If you’re an ambitious marketer, the shift from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 has probably caught you by surprise. Where’s the bounce rate? Why is the focus on the GA4 engagement rate now? Many questions need answers.
The disorientation caused by all these new metrics and the confusing interface affect the performance of your campaigns. You have no idea if your content is hitting the mark. And you’re starting to lose track of the traffic quality.
Will this situation erode the hard-earned trust of your team and superiors? Other marketers are already bragging on social media about using GA4 to drive profit like never before. But you still feel pretty much unsettled with this new platform. How will this impact your career?
It’s actually easy to get back on track. Once you realize how the whole perspective on web analytics has changed with Google Analytics 4, you’ll prefer the GA4 engagement rate metric to the bounce rate (which is now in GA4 too).
By effectively using the engagement rate in GA4, you can optimize traffic quality, find the most profitable traffic sources for your content, and maximize user satisfaction. Throughout this article, I’ll help you with that. You’ll learn the best ways to use engagement rate in GA4 as a marketer, so you can earn the team’s trust and boost your career.
Table of Contents:
- What is the Engagement Rate in GA4?
- Where Can You Find Your Engagement Rates in Google Analytics 4?
- What Is a Good Engagement Rate in GA4?
- 3 Ways To Benefit from GA4 Engagement Rate Like an Expert Marketer
- Start Learning How To Use GA4 and Boost Your Career In Marketing
What is the Engagement Rate in GA4?
Let’s start by explaining what exactly the engagement rate in Google Analytics 4 is and why you should care about it. Simply put, this metric shows you the percentage of ‘engaged’ sessions on your website. Such sessions fulfilled at least one of the following criteria:
- Lasted longer than 10 seconds
- Triggered a conversion event
- The user viewed two or more pages
Let’s put this in context:
For instance, if a user hops onto your website, skims through a blog post for 8 seconds, and leaves without visiting any other pages or triggering events, their session won’t qualify as engaged. But if they stayed for 11 seconds, it would.
Here’s a simple formula you can use to perform the engagement rate calculation quickly:
Engagement Rate = (Number of Engaged Sessions / Total Sessions) x 100
Keeping an eye on your engagement rate helps you determine the quality of traffic you attract. Ideally, you want every visitor to actively interact and engage with your content rather than passively skim through or leave quickly. Of course, this expectation is unrealistic. But the main thing to remember is that a high engagement rate shows you’re hitting the mark with your content and targeting efforts.
Imagine you run an e-commerce store selling handmade crafts. After switching to GA4, you will find that the engagement rate for your blog section is 70%. This means that a significant chunk of visitors, 7 out of every 10, are genuinely interested in your content. They’re possibly reading through your craft-making guides, checking out multiple related articles, or watching tutorial videos for longer than a fleeting moment. You’re doing great; people love your content. And your store will probably pop up in their heads when it’s time for a purchase decision.
But what if your engagement rates are low? Don’t worry. I’ll show you simple ways to improve engagement rates later in this article.
What’s the connection between bounce rates and engagement rates in Google Analytics 4?
When Google Analytics 4 was first launched, you were probably surprised that there was no bounce rate metric. But even now that we have a GA4 bounce rate (Google brought it back after negative reactions), you might have noticed that this metric shows different data than it used in Universal Analytics.
Everything is fine with your setup. It’s just that the bounce rate is calculated differently now. In GA4, the bounce rate is the inverse opposite of the engagement rate:
Engagement Rate + Bounce Rate = 100%
They’re like the opposite sides of the same coin. So, if you’re already using engagement rate, you don’t necessarily need to track your bounce rate – and vice versa.
I know your first instinct might be to stick with the good old bounce rate and dump the GA4 engagement rate. But this is usually a BIG MISTAKE.
Let me tell you why…
This Is Actually a GREAT Change – GA4 Engagement Rates Allow Us To Focus On Positives
When Google Analytics 4 rolled out, as a digital marketing agency owner deeply invested in Universal Analytics, I felt like I was pulled out of a familiar dream. The metrics I used to rely on were either replaced or modified. One of the most significant transitions was from bounce rate to engagement rate in GA4.
My agency and I have been using Universal Analytics for years, both for our website and for our clients. We strongly relied on its data when crafting marketing strategies. Everything was going great. The bounce rate was particularly significant – a direct indicator of pages where users landed and almost immediately decided to leave.
However, as website design and functionality kept evolving, I had my hunches that the bounce rate was becoming an outdated metric. Websites started becoming more dynamic and more interactive. A user could spend 10 minutes on a single page, engaging with content, and still be marked as a ‘bounce.’ There was a mismatch, a gap between what the metric portrayed and reality.
Yes, it’s hard to admit that a tool you’ve leaned on might be outdated is not an easy realization. And It’s even harder to adapt to a new system. What helped me start to love the engagement rate in Google Analytics 4 was realizing the following:
“Now I can better focus on the pages that resonate with my audience. The content that delivers results.”
