Average Visits per Visitor
Average visits per visitor over a finite timeframe can help you understand how much interest or momentum the “average” visitor has.
The total number of visits divided by the total number of visitors during the same timeframe.
Visits / Visitors = Average Visits per Visitor
Sophisticated users may also want to calculate average visits per visitor for different visitor segments. This can be especially valuable when examining the activity of new and returning visitors or, for online retailers, customers and non-customers.
The challenge with presenting average visits per visitor is that you need to examine an appropriate timeframe for this KPI to make sense. Depending on your business model it may be daily or it may be annually: Search engines like Google or Yahoo can easily justify examining this average on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Marketing sites that support very long sales cycles waste their time with any greater granularity than monthly.
Consider changing the name of the indicator when you present it to reflect the timeframe under examination, e.g, “Average Daily Visits per Visitor” or “Average Monthly Visits per Visitor”.
Expectations for average visits per visitor vary widely by business model.
• Retail sites selling high-consideration items will ideally have a low average number of visits indicating low barriers to purchase; those sites selling low consideration items will ideally have a high average number of visits, ideally indicating numerous repeat purchases. Online retailers are advised to segment this KPI by customers and non-customers as well as new versus returning visitors regardless of customer status.
• Advertising and marketing sites will ideally have high average visits per visitor, a strong indication of loyalty and interest.
• Customer support sites will ideally have a low average visits per visitor, suggesting either high satisfaction with the products being supported or easy resolution of problems. Support sites having high frequency of visit per visitor should closely examine average page views per visit, average time spent on site and call center volumes, especially if the KPI is increasing (e.g., getting worse.)
All web sites desire some kind of relationship with their visitors over time—the wild cards are usually the type of relationship and the amount of time. Customer support sites want people to visit whenever they have a problem but don’t want customers to have problems per se yielding a high average visits per visitor over a longer period of time. Retail, marketing and advertising sites all want people to come back all the time to buy, learn or click respectively. The challenge for site operators is figuring out how exactly to drive this return activity and knowing what to do when it fails to appear.
For the most part, when this KPI trends in the wrong direction you need to ask “what just happened?” Your average visits per visitor should be relatively stable providing your site has been available for at least 6 months and you’ve not made any major changes to the site or your retention marketing strategy. Therein lies the opportunity: If you change your retention marketing strategy or your site you should expect to see a change (albeit slight) in this KPI in the following weeks and months. If none appears, what went wrong? If the KPI improves dramatically, great! Understand what you did well and repeat as often as possible.
If this KPI suddenly gets worse, figure out why. Common culprits include site changes breaking bookmarked links, the emergence of a new competitor and the intangible offline “vibe”, e.g., perhaps you’re just no longer as cool as you think. Keep in mind before you panic: You need to give your visitors enough time to return and visit depending on your business model.