Understanding Web Surfing Behaviour - How to Convert Visitors to Customers

Within a decade of its introduction, Internet has become an extremely important marketing tool for small and medium enterprises. Today, it is a major source for acquiring customers. Understanding behaviour pattern in the web has become a crucial element in attracting potential customers and transact business.

Successful marketers constantly endeavour to learn consumer habits and shape their marketing strategy accordingly. Learning behaviour of potential customers in the Web help you prepare accordingly and drive a successful deal.

I have compiled here some interesting facts and statistics about sufers behaviour in the Net. Let us understand these and examine their implication on your marketing strategy, specifically how this knowledge can contribute to your success in Internet.

Fact No 1 - Web-Site is Essential for International Business

First thing first - to be successful in Internet, you must have an Internet presence. The 9th Annual Middleburg/Ross Survey of Media Professionals found that over 70% of working journalists list the company website as the first stop when researching a breaking story or a feature. Same is the case with other professionals whose first port of call on any subject is the company web-site. Having no web-site mostly mean no customer and hence no business. There are other more compelling reasons like building trust, 24-hour storefront, business e-mail etc. The days of doing business over Internet using free or paid e-mail are truly over - if you are serious about your business and expect serious customers from Internet - a professional web-site is essential.

Fact No 2 - You have barely 5 seconds to impress and engage a visitor

Research shows that web surfers tend to scan through pages before they read anything. What it means in reality is - a surfer may leave your website even if you have loads of useful information. You must be able to engage him/her before he/she decides to move out. In the dial-up days - it used to be called 'Battle for 20 seconds' when surfers decided to read-on or move out of a web-page within maximum 20 seconds. Today, with broadband connection and faster servers - a web-site has barely 5-seconds to impress a visitor.

What is the implication of this fact ? In addition to fast loading, attractive design and lay-out - you must provide the surfer easy and convenient click options. As soon as the scan is over and the surfer feels comfortable about the web-site, he/she should be able to locate interesting links to click. Select right keywords, highlight and bold at least 7 per fold - and you are telling the customer what to do within those 7 highlighted or bolded words... Your website has more of a chance of converting a visitor into a customer

Fact No 3 - The Three-Click Rule

The three-click rule states that any page in a web-site should be accessible in three clicks. Call your visitor lazy, idle or bore - he/she is unlikely to click more than three times to reach the destination page.

The implication for this fact is simple - make your web-site really easy - easy to find, easy to remember, easy to understand and most important - easy to navigate.

Do you use navigation bar in each page ? How many clicks are required to reach home page from any other page ? Do you use an internal search engine ? How easy is it to find 'Order Form' ? How many clicks required to reach 'Send Enquiry' or 'Contact Us' page ?

Fact No 4: The 12-click deadline

An average user clicks 12 times before leaving a website. If any page is accessible within 3-clicks, one may safely assume that the surfer will visit 3 or 4 pages of your website.

Implication of this fact - you must present your visitor with something to act on (purchase/enquire/e-mail/fill order-form) in each page, so that chances of a sale is high within 12 clicks. Without your site being easy, attractive, memorable, and clear... you'll just lose that visitor.

Fact No 5: Importance of 7th Visit

Most buyers complete their purchase-related research within two or more weeks before they buy. During this period - he/she makes, on an average, 7 visits to the web-site.

During this 2-weeks/7-visit duration - your web-site must be able to make a lasting impression on the customer. Some of the key success factors during this pre-sale days are
  • Your web-site must be up and running. If the buyer finds your web-site down on crucial purchase-day - the implication needs no explanation.
  • Prompt customer service. Nothing is more disasterous than delayed and incomplete response to pre-sale queries
  • Apart from timely and precise communication, the tone and style of communication should be able to inspire confidence. For example, while paying to any PayPal merchant - PayPal displays the number of people who have paid this merchant before you. Such reference of successful sale significantly impresses a semi-decided mind to go for a deal.

Fact No 6 : Importance of Wednesday and Saturday

All days in a week are same - right ? Obviously wrong, as most of us will not equate a weekly-off day (e.g. Sunday) with any other working day.

So is the case with web surfers. Research has shown that Saturdays and Wednesdays are the most popular days of the week to surf the Net. So, these are the two days when you want your email to land in your customers' inbox or its the two days when you want to test market a new sales item. All in all, its the two days you should do whatever it takes to double your daily e-commerce income.

This is not to suggest that you slack off other days of the week but only to highlight the importance of these two days when customers are out there - perhaps in larger number. Its more like prime time TV - when more viewers can be found before the Idiot box.


Attracting more customers to your web-site is important, but perhaps more important is the conversion ratio - how many visitors turn to customers. Understanding behaviour pattern of web surfers can greatly help in steering visitors to sales path. New market research constantly throws interesting new facts on surfing behaviour. One should be aware of such surveys and suitably amend Net marketing strategy, resulting in increasing conversion ratio.

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 6, Issue 25 ; March 24' 2006

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee As Featured On Ezine Articles
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at amit@infobanc.com )

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