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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

The Silent Visitor: Does He Really Matter?

By Natalie Hart
April 28th, 2011

Over vacation I had the opportunity to catch up on some of my favorite TV shows. I’m not a big TV person, but it was nice to zone out and catch up on what I’ve missed this season. Always looking for the opportunity to optimize (or appreciate great optimization), I noticed a clever feature on Hulu.com. When running ads between TV segments, in the upper right-hand corner was this one-line visitor-centric question: “Is this ad relevant to you?”

Brilliant! But, as I thought about it more I realized, perhaps only one persona would actually take the time to respond to this type of inter-active messaging. Then you might be customizing your advertising to only a small segment of traffic, and essentially ignoring the potentially greater opportunity of larger segments. So, this raised the question – How do you customize your site when your visitors aren’t the speaking type?

The silent visitor is a visitor who perhaps never leaves feedback, or calls your customer service, but is an active presence on your site. This is not to say that they’re not particular or without critique, but it’s simply not in their visitor mode to provide feedback. That’s OK. Here at FutureNow we have a saying about customer feedback anyway… “Believe what they do, not what they say they’ll do.” We know that people frequently tell you one thing, and do another. It’s why OnTarget subscriptions draw insight from live data about the actions your customers take on your website, instead of just asking them what they would like to see.

The online space is a constantly changing organism. Keeping up with online trends is an ongoing contest, both in terms of business models and site features, but one thing remains constant – the need for visitor centrism. As long as the online environment exists in its current form, by choosing to interact with our site (or not) visitors drive how we market, create and optimize the online space. Without the right visitors, who are motivated to take action, an online business cannot (and will not) survive.

So, how do you customize your site for the RIGHT visitors, especially if many of them are the kind who don’t openly provide feedback? Well, remember that even if they don’t want to click on your “Is this ad relevant to you?” button, or participate in your customer feedback survey, they are still giving you feedback about how well you’re meeting their needs by sticking around and interacting with your site, by how they interact with your site, and by coming back again. Focus on creating (or optimizing) your site around these three questions for each of the 4 personas:

1. Where are your visitors landing?

2. What questions do your visitors have?

3. Where do they need to go next?

Not sure what I mean by “4 personas?”  Read about four types of visitors and why they’re important for you. And furthermore, by never thinking your site is finished. Test often, follow your analystics data, create funnel visualizations, and never make assumptions. You may have one ideal visitor base with certain needs and wants one day, and six months later have an entirely different group of visitors. Just because websites exist online doesn’t make them immune to environmental changes.  Sound like too much to take on? That’s okay, ask about hiring us to give you the direction you need and keep you OnTarget ;)


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Comments (39)

  1. :) i am not the silent visitor,i leave my footprint

  2. Great stuff. I feel the same way. I have not seen to many of the check if relevancy interactive components. I am sure there are quite a few out there. Content is key! And by giving the readers what they want will ensure they will return. Returning readers are great and to me, tells me I am doing ……. well, doing at least OK. Achieving greatness, well maybe someday!

    Thank You!

  3. The silent visitor, well that is mine most of the time. As I am a dog walker, people only tend to land on my site if they want their dog walked or pet sitting, or my articles have come up in a google search. So what I have been debating for a while now is how to get a return visitor? I write well researched lengthy articles, so they do not change often enough to create a regular visitor. Maybe I should start blogging, but that becomes very competitive, and would it translate to more money earned? The only way I can see that is if more traffic to my site, boosts my rankings for my core keywords, and then I get more genuine buyers to my site? this is a puzzler.

  4. Honestly, this is something I give a lot of thought to. The more I study my Analytics data, the more obsessed I become with customizing my website to cater to everyone. I agree though that the type of visitor who is going to tell you whether or not an ad is relevant is probably not the same as the ‘silent visitor’ Thanks for the post! It gave me a lot to think about.

  5. Our silent visitor does not silent always when he opened our mouth then ask difficult questions and we have not perfect answers of all questions.

  6. Great post Natalie. I think silent visitors are also a major part of the visitors that a website recieve. We should try to make these silent ones into the visitors those work what we want by making our website more effective.

  7. I’m new to even paying attention to my Analytics data. What this makes me wonder is, how do you make a portfolio page more engaging for viewers? Really a photography site is visual communication almost exclusively. What can you do when your information is almost completely in pictures?

  8. My blog has got lots of silent visitors who never leave comment on my blog still they are very important for me. They keep my blog alive :)

  9. If we measure silent visitor in point of SEO, In case of analytics silent visitor also pays an important there visit gets counted which effects on your website . And I agree with Ricky that its our job to convert those visitor to customer.

  10. I think silent visitors are also a major part of the visitors that a website recieve.

  11. i look alot at “the silent visitor” i look at where they come from, if they come from search engines or come from links from other sites, this tells me what i should improve, and i look at what site they were on when they left, and where they left to, if they closed the window because they didn’t like my site maybe? or if they clicked on a link on my site.

