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In today’s low-attention economy, site engagement can be considered an indicator of your website’s success.

Content engagement metrics are important because they show how your content strategy aligns with user interest.

Furthermore, customer engagement is related with overall profitability, as engaged users are more likely to buy, become repeat customers, and share the product/service with other people.

Before you decide on the specific user engagement metrics you want to track, you have to determine which ones make the most sense for your business.

Here are some of the most common (and most important) user engagement metrics.

1. Pageviews What are Pageviews?

Pageviews, sessions, and users are the most common metrics used to indicate traffic on your website. Pageviews are the most basic of all user engagement metrics, measuring an instance of a user visiting a particular page on your website.

Measuring pageviews can help you to understand how often people visit your website. A higher number can be assumed to be an indicator of interest and/or good SEO practices, since search engines are often the biggest drivers of traffic to websites.

Conversely, pageviews can also indicate that people are poking around your website because they can’t find anything.

Pageviews show traffic but without tying in the context of other related metrics, they can’t help you to fully understand the meaning behind these numbers.

How to Track Pageviews

You can use Google Analytics to track most user engagement metrics. It is perhaps the most comprehensive free analytics software tool available.

As a simple rule of thumb, when your pageviews increase, it means that the changes you implemented must be working — at least in terms of driving traffic.

How to Optimize/Improve Pageviews

An increase in pageviews can be an indicator of good SEO practices.

Some things you can do to increase pageviews:

Promote your website: Get the word out on social media, guest blogging, and related forums.

2. Time on Page

With so many websites churning out content on a regular basis, gaining an understanding of how much time people actually spend on your content has become an important user engagement metric.

There are two ways to look at time spent:

Micro view: time spent on page

Macro view: the average session duration or average time spent on site

What is Time Spent on Page?

It’s fairly straightforward: the time spent on page user engagement metric measures the time a user spends on a page on your website.

This metric provides an indication of interest.

What is Average Session Duration?

Average Session Duration (formerly known as Average Time Spent on Site) measures the length of an average session (Session Duration), over a specific time period, divided by the total number of sessions over a specific time period.

Session refers to a group of user interactions with your website. The average session duration refers to the total time spent on your website. This is different from time spent on page because it tracks all the activity a visitor has completed on your website versus tracking just the time spent on a certain page.

How to Track Time Spent

You can use Google Analytics to track how much time people spend on your website. You can find both average session duration metrics under the ‘Acquisition’ tab.

For example: if a page was viewed at 9:23 am and the next one was viewed at 9:26 am, the time spent on page for the first page is 3 minutes.

The problem with using timestamps to track activity is that it cannot track the time spent on the exit page. The exit page is the last page the visitor sees before they exit the website completely.

This means that if a visitor spends 5 minutes on your website but does not visit another page, Google Analytics has no way of knowing or recording this.

So if someone only visited one page and exited it, Google Analytics records the session duration as 0 — regardless of how much time they actually spent on your website.

Thus, the values of average session duration and time spent on page reported are usually lower than what they actually are and should not be taken at face value.

Instead, look at the distribution of session duration data to have a better idea of the typical session — and remove outliers.

What Counts Toward Time Spent?

Many people wonder about what exactly counts toward the time spent on site user engagement metric. Website parking occurs when you open a tab and leave it open to read later on.

The answer is that it depends on how the Google Analytics code is triggered and how fast it is sent to Google Analytics.

Additionally, Google answers, “By default, a session lasts until there’s 30 minutes of inactivity, but you can adjust this limit so a session lasts from a few seconds to several hours”.

A similar question you may have: does watching video count toward time on site? The answer? Yes! Google Analytics tracks interaction events, or events where a user interacted with the website.

How to Optimize/Improve Time Spent on Page

Because every website is different (in terms of industry, size, optimization), you should focus on comparing your current website statistics to your own past data.

On the Primary Dimension field, choose Page. Then, make your way to the Advanced filtering option. Choose to filter by Unique Pageviews, then choose a number to match up against.

You’ll see the average time spent on page change.

If you know that your average blog post is about 500 words, and your readers spend between 1-2 minutes reading them, then you’re in a good range.

But if they spend less time on the page, then analyze what could be making them exit prematurely: Is it your writing style? Does your page take a long time to load?

How to Optimize/Improve Average Session Duration

Session durations are a little harder to optimize. Because it measures more of a macro view, there are different considerations than that of time spent on page.

For one, you need to consider the overall user experience on your site. This includes:

The variety and value of content on your site.

Ease of navigation on your site and user site experience.

Clear calls-to-action (CTAs).

If you’re able to optimize these three things, you may see average session duration rise.

3. Bounce Rate

Closely related to time spent is the bounce rate. A common trend observed is that the bounce rate is inversely proportional to the average session duration: as the bounce rate increases, the average session duration decreases.

What Is Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a website that exit after only viewing one page. The bounce rate gives an indication of how good your content is, because if people are leaving without taking action, then your content isn’t doing its job.

People may bounce for several reasons:

Your CTA/offer isn’t clear.

Your content/offer isn’t what they expected.

They got bored.

You’re not offering something different.

While it is important to measure how engaged your visitors are, it’s also important to measure how unengaged your visitors are.

You might have high traffic numbers but if you also have high bounce rates, this means your content isn’t engaging enough to make website visitors stick around.

