Chartbeat Is Engaged! Introducing Engaged Time

Engagement: That elusive beast.

Everyone wants it, no one knows just how to pin it down. So we’ve all been stuck with our second choice, the back up, plan B — the page view. Ick.

Who cares that people are loading your page? We need to know how they’re interacting – with what and for how long. As we’ve already ranted and raged about back in January, that’s the only real measure of great content.

Well, it’s your lucky day/week/forever, friend. We’ve wooed engagement out of her secret hiding place and pinned her down for all to use.

So let’s show off your newest metric Engaged Time:


Engaged Time is dissected in a few ways:

  1. Total amount of time your visitors are have spent actively browsing your site – in human terms: days, weeks, months or years. Not billions of absolutes because, well, what the hell would you do with those massive numbers?

Think about it this way: Total Engaged Time is how long you’ve had your users’ undivided attention today. If 2,000 people have been interacting with your site for an hour each today, that means you’ve had about three months of attention on your site in one day. Three months is how long it takes Mercury to orbit the Sun. Your site engagement being that long is pretty nuts.

Oh, also, since today is Monday, we also let you compare today’s total to Monday last week, the week before, and so on for the past month. You can gauge how your site is doing and see if your sparkly new content is making the difference you’re hoping it does. It shows if you’ve had a good day compared to your usual days.

  1. Average amount of time your visitors are spending on each page.  There’s more to understanding a page than just seeing how many people are there – let average engaged minutes help you understand how much they really like it – like, this very second.

Oh, and there’s more! Check out the Content View in your dashboard. See that list of pages? Below each one, you’ll see how many visitors are on that page (like you always could), but now zero in on that nifty little click icon on the right.

That’s the average engaged time for that page – and you can compare and contrast to see which of your pages are doing well at keeping people’s attention.

See a page that’s getting a ton of engagement? Click on that.

This is your Page View that has detailed information on its traffic and engagement. Right under your usual traffic timeline, you get a timeline of average engagement over the course of the day. And that number on the right? That’s the total amount of engaged time it’s gotten today.

Now do something about it

You know what everything is, so let’s talk about how you should put it into action.

Picture a page on your site with particularly low traffic. It happens to all of us. But then you notice that this page has ridiculously high engagement compared to your other pages. People are into this page, way into this page. The people who come to it aren’t just bouncing off, but actually sticking around to check out the content you’ve crafted.

A page with high engagement but low traffic

You made this, so give yourself a pat on the back. But then get back to work.

You need to make sure other people see this page too, so send it to everyone you know: put it on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure people notice it on your homepage. Figure out what it is about this page that’s keeping people engaged and apply that genius to the rest of the content.

Oh, but you work isn’t done with that one page. Not when you notice something about another one of your pages – that one that you’ve known to have a ton of traffic, so you generally left it alone.

The flip side: high traffic with low engagement

But, now that you have Engaged Time, you see it has really low engagement. So, there’s something about it that’s drawing people in – maybe a good title, an interesting topic, or you got lucky with a link from Reddit. But the low engagement stats are showing you that it just isn’t keeping people’s attention. Is it the writing? Do you need to spice it up? If your traffic is coming from a link, do you need something that’s more interesting to visitors from that other site?

The possibilities to awesome-up your pages are endless. In fact, our Chartcorps team is hosting a weekly virtual workshop for you to get the full rundown of all the new dashboard can do. Sign up!

How are you hoping to/already using Engaged Time as the ultimate kick-ass metric?

Metrics that Matter & the Death of the Page View

Page views are a pain in the ass. It’s the metric that lies behind so many of the bad design decisions on the web. Time on page is too. The way it’s been measured has often been more akin to a finger in the air than the solid metrics we expect. Neither really take into consideration how users are actually viewing information – from social to mobile – or at least not well.

As Lewis DVorkin states in his latest Forbes piece, “the page view engagement metric of the last decade served its purpose.” He’s right. It did. But now, RIP Page Views. It’s time for us to move on and start using metrics that truly matter to your site’s performance – those are the metrics that tell the full story of your content.

