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How to increase returning visitors traffic and measure it

Increase returning visitors traffic is one of the metrics any web analyst has in mind, this is because it means you are obviously increasing the loyalty of your audience and helps to guarantee the continuity of your site. There are many more metrics of course like conversion, page views, bounce rates … but in this article we will focus in how to increase returning visitors.

It is not new that lot of companies try to increase its returning visitors traffic, there are many techniques to do it like subscribing by email,  forums, chats … all of them, of course, useless without good content in the site.

Probably the “easiest” way to achieve it, it is becoming the homepage of your browser, unfortunately this is a battle that is lasting from the very beginning of Internet, you saw Yahoo, NetVibes, MSN trying to become your homepage and now you can see it also with Facebook or even Google constantly telling you to do it.

Google wants to be my homepage
The problem is that it is very hard to compete with the big Internet players to become the browser’s homepage, but today we are going to show an easy alternative that Internet Explorer 9 and above offers us: the pinned sites.

The pinned sites allow you to pin any site to the Windows Taskbar like if the site was a Windows application. Below you can see my taskbar with my pinned sites Hotmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and SkyDrive sharing the space with traditional Windows Applications like Outlook or the Notepad.

Pinned sites in the windows taskbar

Why this is better than the browser favorites?

In the first place, because according to the statistics retrieved with the improve user experience programs we know that 87% of users launch pinned apps from the taskbar (vs 18% opening sites from the favorites bar) and 33% of users have pinned at least one non-default app to the taskbar (vs 4.4% who have added a site on the favorites bar).

jose bonnin custom tasksIn the second place, because the pinned sites allow you to have a higher level of personalization and some advanced features that help to improve the user experience and easing how the user access our site.

In my site http://www.josebonnin.com I have implemented the pinned mode adding: personalized tasks that display the latest posts published, the main categories of my blog, access to the archive and how to contact with me.

There are many sites that implement the pinned mode today and some of them have shared some of their figures, the most well known case is the Huffington Post that thanks to implementing the pinned mode in their site they were able to increase among IE9 users 14% their returning visitors and 11% the number of pages visited.

There are many features of the pinned sites that you can deeply explore in the Pinned sites developer documentation. But the easiest and simplest way is to implement them is to include the next metatags in your site:

The first metatag defines the name that will have the site once it is pinned in the taskbar, the second defines the url that will be opened.

The third will add a custom task called “Contact” that opens the URL http://www.josebonnin.com/contact.aspx

You can add as many custom tasks as you want by adding more metatags that follows the pattern of the “msapplication-task”. As I said before, there are many more options you can apply like: notifications, thumbnail buttons, custom tasks based on the context of the page, etc. just check the URL above to find all the documentation.

So, now that we know that we can increase the returning visitors by implementing pinned site features. Let’s see how we can measure it.

 

How to measure the increase of returning users thanks to the pinned mode?

Google analyticsTo do it we have to tag all the links we define in the pinned mode options using the parameters of our Analytics provider. Google Analytics for instance forces you to use at least the parameters utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign. You can find more info on what each parameter means and in the URL Builder.

Therefore, following the example above I would need to tag the start URL and the Contact URL, using for instance the next values: utm_source=IE9,  utm_medium=web, utm_campaign=pinnedmode.

Doing this the start URL would become http://www.josebonnin.com/?utm_source=IE9&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=pinnedmode

and the contact URL http://www.josebonnin.com/contact.aspx?utm_source=IE9&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=pinnedmode

After you do this you will be able to measure as with any other campaign all the traffic coming to your site through the pinned sites.

 

This is all, feel free to share how much have you increased your returning visitors thanks to the pinned sites.