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Understanding website engagement tracking
Getting visitors to your website is only half the battle. Once they arrive, you need to find ways to engage users and keep them around.
Website engagement tracking helps you determine what’s working and what isn’t for users on your site. But it’s more nuanced than just monitoring a few key metrics, and can quickly feel overwhelming.
Last updated23 Nov 2022
This guide gives you an overview of website engagement tracking, its benefits, and essential principles to follow.
You’ll walk away equipped with ideas and a roadmap on how to better track your website’s engagement, so you can improve the user experience (UX) and product experience (PX), and boost your revenue.
Start tracking—and improving!—engagement on your website today
Use Hotjar’s tools to see how real users experience and engage with your website
What is website engagement tracking?
First, let’s talk about 'website engagement'. One indicator of a website’s success is whether people find its information interesting, helpful, and relevant. If they do, they're more likely to stick around on the site—and eventually take your desired action that leads to conversion.
Website engagement tracking is using metrics and monitoring to see how engaged users are with your site so you can make data-driven decisions moving forward.
But tracking statistics isn't the end all, be all. Instead, it provides a starting point to ask important questions that lead to continuous UX and PX improvements for your site’s visitors.
Website engagement tracking helps you answer questions like:
What draws users to my website?
Where are my users on their customer journey?
What’s frustrating to my users?
What UX and user interface (UI) design elements increase the time visitors spend on my site?
Engagement data and a dash of curiosity will help you dive deeper into user behavior and provide more benefits for your company and your loyal customers. Let’s take a look at these benefits:
The benefits of website engagement tracking
Tracking website engagement takes time, but if done well, the advantages are more than worth it.
The website engagement tracking process lets you get to know your users and their needs better than ever, so you can customize and optimize your web design, content, and copy to meet and exceed your company’s engagement or conversion goals.
Specific benefits include:
Understand your users’ preferences better: the goal is to make the user experience as frictionless as possible so visitors stay on your site and make purchases. Website engagement tracking helps you determine which UI design elements—like layouts, buttons, menus, and visuals—streamline your visitors’ experience. Need a little inspiration on this front? Read more about UI design trends.
See what you’re doing well: analyzing metrics helps you understand what’s working—so you can leverage this information to optimize other pages on your site. For example, if page views are exceptionally high for your services page, you could look at Hotjar Feedback responses to see what users love, or send out a survey to ask specific follow-up questions.
Discover why users are leaving your site: for example, if your bounce rate is higher than usual, use surveys to ask users why. Then, use heatmaps to see exactly which page elements are getting overlooked and confusing visitors, and recordings to watch for rage clicks and understand individual customers’ reasons for churn.
Determine if new marketing efforts are working: if you’ve got a new campaign that should be drawing more qualified leads to your home or landing page, you’ll know how well it’s working by comparing your current engagement tracking metrics with historical data.
Long story short: tracking website engagement serves multiple purposes. It helps your marketing teams track campaign performance, gives your sales department a better understanding of what leads need, and provides insights that let your product teams improve UX.
🎁Reaping the rewards of website engagement tracking🎁
Alex George is the founder of Mountains Wave, a marketing and web design agency, and the Head of Marketing at Hint Health, which offers membership management and billing software for healthcare companies.
In both roles, he pays close attention to website engagement metrics, and he’s seen ongoing benefits—not just for Mountains Wave and Hint, but for the customers they serve, like:
A stickier product with more loyal and engaged customers
Streamlined sales and onboarding experiences
A more customer-centric business model
Alex says: “By tracking user engagement, we can see how our customers engage with our website and software at Hint, providing valuable insight and direction to our growth and product teams.”
A 5-step roadmap to effectively track website engagement
Website engagement tracking involves more than just checking your analytics data. For example, say you look at your metrics, and your site’s average time on page is 42 seconds. That information means next to nothing without context, such as:
What’s your goal for average time on page?
Is that number higher or lower than last month’s? Why?
How does that number connect to your campaigns?
What’s a solid benchmark for your industry? Why could your stats be higher or lower?
What can you do to continue to improve this metric?
To get the most out of tracking, you have to follow an intentional, multi-step process that lets you gather engagement data, use it to understand your customers, and then improve the customer experience (CX).
Let’s look at the complete website engagement tracking process and how to leverage it to improve outcomes for your company and users:
1. Put the user first
Getting into a user- or customer-centric mindset lays the foundation for website engagement tracking. Positive outcomes for your company always start with a positive experience for your user.
💡Pro tip: getting into a user-centric mindset is crucial before you dive into website engagement tracking. If you don’t have a user-centric thinking process in place yet, now’s the perfect time to implement one.
Your company will always have problems to solve—and this empathy-driven process helps you develop solutions, test, and iterate, so you can create a website that provides your users with a brilliant product experience.
What does putting the user first mean?
Fully understand the user journey
Mapping the customer journey helps you visualize all the touchpoints a user has as they engage with your brand and product—so you can better understand their emotions and needs along the way.
Keep an open mind to your users’ preferences and pain points
You may think you know what your users want and need—but it may be something else entirely. With a growth mindset, you’ll be prepared for the data that helps you make changes to your site and open to testing out new engagement tracking strategies.
Take an empathetic approach
Empathy means you step into your customers’ shoes and fully imagine what they’re thinking and feeling. Approaching your customer’s experience with empathy means making website choices based on what they need versus what you want to share.
2. Choose the right tools
Once you adopt an empathetic, user-centric perspective, it’s time to select the right software for your tech stack. Depending on your company’s specific goals, the combination of engagement tracking tools you choose will differ from the software other businesses use.
Speaking specifically to website user engagement, it’s important to understand what the conversion goal for your website is, and what kicks off or starts the engagement tracking.
