Follow these expert tips to boost your average session duration

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In today’s attention deficit world, keeping people engaged with your website is a numbers game.

But how do you know if your website is engaging? How can you tell if it’s of any value to your customers?

Dive into your Google Analytics dashboard, and you’ll discover two metrics called Average Session Duration and Average Time on Page. These metrics describe how long a user spends on your website or an individual page, clicking around, reading, and then eventually, leaving.

 Average session duration


But why do we care how long a user spends on our website?

If you’re not tracking and trying to improve these metrics, you might be failing to understand what users want from your business.

And if you don’t understand what your customers want, then your business won’t be able to thrive!

Think about it in real-world terms. You enter a luxurious boutique, where the whole store is laid out logically. The sales rack is at the back, the new stock is at the front, and if you need to search for something, you can easily ask the assistant on hand. You stay for a while, trying on items and indulging in the boutique experience.

It’s the exact same scenario with your website.

Are people sticking around to enjoy the personalised boutique experience?

Or are they exiting after 30 seconds, unimpressed with your offerings, and at a loss as to where to find the shoe section?

If you answered yes to the latter, it’s high time we optimised your website for quality engagement.

 

How can you win? 

No one metric in Google Analytics is going to give you an accurate reflection of your user’s experience. That’s why you need to consider bounce rate, sessions, and all the other metrics together, to give you an accurate representation of engagement levels on your website.

 Google analytics dashboard

 

Did you know engagement metrics are a part of SEO?

Just as you care how long your customers stay within your virtual storefront, so too does Google. In fact, session duration is one of Google’s ranking signals. Too short, and it indicates that website content might not serve a user’s purpose. 

To dive deeper, let’s explore the advice from other industry pros.

 

10 Expert Tips For an Engaging, Profitable Website



Learn their native tongue (aka: don’t use memes for lawyers)

“One of the key elements to keeping your audience engaged on your website is to speak their language. By this, we mean using specific words, a tone of voice and anecdotes which your audience can directly relate to. 

To do this, you need to completely understand who your target market is and understand that you might have multiple personality types within this market. We recommend creating a few profiles outlining the habits of an ideal customer. You might like to include their name, age, gender, education, hobbies and occupation. Where do they shop? What problem do they have which you can help solve? Once these profiles have been established, you’re one step closer to understanding how to speak to your audience.

You wouldn’t write copy for a financial analyst in the same way you would for a company selling dance wear and lingerie! And this is why it’s so important to consider your target market and the language in which they use every single day. If the language is not well aligned with your brand, or is not emotive, people will not be inclined to stay engaged and this may result in them clicking that ‘X’ button out of your website.”

Catherine Falalis, Content Savvy 


Add videos to your content mix

“You’ll have to embed the video so when it’s clicked, it doesn’t take you elsewhere (like YouTube). Limit the videos to one per page and no longer than like 3 minutes TOPS, otherwise it will end up slowing down the page load, which can cause users to exit your website.”

Jessica Mercedes, Bizz to Bliss


Psssst: did you know Google calculates time differently to you and I? Learn all about it in the video below!


Waffles are for breakfast, not your website

“The copy needs to be useful above all. There are so many listicles that spend a long time building tone when realistically the user is there to get s*** done. Super clear headings help (because let’s face it, most people will only skim). That’s my 2 cents as a sceptical copywriter!”

Katie Daviis of Good Words Copywriting

 MElissa ambrosini knows how to cut to the chase.

MElissa ambrosini knows how to cut to the chase.

Fix your broken links!

“Broken links mean more work for the potential client who now has to try and figure out how to get to the page they originally wanted to get to. If it’s not easy to navigate, they’ll exit your website.”

Jessica Murko, UX Designer



Design for all stages of the sales funnel

“Improving your average session duration is all about user experience, which means you’ll need to conduct research to understand your users so you’re able to craft a website that meets their needs.

Also, it’s important to track the right metrics depending on the stage your user is at. In this case session duration would be related to the stage “engagement”. There’s also the awareness stage to take into account when designing your website. Are people simply leaving your website because they can’t understand right away how you can help them? If your users leave at the awareness stage, it’s not even worth exploring the following stages because they’ll leave before even having a chance to engage.” 

Ana Santos, UX Consultant

 

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Creative click-worthy CTAs

“One way to keep website users engaged and interacting with your website is to have a good call-to-action (or CTA) plan. A CTA is basically a button/link on your website that sends people to another section or page of your site. For example, throughout your blog post you may mention another post that you wrote. You would hyperlink or add a button that sends people to that other post and this keeps them 'doing something' on your site. You should always be encouraging people to move around, read different pages, fill in a form, or download a document. It gives them something to do other than just reading information. People are time poor, so if they don't find the info they're looking for in a matter of seconds because there's no 'instructions', they’ll bail pretty quickly.”