How to Track Bounce Rate

Recall that using Google Analytics can be slightly problematic because you need a trigger event so that Google Analytics won’t count an early exit towards your bounce rate.

Aside from Google Analytics, you can use the SimilarWeb tool to track bounce rates and even size yours up against your competitors.

How to Improve Bounce Rate

Look at your pages with high engagement and low bounce rates. Try to determine what you did right on the page that could be applied to other pages.

Similar to Average Session Duration, some specific ways you can lower bounce rates:

Deliver on your content. Be reliable, helpful, and memorable.

Use clear CTAs.

4. Top Exit Pages What is the Top Exit Page?

Exit pages are the last pages accessed before leaving a website. The exit rate measures the percentage of people that leave your website from the exit page.

The exit pages (and subsequently, the exit rates) are related to bounce rates in that they both consider the last pages a visitor goes to on a website.

The main difference between these user engagement metrics?

The bounce rate takes into consideration the number of visitors that exit your website after visiting a single page.

Calculating the exit rate can be helpful, especially when your website encourages customers to follow a certain path (the buyer’s journey). Knowing your top exit pages can help you make sense of why your exit rate is the way it is.

Some pages are designed to have high exit rates, like your contact page, or a “Thank You” page. When a page is designated as an exit page, a high exit rate indicates that customers completed the desired action.

A high exit rate on a non-exit page can be caused by:

Poorly organized information on your website (hierarchical issues).

Missing CTA (so the person just exits the website).

Overwhelming amount of information.

Lacking/Missing information.

How to Track Top Exit Pages

There, you’ll see the number of exits, the number of pageviews, and the exit rate (% Exit). To calculate the exit rate, divide the number of times a visitor exits a particular page by the total number of page views.

It’s worth noting that a high exit rate is correlated to time on page values that vary a lot, and can, in fact, contribute to bloated data.

How to Optimize/Improve Top Exit Pages

Carefully plan your user flow/journey so that you can plan for which pages should have high exit rates.

Since top exit pages and exit rates are related to bounce rates, to optimize them, you have to:

Improve your content.

Improve site usability/information organization.

Have clear CTAs.

5. Pages per Session What is Pages per Session?

Another way of measuring interest in your content is pages per session, or the number of unique page visits per session.

From a business perspective, the higher the pages per session metric, the better. This is because a high pages per session count shows that your website visitors looked around and visited more than one page – truly engaging with your website.

Bounce rates are similar to pages per session, but while bounce rates look at the next step (or page), pages per session looks at the whole path the visitor follows.

How to Track Pages per Session

To calculate the number of pages per session, take the sum of the number of pages each user visited and divide it by the total number of sessions.

A high value of pages per session does not necessarily mean that people are interested in your content – that’s why it is important to look at pages per session in conjunction with average session duration and bounce rate.

A page with high pages per session – but low session duration and bounce rate – can indicate page flipping behavior due to disinterest, irrelevant content, or difficulty in navigating your website.

How to Optimize/Improve Pages per Session

Provide ‘next steps’, or content that aligns with visitor interest. Align your content hierarchy/flow with the buyer’s journey.

6. Page/Scroll Depth What is Page/Scroll Depth?

Page (or scroll) depth measures how thoroughly your audience consumes your content by tracking where on the page they stop reading.

This can indicate two things:

Readability: If your content is easy to read, people will go further down the page.

Interest: It is assumed that the further people scroll down your page, the more they want to consume your content.

How to Track Page/Scroll Depth

Google Analytics does not have a built-in option to measure scroll depth, which is why you have to install the Scroll Depth Google Analytics plugin to enable tracking.

The plugin tracks the percentage of your page where visitors stop: 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% depth, as well as which elements they scroll to, and pixel depth.

Pixel depth provides an absolute measure of where the audience stops, comparing this across devices where screen heights vary. The plugin sends the data to Google Analytics via Events.

Another option is to use Google Tag Manager. Just like the Scroll Depth plugin, it allows you to track pixel and percentage depth.

How to Improve Page/Scroll Depth

Consider the elements that correlate to the various scroll depths where people drop off:

What’s happening?

Is there something about the page that’s negatively impacting user experience?

Is content starting to fall flat as visitors make their way deeper into an article?

Armed with the data and understanding you now have behind the most popular user engagement metrics, you’ll have multiple options to approach fixing this problem.

7. Unique Visitors What Is a Unique Visitor?

Unique visitor is a term used to refer to a person that visits a website at least once during the reporting period. Google puts more emphasis on tracking page views (or visits) but the unique visitors metric shows how many individuals your website actually reaches.

How to Track Unique Visitors

Whenever you visit a website, Google Analytics assigns you a client ID that is stored in a cookie in your browser. This client ID is unique to every browser and not IP address, so if you visit a website using another browser, Google Analytics will recognize you as another unique user.

This can pose a problem or report inaccurate results because of situations such as:

Multiple people in a household sharing one computer. There may be multiple visitors but only one is registered.

A single user can visit your website from different computers or different browsers. This will be counted as multiple visits, when they actually came from one person.

Someone manually clears their cookies and will be counted as two users in reporting.

How to Optimize/Improve Unique Visitors

Know your audience. If you have a good grasp of who your existing audience is, you can use these metrics to take steps to find a new/related audience segment.

Promote your website, taking care to look toward the impact on different audience segments.

8. New vs. Returning Visitors What Are New vs. Returning Visitors?

New users are users who are accessing your website for the first time on a specific device.

