Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 Ways to Get People to Return to your Site

by Oudam Em

Any online marketer understands just how difficult it is to get people to visit his or her web site. Some businesses are willing to pay as much as $10 to $20 for each visitor to their site through campaigns.

What we sometimes overlook is that keeping an existing website visitor is just as important as obtaining a new one. In fact, return visitors are arguably more valuable because they are more likely to take action, to purchase whatever you have to sell to them.

Here are a few tips on improving your site's stickiness.

1. Make certain your site gives your visitors what they want. Web surfers have short attention spans, and there are an incredible number of sites competing for their attention. Your message should leap out at them and grab their attention from the start. It should be clear and specific. If your main business is retailing Korean DVDs, make sure that they get the message within the first few seconds. If they have to dig through your website to find Korean DVDs, odds are they would leave your site in no time.

2. Keep your website content fresh and current. Whenever people come to a website they want to see fresh content. If you are selling Korean movies, you will want to frequently update your site with new releases, special promotions, sales, etc. Updating your website on a regular basis lets your customers know you are on the ball, that you're diligent about your business.

3. Send frequent newsletters to your visitors. Create an opt-in e-mail list from your site visitors. Place newsletter sign-up forms on as many pages on your site as possible. Send out regular newsletters letting your recipients know about the latest developments, specials, offers, etc. Be respectful to your potential customers by not sending them excessive junk mail and by providing an easy way for them to have their names removed from the mailing list at any time.

4. Integrate forums and news feeds on your website. Forums and news feeds update themselves with minimal effort and maintenance on your part, so it's a no-brainer to include them in your site whenever appropriate.

5. Maintain a weblog on your site. A professional blog can be a part of your domain, or you can link to an external blog from your website. Display the link prominently on your site. If your site offers professional services, keep your blog entries professional and relevant. Leave out personal rants as they could turn off our prospective customers.

6. Integrate third-party widgets into your site. Widgets can add special functionalities to your site without your having to write and implement the codes yourself. There are widgets for chat, polls, newsletter signups, weather forecasts, and so on. Widgets are a great way to add bells and whistles to your site without the expenses of software development and, since they are hosted on external sites, extra bandwidth. However, use them sparingly as they could slow down your site and steal away your visitors throughout the via the links they display.

7. Make yourself unique. Odds are there are hundreds or even thousands of other web sites in your niche competing for your target visitors. How do you stand out? How do you set yourself apart from others? Analyze your competitors' websites and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Are there certain features that are lacking on their sites that you would be able to provide on yours? Being unique is not so much about discovering something completely new and revolutionary; it is about filling certain voids and needs that aren't getting filled elsewhere.

8. Make your website entertaining and appealing. Your website should be user-friendly and intuitive to navigate. The site design should fit the function and go along well with the nature of your business. Avoid flashy graphics, annoying colors and other distracting elements.

9. Gather feedbacks from your site visitors. Feedbacks are a great way to engage your visitors and collect their inputs on how to make your site. They let visitors know that you care about their needs and desires.

10. Offer free stuff on your site. Sending out newsletters to people in your opt-in list offering them "free" this and "free" that is a good way to attract return visitors. In truth, nothing in life is really free. This probably explains why regardless how overused the word "free" is, it remains a potent marketing tactic. Even though few people are foolish enough to think they would really get something for nothing, they're always looking for extra perks and incentives to give them more for their money.

About the Author

Oudam Em is the owner of Web Launch, a company that offers free search engine submission to dozens of search engines and web directories.