June 19th, 2018

5 Ways to Increase Your Returning Visitor Rate

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

New traffic is exciting, but returning customers are the bread and butter of your business.

Many businesses focus most of their marketing energy on drawing in new visitors. They trust that, once their visitors get a taste of their site, they’ll be happy to keep coming back for more. And, in many cases, that’s perfectly true! However, even happy visitors can forget about your website, feel disengaged, or simply leave and never return.

When this happens, businesses miss out on a key opportunity with their customer base. Instead of nurturing leads who have exposure to their brand, they let those visitors grow cold while they spend extra energy chasing more new visitors—many of whom may also never come back.

Instead, businesses should think about those new visitors not just as one hit wonders, but as the start of an ongoing relationship. After all, visitors who don’t come back won’t build your business. So, if you’re looking for ways to grow your returning visitor rate, here’s how to start.

1. Create new content.

The best way to encourage your visitors to come back is to give them a reason. Fortunately, this is one way content marketing can do wonders for your business. Not only does it boost your SEO, it’s also great incentive for visitors to come back for more.

Even better, your returning visitors come back for that content because they like it. They’re not feeling tricked or pressured into returning—they’re there because you’re helping them out, and that’s a great place to be when you’re trying to build trust and loyalty among your visitors.

So, take a hard look at your products and services, and think about how you could provide articles that your visitors would find helpful. For instance, my budgeting software frequently shares financial tips and stories about other users who have worked their way out of debt or met their savings goals. Who knew accounting could be so riveting?

2. Keep in touch over social media.

Of course, once you create content, you’ll need to let your visitors know it’s there. Some will be happy to check back in, while others may sign up for your email updates (more on that in a second). But one of the most convenient ways to keep in touch—for both you and your visitors—is through social media.

Keep your social icons in plain sight at the top of your website, and look for tasteful ways to encourage your visitors to follow you. Then make sure to update those channels regularly with your content. This is where blog posts come in handy. Your subscribers are likely to grow weary of your channel if all you ever do is promote product (unless your brand frequently offers new products, in which case you will also have plenty of new content). On the other hand, a blog gives you a good reason to update without appearing too pushy.

3. Start an email newsletter.

Social media doesn’t work for everyone. Some people aren’t on a platform, others don’t check it that often, and for many, that content just gets lots in the news feed. Email, on the other hand, is near universal. And visitors who give you their email address are far more dedicated to you and your service than the casual social media follower.

Email newsletters can be a huge success, so long as they’re managed properly. You want to be sure that no one who signs up for your email feels tricked into receiving marketing updates. Similarly, if they do sign up, you want to be sure they don’t feel overwhelmed by emails.

I had a frustrating run-in with a business recently where, after entering my email to register with their site and ask for more information about their services, I received a dozen emails in one weekend, none of which answered my questions, and many of which used aggressive, bartering language. I only returned to unsubscribe.

4. Use strategic retargeting.

You’ve probably seen retargeting ads before. There the ones that follow you around the Internet after you visit a website. Some people feel like they’re being stalked, but that’s not quite how they work.

While, the websites you visit don’t follow you around the Internet, they do leave you with a marketing cookie with your browser so that subsequent websites can see where you’ve been. It’s sort of like carrying around a shopping bag in the mall: you probably don’t think about that shopping bag as an advertisement for the store you were just in, but it’s signaling where you’ve been to everyone you pass by.

Remarketing cookies can misfire when handled poorly, and if your visitors are EU citizens you will need to update your cookie policy so that it complies with GDPR policy. However, when you do remarketing well, it serves as a reminder to your visitors that they went to your site, and it can prompt them to return and continue shopping.

5. Offer a customer loyalty program.

Another way to keep customers coming back is to reward them. Offer them points for making purchases in your store, or send them exclusive offers. Visitors are more likely to keep coming back if there’s something in it for them. A loyalty system is also a great way to thank your customers and show that you appreciate them.

Encouraging visitor loyalty is the best way to promote the health of your business.

Converting new leads into closed sales is exhausting, and your pool of qualified customers is not endless. If your new visitors never convert into returning visitors, you’re going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels.

On the other hand, if you want to get out of your rut, searching for ways to improve your returning visitor rate is your best option. Returning customers know who you are and are more likely to do business with you than cold leads. Help remind them why they came to you in the first place, and most will be happy to return time and again.

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