As mentioned, Google uses client IDs to track users. If you’re using a mobile phone to access a website — then using your desktop to visit the same website again (but the first time on the desktop) — Google counts this activity as two new visitors.

To their credit, Google is becoming smarter about this. When you’re signed in on Google Chrome using two different devices, it will only record the first device as a new visitor and the second device as a returning visitor.

Returning visitors are those that have previously visited your website. Google defines new users within a two-year time frame. If you revisit a website within the two-year time frame, you are considered a returning visitor, and if you visit a website again after more than two years, you will be counted as a new visitor again.

This metric is presented as a pie graph, comparing the ratio between the two.

How to Track New Visitors vs Returning Visitors

You’ll see a table comparing the behavior of new and returning visitors with some of the metrics previously discussed, such as bounce rate, pages/session, and average session duration.

If your returning visitors metric is higher than new users, this might be a sign that you have a loyal band of followers. The opposite situation demonstrates that you have some work to do to get people to come back again.

How to Optimize/Improve New vs. Returning Visitors

Your New vs Returning Visitors graph can reflect the results of campaigns you used to promote your website.

A few examples:

Organic search tends to result in even distribution.

Email marketing from your CRM should lead to more returning visitors. If it’s a new list of prospects, expect more new visitors.

You can segment your channels according to these traffic sources.

It’s important to stack these dimensions against other metrics, like goal completion.

If your returning visitors convert more than new visitors, think of strategies to appeal to this group.

Or, if there’s a higher bounce rate with returning visitors, there may be something wrong with your content or user experience.

9. Conversion Rate

Customer engagement is linked to overall profitability and can lead to conversions.

What is Conversion Rate?

The conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that complete desired actions, such as:

Purchasing any of your products or services.

Downloading your app, ebook, etc.

Contacting your business/submitting a form.

Engaging with your website in some way.

A high conversion rate tells you that your marketing tactics are effective because they resulted in your website visitors completing your end goal.

How to Track Conversion Rate

The great thing about conversion rates is that you can tailor them to be broad or specific in terms of things like:

Overall conversion rate

Marketing channel conversion rate

Keyword conversion rate

Most social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have their own built-in analytics tools that can be used to track conversion rates. For websites, you can use tools such as Google Analytics or Google AdWords to track certain conversion rates.

There is a dedicated tab on Google Analytics for conversions, which allows you to analyze data based on goals, attribution, or multi-channel funnels. There’s also an option specific to ecommerce.

How to Optimize Conversion Rate

Because conversions are the end goal, marketing is often tasked with conversion rate optimization (CRO), which aims to maximize the number of conversions.

The basic principle of CRO?

To make everything seamless and easy for the website visitors to convert.

What makes CRO unique is that aims to increase revenue with the traffic you’re currently getting—so you can do CRO even if you don’t have that much traffic to begin with.

CRO starts with measuring analytics to know your baseline, analyzing this data and implementing changes (usually called split or A/B testing). OptinMonster has several A/B testing tools and Google Optimize offers a free alternative.

There are several ways to increase conversion rates (here are 53 ways you can do so), depending on what you’re trying to optimize — as well as some uncommon CRO tactics to consider.

10. Abandonment Rate What is Abandonment Rate?

Cart Abandonment Rate (also referred to as abandonment rate) is the percentage of carts abandoned to the number of initiated (or completed) transactions. This is especially pertinent for ecommerce businesses.

Based on the Baymard Institute’s research compilation, about 69.23 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned, meaning that for every 10 transactions, only 3 were successful.

If you’re an ecommerce business owner, the goal is to keep abandonment rates low, and for customers to convert or purchase from their abandoned carts.

How to Track Abandonment Rate

Google Analytics now has a Conversions tab specifically for ecommerce.

This includes customers that:

Didn’t add anything to the cart.

Added something to the cart.

Abandoned it.

Those who abandoned at checkout.

Tracking cart abandonment at different stages allows to you monitor any unusual changes. For example, if one stage’s abandonment rate is higher than usual, then this may be a sign of usability issues.

This is useful so that you can infer what influenced the cart to be abandoned. For example, if visitors are abandoning their carts at checkout, it could be that your checkout process is too long, payment options are too limited, or your shipping fee is too expensive.

How to Optimize/Improve Abandonment Rate

To improve abandonment rates, AcquireConvert suggests a BEFORE and AFTER strategy, specifically:

Improve the buying process BEFORE people check out AND

Implement a follow-up strategy AFTER they abandon their carts

BEFORE

Always ensure that your website is secure and functioning well, with clear CTAs.

Finally, avoid surprises—like shipping costs. Shipping cost is the number 1 reason for abandoned carts. Also, to help avoid surprises, show the customers progress indicators until checkout is complete.

AFTER

Most importantly, send abandoned cart emails. Depending on your email marketing software, this is fairly easy to set up.

Send at least three emails: the first one within an hour. If they are a first-time customer, you might want to send them a discount code to encourage them to shop. Create urgency with a time-sensitive offer.

Final Thoughts: User Engagement Metrics

User engagement metrics are important to track because increased engagement is linked to increased profitability.

The good news is that a free Google Analytics account can track most of these metrics, and all of these metrics are interrelated. This means that optimizing for one metric can help improve another.

For best results, focus on creating content that your target audience wants to read, with clear CTAs. From there, focus on optimizing your website and user site experience.

