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 return.
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
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 a frequent visitor is more likely to become a
customer even if they have no immediate need for your product
or service. Second, they can recommend your site through word
of mouth, the best form of promotion you can have. Third, 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 qualified visitors.
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 reasons 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.
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