The Silent Visitor: Does He Really Matter?

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. I have a saying about customer feedback anyway… “Believe what they do, not what they say they’ll do.

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.