Time-on-site is one of the most important website metrics to measure; and also one of the toughest to increase. That’s because visitors determine — usually in about five seconds — whether a website is worth their valuable, limited time. If so, then they’ll stick around and expect to be impressed. If not, they’ll bounce to another website, and probably never return.
While each business is different and has its own brand voice and marketplace dynamics, here are four practical and proven ways to increase time-on-site, and ultimately turn more visitors into a growing roster of happy, profitable and loyal customers:
- Ensure that a website loads quickly.
The importance of a fast-loading website can’t be underestimated, because perhaps no other factor frustrates — or infuriates — visitors than having to wait…and wait…and wait for graphics to appear, buttons to show up, articles to unfurl, and so on. According to research by Kissmetrics, a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent drop in conversions (i.e. visitors who ultimately become customers).
- Use blogs to inform vs. sell.
Some business blogs are little more than extended advertisements, with endless self-promotion and content that, frankly, visitors don’t care about. Naturally, it’s not surprising that websites with a bad blog — or even worse, no blog at all — experience well below average time-on-site. Alternatively, blogs that are informative and relevant achieve the opposite: they make websites “stickier,” and they also trigger lateral sharing (i.e. a visitor sends a link to a blog to a peer, colleague, friend, etc). A great example of how to do this the right way demonstrated by BEE International, which manufacturs high-pressure homogenizer equipment.
- Use responsive design.
Responsive design means that visitors can see a website properly, regardless of whether they’re surfing via a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Data analysis by Pew Research Center recently revealed that a staggering 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone.
- Focus obsessively on enhancing user experience (UX).
Last but certainly not least, the best — and frankly, the only — way to effectively engage visitors and keep their attention is by having every website element, aspect, nuance and detail filtered through the fundamental question: “does this directly or indirectly enhance user experience?” If the answer is yes, then do it. If not, then don’t.
The Bottom Line
The battle for visitor attention is ferocious, relentless and getting tougher all the time. Businesses that adopt the four strategies noted above go a long way to ensuring that their website is an profitable asset working for them — instead of a costly liability that is working against them.