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8 user engagement metrics to track and measure

To develop a product customers love, you need to understand which website features excite your users—and which ones put them to sleep.

But what you think will engage your users, and what actually engages them, can be very different things. Tracking user engagement metrics will give you real insights so you can identify and optimize your site’s best features.

Last updated

2 Sep 2022

This article talks you through 7 user engagement metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to regularly track and measure, and shows you how to improve user engagement based on the insights you gather.

Find out what really engages your users on your site

Use Hotjar’s tools to make data-driven decisions and boost user engagement

8 user engagement metrics for web and product insights 

User engagement tells you how much your users are finding value in your product or service and is a good indicator of success, since engaged users are more likely to sign up for a service or complete a purchase. 

When you can identify the aspects of your site that engage your users, you can find a winning formula to use in future design and marketing decisions—-or change the parts your users don’t see value in.

The most important thing in tracking user engagement is understanding what the conversion goal is. If you have a fast fashion ecommerce business, you need to know how often your customers actively use your page (monthly usage), how often they add items to the favorites or cart, and how many pages they go through in a specific session (pageviews). It all depends on your engagement strategy and your company’s objective.

Pola Bialoskorska
Product Owner, Novakid

As well as collecting traditional web metrics, it’s important to have product experience (PX) insights to get a full picture of what engages your users. 

In the 8 user engagement metrics listed below, we look at both qualitative and quantitative data to help you understand not only whether your users find value in your product or service overall—but which content and features hold their attention. Then, you can take steps to optimize and enhance their user experience (UX).

1.  Unique, new, and returning users

It’s important to know which of your unique users are new and which are returning. 

A high number of new visitors can indicate that a campaign’s been successful, while high rates of returning users tell you your visitors are sufficiently engaged by your product to come back for more. If you have more returning visitors than new users, this could be a sign that your user engagement efforts are paying off. But if you have more new users, this shows you should think about updating what you offer.

User engagement tools can help you track unique, new, and returning users. Google Analytics gives every visitor a client ID stored in a cookie in their browser, for example. This method isn’t perfect as it doesn’t account for household members sharing a browser or an individual entering the same site from multiple devices. But GA’s new/returning users stats are getting more accurate as users are now encouraged to sign in to Chrome from all their different devices.

Pro tip: to find out user motivations for returning to your site, ask visitors questions in an onsite survey and specify which target URLs you want to focus on.

For an ecommerce store, you could ask the following questions on your product pages:

1. Is this your first time at this site? (yes/no)

2. What information about (product name) are you looking for? 

3. How could we make this page more useful?

#Hotjar lets you set up onsite surveys that target the specific URLs you want to start your investigation from

Hotjar lets you set up onsite surveys that target the specific URLs you want to start your investigation from

 2. Pageviews and time on page

Pageviews tell you how many users visit a particular page on your website, while time on page shows you how long they spend on each page before moving on to the next.

The number of pageviews on your website shows you how popular your website is, and an increase in pageviews can indicate a successful search engine optimization (SEO) campaign.

But if visitors don’t find what they want, they might leave just as quickly as they arrive—so measuring time on page can help you understand your users’ engagement and whether or not they’ve found the page useful.

You can track both pageviews and time on page metrics with Google Analytics. View how your pageviews evolve over time and track them against campaigns to attract new users. 

If your page views drop, you can attract more traffic to your site through: 

  • Social media engagement 

  • Email campaigns for lapsed users

  • Paid-for ads

  • SEO content to bring in traffic from keyword searches. 

To calculate time on page, divide the number of words by the minutes spent on the page. If visitors spend 5 minutes on a page with 1,000 words of content, that’s a decent average rate. But if they’re spending less time, you need to find out what’s causing them to leave early so you can address it. 

Try watching session recordings of individuals interacting with your site to uncover problems like rage clicks, which can indicate bugs, blockers, or broken links that might be the cause of low time on page.

3. Scroll depth 

Scroll depth measures how much of your content your users consume by monitoring where on the page they get to. Scroll depth can reveal whether your content is interesting and easy to read. 

You can measure scroll depth with Google Analytics Scroll Depth plugin, which tells you the percentage of the page your users get to i.e. 25 or 75% as well as which parts of the page they scroll to and pixel depth. This is a definitive measure of where your users stop, which might vary depending on screen height.

If you notice that your scroll depth metrics are low, you can find out why by comparing pages with high and low scroll depth. It might be that in pages with low scroll depth, you give them all they need above the fold or there might be an external link encouraging them to leave before they scroll all the way down the page.

You can enhance your pages in the following ways:

  • Personalize content for your users

  • Make pages scannable with good use of headings, formatting (bold, bulleted lists, etc), and images and graphs that add to the narrative 

  • Encourage scrolling through a blog article with a table of contents, to show readers what is coming later and with signposting language like: In this article, we’ll look at / provide tips on, etc

To understand scroll depth, you can use heatmaps to show you where users click, move, and scroll on your site, and identify which aspects of a page engage your users and which get ignored.

#Heatmaps give you a visual representation of how far users scroll down a page
Heatmaps give you a visual representation of how far users scroll down a page

4. Use of new tools and features

Making regular updates to your site should be a central part of your user engagement strategy.  But how do you know which tools and features are really engaging your users?

You can use metrics like pageviews and time on page to see how many people visit new features on a particular page, and how long they spend interacting with it. 

