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Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

The 120 Second Visitor

By Bryan Eisenberg
August 31st, 2009

timerThe seconds pass by in your visitor’s mind as they arrive to your website. If they don’t bounce immediately because of poorly targeted marketing efforts and sucky landing pages, you’ll still be lucky if they’ll stick around for the next 2 minutes. It’s like every visitor to your website has a timer in her head and if she can’t complete her task in the allotted time, she is out of there.

How are you wasting your visitors time?

  • Does it take a while for your pages to load?
  • Do your database lookups take so long your visitors can go and get a snack before the results are returned?
  • Do you have important content that is hidden away?
  • Does it take your visitors too long to find the product they are looking for?
  • Do you force visitors to pogo-stick between a category page and product pages because your category page fails to provide enough information to confidently select among the choices.
  • Is it difficult to sort among choices by the factors or qualities that your visitor feels important?  Or do you  only allow sorting by price?
  • Does your registration or check out process have too many steps and take to long to complete?
  • Does it take several steps for your visitor to figure out their total cost including shipping?

Here is another classic way of wasting your visitors time that could easily be avoided.

Do a search on for “exersaucers“. You’ll notice 4 listings. 3 of them are out of stock.  But the initial search listings don’t tell you that.  The visitor has to click through to each product page, only to find out she can’t buy the item – a triple loss, as the site has simultaneously wasted the visitor’s time, frustrated the visitor, and come off as an unreliable/unprofessional business.

Placing your out of stock messaging on the category pages will prevent your visitors from repeatedly finding that the product they clicked on and started to desire is – upon their arrival on the product page – suddenly unavailable for purchase.

So while I’ve given you a valuable list and a good examples to get you started, every site has its own unique challenges, and it’s worth asking your team: how many different ways can you find to shave valuable seconds during your visitors journey to become a lead or sale?  How can you help your vistors beat their own internal clocks in order to win more business?

Add Your Comments

Comments (62)

  1. What if you have quite a few items out of stock on category pages? Shoppers may see that and give up right away if they are in browse mode (not knowing exactly what they want).

    The obvious answer is, go deeper with your inventory to prevent stock outs. But…

    Has anyone tested this?

  2. 120 seconds is about right. I would think anyone who is interested in my product line Audio Bibles, would be at Audio Bible Heaven, no pun intended, once they landed on my home page. But my bounce rate still run 40 to 45 %, which I think is very high.

    No matter what I have done to correct it, it still stays about the same. I have no clue what people are doing on the Internet at times? Are they just surfing around? God only knows.

    @Jason Billingsley, good to see you around, I noticed you were not doing the newsletter anymore; I was not sure what is going on with you lately. Anyway, my solution on your issue is that I pull any out of stock items from my website. They do not show up in any category pages. Seems like a no brainer to me but I guess other people handle things differently.

  3. and it is important for a visitors to get a lot of information from the website that he/she is visiting.

    nice articel btw.

  4. yes you are right 120 seconds is a genuine time and a visitors should get a lot of information from what he is visiting for.

  5. @ Jason – you should always go deep on inventory when possible. But it is better to be transparent than frustrate them click after click (like what happened to my wife this weekend).

  6. @Bryan That’s what my gut says, but I really want to see test results on this one.

  7. First, great post and I completely agree with your thoughts. In my position as Director of eCommerce Solutions at, I hope I can add a little to the dialogue. is in a unique position in the eCommerce world in that we have three warehouses strategically located throughout the country, and all three are fully stocked with each and every product we carry so that we can deliver anywhere in the country in 2 days or less. In order to meet that promise of fast delivery, you are tied (right now, inextricably) to your regional warehouse.

    This solution, while a great system 98% of the time, does come with a few drawbacks, and none is worse than the one you highlight here. As long as we have the item in one of our 3 warehouses, we continue to list it as available in search results.

    At the level of search results, where tens or even hundreds of products may come back, it would create an unacceptably slow response to parse every product to see if it were available for you and your region. The only feasible place to do this is on the product page, which, as you well point out, can lead to justifiable frustration.

    So you know, this has been an issue of hot discussion internally, and your post has already spurred us on to come up with an interim solution to minimize this frustration.

    Once it’s in place, I’ll circle back and let you know it’s live.