The whole perspective has changed with GA4 in a more positive direction. Instead of breaking your head over a few pages with high bounce rates, now you can use the engagement rate metric to discover which type of content works BEST for your target audience. You can then produce more similar content or adapt your old pieces to maximize user satisfaction.
Soon you’ll realize that the GA4 engagement rate reflects modern users’ behavior much better than the bounce rate we all used to love in Universal Analytics.
Where Can You Find Your Engagement Rates in Google Analytics 4?
Before showing you how to use the GA4 engagement rate to drive decisions and boost visitor happiness, we need to find it within the platform first. There are two ways to check your engagement rate in GA4:
Finding Engagement Rate in Traffic Acquisition Report
The traffic acquisition report is the first place to look for engagement rates and other GA4 engagement metrics. The process is really straightforward. It takes less than a minute:
- On the left side of your GA4 interface, go to ‘Reports.’
- Click on ‘Acquisition’
- The dropdown menu will appear – click on the ‘User Acquisition’ option here
And that’s it. Within the user acquisition report, you’ll be able to see engagement rates for various channels, along with other engagement metrics (I’ll show you which ones to pay close attention to and why later in the article).
Make Engagement Rates Within A Reach By Adding Them To Your Reports
If you often check engagement rates in GA4, adding this metric to your reports will make your life easier. The thing is, most reports in Google Analytics 4 don’t include the average engagement rate by default. As I’ll show you later in the article, this metric can make your reports more insightful, so I strongly recommend adding it whenever you see fit.
To add GA4 engagement rate (or other metrics) to your sales reports, follow these simple steps:
- Ensure you have an Editor or Administrator role.
- Go to ‘Reports.’
- Select the report you want to customize (such as the Pages and Screens report).
- Choose the ‘Customize report’ option in the upper-right corner.
- Within ‘Report Data,’ select ‘Metrics.’
- Click ‘Add Metric,’ an option near the right menu’s bottom.
- Find and click on ‘Engagement Rate.’ If you can’t find it, then it’s already included in your report, and you have nothing to worry about.
- Finally, click ‘Apply’ and save your changes.
Now you’ll have much quicker access to this metric. But before I show you some cool ways you can use GA4 engagement rates in action, let’s first reveal the answer to the burning question – what is a good engagement rate in GA4?
What Is a Good Engagement Rate in GA4?
When you put your heart and soul into your website, it’s only natural to wonder if it’s engaging visitors the way you want. That’s why many marketers wonder if the engagement rate on their company’s or client’s websites is good enough. You can now prove that you’ve managed to attract the right audience to the website and that user satisfaction is high. These are strong arguments when negotiating a new salary.
So, what is a good engagement rate GA4 you should strive for? Unfortunately, as with many things in digital marketing, there’s no easy answer to this question. Your industry and target audience are just some of the many factors that play a significant role in determining a good GA4 engagement rate.
It’s also worth noting that B2B websites tend to have slightly lower engagement rates than B2C websites. This is understandable, considering the intricacy of the purchasing process, the nature of B2B products and services, and the audience itself.
However, no matter if you’re in the B2B or B2C line of business, I’d say that any engagement rate over 60% is pretty solid.
But does this mean you should measure your success purely on engagement rate? A huge no. While this metric offers significant insights, there’s a suite of other user engagement metrics that are equally important. Let me show you these in the next section.
Other GA4 Engagement Metrics You Should Check Before Making Significant Decisions
While the spotlight often falls on the engagement rate, it’s essential to consider other GA4 metrics before making impactful decisions. When used together, these metrics provide a clearer picture of website engagement. This will help you navigate the user journey with precision. You should check the following metrics:
- Engaged Session: An engaged session, as GA4 defines it, is when a visitor interacts for at least 10 seconds, views two or more pages, or triggers a conversion event. It’s a great way to gauge visitor satisfaction, giving you insights on pages that are genuinely captivating.
- Average Engagement Time: Ever wondered how long, on average, visitors are truly engaged on your site? The Average Engagement Time is your answer. For those who adore performance analytics, it’s calculated by adding up all the engagement durations and dividing by the number of active users. This metric helps you understand the depth of your content’s impact.
- Average Engagement Time Per User: Consider this your success rate for retaining individual users’ attention. It’s calculated by dividing the total user engagement duration by the number of active users. It’s your go-to for understanding if your content really resonates with your audience.
- Engaged Session Per User: Want a snapshot of how often users genuinely interact on your site during their visits? This metric divides the number of engaged sessions by the total users. It’s like gauging how often someone returns to your store and genuinely browses around, helping you understand user session quality.
Remember, while these metrics are invaluable, they’re most potent when you use them together. This way, you’ll be able to understand every twist and turn of your user journeys.
