Many companies focus exclusively on getting new visitors to their websites, but earning return visits can be equally important, especially when online sales are a significant percentage of revenue. It can be difficult to objectively evaluate one’s own site, since your site is a bit like your child… and really… how could anyone possibly not like your child?
Fear not. There is a way to reconfigure your objectivity. Instead of fixating on your own site, look at the sites that you frequent and ask yourself why you return to those sites again and again. Then ask yourself if your site offers the same kinds of value to visitors that your favorite sites offer you. Open up your own web browser’s “favorites” or “bookmarks” menu and take a look. I bet you’ll find sites that fall into a few basic categories.
My own bookmarks are full of sites that:
Have the best prices or best service on products that I buy often – This one is pretty self-explanatory. I return to retail sites that have earned my business by being better than their competitors in areas I value most.
Offer a repository of useful reference information – Wikipedia gets bashed all the time for inaccurate information, yet I still find myself going back again and again to figure out who sang a certain song, or to find out if something I just saw in a movie is fictional or historical. I’d never write a research paper based on information in Wikipedia, but it’s incredibly useful for answering day to day questions and a good example of the importance of web content.
Always have fresh content on topics that interest me – Your website already has a target audience–your customers. They’re visiting your site because you offer something that interests them. In order to keep your audience coming back, frequently update your site with new products, news, etc.
Are platforms for community building – I’m always checking Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Connecting with other people is one of the core functions of the web, and these sites are great at facilitating those connections. Be sure your business in present on these platforms to encourage new and returning visitors.
Offer useful online tools – For example, I play the guitar, and one of the sites I visit almost on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times a day) is a site that has a free online metronome built into the home page. If you have a business in the real estate industry you can consider including mortgage calculators on your site to encourage returning visitors.
The point here is not to explain what my interests are. The point is that whether people return to your site or not after visiting it once is not rocket science. When it comes to website return visits, people (myself included) are really not that hard to figure out. They’re going to visit sites that help them in some way… be entertained, do their jobs, connect with other people, etc.
What they are absolutely NOT going to do is return to sites that:
• Do not offer a compelling reason to buy (and then buy again and again)
• Never have fresh content
• Have no useful information
• Are difficult to use
• They do not trust
Without virtually pointing any fingers, my guess is that if a given site is having problems getting return visitors, then that site almost certainly has at least one of these problems.
One of the simplest ways to put useful information on your site is to start a blog… a real blog… not a rehashed “please buy our stuff” sales letter that you post once a week, but truly useful articles that relate to your business. What expertise does your company have? What problems have you solved for your clients/customers? Blog about those things. Offer your visitors real, actionable information. This will put fresh, useful information on your site on a regular basis (assuming you publish articles regularly) while at the same time building trust with your visitors, since you’re offering them something valuable before asking them to get out their credit cards.
Blogging is not the 100% surefire silver bullet answer to all your problems, but it is a very low risk, low cost way to get started building value into your website. Your visitors will appreciate it, and if your articles are good enough they’ll come back again and again.
About the author: Dan Vuksanovich is the Website Traffic Increaser Guy . He helps small businesses get more traffic to their websites and convert more website traffic into sales. Follow Dan at Google+.
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