Repeat site visits – a critical goal for a successful website

1st visit. 2nd visit. 3rd visit. 4th visit. 5th visit. 6th visit.

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 ZTech Cameras and other camera sites, he has come to trust ZTech Cameras’ 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 And 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.

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.