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Repeat Site Visits - A Critical Goal for a Successful Website

By Ayo Ijidakinro

1st visit. 2nd visit. 3rd visit. 4th visit. 5th visit. 6th visit.
Why is increasing the number of times a visitor visits your website a critical goal for a successful website?

Summary: What data should I track for my website to see if I’m doing well? What indicators most greatly affect the success of my website? How should I interpret my analytics to understand why I’m not getting sales? This article will discuss these questions.

Repeat visits to your website by your customers are the most important factor to increasing your conversion rate. To illustrate let's examine a user shopping for a digital camera.

"Jim sits in front of his computer looking to buy a high-end digital camera. He’s been shopping off-and-on for the past three months. His Google searches led him to ZTechCameras.com, a company he had never heard of and wasn’t sure if he could trust. However, after dozens of visits to ZTechCameras and other camera sites, he has come to trust ZTechCameras’ rich depth of accurate advice and is convinced they will provide him with more knowledgeable service for his new camera. Thus, he decides to shun better known competitors and makes his purchase."

Did you see the point? Jim had never heard of ZTechCameras.com and thus initially he did not trust them. However, as the website established a track record of reliability by knowledgeably answering his questions over multiple visits, he came to trust the company enough to make his purchase with them. The same lesson applies to any website selling products or services.

But knowing that repeat visits are important is not enough! How can you design a website that will get visitors to return repeatedly? How can you track if your website is doing well and your efforts to get visitors to return are bearing fruit?

Getting Visitors to Return

The #1 way to get visitors to return is to regularly update your website. Is there any website you regularly read up on? Why do you regularly visit? Isn’t it because every time you visit there is something new to see? If you doubt anything has changed on a website since the last time you visited, do you have any strong urge to visit it?

paper boy reading newspaper
Like a newspaper, your website will be read if it has lots of fresh information. (Photo by KellyB, flickr.com.)

Likewise, with your website you need to constantly keep it changing. The more frequently you add information to your website, the more frequently your visitors will return. For example, most people check the news every day. Why? Because every day there is fresh news. If you update your website daily, your visitors will return every few days. If you update your website weekly, your visitors will return every few weeks.

The #2 way to get visitors to return is to keep them interested. True, visitors will return to your website regularly if you update your website regularly, but the updates also need to be interesting. For example, simply changing the color of your website every day is probably not going to spark a lot of interest. However, publishing an informative article daily or sharing industry news as-it-happens will generate interest that motivates visitors to return to your website.

Setting Goals & Measuring Your Results

How can you determine if your efforts are bearing fruit? There are three numbers that you must track to determine if your website is successfully engaging visitors and getting them to return. The three numbers are: Visitor Loyalty, Depth of visit, and Bounce rate.

Visitor Loyalty

This is a measure of the number of visits a specific user made to your website over a period of time. Usually this data is aggregated into a distribution that you can then view in a chart. Below is an example.

An example chart showing visitor loyalty.
Do you see how most visitors are visiting only once? Have you checked this chart for your website?

A greater visitor loyalty means that your customers are constantly visiting your website. The more times your customer visits your website, the more comfortable he is becoming with your company. The odds increase over time that eventually he will purchase a good or service from you.

An idealized chart showing that you want most users to visit your website more than one time.
In our ideal world, most of your visitors would visit your website many times per month.

To increase visitor loyalty update your website frequently and make sure that your updates are interesting to your audience.

Depth of Visit

This is a measure of how many pages, on average, a visitor to your website viewed before leaving. Below is an example of what this report looks like.

An example chart showing depth of visit.
Do you notice that most visitors view only one page and then leave? What does the chart for your website look like?

A greater average depth of visit means visitors are very engaged by your website. If you have a poor depth of visit distribution, it means visitors are quickly losing interest and leaving your website.

An idealized chart showing that you want most users to go deep into your website.
In an ideal world, most of your visitors would view a lot of pages while on your website.

To increase depth of visit you need to have plenty of quality information on you website. However, you also need a good information architecture.

Bounce Rate

This is a measure of what percentage of visitors leave your website after viewing only one page. If you have a high bounce rate, it means most visitors are leaving without giving your website more than a quick glance. A good bounce rate is below 50%. Anything above 50% deserves your attention.

To decrease your bounce rate, make sure your homepage and landing pages* are informative, attractive, and well-linked to other parts of your website. (Read more about effective landing pages.)

Cultivating Repeat Visits, the Best Goal for a Successful Website

If you want to increase your website’s sales there is practically no goal you can set that is more important than increasing the number of repeat visits you get from individual customers. The more times a customer visits your website the greater his trust in your company will grow; as the customer’s trust for your company grows, he becomes more likely to purchase a good or service.

