Web Marketing KPIs: Website Indicators – Visitor Engagement and Visitor Quality

According to recent research from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, b2b marketers ranked “Engagement” as a top organizational goal. Note that this isn’t a campaign-level tactical goal but rather a strategic business-level goal.

While engagement is a strategic web marketing objective, CMOs find that measuring it is somewhat problematic: Engagement where? With whom? For what purpose? How is that quantified? There are tactical tools everywhere for monitoring and measuring channel engagement—social media (e.g. retweets, “likes”), advertising (e.g. clicks, conversions), website/search (e.g. bounce rate) and public relations (e.g. referral traffic).

The problem is that none of the typical measures of engagement is strategic. They are focused on tactical communications metrics not on business-value KPIs.

Ground Zero for Strategic Engagement
As noted in our white paper, the web is a market not just a channel for generating leads. It’s a ubiquitous network of content and web presence is the unit of measure. Whether or not you’re in a web transaction-oriented business, the Web acts as the “place” where sellers and buyers come together for an economic exchange.

So all web marketing is based on content in some form. White papers, videos, infographics, blog posts, bylined articles, news releases, tweets, status updates, even text or banner ads — all are forms of marketing content. Though content can live and be engaged with a wide variety of news sites, forums, social networks, and blogs, the company website (including the company blog) serves as the core of all content marketing efforts.

A website is the key destination point for marketers—nearly all paid, owned, earned and shared web content purposefully leads back to a company’s website. Not only is it the ultimate tool for branding, engaging with various audiences, and generating leads, it also acts as a key indicator of the overall effectiveness of web marketing tactics.

Visitor Engagement Score™ and Visitor Quality Score™

Given the critical role a website plays in web marketing, it’s vital for CMOs to measure visitor engagement and visitor quality. Both measure what visitors do once they arrive on a website—their level of engagement and whether they convert—and hence the Scores indicate the value of website visits. However more broadly, they measure the overall effectiveness of multichannel web marketing and PR activities as well as the value of the website as a strategic asset.

Like our other KPIs, the Visitor Engagement and Visitor Quality Scores are about measuring a relative number over time. In other words, it’s not the number itself that’s significant; it’s the directional movement of that number. The objective is to increase the score incrementally over time—and take action if the trend turns negative.

If a website is attracting engaged visitors and their level of engagement is increasing over time, it’s an indicator two things:

  1. Web marketing efforts are drawing targeted visitors, and the website content is effective. In other words, the right content is reaching the right people in the right places on the web, including the company website.
  2. The website as a strategic asset is delivering improved search performance. It’s widely recognized that the level of engagement on a website is a key factor in Google’s algorithm for keyword performance. Put simply, search engines will rank higher those sites that retain and engage visitors. In addition, sites that rank higher tend to attract more search visits. Ergo, this is a case where higher quality visits can lead to a higher quantity of visits.

What separates the Visitor Engagement Score from the Visitor Quality Score are conversions—the former doesn’t include conversion data. Some might argue that conversions are just another type of engagement and, therefore, should be included in an overall engagement score.

Measuring visitor engagement sans conversions is important because is gives you insight into the effectiveness of your overall web marketing efforts before visitors arrive on your site. Moreover, it measures how well you attract and engage all visitors—customers, prospects, media, influencers and so on—many of whom are not conversion targets.

Visitor quality, on the other hand, is an indicator of how well your strategic asset—your website content—is performing.

What’s Behind the Scores
It’s important to understand more about what’s behind our Visitor Engagement and Visitor Quality Scores in order to believe that they’re credible representations of what they’re measuring. In the case of these two scores, CMOs might wonder—can’t I just look at bounce rate and average visit length in Google Analytics? Isn’t quality just a matter of conversions divided by total site visits? No, not if you want a genuine gauge of engagement.

As with all our KPIs, our Visitor Engagement and Visitor Quality Scores have both quantitative and qualitative dimensions, we measure only marketing-related traffic and we use proxies to represent various levels of engagement. The algorithms do draw heavily from the audience overview metrics from Google Analytics, but they aren’t the only values used.

Our methodology for developing the Visitor Engagement and Visitor Quality Scores followed these steps:

  1. An examination of the available raw data and metadata for website activity that’s attributable to marketing
  2. Determining which quantitative data are core to visitor KPIs
  3. Determining which qualitative data to use as proxies for engagement, like bounce rate
  4. Creating an algorithm that combines the values, then standardizes and weights the data to derive meaningful Scores.

Look for information on our four other KPIs—two brand indicators and two competitiveness indicators.