One of the accepted wisdoms of modern online marketing is that it can take a number of ‘touches’ to nurture a customer through to conversion. I even remember seeing an old statistic suggesting that just 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit.
As a result of this logic, we all have our sales funnel maps, our nurture sequences and our retargeting campaigns to compensate for first-time churn, and optimise the traffic we generate.
But comprehensively undertaken Research from internet marketing company Straight North tells a different, and very surprising story.
Over more than 2 years, they reviewed more than 300,000 sales leads and found that a staggering 84 percent of website conversions occur on the first visit. The breakdown looked like this:
And it got us thinking.
First-time visitors (and first impressions) are even more important than we thought
We’ve always known that it was important to make a good first impression on our visitors. It’s hardly a groundbreaking idea.
But if first-time conversions are so much more common than we all previously thought, then this is actually profoundly important. We might previously have thought of a customers first visit as a bit of a formality – a precursor to a much longer game. A chance to give them a flavour of what your business about, but little more. That’d be when your follow up campaigns kicked in, with the aim of capitalising on their previous interest.
This data is a game changer because it suggests that their first visit can actually make or break you. After all, just 11% of conversions happen on the 2nd visit, and beyond that, you’re looking at very slim pickings indeed. It might be slightly dramatic to suggest that you only get one chance to convert your visitors, but, really – how else can you interpret this data?
The value of Explainer Video
With our video marketing hats on, we found this data pretty fascinating. It really underscores the potential value of having an explainer video on your home page. (For the uninitiated, an explainer video is a short, 1-2 minute ‘elevator pitch’ style video that explains who you are, what you do and why it’s great. It’s a fantastic way to hook your audience and facilitate their understanding of your business.) For example…
Essentially; if more than 8 out of 10 of the people buying on your website are people who are visiting for the first time, then you need to ask yourself:
- Am I making it clear for first-time visitors to understand what it is that I’m selling, while keeping in mind that their attention span is likely to be severely limited?
- Am I making it easy for them to actually go through the process and convert?
The second point is all about effective UX design, but the first one – this is where explainer video excels.
To understand why, you have to understand how visitors view a website – or, perhaps more relevant, how they don’t. There’s been a lot of debate around the average duration of a page visit because there are so many variables in play, but perhaps the most authoritative answer came from Nielsen-Norman Group back in 2011. Their report concluded:“Users often leave Web pages in 10–20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer. To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.”
However neatly you format your web page, however clearly you lay out your key selling points, you still have a window of seconds rather than minutes to grab your audience attention, and make sure they get an essence of what you’re offering them.
But our research constantly finds that when users see a play button – it’s one of the first things they click. It’s almost an offer to your attention-deficient visitor – give us around 60 seconds, and we’ll save you reading the rest of our page. Instant understanding.
That’s why so many companies choose to build their whole front page around their explainer video.
An underutilised tactic?
We see customers enjoying success from their explainer video all the time, but – perhaps surprisingly – it’s still fairly underutilised as a marketing technique.
In our annual video marketing survey at the beginning of 2017, around 62% of our business respondents told us they have an explainer video, with just 56% of these being positioned on the company’s homepage.
What was apparent was that, where explainer videos are used, success invariably follows. 97% of businesses said that their explainer video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service. 81% reported increased sales, and 53% said their video had helped reduce support calls.
And, with 79% of consumers reporting that they’d rather watch a video to learn about a product, than read text on a page – and 91% of total respondents telling us they’ve watched an explainer video at some point – it’s clear that this can be a potent home page tool for businesses looking to boost conversions.
Other ways to make the most of your customers first visit…
An explainer video is, of course, just one way to make the most of your traffic. As well as publishing this thought-provoking data, the team at Straight North also produced a SlideShare which walks you through some other ideas.