What we know about our repeat users (digital conversion study)

Feb 3, 2016

In July, the Station Analytics team started an on-going investigation into the long-term site interaction trends that correlate with higher levels of site engagement and donation. Recently we shifted our focus from donors to repeat users of our sites with the goal of better understanding our loyal audience. Here's what we were able to learn about visitors who come to our sites more than once. 

Our standard Google Analytics numbers have been misleading us. When looking at our regular reporting we saw that more than half of our traffic was from first time users, however that left a large chunk that appeared to be returning. The shocking fact is that most of our returning users do so only once - meaning their total number of visits in a 20 month period was only two. Only a small minority of users visit our sites with regularity. In our exploration of 20 months of data we found that only about 1% of users had visited our sites more than 10 times.

This seems like bad news, but there's opportunity here. Knowing more about our repeat users can help us to adapt our digital strategies to better align with user behavior. Despite the seemingly low percentage of "loyal" users we were able to learn about the habits of users who do return.  Repeat visitors were most likely to enter the site on a story or article page. The homepage was an entry page about half as often as story pages, even though we expect repeat users to be more familiar with our sites and brands.  This behavior was very different from what we saw in our examination of donor behavior.

This could mean that our donors and our loyal users may actually be distinct groups that behave differently, which is an important distinction to keep in mind as we develop our digital content and platforms. It is important to remember that even repeat users are coming to the site to read and not necessarily to listen. We have seen in the past that our website streamers are loyal users, but it may not be true that most loyal users streams audio.  We're eager to find out more about the small group of loyal users and see what their behavior can teach us about fostering repeat engagement. 

Our key takeaways:

  • Our loyal site audience is surprisingly small. 
  • Even repeat users come to our sites through story pages and bypass the homepage.
  • Most web streamers are loyal users, but loyal users are not necessarily streaming.
  • Donors do appear to be visiting more frequently than other users

To learn more, you can download the slides and view the recording of the December 2015 webinar on nprstations.org.