Are Repeat Visits a Good Measure of Success?

By September 8, 2016Analytics

Are Repeat Visits a Good Measure of Success?

We’ve long been skeptical of using web analytics data (such as time on site & visits to key pages) as the main success measure for brand & information websites. What people choose to view on a website tells us little about whether the site meets their needs, influences them, or drives them to take action after their visit.

A good example of this is using repeat visits as a measure of success. Surely visitors who return must have a better experience than those who don’t come back, right?

Not always.

For one of our clients, visitors who were dissatisfied with the website were actually THREE TIMES more likely to return than those who were satisfied.

When unsatisfied visitors returned to the site, they typically looked at a few pages and quickly left. From web analytics, it appears that these are returning visitors coming back to consume more content or reconsider a purchase. Because we surveyed these visitors, we know that they are actually unsatisfied prospects who were disappointed their first visit because they were earlier in the purchase cycle and needed extensive background information, which the site did not provide. 

Satisfied visitors, on the other hand, didn’t spend as much time at the site, typically found what they were looking for, and were more likely to convert offsite. These visitors were further along in their purchase process and didn’t return because they found the in-depth product information that the site offered.

We could never find this out simply from looking at web analytics alone. We could see the repeat visits, but we’d know nothing about why they came back or why some repeat visitors spent so little time on the site. We could also never get this from surveys alone, as we’d never see their behaviors on the site. We’d wrongly assume that those who were more satisfied would be more likely to come back.

In these cases, repeat visits and time on site were used by our client as two main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). By combining survey and behavior data, we proved that while repeat visits in themselves are not bad (they are a second chance to make an impression in this case), they are a poor measure of site success for this brand. This relatively simple information helped them stop wasting money and time on building irrelevant content and refocus efforts on content which really performs best.

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