So immediately start looking for ways to get your customers to visit your website more often by regularly updating the information on your website and making sure the information you share is interesting to your audience! By doing this you will have a more successful website that generates more sales.

* A landing page is any page a visitor might see first when they visit your website. This includes pages found through a search engine.

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Internet Discounters: Do you really provide a discount?

By Ayo Ijidakinro

Picture of an everyday low prices sign.

Summary: If you are an online discounter, how can you convince customers that you really provide a discount? You can't expect the customer to trust you. You must provide the customer with evidence either by showing your prices versus competitor prices or by offering a deal so good the customer can't refute it.

"Super sale!!", "Only One More Left!!" These are phrases we hear all the time. But do customers believe those statements? After hearing overstated hype so often, customers are now skeptical that prices being advertised are really lower than average. If you can convince the customer your prices are good, you are many times more likely to win their business. You don't want the customer to just window show.

There are two principal ways to convince the customer that you provide a meaningful discount.
  1. Show actual prices of your competitors.
  2. Find one product you can sell so cheap, that customers don't question your discount.
Showing actual prices from your competitors is effective because such facts can't be questioned by the consumer. The key is that the company you use as a comparison does not need to be another discounter. You don't have to convince the customer that you have the best price on the web, you just need to convince the customer that you truly provide a discount. Therefore, if you sale an identical product as a premium retailer such as Nordstrom's, and you can prove your price is lower, by all means refer to the competitor explicitly. This evidence makes a far stronger statement than your merely stating you provide a discount.

Your second option to convince the customer that you provide a great discount is taken from Walmart's playbook. Do you remember November 28, 2003 when a Central Florida Walmart offered a DVD player so cheap ($30) that it caused a stampede? Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, began Walmart's use of this technique to draw in shoppers.

Sam Walton realized that if he offered even one product at an unforgettable price, he could draw in shoppers to shop at his store at an incredible rate. Such outlandish sales accomplished two things. First, it generated publicity and drew in shoppers for higher margin products. Second, it gave Walmart a reliable reputation for low prices.

However, you may be worried that you can't profit by copying what Walmart has done with success, because while Walmart was selling more than just the $30 DVD player to visiting shoppers, your website tends to sell only one or two products in a single shopping cart.

That's a valid concern. Your best option here is to try and cross-sell higher margin products or services to make up for margins you lose on your sale.

Nevertheless, if neither of the suggestions in this article seem to work for you, you may need to consider another reality.

You may do well to ask yourself, "Am I really able to provide the customer with a discount?" Some industries are so competitive that it isn't possible to offer a better price than what your competitors offer. If that is the case, then can you really build a business based on discounting? Sometimes it is wise to consider another business model. For instance trying to be a premium retailer instead of a discounter, essentially becoming a Mercedes of your industry instead of a Kia.

No matter what you end up choosing, be honest with the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell the customer an untruth. If you offer a consistent discount, then by all means state this on your website. However, if you don't offer a discount, it is best not to lose the customer's trust by telling him that you, like Walmart, have "Always low prices."

By being honest and providing evidence that your website's prices are lower than the competition you will win customer trust, generate buzz, and have a consistently higher sales conversion rate for your website.

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Increase Site Traffic By Giving Customers a Reason to Visit Your Site Frequently

By Ayo Ijidakinro

The website of mid-town lunch.  This company is generating $1,000 per month as of December 26th, 2007.
Midtownlunch.com generates $1,000 per month merely from regularly posting experiences at eateries in Midtown Manhattan.

Summary: To increase site traffic, post entertaining or educational content (whichever is appropriate for your business) to your website at least once per week.

If a customer visits your site once, do they have a reason to ever come back again? Take a good look at your website and ask yourself that question.

Most salesmen will tell you that you almost never win a customer on the first phone call. A good sales person builds a relationship with his customer. Your website must do the same.

Building relationships takes time. At first, a visitor to your website is going to eye you with skepticism, especially if they've never heard of you and just chanced upon your website through a Google search. Chances are, most customers will look at two pages on your site and then leave.

However, if you can give the user a reason to come back to your website then perhaps on their 2nd, 3rd, or 49th visit they will buy from you. This long term engagement is critical to increasing your site conversion rate.

How do you keep customers coming back? The best way is through entertaining or educational content. Try some of the following:
  1. Put a blog on your website and teach a lesson in each post.
  2. Post training videos on how to use your products or services.
  3. Conduct your own audio talk show, and place the MP3 files on your website.
Any of these ideas will get users to regularly return to your website, and eventually these users will become paying customers.

The key though is regularity. You need to post new content at least weekly, but at best daily. The truth is you can never post too much, but of course time is limited. So put something new on your website at least every week and stick with it for at least six months. If you do so, you will see an increase in site traffic.

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