Image Credits

Screenshots: Taken by author

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Become An Evernote Power User: 10 Must

You can already bend Evernote’s notes, notebooks, and stacks to your will. And maybe you’ve directed your team to use Evernote Business. Evernote is friendly when you’re getting started with it, but the more you use it, the more your notes can pile up, threatening your productivity.

Now that you’ve excelled at the basics, it’s time to dig into Evernote’s arsenal and charge ahead like a true note-taking, to-do-list-tackling warrior. Checkboxes

One of the more popular uses for Evernote is to create lists, such as to-do lists, shopping lists, enemies lists, and the like. A simple text list is fine, but you can enhance the utility of your list by adding checkboxes to the items on it.

Save frequently used searches

Save

Instructions for saving searches on mobile devices are similar. Look for the magnifying-glass icon any time you’ve completed a successful search (that is, a search with at least one result) to save it.

Clip Web pages with Evernote Mobile

Because of the vagaries of smartphone Web browsers, Evernote’s mobile app can’t clip Web pages by default, dulling its utility. There’s no easy workaround for the iPhone, but Android users have a couple of options to make Web clipping possible. Dolphin: Evernote is a free add-on that lets you grab Web pages and pull them into Evernote, although it can only grab entire pages, not partial selections. EverWebClipper ($2.88) gives you more flexibility in what you can snag, if you’re willing to pay for the privilege. The offline option on an iPhone

If you’re an Evernote Premium user, you can configure individual notebooks to be accessible offline, whether you have an Internet connection or not. In your device’s Evernote Settings panel under the Offline Notebooks option, just select the notebooks you want to keep stored on your phone or tablet.

One important caveat: Evernote does not save a copy of every version of every note, but rather makes a backup of your notes on a schedule that runs every few hours. If you make multiple changes to a note over a short amount of time, only the most recent version is likely to be saved. Don’t rely on note history to save you if you accidentally erase your entire document 10 minutes after you create it. Web Clipper

Emailing a webpage or its URL to yourself for later retrieval never seems to work right. This task is especially difficult if you’re trying to save a password-protected webpage or a news story that may simply vanish at a later date.

Evernote’s Web Clipper lets you copy webpages in full to Evernote, but power users know that you don’t have to grab the entire screen. When you use Web Clipper, it will automatically attempt to determine where the “meat” of a webpage is, encircling it in a yellow border and graying out the detritus. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to grab more of the page (Up Arrow) or less of the page (Down Arrow), or to pick a different selection on the page (Left or Right Arrow). When you’re done, press Enter to finalize your clipping and save it.

Master Evernote’s search tool

Evernote has search tags and much more to help you unearth your best notes.

As your Evernote database begins to fill up, you’ll have to rely more and more on searches to find what you’re looking for. You can search for simple keywords, but this tactic will start to turn up a larger number of results, especially if you tend to use Evernote to save lots of information about a narrow set of topics.

To search only within your tags, type tag:tagname or tag:"multiple-word tagname" into Evernote’s search field. To find an exact phrase that comprises multiple words, use quotation marks just as you would in a Web search.

You can use a structure similar to the tag search above to search only for notes within notebooks that contain specified terms in their names. Type notebook:notebookname or notebook:"multiple-word notebookname" into the field.

If you want to find notes that contain your term in the note’s title, try either intitle:term or intitle:"multiple-word term" in your search.

To return notes that contain any of the specified terms inside, type any:term1 term2 term3 in the field. (A standard search for term1 term2 term3 would return only notes containing all three terms.)

If you’d rather get results based on the last time a note was revised, type updated:yyyymmdd into the search field.

Visit Account Info in the desktop app for your Evernote email address.

A quick and easy way to get something into Evernote is simply to email it to your Evernote address. The problem: If you don’t specify where the email should go, it will create a note in your default notebook, with no tags.

When sending an email to Evernote, you can manipulate the subject line to determine where it should end up. Here’s an example of a subject line that covers all the bases:

The Hobbit @Movies #review #4stars #dwarves

This creates a note called “The Hobbit” in your Movies notebook, with tags of “review,” “4stars,” and “dwarves.” Note that you must put the notebook (@) and tags (#) identifiers in the above order. Also, the notebook and tags must already exist before you attempt to use them in an email to Evernote.

Transcribe voice notes

Although Evernote can now convert voice recordings directly to text on Android devices, it can’t do that trick on iOS devices or via recordings made on your PC. You can get around this and make audio notes searchable through a couple of methods. First, you can use a smartphone app like Dragon Dictation to record a voice memo, and then copy the text into Evernote.

Alternatively, you can use a third-party add-in called Voice2Note to do the translation for you directly from Evernote. Just register for Voice2Note online, and record voice notes within the Evernote app normally. They’ll be transcribed and saved behind the scenes. You can also call a special Voice2Note number to create new notes via a simple phone call—something that you can’t do without an add-in on any platform. (Voice2Note is free for five transcriptions per month, or $3 per month if you need more.)

Only a rube uses the mouse to get around desktop apps. The following keyboard shortcuts help you use Evernote even more efficiently on a PC. (The commands are similar on a Mac. And you’ll find even more shortcuts on Evernote’s site.)

Ctrl-Alt-N: Start a new note. (In Windows, this is a global shortcut, meaning that it works from any application as long as Evernote is open.)

Windows-A: Pastes selected text into a new or open note. (Global shortcut.)

F9: Synchronize.

