How do you know which visitors to your website are potential buyers?
Some of them are only one-time visitors. Others come by your site occasionally.
And a few are on a buyer’s journey with the potential to become a customer in the future.
How can you identify the visitors that are most likely to become customers?
Let’s face it, your visitors are the best people to answer this question. Unfortunately you can’t ask them directly.
But they will communicate with you indirectly through their behavior on your site. Remember, one of the four forces behind data-driven marketing is that “past and current customer behavior are the best predictors of future customer behavior.”
Recent visitors are more likely to transact with you
One component of past behavior is Recency. Buyers who have visited you more recently are more likely to visit again than buyers who have visited less recently.
Think about it this way. If you have a visitor whose last visit to your site was last week and another whose last visit was one year ago, which do you think is more likely to visit you again?
Right. The person who visited one week ago.
Google Analytics includes a Recency report in Audience >> Behavior >> Frequency & Recency.
Let’s see what it can tell us about the behavior of visitors to your site.
How to read the Google Analytics Recency Report
Robbin Steif of LunaMetrics did the tedious work of reverse engineering the Recency report and shared her finding with us. (Thanks Robbin!)
The results of her analysis point to four insights about the Google Analytics Recency report.
The Recency report is about visits, not visitors. Don’t let the header “Returning Visitors” mislead you. Just pay attention to the title of the report “Days Since Last Visit.”
The Recency report measures the time between a visit and the immediate prior visit. If that time was less than one day, it records “0 Days Since Last Visit.” If the time between a visit and its immediate prior visit was 30 days, then it records “30 Days Since Last Visit.”
The Recency report doesn’t distinguish between visitors who came to your site many times and those who came by fewer times. That’s the job of the Frequency report. It simply looks at Recency of visits within the time period you specify.
The Recency report includes New Visits. This is bad! It means that in the “O Days Since Last Visit” category, the Value includes Visits from people who have only come to your site once with your most frequent visitors. To make any use of the Recency report, use Advanced Segments to remove New Visits from the report. (See below)
Let’s take a look at the past month of activity on a site run by a member-based community organization (below). Although many visits to visit this site are New Visits, a huge 60% are Returning Visits. Of the Returning Visits, 70% are from people return to the site in one week or less. And only 15% of returning visits are from people who had not been to the site for a month or more.
Clearly this site is used most heavily by existing members who don’t wait long before they return to the site.
Advanced Segmentation is the key to the Recency Report
The Recency report for this community organization raises lots of questions for the site owners, especially about the group that shows the highest Recency.
- Are the people in the group with the highest Recency also frequent visitors to the site? Do they all visit at about the same level of frequency?
- What content do they spend the most time with on the site? Which subjects hold the most interest? Do we need to provide more material on these topics?
- What questions do these visitors ask in Site Search? What do these questions tell us about needs that are not being met?
- How do these visitors arrive at the site? Since they are Return Visits, do they arrive primarily through the Direct channel or something else?
Segmentation is the key to answering these questions. When you create segments of more Recent Visits, you can then use your marketing framework to analyze how this segment of visitors interacts with the site – how they are acquired, how they behave, what outcomes they produce.