Potential Reasons Why Your GA4 Engagement Rate Is Low, And How To Improve It
Sometimes low engagement rates are inevitable, especially if your company is still trying to figure its way around. But this is not a reason to panic, as it’s usually relatively easy to pinpoint what’s preventing you from achieving high engagement rates. Here are six potential reasons for low user engagement on your website, along with solutions:
Your Content Is Not Helpful to the Target Audience:
- Problem: If visitors feel like they’ve wandered into a stranger’s party after reading just the initial lines of your blog post, they’ll likely turn heel and exit.
- Solution: Research your audience. Learn about their needs, desires, and pain points. Craft your content to directly answer their most burning questions. Aim to add true value instead of just copying your competitor’s.
Your Content Doesn’t Sound Personalized:
- Problem: Generic, one-size-fits-all content feels disconnected and impersonal.
- Solution: Make individuals feel like you’ve created content pieces just for them. Addressing their pain points and using stories they can relate to are just some ways to make your content feel more personal. If possible, you should also make personalized recommendations, offers, etc.
Walls of Text Are Scaring Visitors:
- Problem: Long, unbroken content sections look intimidating. When you see walls of text upon landing on a page, you feel like you’ll never find the information you’re looking for.
- Solution: I suggest breaking walls of text with multimedia – images, videos, and infographics. You should also utilize headers, bullet points, and white space to make content digestible and scannable. Aim for clarity, not just quantity.
Your Website Design Is Not User-friendly:
- Problem: Visitors struggle to navigate, leading to frustration and quick exits.
- Solution: Aim for a clean, intuitive design according to the latest UI/UX design trends. Test your design with target audience members to identify potential problems.
You’re Not Encouraging Interactions:
- Problem: If you give people no reason to interact with your other pages or keep reading your content, they’ll remain passive.
- Solution: Prompt actions with strategic calls to action (CTAs), enable comments, provide social sharing options, and create interactive content like quizzes or polls. You should also try opening curiosity gaps within your content in each section to hook readers.
Also, I strongly recommend using annotations in GA4 to note every change you make. This will help you keep track of the impact of these changes more easily.
3 Ways To Benefit from GA4 Engagement Rate Like an Expert Marketer
Just like with any other metric, monitoring your engagement rate won’t mean anything unless you take specific actions based on the data you collect. Data is always telling a story you must decode.
In this section, I’ll show you how you can make better decisions and boost ROI (return on investment) just by reading the story engagement rates tell. Trust me; this will help you and your team understand how people engage with your website. This is how marketing experts use GA4 engagement rate to draw insights and drive meaningful results:
Using GA4 Engagement Rate To Determine Traffic Quality and Boost ROI
Every marketer knows the pain of investing money in traffic sources that are not delivering expected results. If you’re struggling to improve traffic quality on your website, using the engagement rate in GA4 might just be the solution you were looking for.
Navigate to your Traffic acquisition report, and then you’ll see GA4 engagement metrics for different traffic channels.
What to do with all this information?
Well, if you notice that the engagement rate is highest for ‘Organic Traffic,’ put more effort into attracting this kind of traffic. And if social media is the most effective traffic source, up your game with tailored posts and ads campaigns.
Overlooking prime traffic sources means missing out on high-engagement visitors. Once you start investing more money in channels that deliver results and less in those that don’t, your return on investments will skyrocket.
If you’re itching to unlock more layers about how people interact with your website, check out my guide on using GA4 custom dimensions.
How To Keep Your Content Top-Notch With Engagement Rate Insights
Did you know that you can use engagement rate in GA4 to improve your content quality? Let me explain.
You can see which pages perform best with your audience by using a Page and screens report or Landing page report. And you can also find which pages people don’t find engaging.
Do you see where this is leading?
You can analyze content on the best-performing pages, compare it to content on low-performing pages, and see where the gaps are. I recommend making your own hypotheses and testing them. For example, you may guess that the writing style on top-performing pages suits your target audience. Then, you can edit the pages with a low engagement rate to better reflect such a writing style. If you notice improvements in engagement data, you’ve found the golden nugget.
Of course, the problem won’t be the same for all the pages across your site. But making small adjustments and observing what works will eventually help you boost your site engagement.
Start Learning How To Use GA4 and Boost Your Career In Marketing
You might feel like Google Analytics 4 is a terrible downgrade compared to Universal Analytics. This new platform is causing stress to more than half marketers I’ve talked to. Some of the most skilled professionals in the industry…
New interface, new metrics, new settings… Like it’s impossible to draw any valuable insights. A huge concern when you’re trying to progress in your career.
But GA4 is actually the most powerful analytics platform we’ve ever had.
And anyone can master it.
As a Google Analytics consultant, I’d love to help you draw powerful insights and craft profitable marketing strategies again. I’ve struggled with GA4 too. It takes months to get comfortable with it when learning on your own.
But with the right resources, you can avoid common mistakes marketers make when they switch from Universal Analytics. You can learn how to set up GA4 according to your unique needs within a week. Imagine the impact this will have on your career.
Feel free to schedule a call with me today, so we can get to know each other and discuss your personalized consulting plan. Let’s step up your web analytics game!