That full story is not told in a page view. Sure, it might tell you that you’re awesome at driving traffic to your site, but beyond that…? What kind of traffic? The right kind, the kind what will come back, the kind that will genuinely engage, share, and chat about you?

We, the Chartbeat crew, are pretty certain the future lies in engagement. Engagement – or specifically a new metric we’re rolling out called engaged minutes – is all about how and how long someone is actually, actively engaged with your content. It’s about knowing precisely what that user is engaging with and how. For instance, is this page linkbait, driving clicks but no engagement? Or is this piece of content a slow burner that’s hidden behind a bad headline, so readers have a tough time finding it, but when they do, they love and engage with it? If so, it might be time to change how you position and promote those stories as a result.

And that’s the point, right? To take action and make decisions. That’s why you’re using real-time data, to adapt and react to who is engaging with your content and how, whether those actions are immediate or longer-term. And you can’t take meaningful action on page views.

So, please pack up your things, page views. Engaged minutes is on its way to usurp your throne.

Better Know a Chartbeat – Engagement Module

In the first installment of our “Better Know a Chartbeat*” series, I’d like to take a look at one of the powerful modules that is unique to chartbeat, the “Engagement Module.” 

Historically, most people define “Engagement” at a site level using traditional analytics metrics like Session Duration, Page Views Per Session, Bounce Rates and others.  And they’re right to focus on these metrics.  Long-term improvements in these core measurements are and should be extremely important to site editors.

However, there are many important and timely page-specific engagement questions that traditional analytics tools and metrics prove largely incapable of answering (and due to the limitations of the ways they get their measurements, won’t be able to answer).

  • Are people sufficiently engaged with a page or is it just sitting idle on their browsers?
  • How much of the page do people actually look at?
  • Are people coming to the page and leaving quickly?
  • Are people spending as much time on the page as I think they should?

The chartbeat “Engagement” module, by design, provides site editors with the numbers needed to get greater page-specific insight.  After pivoting on a page (by clicking on one of the articles in the “Top Pages” module), the engagement module that pops up on the left is broken up into three sections: Reading/Writing/Idle, Minutes on Page, and Scroll Depth.

Reading/Writing/Idle
These dials enable site editors to see what visitors are actually doing on the page; specifically, has there been any kind of activity that would suggest engagement such as mouse movement or scrolling, typing, or just letting the page remain idle or in a different tab.  Knowing this can be very powerful:

  • High percentages of engaged (reading + writing) users, but fewer total viewers may mean that page is a great candidate for promotion or change of title
    • You’re hiding a great story under a bad headline or bad visibility
  • Lots of people writing could indicate that the page’s content resonates particularly strongly with visitors
  • Higher percentages of idle users might mean that the story isn’t as engaging as you originally thought

Minutes on Page
The next section provides a histogram of how long the visitors currently on the page have been there, broken out by their level of interaction.  With this breakdown, site editors should be thinking:

  • How long are visitors actually engaged on this page?
  • Are people spending as long as they should on this page?
  • Are people leaving the page too quickly (i.e. not sticking around after the 1st minute)?

Scroll Depth
This section provides a vertical histogram indicating how far down people are scrolling on the particular page with brighter colors indicating a higher concentration of users in that region (it’s also annotated with the number of visitors in that bucket).  Take a close look at the numbers:

  • Are visitors seeing the whole article?
  • Are visitors getting to important links and videos?
  • What’s the best place to put ads?

Getting a feel for these numbers, and recognizing when they are indicating unusual and actionable levels of engagement (positive or negative), should help editors figure out what they can do to take advantage of or fix “Engagement” abnormalities (and measure the results of those actions).  Of course, there are many other quesitons to think about in addition to the ones we posed above and many other key insights to be extracted from the engagement module.

But the most important point we wanted to drive home is that “Engagement” should not be thought of as purely a site-level concept, but that by using and understanding the power of chartbeat, it is possible and easy to understand “Engagement” at the page-level.

Are you using the engagement module in interesting and exciting ways?  We’d love to hear from you.  Shoot us an email at blog@chartbeat.com

P.S. For another interesting view of engagement, try clicking on the engagement module.

* Our homage to Mr. Colbert