Ctrl-N: New note.

Ctrl-Shift-N: New notebook.

Ctrl-Shift-T: New tag.

Ctrl-Shift-E: Send a note or notes by email.

Ctrl-Shift-C: Insert a checkbox.

Alt-Shift-D: Insert the current time and date.

Stripe Vs. Square: How They Measure Up

There was a time when businesses could get away with only accepting cash payments, but it isn’t much of an option in today’s environment. While there isn’t much of a choice to be made of whether or not to accept credit cards, you do have a choice as to which of the best credit card processors you will use. Two of the main options small businesses have are Stripe and Square. Both are highly regarded and offer a lot of benefits. 

To give you a better idea of which is right for your business, we researched the two against each other. We examined several areas, including pricing, security, software and hardware, integrations, and customer service. Here is how the two stack up against each other.

Stripe vs. Square highlights

Both Stripe and Square are third-party payment processors that enable businesses to accept a variety of credit and debit cards, as well as digital payment methods like Apple Pay. They are both PCI-compliant, which is essential for any merchant. However, they have some distinctions and different capabilities. Here is more about who these services are best for and how they compare in specific areas.

 StripeSquareBest forE-commerce businesses and web developersBrick-and-mortar and multichannel businessesPricing2.9% + $0.30 (online); 2.7% + $0.05 (in-person)$0 – $72 monthly fee; 2.6% – 2.9% + $0.30Third-party integrationsHundreds, including QuickBooks, AWS, and NetSuiteOver 350, including QuickBooks, Wix, and DoorDashHardwareBBPOS Chipper 2X BT mobile, BBPOS WisePOS E terminalSquare mobile reader, Square Terminal, Square POS RegisterPayment methodsOnline checkout, virtual terminal, Apple/Google PayOnline checkout, virtual terminal, invoicing, POS hardware, Apple/Google Pay, Cash App, ACHCustomer service24/7 support by phone, chat, and emailPhone (Mon.-Fri. 6 AM – 6 PM PST), email, live chat

Editor’s note: Looking for the right credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

FYI

International cards incur an additional 1% fee, plus another 1% if currency conversion is required.

FYI

Before committing to a service, you should have a clear idea of how credit card processing fees work so that you know exactly what you are paying for.

Processing  Stripe processing 

The vast majority of Stripe’s credit card processing focus is on e-commerce transactions. To ensure you get Stripe running smoothly, it provides a host of developer resources for integrating its payment platform with your e-commerce site. As a supplement, a virtual terminal is also available. This web-based interface, Stripe Terminal, allows you to accept cards in person by manually keying in the card information. In addition to credit and debit cards, Terminal accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay. Transactions processed through Terminal are integrated with your online transactions for reporting purposes, so you can see all of your transactions in one place. 

The standard process is that payouts from Stripe sales revenue arrive in your bank account on a two-day rolling basis. If you prefer, you can set up weekly or monthly batches. Stripe has a relatively low chargeback fee of $15, which is fully refundable if the customer’s bank resolves the dispute in your favor. 

Square processing 

Square gives merchants multiple ways to accept payments, including online, invoicing, hosted checkout payment pages, point-of-sale (POS) systems and virtual terminals. In addition to major credit cards, you can accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App, Samsung Pay, and ACH for invoices.

Square holds your sales revenue in a Square Checking account. You can then transfer the money to another bank within a day. If you need it instantly, you can get it for a fee. 

Winner

Square offers more ways for your customers to pay, both in terms of location (POS) and types of payment (Cash App and Samsung Pay). It also can get money to your bank account sooner for free. However, we like that Stripe automatically transfers your money without the extra step of going into the app to move it every time. Square narrowly wins in this category.

Security Stripe security

Stripe includes several online payment security features in its standard plan.

3D Secure: This authentication method verifies a customer’s identity before an online purchase.

Card account updater: This automatically updates expired or renewed card information for saved customers, thereby reducing declined charges.

Radar adaptive acceptance: Stripe’s machine learning algorithms purport to improve authorization rates in real time, increasing sales by reducing declined transactions.

Stripe has additional security features available that allow merchants to verify the authenticity of government-issued identification by either matching photos ($1.50 per verification) or having customers key in their name, date of birth, and other data and validating it against government and third-party databases (this is only available for U.S. Social Security numbers). 

Square security

Square is PCI-compliant, encrypting customer payment information end to end. This ensures that none of your customers’ private information is stored on your servers or devices. Its card readers are EMV-compliant, which means they accept chips. This functionality can help decrease fraud incidents. Additionally, Square uses machine learning models to identify suspicious transactions. 

Square has no chargeback fees and, in a dispute, represents you with the issuing bank.

Winner

Stripe’s ability for merchants to verify cardholder identities at the point of sale makes it the winner in the security category.

Software Stripe software

Stripe offers a mobile app that allows you to search transactions, refund purchases, and view sales and customer data. You cannot use this app to process transactions, however. If you want to do that on the go, you will need to use Stripe’s mobile Terminal software.

Square software

Square’s software makes it easy for businesses that sell through multiple channels to see all of their transactions in one interface. For online transactions, Square lets you process individual transactions on your site, set up recurring transactions, and even process multi-party transactions by layering in a fee on top of third-party payments that you process through your app. 

Square can integrate with your website through dedicated developer tools, or you can use Square Checkout, which redirects customers to a Square-hosted payment page.

