May 15, 2006, 12:00 AM

Repeat visitors 8 times more likely to make online purchase

Visitors returning to a web site are eight times more likely to make an online purchase than new visitors, according to new data from WebSideStory.

Visitors returning to a web site are eight times more likely to make an online purchase than new visitors, according to new data from WebSideStory Inc. During the first three months of 2006, repeat visitors to business-to-consumer e-commerce sites had a conversion rate of 12.61%. That compares with a 1.55% conversion rate for new visitors.

“While it has long been known that repeat visitors make better customers than new visitors, this data shows exactly how much better,” said Ali Behnam, senior digital marketing consultant for WebSideStory. “For marketers of e-commerce sites, this data further drives home the importance of building customer loyalty online.”

Customer loyalty is most important in the computers and electronics category, where return visitors were almost 16 times more likely to make a purchase than new visitors, with conversion rates of 23.12% and 1.49%, respectively.

Loyalty was less important to shoppers at apparel sites, where conversion rates for return visitors (7.56%) was only about six times higher than for new visitors (1.37%), according to WebSideStory. “This makes perfect sense as consumers are more apt to buy clothing on the spur of the moment than a big-ticket item like a computer or television, which requires more research,” Behnam said.

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