Nothing dashes the hopes of a new site owner more than running stats on their new pride and joy only to find that no one seems to be visiting their site.
I've seen countless start-ups launch fabulous sites with tons of promise only to lose their momentum due to a lack of repeat visitors. So let's assume you've created a wonderful site with a good premise. You've gotten the initial word out and have had plenty of first-time visitors. How, then, do you get these valued visitors to come back for more?
It boils down to one very simple premise – your site has to give a user a reason to come back to your site once, twice or dozens of times per day. It isn't easy and sometimes can take a lot of trial and error, but here are two basic strategies for transforming your first-time visitors into diehard fans.
It starts with content. People primarily use the Internet for one basic function - getting information. You must provide that information in an easily digestible fashion. That's part of the reason why blogs and sites like Twitter have taken off. Someone can get the content they want in a quick and usable format. Web sites are all about filling a niche. Assuming you've found your niche, it is up to you to identify what your users want (or better yet what they need!) to see on a regular basis. Then you've got to provide it.
It can be painful as it takes lots of time and commitment. But content is the fuel that feeds the beast and you can't have a successful site with it.
Do I mean to say that every successful site has someone sitting around writing new articles 24/7? No. Well, yes in a way.
The next strategy for keeping people knocking down your digital doorway is to create an online community and let them provide your content. 'User-driven content' isn't just an Internet buzz word. It's also a great source of free content, and it builds a sense of community that can be a very powerful driving force in getting people back to your site.
When I started RotoJunkie.com in 1999, the first and most important decision made was to include a message board on the site. After word got out that there was a new place on the 'Net to talk about how much we hate the Yankees or how bad Texas pitching can be, people started flooding to the site. What started out as a hobby and a way to teach myself HTML became a successful Web business all because of the power of online communities. We used to joke that RotoJunkie was probably playing a role in bringing down corporate America with all the lost hours that employees spent on our site during the day!
So, the concept is simple. Give your users a reason that they have to come back to your site as often as possible. Do that, then you'll see your traffic and your profits start to rise.