For most web managers, their primary objective is to attract visitors
to their site. Whether you sell widgets, financial services or an
interactive experience, it is only through attracting traffic that most
sites can achieve their objective. Getting that first time visitor to
your site requires a significant amount of effort that has, and will
again be a topic of this newsletter.
Once your visitor has viewed your site and left, what then? Will
they return? After spending so much effort to attract the visitor in
the first place, why would you simply wish Bon Voyage and hope
to just get another pair of eyeballs? The fact is, whether a visitor
buys into your offerings or not, they are probably highly qualified.
Or in other words, a visitor in the site is worth two in the search
engine (or more probably 200,000).
The best sources for traffic to your site are the visitors that have
already been to it. This is true even if the visitor decided to buy
from a competitor. You know that your visitors have an interest in
the type of product or service that you are providing otherwise they
would not have come in the first place. It should be a primary
objective of any web site promoter to give a visitor a reason to
For some web sites this may seem natural. If you sell wine by the
case you can assume that your visitor will eventually consume it
and return. If you sell on-line trading you can hope that your visitor
will return frequently. If you sell cars, houses or dream vacations,
you may assume that once purchased your visitor may not have any
reason to return for quite awhile.
Whether your site provides a once in a long while purchase or a
consumable replaced on a daily basis, your visitor should be given
every reason to want to come back often. Why? First because a
frequent visitor is more likely to become a customer even if they
have no immediate need for your product or service. Second,
because they can recommend your site through word of mouth, the
best form of promotion you can have. Third, because a qualified
visitor is a commodity that you can use. At some point you may
wish to supplement your revenue with some form of advertising. In
order to do this you will need a high traffic site, preferably one with
Let's use an on-line wine merchant as an example (something I
have never actually tried). I would assume that a site that sells wine
would hope to generate repeat customers at best, once a month but
more probably once or twice a year. If that customer is anything like
me, they will probably do some comparison shopping by trying
several other online merchants. If the customer is anything like me,
they will also be likely to misplace your URL or forget which site
offered better service and pricing. If another site was offering a
special just when they visited, at some point they may discover that
they can only find the URL of your competitor and stick with them.
If all else were equal, you could hope to get as many customers
from you competitors in this way as you loose. But all else is not
equal. Your competitors are going to try to get your customers as
well as keep theirs. If you have an 'all else is equal' attitude you will
soon be the low man on the totem pole. This is important even if
your site provides a service or product that requires frequent visits.
It only takes a few mouse clicks for your customer to find a
competitor's site. Regardless of what they are offered, do they have
any compelling reason to return to your site?
It is unrealistic to expect that you can do anything to prevent your
customers and visitors from looking around. What you can do is
give your visitors as many reason to return as possible. This means
finding other ways to make your site a destination even if your
visitor is not at the time, a potential customer.
How do you make your site a frequent destination? By
incorporating relevant dynamic content. Far too many sites tend to
become stale. That is, the same content is left for weeks, months or
even years without modification. It is very tempting to believe that
once you have designed and posted your site you are finished. In
fact it is just the beginning. You will now have to do everything you
can to convince your visitors to return on a frequent basis.
The first thing to do is to ask your visitor to bookmark your page.
"Please Press Ctrl-D to bookmark this site. We frequently update
with new and useful content."
Next week I shall discuss some of the content that you can add to
make your web site a dynamic frequent destination for those visitors
you have tried so hard to get.