You need tools to monitor quantitative data, like key performance indicators (KPIs), and tools to discover the why behind the numbers—the qualitative data.
To track and monitor key quantitative metrics, start with Google Analytics to collect data and visualize it in easy-to-follow charts and graphs.
Then, use tools like Hotjar Heatmaps and Recordings to dig deeper into why your users behave the way they do. Alex George says, “I’ve actually had the opportunity to work with a number of different tools with our clients at Mountains Wave Marketing. Some of my favorites were Hotjar, FullStory, and Smartlook.”
💡Pro tip: when choosing website engagement tracking tools, consider each product’s existing integrations for a smooth, time-saving experience.
For example, Hotjar integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics. That means you can send Google Analytics events, like users who ‘didn’t complete checkout,’ to Hotjar—and then automatically filter relevant recordings or heatmaps to investigate why.
Google Analytics and Hotjar integrate to give you the what and the why of website engagement at a glance.
3. Determine the right metrics to track
Let’s be honest here: there’s no perfect combination of website engagement metrics to track to get the best product insights. That’s because your company, goals, and website are unique.
However, the top metrics businesses find helpful to achieve their marketing, product, or sales goals include:
Average time on page: this is the average amount of time users engage with a single page on a site
Average session duration: a visitor may engage with multiple pages on a site during a single visit. Average session duration measures the length of time in seconds a typical visitor spends on your site from the moment they enter to when they leave.
Pageviews: a pageview happens when a user visits or re-visits a page on your site. This is different from the ‘page visits’ metric, which measures when a visitor lands on your site from an external source.
Pages per session: this metric shows the number of pageviews divided by the number of sessions, which reveals the approximate number of pages a single user views in a typical session
Bounce rate: if a visitor arrives at a page but doesn’t engage, they’ve bounced. In Google Analytics, this metric shows you the percentage of users who didn't engage with your site within 10 seconds of arriving.
Remember: not all of these metrics will be relevant to your company or user goals. If you aim to drive organic traffic and qualified leads to your blog, bounce rate might not be the most useful metric to track. Instead, you may want to focus on average time on page, indicating whether visitors enjoy your content.
And if your goal is to increase conversions on a landing page, you’ll keep close tabs on your bounce rate so you can figure out how to stop users from leaving—and get them to buy instead.
For us, some of the most important metrics for website engagement tracking include user visit metrics (unique, new, returning), page view counts, time on page, activity on the page (clicks, engagement, submissions), and conversions.
4. Figure out the why behind user behavior
Engagement tracking metrics only tell part of the story—they provide insight into what’s happening on a site. What pages do users spend the most time on? What’s the bounce rate on your landing page?
But for website engagement tracking to be meaningful, you also have to look into the how and why of user behavior. Product experience insights tools like Hotjar Heatmaps, Scroll Heatmaps, and Recordings provide valuable insights, showing you how real users interact with your site.
Say your average session duration is up, but your average time on page is down (and bounce rate up) on your pricing page. Users are exploring your site, but leaving as soon as they make it to the point of conversion. Now’s the time to look into why.
Heatmaps let you visualize where visitors are lingering on your site, so you can see what elements they might be missing. Scroll heatmaps let you see how far down the page users get before bouncing, illuminating potential problem areas—and recordings let you watch users as they navigate your site, so you can spot bugs that make them ‘x’ out in frustration.
With these tools, you could discover that users seem confused about your pricing tiers chart. Again, ask yourself why. Maybe the amount of information in the chart is overwhelming, the prices are daunting, the layout could be clearer, or you might need to test out different CTA copy or button colors.
Get feedback from real users
The website engagement tracking process, when done well, requires teams to ask why again and again. Why is this metric down? Because users stop scrolling when they’re only 25% down the page. Why do they bounce at that specific point? Hmm. 🤔
At some point down your trail of whys, you need to get information straight from the source—your users.
Hotjar gives you three options to gather qualitative data from users about website engagement:
Feedback: place a widget on any page of your site to get a sentiment rating and additional feedback from users about their engagement on that page. Customers can tell you what they think about the page while it’s still fresh in their minds and even highlight parts of the page they like.
Surveys: if you have specific questions for your users about their interactions with your site, send them a survey. It takes the guesswork out of your website decisions, by helping you narrow down your hypotheses about user behavior.
Interviews: Hotjar Engage makes it easy to find users to test your product, so they can answer questions about their experience. It also helps you empathize with users on why they behave the way they do on your site—and gives you ideas on how to improve your UX and PX.
You can email Hotjar surveys directly to your users to ask them about the choices they make on your site.
5. Plan your next steps
After tracking your website engagement—and digging deep into the whys of user behavior, it’s time to think critically about what you can do to improve your site experience.
Say you’ve learned that users are dropping off your site when they see pricing tiers, and you figure out that it’s because of the amount of copy in the chart. Now, all that’s left is to take action. Make revisions to the existing page, and run an A/B test using heatmaps to monitor the results, so you can see which version of your pricing page works better.
💡Pro tip: launch surveys after making changes to check whether your tracking efforts to improve engagement are successful. Check out Hotjar’s ready-made Survey templates for more ideas on what to ask your users.
Start boosting your website engagement today
The right mindset, tools, and metrics help you level up your website engagement, improve the user experience, and win loyal advocates for your brand.
Keep your user at the core of your website engagement tracking and decision-making process, and be prepared to test and iterate. Before you know it, you’ll notice positive changes in the metrics you’re tracking—and you’ll have happy users, too.
Start tracking—and improving!—your website engagement today
Use Hotjar’s tools to see how real users experience and engage with your website