Google Analytics 4, also known simply as “GA4,” is the latest iteration of Google Analytics. (The previous version, which was technically Google Analytics 3, is most commonly referred to as “Universal Analytics.”) GA4 is drastically different than Universal Analytics; in fact, the differences could fill a book. Today, we’re going to focus on just one, engagement rate, of Google Analytics 4’s new feature.
Engagement rate essentially takes the place of bounce rate in Google Analytics. To be clear, in GA4, bounce rate does not exist; however, it is still available in Universal Analytics. If you aren’t familiar with bounce rate in Google Analytics, be sure to read What is Bounce Rate?
In GA4 Bounce Rate is Retired—Why?
Before we get into what is engagement rate in Google Analytics 4, let’s talk about why in GA4, bounce rate is going away. Now, Google doesn’t typically come out and explicitly explain themselves. It’s sort of like when you were a kid and your parents’ “reason” for telling you to do something was “because I said so.” That means, the reason Google is retiring bounce rate in Google Analytics is just speculation by digital marketing and digital analytics experts.
The speculated reason is that bounce rate is simply too problematic of a metric, especially in this age of single page applications and websites. Bounce rate in Google Analytics implies that a visit is only valuable if it leads to the visit of another page. That isn’t necessarily true.
Bounce rate doesn’t tell you what, if anything, someone did while on that single page. For example, what if they filled out a form, watched a video, or called the phone number in the footer? Those are all potentially valuable actions that bounce rate doesn’t take into account.
Overall, bounce rate in Google Analytics can be a pretty misleading number that people tend to get hung up on. At St. Gregory, we’ve had clients express anxiety when they see high bounce rates on a page … even when that page also has a high conversion rate. This comes from a lack of understanding as to what bounce rate in Google Analytics really means.
What is Engagement Rate, Google Analytics 4 Feature?
Engagement rate Google Analytics 4 feature is a percentage that represents the ratio of engaged sessions to total sessions.
And yes, that definition calls for another definition. What is an engaged session? A website (or app) visit qualifies as being “engaged” when any of the following occur:
- The webpage or app is active for a minimum of 10 seconds.
- A conversion event is triggered.
- Two or more page views occur.
So, let’s say you had 2,000 website visits yesterday and of those 200 checked one (or more) of the boxes above and was labeled as “engaged.”
To find the engagement rate, you’d simply divide 200 by 2,000. That means the engagement rate Google Analytics 4 percentage is 10%. In other words, 10% of all of your site’s sessions yesterday were engaged.
Is Engagement Rate in Google Analytics 4 Important?
Just as with bounce rate in Google Analytics, the answer is “maybe.” It’s really going to depend on the particular webpage or app. There are definitely potential problems with this metric.
For example, what if the entire high engagement rate in Google Analytics 4 for a particular page is composed of visits that had the page active for 10 seconds? Ten seconds is not that long to be active on a web page. Does 10 seconds of simply looking at a screen and not switching to another tab really indicate engagement let alone value?
However, along that same line of thought, since 10 seconds isn’t that long, a very low engagement rate may indicate an issue with the page, especially if the sessions are high.
All in all, our recommendation would be to not look at engagement rate in a vacuum. In other words, use this metric along with other metrics to determine the effectiveness of a webpage or app.
Have more questions about Google Analytics 4? At St. Gregory, our Google Analytics certified digital marketing team can help you start the transition to GA4 or troubleshoot an existing implementation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.