How many of your customers buy at their first contact with your website?

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Article written by Claudiu Murariu

We often ask ourselves: who are our shoppers?

While you can get demographic data about your shoppers from your own database, there is very little you can find in there about retention, intent and behavior before the purchase. Here is where Google Analytics comes into play and does a very good job, too.

It starts with a burning question: where do we invest?

I see a lot of organizations who use Google Analytics to learn about the traffic sources that drive conversions and based on that data to decide where to invest next or more. The problem with this model is that they think that the common behavior of a customer is: they click, they browse, they buy.

Unfortunately, more than less, it doesn’t work like that.

One of the ways to counter attack this understanding of customer behavior is to show them how many of their customers buy a product at their first contact with the website.

The first contact with the website is crucial, as it introduces the potential buyer to your offer but is far from enough to convince the person to buy. Organizations that act upon this understanding use attribution models and focus on a bundle of sources in getting a person from the state of a simple visitor to a returning customer.

Our data shows that less than 15% of customers buy at the first contact with the website

The percentage depends a lot on the type of website, as we saw daily deal websites and online book shops with values that get up to 60%. Based on the percentage you get, your strategy should focus on:

  • get new visitors and convert them as quick as possible (websites with percentages of over 50%)
  • focus on generating as many email leads as possible, to have full control on their conversion paths; applies to social media followers as well (websites with percentages of less than 50%)

First let’s define what buying at first contact means: All new visitors that get to your website via a single traffic source and purchase a product.

Here is how you get that report (click on the image to get the detailed instructions):

Before we start to dive into reports, we should get something clear about data accuracy. When it comes to it, there are a few things that have an impact on the data collected by Google Analytics:

  • the rate and the percentage of people that delete their cookies
  • the percentage of people that use multiple computers
  • plugins that block tracking or browser  incognito  modes

However, there are a few things that you can be 100% sure about:

  • If Google Analytics reports a user as being returning, then he is definitely returning
  • the last source that drove a visitor to make a purchase is always right
  • the number of visits a user made before a purchase is always bigger or equal to the one reported.

With this in mind, you should consider that the number of customers buying at their first contact is likely to be less than in reality (they delete cookies, change computer) but that is most likely to enforce your conclusions and not add doubt to them.

Visitor behavior is human behavior, therefore is complex. We often forget that behind screens, there are humans and treat them as  mere  numbers. Google Analytics is advancing at almost the speed of sound when it comes to adding new features in helping us get a better grasp of what really happens on our website.

Multi Channel Funnels are just the beginning

Multi-channel Funnels is one of these helpful features and the following webinar does a very good job answering a lot of questions that might come up after realizing that most of your customers don’t buy at their first interaction with your website:

So, how many of your visitors buy a product at their first contact with the website and what are the next steps you do once you find this information?

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