When talking to your spectators and customers, you assume they’ll talk back to you. This dialog and communication are what, for the most part, define audience engagement.
Even so, there’s so much more information and details that are important to reinforce the understanding of this expression — all of which are covered in this article.
For example, did you know it’s possible to measure how engaged your public is? Surely, it’s not so simple as having an exclusive metric to set a bar of engaging content. Yet, you can absolutely do it through a combined group of metrics.
In general, the question “what is audience engagement” has many different answers, but all of them will lead to the same essence. Keep reading to learn all about it and even more:
- the importance of it;
- how to measure it and what metrics to use;
- how to enhance audience engagement;
- what tools to use for assistance.
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The meaning of audience engagement
Having people ask questions, comment on your posts, and share your articles are examples of audience engagement.
This expression has become quite popular over the years, alongside the growth of the internet. By logic, you can mostly understand the phrase by separating the two words. The audience is the public you’re speaking to while engagement refers to the act of interaction and relationship you’re able to maintain with them.
Still, there are many experts on the market field that give their own definitions of this term. Of course, all of them have the same essence, but it’s nice to see audience engagement being explained in a variety of styles. Some experts, like Corbin Ball, describe audience engagement as an emotional involvement by an audience.
What he is saying is that engagement needs to have an emotional connection somehow. Since it’s the desired outcome of the company’s plan, you could think of a blog post that incites happiness or urgency on the reader. That way, a visitor is more likely to become a part of the blog’s engaged audience.
Sarah Michael, a reference in the area of audience experience, explains the term as “when there’s an intentional focus on moving the audience member from spectator to participant by creating opportunities for connection”.
From that, you can understand that having a visitor interested and involved in the content a company offers is the goal to be achieved. That’s what will lead a person to greater decisions, like checking out a new product or signing up for a newsletter.
To sum it up, this terminology is a method to find out how active your audience is. Additionally, it’s important that this involvement has a good outcome for both the company and the public. After all, as much as you need to aggregate new customers, they need useful and valuable information.
The importance of it audience engagement
But why is audience engagement so important? What will it do for your business? Well, for starters, engaged users are loyal. Which means, they will keep coming back to check more of your page and content.
Consequently, they are more inclined to sign up for newsletters, offer information for free downloads, save and share new content, and so on. Furthermore, they are more likely to click on advertisements and convert to paying customers.
Audience engagement is basically like a high school classroom. If you’re a teacher and you’re there going on and on about American history, the chances of your students actually learning something are quite low. However, if you find a way to involve them in your speech, having them participating, answering questions, and starting discussions, the chances are significantly higher to have a successful class.
If you get one person to engage with you, magic will happen. When someone starts to talk, others feel motivated to follow the example. All in all, people like to participate and be heard. Especially if they’re already paying for a service, they want to receive more attention and somewhat special treatment.
The idea is, as much as you want to share your knowledge with the audience, they also want to share their experience.
Overall, having an engaged audience is extremely important in the online business world. If you think about the audience at a live concert, for example, the best outcome for the band is that the entire stadium is screaming and singing their songs with them.
On the internet, this happens differently, such as through likes, comments, sharing, looking for more content, etc. However, the main idea remains the same: the public needs to be interacting and interested in the company’s strategy to be considered successful.
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How to measure audience engagement
Knowing what’s the reach and number of interactions with your post is essential for future strategic planning.
As a business owner or marketing manager, it’s essential to know how to measure results that will help with the company’s strategic planning. All things considered, it requires a lot of effort and time to create content and campaigns for your public. So you need to know and understand exactly what the results were to make your planning and execution each time better and more efficient.
Of course, this will be done by getting to know your consumer as well. Something you can do through data collection, learning their habits, and gathering all sorts of information about them. Customer Data Platforms allow you to accompany real-time data about who’s interacting with your brand online. It’s worth having it to assist your plan of action.
Now, to measure audience engagement, you’ll actually need to measure other elements first. Then, from those conclusions, you’ll get your answer to how much your public is interacting with your brand.
For instance, your website traffic is one way to see how your name is doing in the online world.
