Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Engagement, is it a metric or an excuse?

Avinsah Kaushik, posted a blog post stating that “Engagement is not a metrics, it is an excuse”.

I beg to differ with Avinash on this one. I agree with Avinash that there is no standard way of measuring engagement. And my argument is that we don’t need a standard way to define engagement. Engagement metric is site specific and companies should have their own engagement baselines and trends. It is not a metrics that should be used to compare sites, because, as Avinash said in his post, each site is unique and hence the how each sites define engagement is going to be unique.

Avinash states “One of my personal golden rules is that a metric should be instantly useful. This one is not. Say you measure engagement. It could be a % or a absolute number or a ratio or whatever (in fact it can be any or all of those at the same time). You fire off a graph or a excel spreadsheet with trends. You repeatedly get asked: What are we measuring?”.

Question is when don’t we get questioned? A lot of marketers still have confusion about visits and visitors (believe me for 4 months I had to explain this multiple times to a marketing director of a major company). But that does not mean we should not use them. As an analyst our job is also to explain what measure makes sense, why they make sense and how are they calculated. You have to make sure your KPIs are not for the sake having KPIs, they are Key Performance Indicators for your Business. Same goes with Engagement as a KPI or even just another metric, you have to define it properly keeping your business goals in mind, make sure stakeholders understand what it is showing, why should they care and how it affects the business.

Engagement, to me, is not just about looking at the history, like most of the KPIs do. If defined properly (that’s the key) engagement metrics can be good measure of past and predictor of future. Ultimately there is are business goals for having a website, weather those are conversions, creating a brand value, driving more offline sales or something along those lines. Engagement metrics can also show you where you should spend your money, which segments to cater to. If you correlate your engagement metrics with your goals you will be able to come up with a model for predicting the future. Engagement metrics can serve as the leading indicator telling you if you will meet, beat or miss your goals. Engagement metrics allows you to be proactive. That is the beauty of engagement metrics.
So, given that, I don’t think engagement metrics is an excuse. It is actually very powerful, better than past indicators.

What do you think? Am I missing something?

You should also check out the following
Jim Novo’s blog post http://blog.jimnovo.com/2007/08/02/webtrends-score/
Captian Blackbeaks Blog http://blackbeak.conversionchronicles.com/2007/10/02/finally-i-disagree-with-avinash/

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