Frank Faubert writes in …
Frank Faubert, who I referenced in my last post, wrote in and had this to say:
“I think you have a flaws in both your data collection, and in the way you are thinking about engagement. I have been subscribed to your RSS feed for quite a long time, and I read it (along with many others) on a daily basis. I also have been to your web site in the past 90 days, though admittedly I don’t visit very often — mostly just to look at the status of the current Web Analytics Wednesday events.
If asked, I would consider myself an engaged visitor of your site, as I consume all of the content that you are generating, on a daily basis. Given that you push the entirety of your post in your RSS feed, I have no need to visit your site directly. (And in fact, if you were to change this to only publish snippets of your posts via RSS to force me onto the site, I would unsubscribe.) Does the fact that I am very busy, yet I can leverage the technology of a good RSS aggregator to consume your content anyway, really make me any less engaged?”
Frank makes a few really good points so I wanted to clarify something. I chose Frank as an example in my last post since I know him to be a really good guy and someone who was likely to provide thoughtful feedback. Frank didn’t let me down.
In fact, at the present time, I can’t actually track Frank’s engagement score and tie it directly to him personally (via his email address). Here is a view of Frank’s activity on my web site over time:
As you can see, Frank must have deleted the cookie that tied his email address to his site activity back in late 2005. Fair enough, Frank–I sometimes delete cookies too!
But Frank raises valid points about whether his engagement with my RSS feeds should be counted as “engaged”, and he’s absolutely correct! I’m pretty sure that Frank is located in Waltham, MA based on his attendance at the Web Analytics Wednesday event that Akin Arikan (also of Unica) hosted there awhile back. Here is a quick snapshot of activity to my site and RSS feeds from Waltham over the last eight weeks:
Clearly a few folks in Waltham are visiting the site and reading the blog, and the average engagement for visitors from Waltham is about 18 percent higher than average.
But Frank raises another really excellent point, albeit indirectly, should visitors who are actively interacting with RSS or XML-based content get a “push” in their engagement score? I mean, based on his response, Frank is doing two of the six things I have identified as “most important” on my site from a content and activity perspective (more on that in my next post), so if I could uniquely identify Frank I could vet whether his score is correct based on his description of his interaction with my site.
In reality I only provided Bill and Frank as examples to show how ultimately engagement needs to take real people’s activities into consideration, at least as the metrics are being defined and worked out. The engagement metric is really designed to be applied to dimensions other than people given that at the individual level, well, cookie deletion happens and thusly problems like the one that Frank highlights occur. Now, I suppose if you could positively identify individuals every time based on a login or customer ID that would change.
I hope I didn’t offend Bill, Frank, Robbin, or any of the other folks listed in that table as having visited my site from time-to-time. If I did, please accept my most humble of apologies. I don’t usually do this type of analysis but it helped to prove a point.
Anyway, thanks for writing in Frank and I’m glad to see you’re still reading! Hopefully we’ll get to connect next time I’m in Waltham and please give my regards to Akin, Ed, and everyone on the Unica analytics product team.