Getting customer engagement is always the goal, right?
But the truth is, not all types of engagement are created equal.
There’s a big difference between just reading a blog post, and commenting on it, or between reading an email on your mobile device and playing a little game on the app.
And while many marketers look at overall engagement as a metric of success, you actually want to start taking a deeper dive into engagement itself, because you’ll start to learn quite a bit of information about your potential customers and their intentions or motivations.
Because of active engagement matters. Having potential customers who take the steps to actively engage with your content, social media, and apps is a key driver to building brand loyalty and turning potential buyers into active customers.
So, while any engagement is good, the brands that are looking directly at active engagement and taking the steps to capitalize on that are seeing bigger wins.
But first, let’s look at the difference between passive and active engagement.
Passive Engagement vs. Active Engagement
Like I said above, engagement doesn’t equal engagement (how’s that for an equation?). In its simplest terms, engagement can be broken down into two camps: passive and active.
Passive engagement is basically the minimum level of measurable effort someone puts into your content. So that means they “like” your Facebook post, they click the title of a blog post to read it, etc.
These “clicks” can be tracked. You can easily see how many people have liked your Facebook post from yesterday, and you can see in your analytics how many people read last week’s blog post.
And, of course, these are important metrics to track. But what about understanding engagement beyond that?
That’s where active engagement comes into play.
Active engagement takes things to the next level. It requires more than just a simple click from your potential customer.
Examples would be adding a comment to your blog post, sharing a Facebook post and adding some thoughts to it, or opening an email on a mobile device and scratching off a coupon to see how much savings they might get.
Here’s a perfect example of an email campaign that will entice active engagement from viewers:
An email like the one above is going to get tons of active engagement. The vast majority of readers will not only actively engage, but will spend more time doing so, and more of them will convert than average.
Active engagement matters, you’ll see why.
But first, let’s look at how marketers can drive more active engagement.
Attributes of Customer Engagement
Alright, so we know that active customer engagement is what we want. The next reasonable question is how do we get it?
Many marketers who have had success in building active engagement have turned to a report by Gartner titled “The Four Attributes of Customer Engagement,” in order to understand the best ways to get more beneficial engagement from potential customers.
In it, the authors cite the four main attributes of customer engagement as:
- Active customer engagement
- Emotional customer engagement
- Rational customer engagement
- Ethical customer engagement
When it comes to active engagement, the more activity a brand requires from it’s potential customers, the more likely those who engage will not only become customers, but stay loyal to the brand over the long term.
For emotional engagement, we can always turn to psychology. Brands that are able to forge an emotional connection (using something like classic conditioning, for example) will see both a build up of trust and positive emotional connotations to the brand.
From the report:
It is clear that those customers who are emotionally engaged are more likely to complain less, compliment more, buy more and contribute more than those who are not.
Rational customer engagement is all about building knowledge. We know today that virtually all shoppers are going on fact finding missions to gauge the quality, value, and details of products before they buy.
In fact, a study by GE found that 81% of consumers research online before they shop, and “94% of B2B buyers report they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.”
This chart from the same Accenture study illustrates those B2B numbers:
Finally, ethical customer engagement should speak for itself. With today’s interconnected world, if your brand does something wrong (even if by accident) word travels fast and the results can be devastating.
Most consumers don’t want to shop with brands they don’t trust, remember that.
The Metrics of Active Engagement
So what’s the big deal? Why is active customer engagement more important?
The easy answer is that more actively engaged consumers of your content are those that tend to turn into customers.
And the good news is brands and marketers can actually measure the data when it comes to active engagement, the problem is many people just aren’t paying attention to the right data.
Neil Patel cites six different features of engagement that can be measured:
- Social shares
- Dwell time
- Reading time
Now, chances are you’re already tracking things like comments, social shares, links, and conversions. Those are pretty easy and they are also simple yet relatively effective ways to determine the levels of engagement your content is generating.
You’re probably thinking that dwell time (also known as session duration in Google Analytics) is something that’s pretty self explanatory as well. In an ideal world you want your website visitors to spend as much time on your content as possible, since the more time they spend on your site the better.
But, there’s a huge difference between someone having your page or post open (passive engagement) and having them actually read i.e. scroll through your page or post (active engagement). Tools like scroll maps and heat maps can help you track dwell time and reading time much more efficiently.
That’s why we want to take a deeper look at both dwell time and reading time as interesting metrics of active engagement. The best way to do that is by highlighting a case study.
Let’s take a look.
Chartbeat did their own internal study to determine if there was a better way to track engagement than a simple metric like page views. Turns out there was.
They found that a full 33% of their visitors didn’t actually engage on their site at all. Further they found that if they looked at the 10 most popular articles posted, the engagement varied wildly.
On one post, a full 91% actively engaged with it. That means there was reading, scrolling, clicking, you name it. On another post, still within the top 10 most popular articles, 93% of visitors left without even scrolling down.
Big difference, right? So that goes to show that something like pageviews, or even lists of your most popular posts, don’t exactly tell the whole story.
This is important because research has shown that the more engaged a visitor is with your site, the more loyal they become, and thus likely to return.
You can see it in this graph from the same Chartbeat data:
Chartbeat was able to track those pages with the highest Average Engaged Time and capitalize on them. They used those pages to link to other popularly actively engaged content on the site, as well as inserting email sign up forms and other calls to action.
Think about how you can do the same with your content.