FYI

Square offers full CRM functionality, as it lets you link purchases to customer profiles and inventory. If you need a separate CRM tool, check out our recommendations of the best CRM systems.

3 Keys To Repurposing User

How your users’ content can boost your results

The best things in life are free. And user-generated content (or UGC) — which costs nothing — is one of the best marketing strategies available to brands, especially on Instagram. While its user base isn’t as large as that of its parent company, Instagram is crushing Facebook in terms of brand engagement.

Download Paid Member Resource – Social Media Strategy Guide

Understand how to best use social media in your marketing strategy as an individual or as a business.

Access the Social media marketing strategy guide

What Is UGC?

While the name is fairly self-explanatory, here’s a quick primer: If a customer or fan posts a photo or video about your brand, it’s user-generated content.

Any photo, video, tweet, snap, post, or review that’s shared about a brand can be considered UGC — which is great news for your marketing team.

Why Repurpose UGC?

Brands have a lot to gain by incorporating UGC into their marketing mix — both in terms of building customer loyalty and driving sales. UGC helps you build authentic and trusted relationships with consumers because it allows your audience to see how your products are used in real life.

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: Engaging with a brand’s UGC makes customers 97 percent more likely to purchase than those who don’t interact with it, and this engagement boosts the brand’s conversion rates by a staggering 78 percent. That’s a pretty clear indication of just how valuable UGC can be for your brand!

Consequently, user-generated content can save you money. Every post or endorsement that’s made by one of your customers is akin to free marketing — especially among Millennial consumers, who trust user-generated media 50 percent more than any other type.

In effect, by repurposing UGC, you benefit from an army of brand ambassadors who do the work for you, providing future customers with real-life testimonials and compelling imagery. If someone is searching for specific details about a certain product, for instance, UGC can even serve as a free (and candid) type of outsourced customer service.

Is Repurposing UGC Legal?

Using another person’s social media post in your marketing efforts does raise some legal and ethical questions. Before you invest in UGC for your marketing efforts, there are some finer points you need to address.

People who use your branded hashtag may be implying that they give permission for your brand to repurpose their content (with credit), but your bedrock principle should be that all UGC is, by default, copyrighted by the owner or creator of that content.

That means you’re technically required to ask for permission for use. But what exactly does that mean? Does getting someone to reply “Yes” when you ask, “Can I repost this photo?” count as permission? Do you need to send a link to an agreement and have the person sign it? Can you get an agreement from certain users to repost any of their content?

In summary, assume that all content is copyrighted, check the terms on each social network, and get permission from the original post creators. They should have no doubts about how you intend to use their content. Playing fast and loose with permissions may jeopardize your brand’s reputation in the long run. You need to ensure that your intentions don’t contradict the creators’ reasons for posting it to begin with.

Generating UGC

Of course, these questions about permission assume that you already have a system in place for curating user-generated content. If not, the first step is to create a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to post with it. By inviting your followers to post with your hashtag, you’re offering them a chance to stand in the spotlight — especially if you repost UGC on your own feed. Perhaps that’s why 65 percent of people will grant permission to use their photos within 24 hours.

Japanese retailer MUJI, for example, found great success with a contest it launched to encourage its followers on social media to post photos of artwork they had created with MUJI pens. Using the hashtag #mujipenart, MUJI saw more than 2,500 people enter the contest, greatly increased its social reach, and created an entirely UGC-driven campaign for the cost of a few special awards and prizes.

If contests and invitations fall short of meeting your goals, you can always turn to the power of influencer marketing. What better way to bring attention to your brand than to have a celebrity, an industry leader, or a popular media figure recognize your products in a social media post?

Instagram influencers with a large following can create content on behalf of your brand, allowing you to gain credibility and have impactful conversations with your customers. Influencers can give a shout-out to your brand or a specific product in a variety of ways, from simply using your hashtag to directly expressing the reasons they love the product. The goal of working with an influencer is to move your consumers to action by building brand trust that you may not be able to acquire easily or quickly on your own.

Succeeding With UGC

These days, repurposing UGC is considered standard, not standout. But there are a few things you can do to make sure your UGC efforts are actually furthering your business.

1. Publish UGC alongside your product.

Aligning UGC with your own marketing materials shows people how they can use it in their everyday lives, which amplifies the overall impact.

Sonos has mastered this by embedding Instagrammed UGC as part of the buying process on its website. On a Sonos product page, you’ll find not only marketing material and product specs, but also customer photos depicting how they use the brand’s speakers in their homes. These images seamlessly invite new customers to imagine how a Sonos product could improve their own lives.

2. Supplement emails and promotional materials with UGC.

When you sign up for promotional emails from shorts brand Chubbies, you receive newsletters bursting with UGC. Instead of promoting its products with models, the company uses photos of real, happy customers, which lends a sense of authenticity to the brand. In this way, Chubbies leverages its UGC to promote customer satisfaction with its products.

How does Chubbies manage to collect so much UGC? The brand actively encourages its customers to share their personal experiences with Chubbies on social media. By integrating UGC into all of its social accounts, the brand has inspired more than 331,000 people to follow Chubbies on Instagram and more than 1.6 million to do so on Facebook.

