Page timing in Google Analytics is often unreliable. The timing is based off of tracking a small set of actions: pageview hits, ecommerce item/transaction hits, interactive event hits, and social media hits.
Take, for example, a website visitor. He or she reads through your site without clicking on a link or buying anything, but spends a minute and a half reading through an article on your homepage. Google Analytics would track this interaction as a bounce, not a minute and a half engagement. This can have big implications for the way you measure engagement on a page!
Why Use Engagement Timer?
We simply don’t have enough data to accurately track customer engagement out of the box in Google Analytics. There are other issues as well, including the last page exit problem. Without additional implementation, Google Analytics doesn’t include a way to track page exit for the last page someone visits on your site.
For all previous pages, Google Analytics uses the new pageload as the time for page exit. That can’t be done on the last page—and Google Analytics doesn’t have a built-in alternative.
The Engagement Timer brings precision to your time tracking unmatched in Google Analytics’ stock implementation. The Engagement Timer not only creates a Metric for your website, it also:
- Generates a Metric that can be utilized in any analytics tool not just Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager
- Uses Calculate Metrics for analysis within Session and User Level reports
- Contains the ability to easily customize what you consider engagement, as well as easily customize variance threshold
- Includes features that utilize the newest browser version capabilities, but retains support for older browsers as well (e.g. Internet Explorer versions < 9)
What does the Engagement Timer do? And why does it matter to your business?
A customer visits your site and reads a blog post. While reading, she looks through the page starting four seconds after the page finishes loading, which takes four seconds. Then, she reads for 18 seconds. After that, she scrolls through the page for 12 more seconds. Once she finishes reading, she’s on the page for another eight seconds. Then she fills out a form to create an account; it takes her 22 seconds to complete. Sixteen more seconds pass without engagement, and she leaves the site. That is the last interaction she has on your site.
(Hang with me here.)
Quick math will tell you she spent 66 seconds on your site. Google Analytics, however, would consider this 0 seconds on page. Finding out how long a user is on your site (Session Duration) and how long that user is on specific pages (Avg. Time on Page) are valuable metrics—if they are accurate. On its own, Google Analytics’ Time on Page Metric for the example is inaccurate. The user spent 66 seconds on site and GA tracked 0. This has implications for the Average Time on Page and Session Duration Metrics, essentially making these metrics useless.
Precise, Accurate Measurement
With Engagement Timer, we have taken it a step further and given functionality through Calculated Metrics for Avg. Time Engaged Per Page and Session Engaged Duration—which are even more valuable. The Engagement Timer script tracks pageload, mouseover, touchstart, touchmove and keydown events and logs when those events happen. Then it calculates the time between the first and last event tracked in the timeframe. That time is then reported at the end of the recording cycle (default is 40 seconds).
In addition, so as to not lose interaction time, it calculates the time between the first event in the current block of time and the last event in the previous block. If that gap between events is less than the interval time, that time is considered continuous engagement and is added to the total. In this example, the first report would be for 36 seconds and the second report would be for 30 seconds. When those are aggregated in Google Analytics, the total is 80 seconds.
It’s worth asking yourself: Are you tracking engagement in a meaningful way? If the answer is no, we’re here to help. Contact us and we can start the conversation about how to implement Engagement Timer on your site!