  8. Josh,

    What’s wrong with giving the decision to the buyer on the product page? Simply say, “Out of stock for 2-day shipping, but available for standard ground shipping” and add a “Buy w/ 4-day shipping” button next to it. That way you don’t have to circumvent your system and can even process these out of area orders separately.

    - Jeff

  9. Not being able to immediately find what you are looking for is very annoying. Websites should always have site maps, navigational bars, a search function, etc. If you want business, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible for the customer to find and buy something.

  10. Jeff, good suggestion, and one we’ve discussed internally. The one issue comes in the $49 threshold for free shipping. In the case of exercauser and each one being more than $49, it’s a non-issue, but for something like Carter’s clothing, which is frequently under $10, it becomes challenging. We could potentially send up to three packages, and lose all our margin in the multiple shipments.

    That said, is, above all, a business ruled by a customer-friendly ethos, and to that end, we do almost everything we can to make your shopping experience a happy one.

    It’ll only be a matter of time, probably by the holiday season in fact, where you’ll have the ability to select shipment from a separate warehouse.

    It’s just programming at the end of the day. Hard programming, true, but nothing insurmountable.

    We’ll get there soon. Stay tuned.

  11. These 120 seconds are most important. This will create probably opinion about website. I hope that my website is ok ;-)

  12. How do you suggest that we shorten the registration time for customers, I was thinking about doing away with it altogether, why? I try to put myself in the position of a customer, maybe somebody is on their way to work, and wanted to buy something real quick,here time is a factor, for them to have to go through the registration process just takes too long and they will end up abandoning shopping for that day, or maybe go to an alternative site where they can just point click and buy.

  13. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  14. Very stunning insights explored in this blog post. I agree with you on ways of wasting time of visitors, when visitors will land in your website as they are looking for specific thing. If visitors don’t able to find any thing which they are looking they will never revisit your website. Its better thing to keep update products list of website according to inventory of products is available.

  15. I would say that the attention span of a visitor is even lower, if you can’t engage them the first few seconds, then you most likely loose them. Two things I have discovered that are making a huge difference are very fast loading sites and to think of each page as a potential landing page, hence providing as many navigation helps as possible is also paramount. Just my two cents, SY

  16. [...] expect fast-loading pages and quick response times from websites; it’s part of their internal clock.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with visitor expectations [...]

  17. Insightful article, I’m always amazed at how little time we have to make an impression. Where time is a factor usability is a huge factor within the success of our client enterprises.

  18. Interesting post Brian. I’m not sure about the 120 seconds though. When looking at my analytics stats, they usually look at 3 pages – but this takes about 50 seconds. I think the problem most people face is that we want to show the visitor everything at once and quite often this scares them away as they are there for a targeted reason. It would be great if we could invent intelligent sites – similar to intelligent search – then again, i guess that’s what Google thinks it’s job is.

  19. [...] The 120 Second Visitor – Future Now [...]

  20. nice articel btw.Insightful article, I’m always amazed at how little time we have to make an impression

  21. Right don’t waste time of your customer by beating around the bush.Be direct.But not too direct.

  22. I agree with 12 cup coffee maker that 120 seconds seems like an overly optimistic estimate of how much time we’ll have to capture the visitor’s attention. Thinking about what’s been written by others on Information Scent, my guess is that the back button is hit much faster than that.

  23. I like your theory about the 120 second rule. Luckily, most of the visitors to our site are highly targeted and spend more than 2 minutes on the site. In the end, I think it’s all about targeting. If your site is attracting targeted traffic you don’t have to worry too much about how long they stay on the site because you know they’ll stay if they’re interested.

  24. We have been working on our conversion rate and noticing improvements based on advice received from Jeffrey Eisenberg.

    Thanks for all you do.

  25. I think time on site is a relative thing. There are useless sites that get steady traffic because nothing else is available. And there are diamonds lost among piles of rocks.

    Supply and demand.

    Not saying people should make unattractive pages, that’s just waste of everybody’s (including the designer) time =)

  26. Nice Post, I admire your thoughts & totally agree with it. I think important things is one should be targeted & make the site more attractive to the customers. I think if a product is unavailable you can always have it alternative, because it’s not compulsory that your customer will only buy that product, if you have a proper alternate of customer’s favorite product, i think he is going to buy that. In the End all i want to say that is make your site attractive & easy accessible to your customer.

