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GA4 Engagement Rate: What it is & How it’s Important

GA4 has thrown a spanner in the works for those of us marketers who have been in the business for decades *ahem – no, I won’t reveal my age*.

It’s meant many of us have had to relearn a tool we have been using for a long time, which includes understanding some of the newer KPI metrics that came with it. And one of those that has surged up the ranks is Engagement Rate.

Engagement Rate is a really useful KPI to understand how well your website or landing page is performing. It has usurped Bounce Rate, and in this post, we’re going to explain how it works, how it’s calculated and how to utilise it to improve your marketing ROI.

So, we’ll start with one of the most common questions…

How to Calculate Engagement Rate

Engagement rate = Number of Engaged Sessions / Total Number of Sessions * 100

Definition of an engaged session: a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least 2 pageviews or screenviews.

For example, A landing page for a construction company offering a knockdown/rebuild service received 1,000 sessions. On 150 of those sessions, users submitted their details to download a brochure.

You could work this out yourself by calculating your engagement rate, but you don’t need to because GA4 does it for you. Screenshots are available below; just keep reading.

So, what is a good engagement rate?

What is a Good Engagement Rate?

For this answer, we’re going to refer to GA4 stats. Analysing engagement rates on social media channels would provide a very different answer, and this blog post is focused on GA4, so we will keep it there so as not to confuse matters.

A good engagement rate is somewhat personal to your business. Typically, we’d suggest aiming for 60%+, but your business may have a specific niche with well-targeted marketing and might see an engagement rate of 90%+. Then that is your benchmark, and you should optimise your future marketing efforts around that score.

If you’re used to 90%, don’t launch a paid marketing campaign with a 65% engagement rate and sit back feeling secure that you’re hitting the average we mentioned above. You can do better than that.

Measure against yourself

Engagement Rate vs Bounce Rate

GA4 prefers to highlight engagement rate whereas Universal Analytics used to preference bounce rate

Engagement rate = The % of engaged sessions (positive)
Bounce rate on GA4 = The inverse of Engagement rate (negative)

Bounce rate on Universal Analytics = The % of sessions that were not engaged (negative)
Definition of engagement on UA: The user visited more than 1 page

We want to clarify that there are 2 types of bounce rates. In GA4’s dashboard, Bounce Rate and Engagement Rate mirror each other. Ie. You may have a 70% engagement rate and a 30% Bounce Rate.
In Universal Analytics, the bounce rate was calculated differently.

Here is a client whose website had an average bounce rate of 44.26%, according to GA4 for Nov 2022.

a screenshot of bounce rate from GA4

For the same period of time, Universal Analytics provides a different bounce rate of 76.15%. An enormous difference.

a screenshot of bounce rate from Universal Analytics

To put it another way:
Bounce rate on GA4: The % of users who weren’t engaged (spent <10secs on site, didn’t convert, didn’t view other pages)
Bounce rate on UA: The % of users who only visited 1 page

The old Universal Analytics Bounce rate relied on page views:
“Bounce rate is… the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.” (source)

This means that a user could count as a bounce because they didn’t visit another page, but what if you didn’t need them to?

But GA4’s analytics offer a more nuanced perspective. For example, with the addition of the scroll event, those who previously were considered a bounce because they viewed but did not click are now considered to have engaged with the content.

Therefore, ‘engagement rate’ becomes a useful metric.

How to view Engagement Rate and Bounce Rate in GA4

Google has information on how to include engagement and bounce rate in the same dashboard report together here – https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/12195621

a screenshot of engagement rate against bounce rate from GA4

In the example below, this client’s homepage has an engagement rate of 72% and a bounce of 28%.

If they focus on the negative, they could view this as only 30% of their users went beyond the homepage.
OR
They could view it as 70% of users completed an action that considered them an ‘engaged user’ – ie. they spent longer than 10 seconds on the site, they completed a conversion, or something else.

a screenshot of a homepage bounce rate and engagement rate

UA’s Bounce Rate was useful to understand if there was a problem with your site or landing page. But, with GA4 now reporting bounce rate as the inverse of engagement rate, there is little use in including the stat in your KPIs. Engagement rate is a far more useful stat to measure and benchmark for.

If you build a landing page and the engagement rate is below the engagement rate KPI for other pages, then it needs to be addressed. Calculating the bounce rate for it is now redundant.

For example, this client’s top landing pages has one that stands out. The engagement rate is lower than the others. It could mean this page is a candidate for an A/B test to improve conversion rate.

a screenshot of website pages engagement rate

If you would like help understanding your website’s KPIs and how you can enhance your marketing spend more efficiently, we’d love to discuss it with you.

Our digital marketing experts can offer a free strategy session to help you assess the digital marketing needs of your business. Find out more here.

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Growth in numbers translates to growth in business, learn about the digital marketing KPI’s that can dramatically boost your business trajectory.

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