  12. Silent visitors on forums for example are fine. They find the info they’re after without interacting with the site and move on. For an online business, I agree that if the vast majority do not react to your call to action then I would say the business could be in trouble. Lots of ways to counter that, but that’s for another post.

  13. well yeah its tuff to figure out what a silent visitor wants..as he doesnt leave comments or probably is too lethargic to do that or maybe doesnt want his name to be mentioned…so obviously the best bet is analytics…..viewing eac and every of the popular pages..where the user clciks most..what aare the exit pages….adding stuff to get rid of those bounce rate..these little things seem helpful….besides i also use stat counter for this and of course for having corrrect ads i optimise my keywords so onlyy relevant ads appear (ppc ones) ;-)

  14. It’s a fact that most visitors on most sites are silent visitors. They come, they leave, and it’s usually within seconds.

  15. Silent visitors don’t reply usually and few of us reply for the topic and accordingly the things are changed.A silent visitor does not reply because that particular topic does not effect him any way but when the topic will be changed in such a way that it will effect him negatively he will start shouting and every one will have to listen him.

  16. My readers didn’t click in any ads on my blog, until I change everyone to DVDs, BDs and eletronic players (I have a movie blog).

    If I asked them about ads, probably they would response: “NO ADS” (there’s a ridiculous “no profit” culture here in Brazil).

  17. ahhh.. the lurker.. This seems to matter much more if you’re running forums. Who knows how long he or she will read all your post content.. but then again who knows if they’re spreading to various social bookmarks.

  18. This has always been a tough subject for me as a web designer. There are some programs out there that make a virtual “heatmap” on your site that tracks all of the users actions, very useful for getting feedback without them even knowing they are giving it. But it’s not without its flaws.

  19. I don’t think so. I feel they just chew up bandwidth on my site.

  20. There are always people who are searching for info and will never interact. They find the info they are looking for and they leave. I do it all the time.

  21. I think the silent visitors don’t even buy stuff or click ads. They however add up to the total of the site visitors and therefore will make your site bigger in the terms of reader and visitors. And bigger sites draw more advertiser that only look for number of visitors. I would not spend too much time to make sales of every possible group of your site visitors. Onyl target those that are interested from your offerings and cater to them.

  22. I’ll say this: I track my visitors with Analytics and other tools and about 60 percent come and go without doing anything.

    Fortunately, many of them appear to come back at some point in the future to communicate, buy something, etc.

  23. My website has tons of visitors that are on the site for a VERY long time, they never leave comments, never email me, never call, and yet I feel good that they are able to get insight into a very complex market. I say let em be silent! Don’t bug people with pop ups and messages that have to be answered before you can continue. The internet initially opened as free and open and now slowly but surely we have seen more and more manipulation of the browsers experience.

  24. It i hard to precisely determine what silent visitors do or want on your site but some of the webmaster tolls can give you some ideas on that. Combination of Google analytics, webmaster tools, and some other statistic programs like Stat-counter can be very useful in getting the idea what your visitors really do on your site.

  25. Even the visitors who are recorded and loggewd to my site are mostly silent. Maybe it is the Botox thing

  26. The problem I had with feedback mechanisms that require opt-in is that they are not random. So your results can be skewed by the personality types of people that fill those tpes of question out.

  27. I used to have a lot of silent visitors too, but it seems they have now decided to leave comments in the majority of cases.

  28. I found visitors who are recorded and logged to my site are mostly silent

  29. I would be afraid to use something like that on my sites as i am sure 99% of the clicks would be the “no” button in terms of relevancy to them :)

  30. Our silent visitor does not silent always when he opened our mouth then ask difficult questions and we have not perfect answers of all questions.

  31. I think Google analytics is perfect tool to see what content is interesting to your visitors.

  32. It does seem like those “Was this ad relevant to you” links are sort of like phone-based presidential polls: you’re only getting a certain group of people and they may not be representative of the audience you’re really after.
    I mostly monitor my Google analytics and webmaster tools to see how people got to my site and where they went within it.

  33. [...] Conversion Rate Optimization & Advertising Blog | FutureNow Posted in Search Engine Marketing | Tags: Matter, Really, Silent, Visitor [...]

  34. I know what you mean about silent visitors! I’ve been blogging for the past few years but I rarely get comments. Even if people tell me they have been reading my blog, I don’t think I believe them because they never leave a reply.

    Anyway, I’m not a silent viewer. :)

  35. That’s a good point. With most of us only having so many hours to blog, we need to use that time in the manner that will benefit us the most.

  36. No feed back comment from visitor doesn’t mean that particular site isn’t benefit enough for them. people are coming and go…as soon as they got information they needed they will leave the site just like that.

  37. The numbers never lie. If we feel a certain keyword is great, but visitors are going to other pages, we need to listen to our web stats over our hearts.

  38. Once we know the questions, the answers we provide will lead to better conversions.

  39. Once we know the questions, the answers we provide will lead to better conversions.

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Natalie is a Persuasion Analyst with FutureNow.

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