User engagement matters. It’s the reason people come back to an application. It promotes familiarity and loyalty with a brand and product. It enhances visibility, as people share content. It’s a sign of validation, telling you that the product you produce or the way you promote it is useful.

As a products iterate, its user engagement will probably be the most important predictor of future success. This is because engaged users are the ones most committed to your product. You can count on them to try out those cool new features. All fo this, and to drive referrals, provide feedback, and evangelize your product.

Of course, quantifying user engagement is easier said than done. Even though we can all agree that user engagement is a crucial component to the success of a business, often even relatively simple ways to optimize engagement are overlooked.

First: Defining “user engagement” for your specific product

Let’s start by pointing out that “engagement” is a loose term, and means different things depending on your product. For a publication, user engagement can be measured by the number of impressions. This is based on clicks, shares, likes, and other social metrics.

Whereas for an app it can be monthly active users or daily active users weighted against attrition. Investors will often ask what your KPIs are, these are often synonymous with your engagement metrics.

When defining engagement, the first step will be determining what engagement means for your specific product before you can lay out a strategy.

How to define engagement: define the value proposition

In today’s marketplace, there are hundreds if not thousands of competitors to your product – so the question is: what makes you stand out from the rest of them? What value do you give users that all the other guys out there don’t?

Define engagement activities and track, score, and rank them.

Next, you should define engagement activities (i.e., upvote news article, buy a content pack, watch a video, comment on a photo, and the like) to start tracking them. These activities represent the extent to which your users who engage with your product.

There are several analytical tools (for mobile apps you can use Appsee, for example) that allow you to track user behavior easily. It’s helpful to score those activities based on importance (i.e., clicking on an article is less valuable than sharing it to social feeds). Once you have each activity scored, you can rank them. Ranking will help you better understand how your users engage with your site/product while elucidating areas of improvement.