The Fine Line Between Engagement & Distraction

The Fine Line Between Engagement & Distraction

October 18th, 2012

Engagement is a magnetic “measure” of online effectiveness. You might call it an “engaging” metric. This is because it is a nice stand-in when real measures of sales, leads or subscriptions are too difficult to track or deliver disappointing results.

In general, engagement is a predictive measurement. It doesn’t tell us how much money we’re making or how many new prospects we’ve identified. In general, a high engagement rate is considered a sign that we are more likely to get more sales or more leads.

As it turns out, this is not a very good assumption.

The Fine Line Between Engagement & Distraction

The motion of a rotating header draws visitors’ attention – it engages them – but it does so at the expense of their natural page-scanning behavior. In this scenario, the rotating header (or rotating logos, or rotating testimonials) on the page tests out as a distraction, not engagement. The primary difference between an engaging feature and a distraction is that one reduces your conversion rate while one increases it.

The bottom line is this: Don’t rely on engagement statistics unless they correlate to a conversion rate. You want to be sure that engagement is predictive of conversion, and not a distraction. Engagement and conversion must move in the same direction.

Simplicity Rules For Landing Pages

If you’re driving search traffic to landing pages (as you should) distraction is more common than engagement.

The person who clicked on your PPC ad came expecting something specific. Your ad is a promise that the landing page must keep. If you place “engaging” content on a landing page, you are more likely to add to distraction.

Even things like a description of your company or your products should be well-considered before being added. If they build trust with visitors, they may be engaging and increase conversion rates. If they make the page harder to scan or obscure the key call to action, they are a distraction.

For each component you add to a landing page – or the ecommerce equivalent product page – ask yourself if that component is important to the action at hand. Does it make completing a form easier? Does it remove a barrier to clicking “Add to Cart”?

How To Use Motion To Your Benefit

Motion can be a distraction or can increase engagement depending on how you use it. Here are some good rules to follow.

  • Minimize motion of all sorts on a landing page. If you use video, repeat the page’s call to action in the video.
  • Use talking head video and whiteboard video to teach or explain concepts. These keep the attention of visitors long enough for you to tell your story.
  • Place calls to action in or near moving components.
  • Test moving components including video to ensure they are increasing engagement (conversion) and not increasing distraction.