Karlie Plowman of Techno Bird


 

Woo with an authentic, engaging brand voice

“Spending the time to develop an interesting, intriguing or entertaining brand voice goes a helluva long way. Behind every big oak desk is still a living, breathing, occasionally inappropriate at family gatherings person.  So, no matter your target market, one thing’s for sure: no one connects on an emotional level with cardboard language. Do not, I repeat, do not morph into a robot as soon as you pull on your Official Business Hat.  Instead, increase time spent on your website by speaking to your readers in a cleverly formulated tone of voice that makes people (shock) actually find reading fun.”

Danielle Read, Copywriter at Read City Writing (who’s nailed her engaging brand voice quite nicely. See below!)

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👯 Samantha and Cam were inseparable.  Sisters first, but everyone just assumed they were best friends.  The truth is, they were. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So when the two decided to start a business together, it came as no surprise to their close circles. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But after an unconventional upbringing, they were different.  Samantha kept up to date with local politics and Cam flicked through pages of travel magazines. 🕵️‍♂️ ✈️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ... What on earth could they have a shared passion for? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 👉 Remember a couple of days ago when we were talking about connecting with your audience through addressing the reader first-hand or not? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you missed it, she's the beauty of a pic with a mustard cardi and bouquet. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Here's your second example. by addressing the subjects as people other than the reader, we're still interested to find out more, right? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We're still motivated to feel something towards the story and to know what comes next. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When it comes to your business's copy (website copy, advertising, descriptions...), how are you connecting with your audience? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📸: Style and A Fashion

A post shared by Gold Coast Copywriter (@readcity) on



Speed up the snail pace

“Slow site? You won’t just be punished by Google, but readers too. Even though the average mobile landing page takes 22 seconds to load, users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 

That’s way harsh, I know. 

But let’s say you’re a fashion blogger who uploads images to your blog straight from your smartphone. The result? By the time your post loads – providing your readers are indeed still on your blog – they may only have time to skim the post, find your affiliate link, then leave your blog to purchase your recommendation, IF you’re lucky. 

You can’t establish a relationship with your readers if they’re not sticking around on your website, and you’ll find it hard to build an audience! 

If you want to increase your reach and monetisation opportunities, you have to get to know your readers, and you can’t do that with a slow site. So how do you fix it? Optimise images by using JPG over PNG files, and simplify webpage design by reducing elements and features on each page like Flash. If you use Wordpress make sure you do a Plugin audit and delete all the ones you don’t use.”  

Nicole George, The Girl With the Most Cake

 



Empathy, empathy, empathy

“Wouldn’t it be great when someone visits your website it was as if you’d read their mind and answered all of their questions - before they had even asked them. 

Spoiler alert: By doing some research on Google you really can do that! 

Great value content keeps web visitors on your site for longer, while positioning yourself as an expert at the same time (win, win). 

First step - Grab a sheet of paper and start writing out all the questions you hear over and over again from customers. 

Now, type each question into Google. Check out what suggestions Google makes (through autofill in the search box and at the bottom of the results page).  

Another way to do this is by downloading the free chrome plugin Keywords Everywhere. This nifty little search addition shows you similar search terms, and how many people search it every month.   

Once you know what people are asking Google, you can tailor your content – blog posts, freebies and FAQ - to answer those exact queries.  Once people realise your website is packed full of great content - they’ll check out more pages of your site and start coming back regularly to see what else you’ve posted.”  

Anna Czermak of Shine Communication


Use heat maps

My tip? Use heat maps, one of the most insightful analytics tools that allows you to see how users interact with your website. Heat maps show you exactly where users are clicking on your page. Pretty cool, right? The screenshot below is from Sumo, who’ve now sadly discontinued their free heat maps. Check out Hot Jar, Crazy Egg or Lucky Orange for their monthly plans, starting from as low as US$9.

 An example of a heat map
 

There are so many different ways that you can try to keep your customers engaged and clicking on your website. Remember: what’s worked before might not always work, so continue to keep testing, innovating and keeping on top of the latest digital marketing trends.

I'm Camilla Peffer, and I'm a Melbourne copywriter who creates engaging, results-driven content for fashion and lifestyle brands. From website copywriting, to fashion copywriting, content strategies and SEO audits, I've created clicks and conversions for the likes of Sportsgirl, Seed Heritage, CoYo, Ralph Lauren and Politix. Want to work together? Reach out! I'd love to hear about your next project.