Or if your tool requires signup or download, track these figures over a period of time to see if there are particular campaigns or times of the year that bring a spike in user engagement.

Watching recordings can also help you understand why users are ignoring a new feature, and you can segment users who interact with it or ignore it, to understand the different journeys they take and what affects their experience. You might realize you need to set up an onboarding process to show users the value of the feature.

There might also be a bug in the new feature, which you can identify by getting on-page feedback from users and asking them to send a screenshot of the element that isn’t working for them. 

5. Bounce rate

Your site’s bounce rate is the proportion of users who click away from your site after viewing only one page. 

You can calculate bounce rate by dividing the number of bounces (single-page sessions) by the number of total sessions on your site.

So if 100 users arrive at your homepage and 10 of them leave without clicking further through your site, then your homepage has a bounce rate of 10%. 

A high bounce rate indicates that users either don’t find your product useful or don’t understand how it can be useful. For example, if your landing pages have a high bounce rate, you know your users aren’t navigating further to find out more product information. In this case, it’s a good idea to find out what’s holding them back and improve your messaging or design to show users the value of your product.

Pro tip: to find out which landing page design works best at engaging users, use A/B testing to trial designs of different landing pages. Use A/B testing software like Google Optimize to design and test different page variants, then find out what aspects of your design or messaging users found engaging by asking them with a survey. You can filter survey results based on specific events, like whether users bounce or continue to navigate through the site.

But bounce rate can be misleading. Perhaps your users find exactly what they need on a particular page and having satisfied that need they leave. Or you’re getting users from search engines who click away quickly after realizing they’re not the target audience for your product. If you look at bounce rate alongside scroll depth, time on page, and search engine statistics, you can get a better understanding of whether your users were engaged by the content they found. 

6. Click-through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of clicks on a particular link to the number of times users view the link (number of impressions). So if 100 people view a CTA button, and 3 users click on it, the CTA button has a CTR of 3%.

CTR is a useful metric for understanding user engagement because it tells you when users like what they see when they visit your page, and feel compelled to find out more or sign up for a free trial. If your CTR is low, you might not be targeting the right audience with your campaign to bring people to your site, or you might not be giving them compelling enough content.

Like most other user engagement metrics that deal with traffic, you can track your CTR on Google Analytics. But this will only give you headline figures. To find out which specific aspects of your site contribute to high or low click-through rates, you need to collect product experience insights data from session recordings or user feedback.

There are a number of ways to improve your CTR rates if your metrics show you are now engaging users enough to get click-throughs. You can:

  • Improve your targeting of new users on social media platforms by using hashtags

  • Design better CTAs with compelling text and an attractive design

  • Show users the value of your product by presenting them with a clear pain point, like not being able to keep track of customer support tickets, and demonstrating how your service offers a solution

7. Conversion/churn rates

Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a key action like making a purchase, downloading an app, or signing up for a subscription. It’s an important measure of user engagement as the more engaged your users are, the more likely they are to convert and bring revenue to your business.

You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the number of user sessions by the number of users that complete an action.

Conversely, your churn rate tells you how many users you lost over a period of time. It tells you how many of your signed-up users stopped seeing the value in your product and unsubscribed.

Calculate churn rate by dividing churned users over a certain time range by the number of users you had at the beginning of the period.

The strategies you can use to increase conversion and reduced churn rates involve engaging your users and showing them the value of your product or service. 

Here are some tips:

  • Improve onboarding so users understand how your product will help them

  • Maintain strong communication with your users—for example, send an email to churned users with information about product updates to try to get them to re-engage

  • Continually improve and update the user experience 

  • Get feedback from your users to find out what causes them to convert

8. Abandonment rate

Cart abandonment rate tells you what percentage of online shoppers add items to their shopping cart, but leave before checking out. It’s an important user engagement metric because it shows you the exact point when a user switches from being highly involved and on the brink of making a purchase to deciding not to go ahead.

You can calculate the abandonment rate by dividing the total number of completed sales by the number of initiated sales.

While your abandonment rate tells you how many users didn’t complete a transaction, it won’t tell you why. Use a product experience (PX) insights tool to go beyond traditional web analytics and understand your users’ behavior.

Pro tip: use an exit-intent survey that asks users why they didn’t complete their purchase. You can also view session recordings of users who abandoned their shopping cart to watch their customer journey and uncover any glitches in the shopping experience. For example, you might notice that users abandon when they see the shipping times are more than they expected. You could reduce cart abandonment by being more transparent about shipping times earlier in the checkout flow, or looking at ways to reduce them.

#Hotjar helps you design your exit intent survey with a template that you can customize to suit your needs.

Hotjar helps you design your exit intent survey with a template that you can customize to suit your needs.

Staying on top of user engagement 

Understanding what engages your users will help you optimize their experience and turn more new website visitors into repeat customers.

Traditional web metrics like bounce rates and page views give you a useful overview of how many users you have, whether they’re new or returning, and whether or not they sign up for your service or make a purchase. 

This overview is important—but it’s only the first step in deeply understanding user engagement. By combining traditional metrics with user-centric insights, you’ll be able to pinpoint areas to improve and create an enhanced experience that gives your users exactly what they want.

Find out what really engages your users on your site

Use Hotjar’s tools to make data-driven decisions to enhance user engagement 

Frequently asked questions about user engagement metrics