Let’s Bring ‘Em Back – Return Site Visitors Are the Key to Success

So, you have a great website. It contains all of your product or service information, downloads, contact forms, your phone number is clearly viable, you might even an ecommerce platform waiting to move your product. Your site users might even be doing a fair amount of poking around, browsing and engaging with your content. But they aren’t converting, and they aren’t coming back. What gives? Let’s discuss.

First, before we dig into the strategy of how to get return visitors to your site, let’s dig into why return traffic is invaluable. 

Are you more familiar with a brand the first time you learn about it? Think of an emerging product, and I’ll use a personal example here: Shinola, manufacturer of some gorgeous watches. I’m a sucker for anything Michigan-made, and for beautiful timepieces. I was first exposed to Shinola via an eye-catching internet display ad, that had “Made in Detroit” featured as the only text. I didn’t actually click the ad; surprisingly, for my line of work, I’m not an “ad clicker.” However, I did open a tab, Google them, and before hitting their website, read a Detroit Free Press article about them. THEN I went to the site after learning how they are trying to revitalize the city I love. I saw gorgeous (and expensive) watches that I longed for, but didn’t purchase. After I sulked away without my watch, I was served this ad a day later, on ESPN.com:

Shinola Detroit Banner Ad

It was just as eye-catching as the first ad, but with the very watch I had spent considerable time looking at. Long story short, I now own that watch. 

Shinola knew that behind my device was a human, with human emotions. Maybe they didn’t catch me the first time, but they didn’t let that conversation between my heart and their product die right there. And $550 later, they had a customer for life.

Now, that’s an anecdotal example – let’s look at actual hard data, between new users and return users, via a Google Analytics screen shot from one of my clients. 

Google Analytics screen shot return visitors vs new visitors

As you can see, while new (first time) visitors vastly outnumber return visitors, the returning visitors spend almost double the time on site, and a 4.1% higher conversion rate for the goals set up in Analytics (these goals in particular are requests for quote or PDF spec sheet downloads – the two best leading indicators of buying intent for this client.) If return visitors are doubling the time of engagement and almost doubling the conversion rate, that’s pretty valuable traffic! And this applies to your site, regardless of what the purpose behind it is.

So…how do we get them back for a second visit?


If you’ve shopped on Amazon, or a number of other sites, you’re familiar with remessaging. You get a little cookie on your web browser, which is tied to specific pages you viewed on a site. This triggers ad networks to deliver creative to you after the visit, to help you convert. This is why when you look at a product on Amazon and don’t buy it, it follows you around for the rest of your life online. The example above with Shinola is a perfect example – who knows if I would have bought a watch without being retargeted?

There are a number of ways this can be done, the most widely used being Google ad networks for remarketing. I could go in deeper on this, but someone already has, and this article is a great crash course. Simply speaking, you put a line of code on every page you’d like to retarget people from, and that code builds a custom audience tied to creative that you direct Google to serve.

Facebook is another exceptional way to remessage site visitors (along with custom CRM audience data you may already own.) The great thing about Facebook remessaging is the ability to couple creative imagery with text, offering a more engaging ad experience for the user, and the room to tell more of a story. Facebook remarketing is very easy, and here’s a great starting point.


This one should be fairly self explanatory; if you have a customer base that is willingly giving you permission to engage their inbox with messages, you should dang well take advantage of that.

Let’s start with audience building; you should have form captures on your website specifically for email captures. Along with this, you’ll want to explain to your users what they should expect – deals? Educational articles? Industry trends? You can also capture email addresses via social pages, and even having a drawing at your next trade show booth – just be sure to actually get permission to add them to a list, or else you could get your email marketing account added to naughty lists, or shut down altogether.

We’ll dig in later regarding email marketing messages and creative, but you should only email your audience when you have something valuable to say. Oversaturating your subscribers for the sake of mindless communication is the quickest route to an unsubscribe.


We touched on this earlier back in the remessaging section, however if you’ve done a great job of building a file of customer/prospect contact data, you can leverage that for a very intricate marketing campaign specific to that audience across more platforms than just email.

Nearly every social site these days – including your best two for marketing, LinkedIn and Facebook – allow you to upload audience contact information to their social sites, giving you the opportunity to build your own custom audience on their platforms. Think about it – if you have a list of people who are your best customers or prospects, you’d like to reach them across different channels, right? Now, you have the option to email them, but also more passively get in their feeds via their social homepages with custom creative.

Maybe you sell ecommerce, and you’re looking to increase your conversion. You could offer your CRM audience a 10% off discount, or free shipping, to people that you know have used your services before. It’s less expensive to retain customers than gain new ones, right? Even if it’s simply a branding tool to reinforce top of mind awareness, consistent engagement of people already familiar with your brand can make a world of difference.

In closing, the concept of this is simple – develop as many touch points as possible to your most valuable users – the ones that already know you. Next time, we’ll discuss what the landing page experience should be for your return users, but if you have questions about anything here, please feel free to reach out to me at ryan@ryanjwinfield.com, or @RyanJWinfield on Twitter.