I stumbled upon very interesting article from Dave Chaffey blog about Internet marketing trends in 2007 (very interesting Web sources about collecting data on Web trends, in this post). One of those trends to watch in 2007 is visitor engagement (VE).
I agree with Mr. Chaffey that the most appropriate definition of visitor engagement is:
“Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand”
The most discussed part of the visitor engagement is the metrics of this trend. Very detailed observations about VE metrics can be found in five parts article of Eric T. Peterson’s WebAnalyticsDemistified blog (I, II, III, IV, V – very interesting visual perspective of visitor engagement).
There is not a lot of post on Technorati about a visitor engagement (1.700+).
The importance of visitor engagement lays in the fact that often conversion is conceived as a single conversion rate implying a single site visit, but this is rarely the case. A conversion as a single site visit can be seen as one dimension look, because the process of turning visitors to customers is very different to particularly all Web sites, even very similar ones. There are several questions which gives the answer how particular visitor become customer:
- Why visitor came to the Web site?
- Where he/she landed on the Web site?
- What is the “persuasion rate” of the Web site, to initiate visitor to repeat the visit?
- How many repeat visits is needed for the visitors to be converted to customer?
- What is the particular content and the “killer app.” that will persuade the visitor to become customer?
The answers to these questions shows that Web metrics by themselves cannot give the accurate results (they can give only the clues, or indications). Metrics, with the combination of Persona Scenarios, and very detailed clickstream analysis (the analysis of various paths through the Web site), can be the answer to the question how to enhance the visitor engagement.
In addition, the importance of visitor engagement is very high in Web 2.0 environment, due to “architecture of participation” issue, which is one of the measures of visitor engagement.
Visitor engagement as the base for some online business and revenue models
In my opinion, the most interesting example of online business models based on visitor engagement is flickr.com. More visitor engagement of this Web site produce more pictures in the free account, and if the visitor engagement high enough, soon visitor will become customer, when he/she reaches the limit for the free pictures storage. More activities (engagement), more revenue…
It is interesting that practically all subscription based online business models are related to visitor engagement.
Visitor engagement Vs. customer engagement
There is much less problems with the measurement of visitor engagement if there is more particular data about the visitor. When it is talked about customer engagement, if the customer databases are used to improve customer engagement, the results can be seen in the examples of Amazon.com, or imdb.com.
The repeated problems with visitor and customer engagement can be seen on the Web sites that are not paying attention of different needs of different kind of site users (e.g. visitors Vs. customers). For example, there are a lot of bank Web sites that do not have the link of its online banking at the Home Page. In last ten years of my online business practice I had to mention more than hundred of times that Web designer, or project manager has to thing about repeated visitors, and their needs.
Mr. Chaffey use interesting phrase “visitor engagement devices”, for the visual parts of the Web page, where links to the appropriate content is situated for a different Web site users, to enhance visitor engagement.