Health24’s associate editor Harry Phillips outlines what types of engagement strategies have helped make Health24 the largest health and lifestyle platform in South Africa, a feat that could not be achieved without significantly high engagement from their users.
How do you measure engagement?
Time on site, pages per visit, frequency, bounce rates; there are innumerable ways that one can measure engagement, with the actual metrics you should be paying attention to varying from site to site and audience to audience. One of the main metrics that we look at is Visitor Recency. Basically, this measures how often the same user returns to the site and it’s important to us for a couple of reasons. Firstly, attracting new users is always great, but reducing the churn so that these new users are adding to an established base of frequent users is a much more effective way of growing your audience. Secondly, and more importantly, if someone comes back to your site it usually means they were reasonably satisfied last time they visited, which means your product is doing what it’s supposed to.
Other metrics that are very useful to measure are the average time a user spends reading an article, how far down the page these users actually scroll, how many pages they visit after entering the site, and of course how long is it before they come back. If we look at Health24’s engagement stats based on these metrics, over the past year the average user spent nearly three minutes on the site per visit, with almost half of all users visiting multiple times a month and more than half of all users scrolled at least 80% of the way through the content. All of these indicators are markedly higher for South African users than our international ones. Visitor Recency is also high, with a third of users having visited Health24 in the previous seven days, which is particularly rewarding.
When should you measure engagement?
Obviously engagement statistics should form part of any report – be it weekly, monthly or quarterly – which seeks to assess the health of the site overall, but there’s not a day that goes by that you shouldn’t be checking the engagement levels of a certain area of the site, or of a particular kind of user. This information is invaluable in decision making around product development, which for us is a perpetual process. You need to ensure that you have a holistic view of your site, and how users interact with it, which can often differ substantially from a developer’s expectations. The digital world is incredibly fluid, and users can be quite fickle – what they like today they may ignore tomorrow; so it’s essential to analyse engagement trends as often as possible, and tailor your product accordingly.
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