7 Visitor Retention Strategies you are Missing Out On

[Guest post by John Dorian]

Struggling with ways of getting more traffic to your website? You are not the only one.

But what if there is a way to do more with the same amount of traffic?

More than that, what if this way could help you gain more visibility in the search engines?

Throughout this article, I am going to show not one, but seven methods you can start using right away.

Let’s start with the following idea: the longer a visitor stays on your e-commerce site, the better the chances are for him/her to complete a purchase.

Taking it as the foremost objective, we have some ideas of how to improve the visitor’s experience throughout the store.

1. Visitor follow-up

I am a regular listener of Pat Flynn’s podcast for a few years now.

During an episode on his website redesign, he mentioned how he likes to pick a visitor once a week to have a chat on Skype.

Through this face to face conversation he asks a lot of questions hoping to reveal what the visitor likes and what he is finding difficult to achieve on the website.

This is one of the most basic ways to perform a follow-up, but it is so damn powerful.

To have a larger base of opinions, you can do a survey on the website.
Great tools include:

  • Qualaroo
  • VWO (Visual Website Optimizer)
  • Hotjar

You can find a bunch more on Capterra.

Follow the voice of your visitors! Your primary concern and the website’s only objective is figuring out how to serve better the customer.

2. Using a recommendation engine

Moving on to a more actionable step, we should talk about one of the most popular ways of improving the visitor experience.

In my humble opinion, there are two main categories of recommendation engines: the ones that make use of machine learning and the ones that don’t.

The ones that don’t are trying to suggest related or complementary products based on their attributes and categories.

It’s is good, but it’s not enough.

Users have their own way of navigating and shopping online. Recommending products based on attributes it’s simply not going to cut it these days.

This is where machine learning comes into play.

As random as a user’s journey might seem within your site, there is always a pattern of behavior where he/she would fit in.

A great recommendation system will always use this kind of data to personalize the users experience within your store. Not only the pattern, but also the visitor’s journey and history.

Brainsins has some excellent algorithms to help you with this.

My favorite part is that you can edit the look and feel of it. This way you can integrate it uniquely with an open-source platform like Prestashop or Woocommerce.
It’s good to have control over the code, even if you don’t have coding abilities!

Look & Feel Editor for Recommendations

Probably the best thing about it is the free plan for sites with less than 50.000 visitors. You don’t run into this every day!

Don’t hesitate on using a recommendation system! If you have the opportunity to choose one that handles machine learning and the visitor’s history, you are in a favorable position.

3. Triggering exit intent on pivotal pages

There are a lot of tools these days that can detect the moment when a visitor is about to leave your website. Not closing the browser window, but intending to go away from it.

Exit Intent

(image source)

Is this a suitable moment to trigger a popup?
Well, do you remember the Columbo TV series? Most of you are probably too young.

The main character was a very smart detective, though he didn’t quite look like one. The bad guys never seemed to take him seriously because of his goofy look.

Just before the end of the episode, when the villain is about to get away with murder, Columbo would do his famous “Just one more thing …” line.

This one last thing is the key to solving the case and putting the bad guy behind bars.

The same principle can be applied to any website. Well, not to put your visitors behind bars, but to incentivize them to perform an action.

When the user is about to go away, you give him your last shot. Now depending on his progress or what page he is on, there are some ways to do the targeting.

Here are a few examples:

  • Users that have seen three or fewer pages of your website. (These are Avinash’s Non-Flirts, Potential Lovers)
  • Users that are trying to leave the Cart/Checkout pages. (Reducing Cart Abandonment)
  • On categories: get them to use the filters, they will be more likely to buy
  • On product pages: offer a discount code in exchange for a newsletter subscription

Here are five excellent case studies for exit popups to give you a better picture.

Just remember that exit intent is only available on desktop devices. For mobile, you will have to put a different strategy into play.

Services that have caught my attention in this field:

  • OptiMonk
  • OptinMonster
  • Marketizator

Start using exit intent technology now! Give people a second chance to look at your content.

