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'Fear of Engagement,' or Has Web Analytics Become Too Complex For Small Biz?
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By Rich Karpinski

First off, I know Eric Peterson and he's a good guy. His book (and Web site of the same name) Web Analytics Demystified does just that: it makes Web analytics and SEO understandable for non-experts.

Maybe that's why I found it so funny to see this formula that Eric is proposing to help companies measure customer "engagement" with their Web sites:


Ready For Some SEO Calculus (click to enlarge)?


where:


Ci - % of sessions > 5 page views
Ri – % of Ci in the last 3 weeks
Di - % of sessions > 5:00 in duration
Li = Visitor > 5 sessions total
Bi = % of “brand driven sessions
(e.g. "If you Google Eric Peterson and come to my website, you are already engaged OR from visitors that come directly")
Fi = % of qualitative feedback sessions
Li = % of sessions w/measured events
(e.g., Pre-determined non-commerce events (email me, comment on my blog, download a pdf, share a social bookmark)
Si = Visitor is a blog subscriber?


Got all that?

It certainly moves us well beyond "hits" as a metric for measuring user activity on a Web site.

"Engagement" is important because Web visitors no longer just click through Web sites. With Web 2.0 sites and applications, they linger on pages, interact with widgets and consume a wide array of media. Engagement measurement is the proposed way of keeping track of all that a user is doing on your site -- hopefully leading to some conversion, such as a registration, sign-up or a sale.

It's a valuable concept, no doubt. But is the average small business ready for it today, even if that imposing formula ends up being abstracted away into a nice, graphical Web analytics tool? Probably not.

As Eric himself would admit, there's not much use talking about next-generation Web analytics when so many companies do the last-generation so poorly.

Are *you* ready to measure user engagement with your Web site? Let us know what you think.

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