More than that, you don’t want just a number of visitors. Actual engagement means looking at the number of subscribers and leads generated via your website. Because of that, setting goals for each channel of communication is the best way to know the ideal direction of your strategy.
Besides that, paying attention to mentions on social media, hashtag uses, and conducting surveys are some additional ideas of how to measure your audience engagement.
Moreover, you need to compare your results from time to time (maybe weekly, biweekly, or monthly) and keep a history of what has been done. That way, you’ll be able to see and weigh what were the ups and downs of each campaign performed within that time.
One thing you need to understand is that there is no metric by itself that will measure audience engagement. It will always be a combination of metrics. There are, however, some that are better than others.
The best metrics for measuring it
It’s important to combine metrics because, overall, no metric on its own will give you exact results. The combined view of them all is what will give you the general idea of how engaged your audience really is. In the middle of numerous analytics, you can find there are some that better identify what we want to evaluate at this moment.
Average time on page
First, the average time visitors spend on your page matters. It’s an indicator of how good your content is to hold their attention and how valuable the subjects you talk about are to them. So, the longer someone remains to navigate your page, the more engaged they can be considered.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that time will vary according to pages and their content. It’s only logical that a blog post will take longer to read than an image with a caption. So, it’s important to check what kind of page has been assessed and the time spent there.
For example, if a long blog post received a click, but the time on page was not sufficient for a complete reading, it means the visitor got interested in an attractive headline, but the content wasn’t engaging enough.
The bounce rate is the number of visits that a page gets without any interactions whatsoever.
The bounce rate is the number of people who leave your page without checking out other pages. In other words, it’s when someone opens your website and doesn’t click on any other links or articles before leaving the page. Given this circumstance, you’ll want the lowest bounce rate as possible.
Take YouTube as an example: the longer you navigate in a single channel, watching that person’s video, it will give them a better rating and classification. The social network algorithm will understand that their content is interesting and, therefore, will offer it more for other people with similar interests.
Likewise, the best thing for an online page is that people keep interacting with it for as long as possible. Whether that means clicking on links, making comments, using a live chat, etc.
Returning visitors vs. new visitors
New visitors are considered people who have never been to your website or haven’t accessed it in at least two years. Returning visitors might not be recurrent and check your page every week, but it means that they have already been to your page within these last two years.
Both types of visitors are important to have. Mainly because, at the same time you want your website or blog to have an engaged audience, that keeps coming back to check new content, it’s also important that new people discover your material. After all, that’s the only way you’ll expand your business and get new customers.
Sharing from an article page
There’s a difference between a person sharing something you posted on social media, for example, and sharing straight from an article page. To clarify, sometimes people share something just because of an interesting headline.
However, what you really want to know is the number of people who actually read your content and shared it because they liked and approved what has been said.
That’s the reason why sharing from the article’s page is more important than the factual number of total shares.
The importance of data analysis is inherent.
Being similar to average session duration, what differs these two metrics is that this one will actually include several data. Such as:
- the time spent on your website;
- how many pages were visited;
- how many clicks it got.
It can happen that someone opens your page and forgets it there. Similarly, a visitor might open and read your content, but not interact with it. So, what you really need to measure is the active engagement time. That means the time spent on your page taking action — like clicking on website elements.
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Be careful with vanity metrics
The same way there are the best metrics, there are some you should definitely stay away from — they’re called the vanity metrics. The reason they get this name is that they look good on paper, but they don’t really say much about audience engagement. Namely, the number of likes a post got.
A post with ten thousand likes might seem interesting at first glance, but what does that number really say? Most people scroll through their newsfeed and don’t even read the actual post, they just give “like” because of the picture or the headline.
It’s much more interesting to track the shares from an article’s page as we’ve said earlier. It sure says a lot more about your public participating and interacting with your brand.
How to build an audience engagement strategy
There are some features that can help organizers increase audience engagement. Indeed, it needs to be planned for. If you keep waiting for it to happen, things will not move forward. Fundamentally, you must know your audience. It’s necessary to constantly keep track of who your visitors are, what they like and dislike, what are their habits and preferences, and so forth.