4. Using live chat triggers

Some people have objections against using them because it could be annoying for the user.

There are claims that it might become weird if used at full proficiency. People could feel awkward if they know someone is following their movement throughout the website.

All I want to say is that chat triggers are terribly powerful if put to work in the right manner.

Say someone is struggling to send an order for more than two minutes?
Triggering the chat to ask the visitor if he needs help completing the order is in no way disturbing. It is helpful!

Also, it gets you orders that in most cases will be lost.

Another way to use the chat is to help users interested in a particular category or product.

Chat Trigger

Let’s assume you are the owner of a sporting goods store and a potential customer is showing interest in your bikes category (e.g. spends more than 3 minutes on pages that contain the word “bike” in their URL).

Sending a message like “Do you need help choosing a bike?” will not only help you close the sale, but it could help spotting different issues with the site or with the products.

How can any of this be disturbing?

Remember to set a limit for the triggers. Most live chats have this option built in. If the chat has triggered once, you don’t allow it a second time.

The live chat is one of the most underutilized retention tools. A lot of stores have them on their site, but you would be surprised at how few of them use triggers or even actively responding to messages.

5. Recovering abandoned carts through e-mail

People put stuff in their cart, but sometimes forget to finalize the order. That’s a fact.

Cart abandonment rates are over 50% for a lot of e-commerce sites I come across. A huge issue, but also a fantastic opportunity.

Why an opportunity? Well, if they abandon their carts on your store it is likely they are abandoning them on competitor sites as well.

Coming to them with an email letting them know their cart is saved and waiting could give you an edge.

More than that, including a discount code, is something not a lot of stores are doing.


More and more online shops are trying to recover abandoned carts. The implementation has been simplified thanks to a lot of modules/plugins available for almost any kind of eCommerce platform.

Also, Brainsins has an email retargeting dedicated section.

Email retargeting is a traffic source that will blow conversion rate out of the park! Your store should have it in place. You don’t want to be a step back from your competition.

6. Rewarding loyal customers

This one is an oldie, but goldie. Successfully used by retailers for centuries, loyalty programs are an amazing way of turning visitors all the way into brand advocates.

First-time visitors could be more inclined to make a purchase if there is a loyalty program.

It’s on you to figure out the best rewarding options for your type of business.
Customers love loyalty points, coupons or even gifts.

Here are some options to get you rolling:

  • points upon purchase
  • points for social shares
  • points for customer referral
  • birthday rewards
  • VIP accounts depending on the amount spent

There are a lot of ways of implementing a loyalty program. Frequent shoppers will expect you to have it in place.

Also, they will love to come back to your site to check out the status of their rewards or to examine any new ways of earning points.

I have to reiterate: your only goal is to serve the customers! You want to keep them as close as you can.

7. Keeping an eye on those KPIs

This is not a step that you can implement right away, but one to help you coming up with ideas.

Every store is different than the other. Monitoring the data exemplified below on week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over-year basis will not only reveal what works and what doesn’t, but it will give you actionable ideas that not every competitor has.

So here they are:

  • On-site quality indicators such as
    • average time on site
    • average pages per visit
    • bounce rate
  • Visitor retention indicators such as
    • the ratio of daily to monthly returning visitors
    • percent of returning visitors and their frequency
    • loyalty measurements for returning visitors
    • retained visitor conversion rate
  • Customer retention rates: you want your first-time customers to become repurchasers
    • 20% is the baseline
    • 45% is ok
    • 65%+ is amazing
  • NPS score: most Fortune 500 companies are following this indicator rather than profits
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Year-over-year income (YoY)
  • Customer Lifetime Value

These may seem like a lot, but believe me, they’re not. Especially if you want your business to succeed.

Implementing at least three of the strategies presented in this article will increase your conversion rates like you wouldn’t believe.

Not just sales, but also quality indicators like Average time on site/page, Pages per Visit and Bounce Rate will improve. Bottomline, people, will love the website more.

Google and other search engines will take notice, and they will reward you with greater rankings and more organic traffic.

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