When we talk content, we hear the term “consumer engagement” bandied about, and it makes sense for us to consider what this means. We take time and care curating our brand’s content, so we want some assurance that our base is interacting with it. You may have go-to methods for determining your level of consumer engagement: the number of likes and shares, the comments on your blog posts. But these are “vanity measures” – in other words, they make you feel good, but they don’t necessarily provide you with an accurate picture of what your healthcare entity’s brand is achieving. Here’s what you’re measuring wrong and what you should be keeping tabs on instead.
You’re Measuring: Reach
Say you’re the marketing director in a private practice dermatology office, implementing a new content strategy plan. You’re pleased to note in a meeting that your website visits are increasing each month, calling your campaign a rousing success. Yet the doctors disagree, noting that they’ve not noticed an increase in new patients.
If you’re measuring the sheer number of website visitors, you’re basing your success on a vanity statistic that means little. In fact, your reach can be artificially inflated by a couple of means:
- The website Upworthy has come under fire in the past year for creating headlines that encourage people to click, but the actual articles had little substance behind them. In fact, they’re largely credited for creating a movement of sensationalism, one that led Facebook to change its algorithms to punish misleading articles. Upworthy’s cofounder, Peter Koechley, has changed gears as the site continues, creating original content, explaining, “We sort of unleashed a monster. Sorry for that… I’m excited going forward to say goodbye to clickbait.”
- Paid Content Promotion Ads. If you’re paying to drive traffic to your website, it’s not really telling you much. All paid advertising is telling you is that people are visiting your site, not necessarily engaging with your content.
Measure Instead: Conversions
When you’re creating health content, it’s unlikely you’re simply hoping for people to visit your site, read what you have to say, and leave. We all want people to take action before they exit a site, whether that’s making an appointment with your office or engaging in a behavior change. To track your conversion rate, create a strong CTA, like a newsletter sign-up or appointment form.
You’re Measuring: The Time A User Spends on Your Page
It seems safe to assume that if someone spends a fair amount of time on your page, they’re engaging with your carefully crafted content. Right? Maybe not. The time a user spends on a page can be heavily skewed in a couple of ways:
- The way we ascertain the time spent on a page is the time between the first visit to a page and the next. If we all browsed in a linear fashion, that would be accurate. But we don’t. How many of us actually click links to other pages, and then leave them when we’re finished? We keep multiple tabs open. We walk away from our computers to make coffee or run errands. In other words, we’re easily distracted, and it artificially inflates our visit time.
- When it comes to website analytics, “time on page” is measured based on the people who “didn’t bounce.” In other words, a Google analytics tools won’t pick up on anyone who engages with only one page, no matter how long that session was. All they know is that a visitor never left the page within 30 minutes, so they mark time spent on page as 0.
Measure Instead: Your Scroll Depth
Scroll depth measures, predictably enough, how far down your page a visitor scrolls. In the aforementioned example, a scroll depth would let a marketing director know that a visitor was actually engaging with their content. If a visitor is making it all the way to the end of your posts, your content must be on point.
If you have WordPress, try installing their ScrollDepth plugin. It’s not an ironclad measure, but it should give an idea of the degree of engagement from your visitors.
You’re Measuring: Shares
We assume when people share content, we have reached them in some way. Sadly, even this isn’t the most reliable source of engagement. People don’t always read what they share, and more importantly, people don’t always share what they read. According to a recent story in Time magazine, stories with the longest engagement time garnered fewer than 100 likes and 50 tweets. By contrast, people who visited a story with larger number of tweets didn’t spend as much time engaging with the material, leading us to believe that they didn’t even finish the story.
Measure Instead: Your Comments Section
What are we to do if even the amount of social shares can’t give us an accurate picture of our engagement? Take a look at the kinds of comments your stories are garnering. People generally won’t comment on something unless it’s resonated enough with them to do so.
To put this article succinctly, measure engagement for what it is. Being engaged isn’t visiting a webpage or clicking “like.” People share and like stories out of obligation every day. Engagement is the measure of how people interact with your health content. Are they booking appointments, asking questions, or taking other proactive steps to improve their health? That’s what will tell you if your content management strategy is working. Use these tools to make your content even better than it was before.