Before answering the question as to what drives repeat visits, let us first understand why repeat visits are important for your website.
No matter what your website exists for repeat visits is always a good thing. For instance, if you’re selling something, if guests visit your site repeatedly that probably means that they like the products that you have to offer and are going to convert. If you are a content site, repeat visits mean you have a loyal set of readers, if you are a lead generating site, repeats would eventually lead to higher number of leads.
So we can confidently say that in most cases repeat visits mean that there is something good in line for your future. Now how to improve on your repeat visitor stats will be discussed later. First let’s look what motivates browsers to repeat.
The only objective answer to this question is “Customer/guest/browser Intent”.
In subjectively answering the question at hand let us broadly classify the guests who visit a typical e-commerce website into the following 3 categories:
1. Guests who come to the site for random browsing: these browsers visit the website without any intent of making an online purchase, nor are they researching any product.
Chances that they would end up purchasing something are very low. If they like the site content, products on offer and the site navigation itself chances are they would probably come back in case they need to purchase something in the future.
So for this group of visitors/guests the repeat is driven more by the content (products, product info etc) and how easy it is to navigate to product of one’s choice. However in this case the average time between repeats is not very steady.
Source: Paid Display Ad campaigns, StumbleUpon.com, Digg.com, Facebook.com, etc.
2. Guests who come to the site from organic or paid search results: More often than not these set of browsers have a definite intent of purchasing something from the site (because of the obvious reason that they were searching for something in the search engine). Now such kind of visits might not immediately result in a conversion as such visitors tend to research the same product across multiple online retailers before settling for the best bargain. Also we are not sure whether the visitor will end up purchasing online or make the final purchase from a store.
As such given that our prices are competitive, visitors of this category are sure to come to site again either to confirm the product details or make the final purchase. The average time between repeats for this segment should be a week at max.
In this case the driver for repeat visit is the actual intent to purchase. Later purchases and repeats can be attributed to competitive pricing, better user experience.
Of the guests who end up making a purchase online/store, a considerable portion can be expected to move to a different segment (Guests who visit the website directly by typing the URL.)
Source: Search Engines, Shopping Comparison sites, Word of Mouth sites etc.
3. Guest who visits the website directly by typing the URL: These are the regular/loyal visitors to the site. And they seem to repeat because of the brand value and also since they have become accustomed to the site navigation. A large number of visitors in this segment migrate from segments 1 and 2 discussed above.
These segments of visitors visit the site regularly for their product needs. Repeats may vary depending on the product requirement.
Source: Direct Visitors/guests.