What makes you think your website is any different?
“How often would you go back to Facebook if every time you went there, they showed you the exact same posts?” That’s a question I often ask people when they attend one of my workshops or live presentations. The answer of course is, not very. If every time you went to Facebook, you saw the exact same information from the exact same people, you wouldn’t have much reason to keep going back. The follow up question of course is, “What makes you think your website is any different?”
This sometimes causes a defensive reply of, “The reason someone goes to my site is different than the reason they go to Facebook, so that’s not a fair question,” but more often than not, it is an Aha moment for business owners as they realize that if they aren’t providing new relevant content on a consistent basis, then there is no reason for their visitors to return to their site. Intuitively, we all know that some form of new content is key to getting return visitors to our sites, but I decided to conduct a survey to try to quantify this.
I sent out a survey to over 3000 individuals asking them the same basic questions for multiple sites: Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, their favorite News/Weather site, their favorite blog/hobby site, and their favorite business/professional services site. The results were not surprising, but hopefully they are enlightening to anyone who is running their own website as to why visitors go to a website in the first place, and why they return (or not).
In response to the question, “How often do you visit this site?” 84% of the respondents said they visited Facebook either more than once a day or several times per week. But business sites are visited “Never, Seldom, or Occasionally” a whopping 92% of the time. So, it seems that sites which have more frequent content updates are visited more frequently.
To verify this, I then asked the question, “What are your reasons for returning to this site?” I included a choice for the obvious answers, such as “interact with friends on Facebook” or “buy something on Amazon.” But respondents could select multiple answers to this question. These answers were quite revealing: 42% said they go to Facebook for “latest information and updates” and 50% said they go to business sites for the same reason. 33% of people go to Facebook for “Personalized Content” and 25% go to business sites for the same reason. Even though people are visiting Facebook much more frequently than they are business sites, the reasons why people are returning to a site are essentially the same – they are looking for good, personalized content and updated information.
Despite what some web designers might tell you, people are not visiting websites for “design and usability” – that is less than 8% of the responses for any type of website. They are going there purely to consume content. If you are not providing them the information they are looking for, they will not return. That is why it is critical that you update your website with new, personalized and relevant content on a consistent basis. And it doesn’t matter what business you are in. Imagine if the business website had a blog section or a podcast with daily updated content, perhaps featuring other industry experts. Instead of just talking about themselves, they shared industry news and trends, maybe even opening up a dialog with their visitors. My guess is that instead of being part of the “Never” statistic, their customers would start returning to their site on a much more consistent basis.
I also asked why you visited a website in the first place. Again, the answers did not surprise me – regardless of the type of site, the majority went there because “a friend told me to go there.” Marketers and SEO companies would like to have you believe that the reason people find your site is because of a Google search, but this only accounted for about 33% of the responses. Another 25% is due to advertising. Depending upon the site, 42% to 67% of the respondents visited a site because of word of mouth. And word of mouth happens because the site provides great content.
Finally, I asked, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most likely), “How likely are you to return to a website if they provide new information and updates?” The average response was 7.6. If you think content marketing is dead, I can assure you that your website, and possibly your business, soon will be. The best way to get people to return to your site is to give them a reason to do so.
Greg Jameson is the president and CEO of WebStores Ltd., an ecommerce and digital marketing agency located in Colorado. Connect with Greg through his website at http://WebStoresLtd.com