Which Industry Creates the Most Engaging Digital Experiences? 2021 Benchmarks

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
November 06, 2020

Online user engagements across your website or app carry more weight than ever before.

With a chaotic 2020 driving web traffic up 20% in the U.S. alone, virtually every industry – from financial services and retail to automotive and restaurants – must deliver seamless and highly engaging user experiences (UX) to keep conversions and loyalty steady.

Whether switching to a new digital banking service, scheduling a health appointment online, or downloading an app to a major news platform, the engagements embedded within these digital experiences directly impact the success of the corresponding website or app – no matter the industry.

In fact, 75% consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage, and 67% of customers churn due to unpleasant experiences.

To truly lift engagements and turn every online interaction into a productive one, you and your digital team must gain context around a few pivotal variables:

  • What does high engagement look like in your industry?
  • Where does your industry struggle to drive engagements?
  • How can you effectively boost engagements?

To shed light on those factors, we benchmarked user engagement data across nearly every major industry to help turn every interaction into a lucrative exchange.


How we measured user engagement benchmarks across 4.1 billion user sessions

To establish reliable online engagement standards, we launched a data-driven study: Digital Experience & Conversion: Industry Benchmarks for 2021. In this study, our data scientists crunched a sample size of 4.1 billion user sessions across 11 different industries over 2020 – and weighted user engagement heavily.

Leveraging Decibel’s Digital Experience Score (DXS®) – which automatically measures billions of user sessions and detects trillions of user behaviors – our data science team used DXS’s Engagement Score to measure engagement levels across every industry.

From simple click data to nuanced behaviors like scroll engagements, mouse reading, and a whole host of others, DXS captures every interaction within each industry and quantifies them with precision. The result? The 11 industries averaged an underwhelming 4.52 out of 10 Engagement Score.

For a detailed look at your own industry’s standing, check out the industry-specific averages and trends to see how your industry stacks up against the rest.


Ranking user engagement levels between 11 industries heading into 2021

Given that 70% of enterprise CEOs see UX & CX as a competitive differentiator, creating a more engaging digital experience has become a key piece to the differentiation puzzle. These engagement benchmarks and findings below should help guide your efforts moving forward.

1. Restaurants – 5.32

Sitting atop the podium, the restaurant industry is the only one to score above the 5-point mark, but still leaves plenty of room to grow online engagements. When it comes down to online food ordering, hyper-personalizing experiences by learning patterns like order preferences and delivering aesthetically appealing interfaces will keep users engaged and returning when they’re hungry again. Find full industry results here

2. Healthcare – 4.94

Even as the runner-up, the healthcare industry still has a decent way to go to shore up user engagement. With more patients gravitating towards the convenience of online healthcare services, clinics and hospitals must prioritize optimizing their patient portals. To spark more engagement, healthcare organizations must add frequent and clear call-to-actions with a bevy of informative digital resources. Find full industry results here

3. Travel – 4.70

Hard hit by a turbulent 2020, it’s no surprise to see the travel industry struggled with engagements, but it’s encouraging to see a high finish in these standings. With a lower volume of vacations and business trips due to the ongoing pandemic, hospitality brands must create a near perfectly personalized experience at every step of the journey while captivating users with clear and stunning page layouts. Find full industry results here

4. Media & Publishing – 4.66

Just missing a top three finish, the media & publishing industry scored relatively well on engagements but will undoubtedly need to improve moving forward. Reshaped by digital media consumption in the past decade, media & publishing groups still need to fine-tune website fundamentals like simplifying page layouts for more digestible content and maximizing site performance for impatient users. Find full industry results here

5. Energy – 4.66

Tying media & publishing’s score, the energy industry similarly performed above average but could certainly engage users better. With many users looking to pay bills online, review add-on services, or checkout resources, energy companies should revamp experiences with more informative content along with creating more dynamic elements like video and tools to keep users on-site. Find full industry results here

6. Automotive – 4.56

Just scoring above the multi-industry average, the automotive industry will need to better adapt to an influx of car-browsing users due to the rocky events of 2020. With digital showrooms acting as the focal point for many user journeys, automotive brands should direct their attention to delivering unique car shopping experiences with diverse showroom content, useful digital tools, along with faster site performance. Find full industry results here

7. Retail – 4.52

Tying the multi-industry average, the retail industry became heavily impacted by lockdowns as nearly all shoppers were forced online – at least for some time. With more users browsing and buying digitally, retailers must recreate in-store experiences online with plenty of video product overviews, interactive shopping features, and unique ways to market products on websites and apps. Find full industry results here

8. Non-profit – 4.48

For the non-profit industry, low engagements may not come as a major surprise due to limited resources compared to large enterprises. However, to drive more interest and engagements, it won’t necessarily take a massive budget, but rather savvy optimizations. Organizations must prioritize adding more overt and frequent call-to-actions, while providing useful donor information plus as many resources as possible. Find full industry results here

9. Financial Services – 4.41

With digital banking and insurance rather normalized nowadays, it may be relatively surprising to see the financial services industry struggling to drive user engagement. From websites to apps, financial service institutions need to revamp core aspects of the digital experience for steady engagement levels. Simplifying navigation with intuitive journeys along with practical call-to-actions should be the main priorities moving forward. Find full industry results here

10. Telecomms – 4.30

Scoring near the bottom of the list, the telecomms industry misses the mark when it comes to engaging users and keeping them in the user journey. To reverse this trend, telecomms businesses should rethink their navigation and menus to avoid overloading users and simplifying every interaction. Taking it a step further, add more vibrant designs, along with dynamic elements and call-to-actions to every page. Find full industry results here

11. Tech – 3.97

Rounding out these standings, the tech industry clearly misses out on engagements with the only score below the 4-point mark. Luckily for tech brands, engagements across the board are down, which leaves room to climb the ranks. To truly maximize engagements in this crowded industry, nailing highly creative and unique product content, detailed spec and tech details, and clever interactive elements will draw more users in. Find full industry results here


Leverage trillions user behaviors to expertly optimize your website or app

Whether you’re amongst engagement leaders or laggards, these rankings uncover benchmarks between and within major industries – and prove there’s plenty of work to do from top to bottom.

From here, the key is not to relish or sulk in these results, but to seek out and investigate low engagement journeys, pages, and on-page elements, then optimize accordingly. Those who don’t could find themselves slipping down the ranks to competitors.

But to truly deliver highly engaging digital experiences – no matter the industry – you need access to the right data. In fact, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.

To ensure you and your team are rolling out UX improvements that will actually keep users engaged on your website or app, you need insights you can act on.

To get just that, download the full benchmarking report – Digital Experience & Conversion: Industry Benchmarks for 2021 – to take your website or app to the top of your industry.

Topics: Behavior, Digital Experience, DXS, User experience
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