It's Not About the Web Analytics Tool; It Is About Engagement (Part 2)

  |  September 22, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Consider these approaches to audience engagement and optimising business value using analytics.

In part one of this column, we discussed the problem of focusing too much on website traffic metrics and the importance of engaging target audience on the site. That included: 1. Ask the right question and 2. It's all about engagement (quality, not quantity).

Now, we will focus on the actions to use engagement analytics to optimise the website's overall business value.

3. Focus on your actions

All businesses are different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You should understand who your target audience is and how to engage them so that you can move them along in the consumer journey. There are always different decisions and actions you can take to improve customer engagement and marketing effectiveness. Below are some examples:

Engagement value trend

As I previously mentioned, the first question we should ask is – how is the website making an impact on my business? How are we going to measure this impact?

If we have the ability to check the engagement value per visitor, we can tell if the engagement value is increasing overtime and can confirm if we are taking the right actions to engage the target audience.

If the visitors are increasing at a faster rate then the level of engagement value, your website is delivering less value per visitor than it has in the past. In this case, your website may be targeting the wrong type of target audience and your digital media strategy must be improved to address this issue.

If the level of engagement value and visitors are increasing at the same rate, there is no real improvement in the engagement value per visitor.

And if the level of engagement value is going at faster rate than the number of visitors, the engagement value per visitor is getting higher overtime. This reflects a good marketing plan and indicated that the website is delivering value for your business.

Traffic source

Most of the web analytics tools only show the total traffic from a source, but the important thing to find out is the engagement value of the visitors coming from that source.

The people you meet at a bar are very different from the people you meet at your friend's birthday party. Similarly, if you have a paid search campaign for a shampoo product, you may see that the key phrase 'sexy girls taking shower' is driving a lot of traffic to your website. However, the target audience who typed these key terms in the search engine is probably looking for something else and relevance of the traffic is very low. If you make decisions based on the traffic from your web analytics tools, not engagement, you will probably increase more spending on those key phrases but we all know it's a wrong decision.

This is probably a very obvious example. But the reality is if you are making decisions for your media and traffic source investment, ignoring the engagement value may lead you to miss out on a lot of opportunities to optimise performance.

Original source attribution

I always emphasize the importance of the attribution model, and sometimes I am surprised to know that some very senior people in the industry have no idea about this model.

As mentioned in my previous article, if you are looking at your customer journey, there are many customer touch points that would potentially 'attribute' to the final outcome (e.g. sales or leads). For example, customers may see your display advertising and then go to the search engine to search for more information. If the marketing investment decision is made without having a holistic view of how the target audiences are converting from prospects to customers, wrong decisions are often made.

For instance, if you compare different traffic sources to your website, you will probably see the cost per acquisition and conversation rate of display advertising are not as good as search advertising. However, if you have the visibility to track and see your target audience engagement value, you can identify a group of "high-value" visitors and then analyse what would be the most common first point of contact to engage them.

Analysing target audience engagement on the website is a good way to understand how different media are attributed to the final outcome. This allows for a marketing decision that optimises the ROI.


A lot of companies are spending millions or billions of dollars on advertising across multi-channels such as banner advertising, search, social media and website. Yet, we are still trying to figure out the answer of the same question that was asked a century ago - which half of the advertising money is wasted?

Website is a very important engagement platform with your target audience but most companies only care about the "clicks" and "impressions" and have very little understanding of how to build engagement on the website. Thus, a lot of good opportunities are missed.

In today's connected world, it is the 'integrated' strategy that makes the difference in driving business value. The only way to succeed is to have a very good understanding of how and where to engage with your target audience and leverage analytics to optimise the overall business values of your marketing budget. The shooting-in-the dark type of marketing will not work effectively, especially in the digital space.

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Joni Ngai

Joni Ngai is an Evangelist for Sitecore International. She works with business leaders to help them to realize the potential of how data and technology can help to target, acquire and retain customers more intelligently in today's connected world.

Other than her Evangelist job with Sitecore, she is a lecturer teaching graduate course for the Master of Science in New Media program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She also serves as Technical Editor for "Developing Analytic Talent: Becoming a Data Scientist" (to be published in 2014) for global publisher John Wiley & Sons. In 2012, Joni was appointed as Vice Chair for China at I-COM, an industry-backed global forum in digital measurement. She servers on the global advisory board and nominated as Co-Chair of the Data Track of I-COM Global Summit in 2014.

Joni has extensive experience across digital, CRM, online media, analytics and technology development. She started her digital consulting career with Razorfish in New York in 2000. Since then, she has worked with a number of digital agencies across the Asia-Pacific region for many global brands, such as Intel, Microsoft and P&G.

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