Universal Analytics (the version of Google Analytics we all know and love) is going away and Google has replaced it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Along with that transition, Google is getting rid of Bounces and Bounce rate and replacing them with a new metric, Engaged Sessions. If you’re like most marketers, you have a pretty intense reaction to this change. I’ve heard everything from frustration or confusion to annoyance or even anger that a metric they have relied to do their jobs and measure success would be unceremoniously dismissed in this new version of analytics.
But the reality is that the transition from bounces to engaged sessions is a good thing. Let’s dig into why, and how you can wrangle this new metric and keep your graphs going up and to the right (since unlike bounce rate, that’s the direction we want them to go).
GA4 vs. Unviersal Analytics
Before we dive into the details of Engaged Sessions, let’s quickly review the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. GA4 is designed to be more intuitive and easier to read, which allows marketers like you to get a better understanding of your marketing performance. The new Google Analytics 4 also enables users to track user-level metrics across different devices and browsers using cross-device measurement, helping you understand how consumers interact with your websites and apps during their entire customer journey.
Engaged Sessions vs. Bounces
Now that we’ve reviewed the big picture shift from Universal Analytics to GA4, let’s move on to Engaged Sessions: what it is, why it’s important, and how you can improve it on your website.
Engaged Sessions is the new metric in GA4 that replaces Bounces and Bounce Rate. Engaged Sessions measures how many of your sessions are quality sessions (i.e., with user engagement), rather than measuring how many of your sessions only included one page view.
Activities like watching a video, submitting a form or even just staying on a page for longer than 10 seconds are all forms of engagement. So this new metric fixes the problem of determining the quality of traffic you drive to pages without navigation or where every action you want to the visitor to take is right there on one page. In Universal Analytics, these pages would have really high bounce rates, and we just had to know that was OK because of the type of page it was.
The move to engaged sessions means marketers like you can better understand when visitors are actually engaging with your websites and where they’re dropping off, so you can make better decisions about marketing campaigns and focus on what’s working – rather than just focusing on whether users limited their session to a single page.
Influencing Engaged Sessions
Now let’s move onto strategies you can use to improve engagement sessions. You’ll find these are similar to tactics you might take to optimize for bounce rate, but a little more aligned with creating a great user experience. Specifically, we recommend you:
- Optimize content for mobile devices – Make sure your website looks great and functions properly across all devices.
- Add interactive elements to your pages – Adding video, audio, and other interactive elements can help keep users engaged with your content.
- Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes or surveys that help capture user attention.
- Use A/B testing to compare different versions of content and identify what works best for users.
- Make sure you have a fast loading website – Slow loading times can lead to high bounce rates and low engagement sessions.
If you look closely, you’ll note that not all of these changes would impact your bounce rate, but all of these changes will increase the effectiveness of your site. This demonstrates how the new metric is actually better aligned with your goals and a far better key performance indicator (KPI).
Yes, this is a big change. But the key benefit is you now have a metric that aligns with your goals as a marketer – to provide the best experience you can to your website visitors, regardless of the number of pages that experience might span. So go forth and create some amazing experiences and watch GA4 to see those engaged sessions roll in!