3. Build a branded hashtag.

A branded hashtag should be unique to your business. It can be as simple as your company name, your tagline, or the name of one of your products or campaigns, like Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke campaign, which resulted in a more than 2 percent increase in sales. Or it can be a hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand name but has everything to do with your brand identity. For instance, Always’ well-known “Like a Girl” campaign is meant to inspire confidence in young women and turn the common expression upside down by showcasing the stories of women doing amazing things #likeagirl.

A branded hashtag can help start a conversation with those unfamiliar with your brand, build or re-establish brand loyalty among current customers, and lead to the generation of more UGC. A branded hashtag with a good hook can spark a cascade of content from your best customers and help you reach previously untouchable — or even unknown — markets.

15 Employee Engagement Ideas And Strategies That Work

blog / Workforce Development 15 Employee Engagement Ideas and Strategies That Work

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According to many metrics, we’re experiencing a crisis of low employee engagement. In its 2023 State of the Global Workplace report, Gallup found that 80% of employees aren’t engaged or are “actively disengaged” at work. And this costs the global economy over $8 trillion in lost productivity each year. 

In a competitive talent market, low engagement is likely to drive continued turnover and diminished company outcomes. To thrive in the future, organizations should act quickly to increase and maintain positive engagement among employees.

Why Employee Engagement Matters

Employee engagement not only predicts turnover rates (which can be costly) but also predicts performance. According to Gallup, increasing a company’s engagement rate to just 70% can be transformational and prove a significant driver of increased profit. 

On the other hand, stressed-out and disconnected employees are unlikely to perform at their peak. This can have a serious negative impact on the organization’s bottom line. 

Ideas for Employee Engagement

Given the importance of increasing engagement, it’s no wonder companies are looking for examples of employee engagement strategies. The following tactics can help organizations build a long-term, sustainable commitment that drives profits and satisfaction.

1. Invest in Employee Training 

Investing in upskilling or reskilling employees sends a powerful signal. It demonstrates to employees that their employer values their work, notices their potential, and plans to keep them on board for the long haul.

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn Learning found that 94% of employees will stay longer with their company if it’s willing to invest in their development. Organizations can either build out internal training programs or send their employees through targeted external programs like those Emeritus offers.

2. Recognize Employees’ Work

Showing employees you value and appreciate them (and the work they do) is essential for higher engagement. Research shows that on high-performing teams, employees receive five times more positive recognition than criticism—a ratio that keeps motivation high while encouraging growth. 

Public recognition (like a manager praising a direct report’s efforts in a team or all-staff meeting or an internal newsletter) is particularly effective. Companies with especially strong cultures may take it even further. Southwest Airlines, for example, highlights a “Star of the Month” on its website for the world to see.

3. Regularly Reevaluate Compensation

In today’s high-inflation environment, employees are highly conscious of any disconnect between their salaries and the rising cost of living. As the price of everything from housing to gas increases, it’s no surprise that employees are more likely to keep a close eye on their salary in relation to the tight labor marketplace.

Companies that fail to keep their compensation competitive may experience both disengagement and high quit rates. But those that increase salaries and provide bonuses when appropriate are more likely to keep their employees engaged.

4. Provide Benefits That Matter

Employees rely on their company for necessities like health insurance and sick leave. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a strong benefits package can be a major driver of employee loyalty. 

According to Paychex, 39% of employees report that more paid time off would increase their company loyalty. Meanwhile, 23% placed a better or more accessible health insurance policy at the top of their wishlist. For many employees, benefits like increased parental leave or access to quality healthcare providers are central to satisfaction. 

5. Identify Career Paths

6. Offer Flexible Work Options

After the COVID-19 pandemic proved that we can do many jobs effectively from home (and further blurred the lines between work and personal life), it’s more important than ever for employees to be able to do their jobs without burning out. 

Companies that offer options like remote or hybrid work, compressed workweeks, or flexible hours will likely see increased employee engagement and loyalty. These measures also indicate to employees that their company’s leadership trusts them to do their jobs without micromanagement.

7. Help Employees Understand the Bigger Picture

For employees to feel connected to their companies, they need to understand the organizational mission and what part they play in it. Organizations should ensure their mission is clear, reflects the work being done, and aligns with company priorities.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), managers also play a central role in effectively conveying the company mission to their employees and helping them connect it to their roles. 

8. Carve Out Dedicated Time for Employee Learning

9. Build Learning Communities

Organizations can magnify the benefits of upskilling and reskilling by allowing employees to learn and grow together. Forums (whether as in-person meetings or online) for employees going through similar training courses or programs both provide a space to share ideas and ask questions. They’re also an opportunity to deepen connections with colleagues. 

For maximum impact, companies should consider recruiting a current or past participant in the training program to lead the discussion sessions.

Organizations can magnify the benefits of upskilling and reskilling by allowing employees to learn and grow together.

10. Prioritize Transparency and Trust

Employees want to feel that their leadership trusts them. Similarly, they want to understand their company’s standing and prospects. 

Open corporate cultures that share key metrics like earnings as well as less positive information, like growth concerns, are more likely to breed engagement. Buffer, a social media scheduling platform, publicly posts all salaries and how it calculates them as part of its efforts to build a culture of openness. While not all companies will want to go that far, most can benefit from some measure of increased transparency.

11. Understand Employees’ Values and Preferences

While approaches like increasing compensation and providing flexibility are likely to offer benefits across the board, it’s also important to consider individual employee preferences. Some employees, for example, may enjoy more public recognition for their work. Others may prefer a quieter approach.