Once that’s covered, you can work on details like:
- inciting emotions;
- calls to action (CTAs);
- data collecting;
- technical details.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is great for better search ranking, but it won’t matter to show up on Google’s first place if your content doesn’t bring up interest in your public. The key is to make a combination of SEO and relatable communication.
This leads us to the next point: when someone responds to your content, it means you provoked something in them, an emotion. For that, they feel like they have to give something back — make a comment, share your article, or buy your products.
In the marketing world, there are some types of triggers used when it comes to creating content. In this scenario, the goal is to write in a way to instigate a feeling. Some of the most common include urgency and affection. It’s a proven way to have better results since emotions induce actions. One way to achieve audience engagement is by humanizing your brand, giving it a face and/or a personality.
More than that, for the purpose of triggering someone into doing something, using CTAs can work really well.
A call to action is usually at the end of an article, on a banner, or on a button somewhere on the website. It can be as simple as “FREE DOWNLOAD” to something more elaborated, like “Do you want to be the last in line to find out the benefits of our product? Then download our FREE material NOW!”. The intent behind both of them is the same, just with a different approach.
Since you can measure every result and gather all sorts of data, you can experiment as needed. It’s vital to try different alternatives and see what has more results. A/B testing is here to prove that.
Also, analyzing real-time data is crucial for understanding more about how your audience acts online. Therefore, being able to make better decisions and see what could be done differently to engage more. Social media is a great communication channel that allows you to see which posts had a better engagement, making it possible to understand what characteristics made it happen.
Remember to give attention to technical details seeing they also count to enhance audience engagement. For example, the speed of your website or if your layout is responsive and friendly to mobile devices.
Overall, the strategy should always be aligned with company goals. There’s no point in getting a thousand people to sign your newsletter if they’re not the type of public that will indeed buy your product.
Popular audience engagement tools
Catching people’s attention is not an easy task. With so much information available online, when someone stops to read your content and, even more, interact with it, it’s because you’re on the right path. For the mission of better applying engagement strategies and facilitating measuring results, there are some tools and apps ready to use.
Polls are one of the best ways to get people connecting with your brand. Not only are you listening to your audience’s opinion, but you’re also gathering valuable data to improve your next strategic steps.
Allowing your public to give hints and suggestions about what they want to see on your pages will surely be of benefit to both the company and their visitors.
Nowadays, many platforms permit the creation of different pools, where the consumer can enter freely and give the necessary answers. Note that mobile-friendly apps are important seeing that most of your online audience will be through their cell phones.
Promoting live, real-time content has become quite popular. Webinars, for example, are a way to share professional knowledge in some areas while letting people participate and send their questions on a live chat. Mostly, specialists prefer to present their material and then start answering doubts that come up.
To the same extent, there are apps you can use to create exclusive meetings and remote customer service. As you notice people are using this type of service, you’ll see it happen as a result of an increase in engagement and interaction overall.
Next to the live-streaming platforms, question and answer tools are essential. There are specific gadgets for this purpose, however, some social media apps have the Q&A option incorporated. Instagram, for instance, has both stories and live Q&A boxes.
To understand and define the best choice for your company, it’s required that goals and target audience be taken into account.
In this day and age, hashtags are considered a strong tool to attract new visitors and engage the returning ones. People can type a word or expression and find you through a hashtag. At the same time, you can create an entire community by using this element on your posts. If you create a hashtag for your brand, your audience will feel inclined to use it and be part of that special group.
Likewise, it’s possible to create hashtags to put together information and posts about a specific event or meeting.
You don’t necessarily have to stream live content to have your audience interacting with your brand. Posting edited videos and inciting people to share and comment is also a powerful tool to increase engagement.
It doesn’t even need to be super professional takes, most of us actually enjoy watching backstage amateur footage.
If you’re able to combine elaborate materials with the so-mentioned backstage shooting, you’ll have a goldmine.
Arena’s solutions will cover everything you need to plan and improve your audience engagement — from data collection to an advanced content discovery platform. Got interested in learning more about it? Talk to one of our consultants right away!