  27. [...] Eisenberg quant à lui, nous donne quelques pistes pour ne plus faire perdre de temps à nos courageux prospects sur le point d’effectuer un [...]

  28. [...] Source:The 120 Second Visitor Share and Enjoy: [...]

  29. This articlr is insightful,to be honest with you.
    what’s more,I agree with you on ways of wasting time of visitors.If they are not able to find sth they want,i guess they will never revisit it.
    So we’d better keep updating products list of website.

  30. Wow really a great post. I like this.I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that .Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

  31. Compare prices on a wide range of mortgage products, including the “bad credit mortgage” via our free and easy to use mortgage comparison tool!

  32. It’s rather hard that user will finish his task in 2 minutes for high involved products. User need more time to make a decision.

  33. Looks good to me, nice share, Traffic schools helps a lot to the drivers who really want to learn the drivers.

  34. Who ever in the business gives excellent customer service, there we find more success.

  35. friendly faces and cheerful people in and sales business goes a long way.

  36. I didnt even know about this conference, I’m gonna look into going next year.

  37. @Audio Bible

    I clicked on your Bible mp3 link and it lead me to a page with zero information regarding an mp3 bible. Give your visitors the information they need a little faster and you might have better luck.

  38. These 120 seconds are most important. This will create probably opinion about website.

  39. I this is the fast way to move up .

  40. I think that loading your web site quickly is crucial. There are many tools that can analyze these metrics.
    If you have Google Analytics you can easily check the Bounce Rate. Providing a stand out search options will allow you to keep users. Later on you can analyze those searches and restructure the layout if need it.

  41. its a big disscussion topic because 123 second visitors are only for the quiz like site

  42. Thanks for sharing nice tips, these are helpful for us.

  43. Such great advice! We just started paying a lot of attention to converion rates, bounce rates and time on site data, it is amazing the forward momentum you can obtain by really doing a great job at reviewing your visitors and tracking their patterns. We just got some new heat map we are trying out in the near future which is kind of exciting.

  44. Yes, I had the same problem with my site. Visitors were looking for villas on Koh Samui, came to my site…and click away. I shuffled it a little bit around and could improve my conversion rate. Good article.

  45. Same with my site. The bouncing rate is still very high and I am wondering why visitors look at my page at all, when they leave it in one minute?
    Anyway, good info.

  46. nice….this article provides good information…will surely try and do something for better traffic

    snowboarding guy

  47. Another thing is proper keywords.
    If they are looking for somthing on google your site comes up and it has nothing to do with there research they will leave instantly

  48. An article like this deserves a very great opportunity to be more known..

    Smart Smoker

  49. I will go to this perfect article. 123 seconds means to be more reliable.

  50. This is very good post. I need to start thinking like my readers.

  51. When people focus on traffic, they often neglect the landing page. It is the crux of where most people lose their traffic and conversion rates suffer accordingly.

  52. I agree, the first 120 secounds are very important. I mean whats the point of having a ton of traffic if you can not get the message across once they get to your site

  53. [...] The 120 Second Visitor – The average visitor spends 120 seconds on your site. This article talks about ways to maximize their time. [...]

  54. Content really plays major role among both readers and search engines, we will be mutually benefited by providing good contents

  55. Nice post..
    Thanks for you

  56. Your post has spurred us on to come up with an interim solution to minimize this frustration.

  57. Hi Bryan, thank you for this article! We are thinking of ways to improve the browsing experience of our visitors, and this information could come in handy. What is your opinion on sites that offer services instead of merchandise? How long must a sales pitch be in order not to “waste the visitor’s time” or trigger him/her to leave the page?

  58. that time is exactly right, most people on my sites spend 120 seconds on the home page and if they don’t find another page to go to they are off. the time on pages is normally around 4 mins.

  59. Most of my visitors are there for less than 30 seconds. Wish I can make them stay longer.

  60. Quality worth content, Thanks for sharing

  61. I think you need to give them want they want straight away, not to many clicks. then have more info button, this way if the customer want to read on they can.

    Great post

  62. I have around 50 % bounce rate and 90 sec visit lenght and no matter what I do the numbers stay the same. But This site work great for me. People are speeding up these days, no one have time to waist today because there are so many sites and information…

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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