Similarly, some employees are more sensitive to critical feedback, while others prefer that their managers be upfront in their opinions. As the SHRM explains, some companies use personality inventories to assess employees’ preferred communication methods, but just asking is both simpler and comes with no cost. 

12. Provide Opportunities for Feedback

When employees feel that they lack a voice at their company, engagement is likely to decrease. Providing formal and informal opportunities for them to share ideas and even critique the organization’s operations helps build a sense of ownership within the company, raising both engagement and productivity. Combining tools like pulse surveys and in-person, one-to-one conversations can help provide feedback opportunities at scale. 

13. Supply the Right Tools

For employees to do their best work, they need to have the right tools. This includes not only hardware like computers and phones but also modern and functional software to perform key job functions and better collaborate with colleagues. 

14. Provide Opportunities to Build Meaningful Connections

When employees feel connected to their colleagues and peers, engagement will rise. Companies should prioritize opportunities for staff to build real relationships—not just the icebreakers of the past. 

Ernst and Young, for example, has had impressive success in building resource groups for employees who share identities ranging from ethnic background to gender to parental status. This approach can help companies build a sense of community within the organization. Lower-lift tactics like creating channels in Slack for employees to share pictures of their pets or discuss their favorite sports teams can also go a long way. 

15. Model Work-Life Boundaries

Work-life balance is more than just a buzzword; it’s a key to employee satisfaction and performance. However, most employees will struggle to maintain a healthy balance if it’s not modeled and encouraged throughout the organization. 

Managers should feel encouraged to limit communications with direct reports to work hours whenever they can and encourage as much flexibility as possible. Organizational leaders can model this behavior by being mindful of how they communicate with their colleagues and by demonstrating a commitment to life outside of work (for instance, by taking their allotted vacation and actually using it to disconnect).

Employee engagement can’t be built overnight. But companies that take note of their peers’ employee engagement ideas and strategies and develop their own unique approaches to building a sustainable culture will be richly rewarded. 

Upskilling and Reskilling as Employee Engagement Ideas

Interested in leveraging upskilling and reskilling as one of your strategies for employee engagement? Schedule a meeting to learn about partnering with Emeritus to develop online programs taught by leading experts in their fields.

Rockmelt Turns Web Discovery Into A Social Engagement

Design

The entire app was designed with a strong visual aesthetic. It is brightly colored with large pictures to attract your eyes. There are various touch gestures that make it pleasing to move around.

Users start by signing up through Facebook or starting an account using their email address. If you aren’t sure that you want to give a stranger your information, you can play around with some of the features without needing to log into an account.

You can view new web pages as a blog roll, or switch to the grid view to see a bunch of images on one screen. When you see a picture that piques your interest, tap it to see a better view of the image along with the story’s headline. Still want to know more? Tap the image again to read the full story.

You can pinch the screen to change from blog roll view to grid view. In the blog roll view, swipe an article to the left side of the screen to get rid of it and swipe to the right side of the screen to save it for offline reading.

Tap the menu icon at the top right of the screen to see the stories you’ve saved, check for notification updates, and invite friends to join you in Rockmelt.

App Use

When you log in for the first time, you will be asked to select at least five topics that will be used to generate your feed. Topics include things like Art, Business, Cars, Foodie, Gamer, Travel, and more. You can choose more than five, but that is the minimum.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite topics, a feed will be generated for you that includes posts from around the Web that fit into those categories. Then, begin absorbing.

Tap on an image to read the full story. Swipe to the left to throw it out. Swipe to the right to save it for later. When you get to the end of a story, a gathering of various reactions will unfold for you. If you want to be a part of Rockmelt’s social web, tap one of the reactions. If you thought it was funny, tap “LOL.” If you thought it was cute, tap “Aww.”

When you add a reaction to an article, it will be saved so that others can see it. If you read an article that others have reacted to, you will see it at the end of the story. You can tap on a reaction to see who it was. If you think you have similar interests with that person, follow him or her and get updates when they react to stories.

If you prefer glancing at a bunch of articles and plucking out the ones that catch your eye, switch to the grid view. The grid view basically shrinks the blog roll into just images, and also shrinks the images. Instead of only seeing one article at a time, you can see eight or nine. If an image looks interesting to you, tap it. Then, tap it again to read the full article.

You can also search for specific websites to follow. For example, I typed in “iDB” and our lovely website popped up. After you find a specific site in a search, you can see additional websites to add by tapping the “see more tiles” button. So, you can really customize your web browsing experience.

The Good

The design of this app is what makes it stand out. It looks great and has lots of touchscreen gestures to make you feel good about browsing the Internet on your iOS device. You can let the app guide your preferences, or search for a specific website. You can also get Rockmelt on your desktop and it syncs with all devices through your account, so you can take your web browsing with you anywhere, on any device.

The Bad

The “Tips and Tricks” section is pretty overwhelming. The information is displayed the way that the Rockmelt grid looks and there are a lot of things to read. I’d like to see a basic tutorial that is easy to get to. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own because I didn’t want to have to dig around in the Tips and Tricks section for hours.

Value

You can download the app for free and it is great for web users who like to discover new blogs and more. If anything, I’d say this app saves you time, making it more valuable than not having it.

Verdict

If you like to browse the Internet, looking for interesting things to read about, let Rockmelt help you discover new and fascinating stories. The fact that you can sync with all of your devices and save stories for offline reading makes this app a great find. Rockmelt is available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it for free in the App Store today.

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