intriguing enough to open in the first place (perhaps you nailed the headline, or they always look out for emails from your company). What it won’t tell you is whether or not the readers were actually engaged by the content when they read it. To delve deeper into this, you can start to look at how the readers interact with your emails.
Emails tend to include calls-to-action, perhaps encouraging the reader to click through to a landing page and carry on their customer journey. Because of this, click-through rates become an important consideration when measuring engagement. You can even uncover where engagement is lacking – readers will often actively show you by voting with their mouse, so keep an eye out for those unsubscribes, too. Consider including a brief survey asking for the reason behind their decision to unsubscribe to get the information you need to make your emails more engaging in future.
Every company wants to encourage customers to complete certain actions. These actions are known as conversions. What specifically counts as a conversion will vary depending on both your company and the particular type of campaign that you’re running. Conversions could be, for example:
Or many more things besides. The higher your conversion rate is, the more likely your customers are to be engaged. That’s because if they’re actively interacting with you, they’ve probably found something that reflects their wants and needs.
Conversions are often tracked through analytics packages such as Google Analytics, Adobe Metrics, or Kissmetrics, but ultimately, how you track them will come down to the particular type of conversion you are interested in.
Bounce rates vary by industry and landing page but if yours is between 26-70 percent then you’re on the right track. Let’s say, however, you have a high bounce rate. Then, you may want to evaluate and improve the user experience onsite or perhaps make changes to the customer journey to ensure you maintain maximum relevance. For example, this could involve more careful matching between marketing campaigns and landing pages, or better still, creating bespoke landing pages for different personas.
Let’s say you notice that a whole bunch of people have been visiting your website. Great, right? Not necessarily. If all those visitors leave as soon as they get there, then they’re certainly not engaged.
That’s where the bounce rate comes in. When a visitor bounces, it means they’ve landed on a particular page of your website but taken no action and/or gone no further. This is known as a single-page session. It’s a good bet that visitors who bounce are much less engaged than those who delve deeper into your website. A quick look into Google Analytics (other analytics packages are available!) will tell you the bounce rate of your site and each individual page.
If something interests you, you tend to stick around. So, the amount of time customers spend on your website, known as session time, is generally a good indicator of how effectively it’s capturing their attention.
You can examine how long your customers hang around on a more micro level, too, with dwell time. For example, you may want to know how much time customers spend on a particular section of your site. That way you can get a view of how engaged customers are with that specific section and gain valuable insight into their preferences.
Dwell time can also help you measure engagement on individual pages, which may be useful with newly released content, for example. Given people read at an average of 238 words per minute you can calculate how much of the page they’re likely to have read based on the amount of time they’ve spent on that page.
Use your analytics suite to gain insight into exactly how long visitors dwell in different areas of your website and then leverage that information to create campaigns and new content that resonates.
Perhaps the strongest candidate for measuring website engagement is the return visitor metric (looking at the return visitors to your website or app). If visitors or customers are coming back for more, then they’ve found something of value to them. For example, if you are producing regular content, it may be that you are helping them address particular problems they face. Or, perhaps they just love the way you write (wink).
But, it’s not only the fact they’re coming back that shows they are more engaged. Returning visitors have lower bounce rates, view more pages, and create longer session durations. And it doesn’t stop there – their conversion rates are higher, too. A Harvard Business Review article shows that marketers who leverage returning customers for acquisition see a 15x ROI compared to only 4–6x ROI for traditional acquisition campaigns.
You’ll find information about your return visitors in your analytics package. Pay attention not only to the numbers of returning visitors you get but the percentage compared to your overall visitors, too. A fifty-fifty split is ideal but anything above 30 percent returning visitors is looking good.
Technological advancements have created new and exciting ways to create customer engagement online. One of these is chabots, which play an important role by providing rapid, personalized, and interactive support. A LogMeIn study found that 74 percent of consumers see the benefit of interacting with chatbots to get quicker resolutions and better support accessibility. Digging into chatbot metrics highlights the exact value they are bringing to your customer experience. One way of doing this is through the conversation interaction rate, which shows you how many times users have exchanged messages with your bot during a session. A word of warning though: you might see a high number of messages and think ‘great’. But, ultimately, most people are trying to achieve a specific goal in their chatbot conversation, and taking a long time to get there isn’t necessarily a good sign. Because of this, it’s advisable go one step further and look at the goal completion rate (GCR).
NPS isn’t strictly a direct measure of customer engagement (it’s most often mentioned as a customer loyalty metric), but it works pretty well as a proxy. After all, if your customer is willing to recommend you to others, then your relationship must be meaningful to them.
To understand your NPS, you will need to survey your customers, most often using some sort of variant on the classic question ”On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?” and then categorize these respondents into detractors, passives, and promoters. The more promoters you have, the more likely that your audience is engaged. Simple.
It all stems from a very simple question: “How satisfied were you with your experience today?” The answer you receive, gathered on a likert scale (often 1-10) contains extremely useful information. For example, if your customer has just had an interaction with customer support, it can tell you how engaging they found that experience. Similarly, if used strategically at certain points throughout their product usage, just before a contract renewal for instance, then you can see exactly how engaged they were with your product. CSAT scores vary by industry, but a good score typically falls between 75 and 85 percent.
The modern customer has a penchant for self-service. In particular, 51 percent of customers prefer support through an online knowledge base. Unsurprisingly then, they have become very popular with businesses, forming an integral part of any savvy brand’s customer support kit.
But how do you know if your customers are getting full value from your knowledge base? That’s where the usage metrics come into play. Technology solutions, such as Acquire, provide this insight.
Firstly, you’re going to want to know how many customers have been reading your knowledge base articles. Because if you want engagement, you’re going to need eyeballs on the articles in the first place.
Beyond this though, it’s valuable to dig into exactly how useful readers have found them. That means understanding their reactions. This can often be done with a simple piece of feedback, essentially asking for a positive, neutral, or negative value judgment from the reader. This then becomes a core metric in your analysis. Make sure that you look into whether customers are able to find the articles they are looking for, too. If they are having issues you may want to reconsider your architecture or tagging up articles better to create a more engaging experience.
Whichever ones you choose, customer engagement metrics are there to help you take the guesswork out of your approach. Having visibility into a range of relevant metrics gives you all the levers you need to positively affect customer relationships and create the best possible customer experience.
Benedict Clark is a psychologist and writer, having previously spent 8 years in the digital marketing industry. With a master's degree in Business and Occupational Psychology from Kingston University, he writes about the interplay between customer experience and psychology for Acquire.