4 Strategies to Convert New Visitors into Returning Ones

Acquisition and Retention

We've got an enormous problem in the content industry. Practically every single resource that I read on content marketing is related to acquiring new visitors, reaching new target audiences, and investing in emerging media channels. Those are all acquisition strategies.

The acquisition of customers is the slowest, most difficult, and costly means of increasing revenue regardless of any industry or product type. Why is this fact lost on content marketing strategies?

  • It's approximately 50% easier to sell to existing customers than to brand new prospects according to Marketing Metrics
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75% according to Bain and Company.
  • 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers according to Gartner.

If your business is devoting time and energy in customer retention strategies, and you recognize that content marketing strategies drive new customers, doesn't it make sense that – in your customer's journey – that helping your new visitors convert into returning visitors is both cost effective and will substantially increase revenue? It's just common sense.

Martech Zone continues double-digit growth year over year without spending money on buying new visitors. Of course, we attribute much of this growth to the ongoing improvement of both user experience and content quality – but some of the strategies that we're deploying are far more elementary and easier to implement:

  1. Email Subscriptions – Promote your newsletter to first-time visitors with popups or exit intent tools. Communicating the benefits of your newsletter and then providing some kind of incentive for visitors can drive quite a few emails… which may turn into customers long-term..
  2. Browser Notifications – The majority of browsers have now integrated desktop notifications into the operating systems of both Mac or PC. We've deployed OneSignal's push notification solution. When you arrive at our site via mobile or desktop, you're asked whether or not you wish to allow desktop notifications. If you allow them, each time we publish you are sent a notification. We're adding dozens of subscribers daily with hundreds returning each week.
  3. Feed Subscriptions – improving and integrating a Feed subscription service continues to pay off. Too many people believe that feeds are dead – yet we continue to see dozens of new feed subscribers each week and thousands of readers returning to our site.
  4. Social Following – While feed popularity has waned, social has cranked up. Behind search engine traffic, social media traffic is our top referral partner to our site. While it's not possible to distinguish that traffic between someone else's following or our own, we know that as we've grown our following that the referral traffic improves comparably.

Reader retention isn't just getting people to return. Readers that continue to return, read your content, and engage with your brand over time recognize you for the authority you have and increase their trust in you. Trust is the lynchpin that drives a visitor into a customer.

In Google Analytics Behavior reports, you can view the New vs Returning report. As you view the report, be sure to modify the date range and check the compare button to see whether or not your site is retaining readers or losing more of them. Keep in mind, of course, that the actual volume is understated since Google Analytics is dependent upon device-specific cookies. As your visitors clear cookies or visit from different devices, they're not fully and accurately counted.

Our Results

In the last two years, we've focused the vast majority of our investment on retention strategies. Has it worked? Absolutely! Returning visits are up 85.3% on Martech Zone. Keep in mind, these aren't unique visitors – these are visits. We've doubled the number of visitors who return within 1 week of first visiting the site. So – the number of visitors returning has increased, the number of visits per returning visitor, and the time between visits has been reduced. That's significant… and revenue is performing even better.

A returning visitor is much more likely to either refer you to a company you can assist, or hire you themselves. If you're not paying attention to the number of returning visitors to your site, you're wasting a lot of budget, energy, and time.


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    Great article. I think that sometimes people just forget about visiting a website, it’s good to have some kind of notification system like Newsletter or browser notifications. Actually a good, old email newsletter is working very well for us (PressPad).

    Increasing user retention was actually one of our main goals when we launched PressPad News, our product for bloggers. We create mobile apps for them, that notify users of every new post published, keeping them up to date and making sure they will keep in touch. What do you think about such a solution?

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