Visitors: To Convert Them Right Away or to Make Them Comeback, That is the Question?

Two weeks ago, I attended a conference given by my friend Marc Poulin at the W3Quebec. The conference was quite interesting from a practioner’s perspective, and after his presentation, Marc and I had a discussion around the importance of either converting or creating incentives for users to come back to the website. At first glance, we discussed about the difference between low-involvement and high-involvement products.

After some “hardcore” thinking, my thoughts on the topic would help me come to the conclusion that depending on the type of website, both objectives are positive outcomes but depending on the type of website, the preferred outcome should vary. Personally, my objective on an e-commerce website would always be to convert the visitor for any type of product. In this way, for an e-commerce website selling dishwashers, which could be considered as a high-involvement product, I would put the emphasis on comparing the product to competitors to facilitate the sale. However, my objective would be to convert and not to make the visitor comeback again and again. Thus, for this reason I present in the table below a list of type of websites and which of the “comeback” and “convert” options should be considered as the most important outcome.

Convert the visitor or creating incentizes to make him comeback
Convert the visitor or creating incentizes to make him comeback?
# Type of website Example Primary objective Other objective
1 E-Commerce website
Convert Comeback
2 Relational website Convert Comeback
3 Brand promotion websites Comeback Convert
4 Newspaper websites Comeback Convert
5 Social Network sites (SNs) Comeback Convert

1. E-Commerce websites

Like mentioned before, the primary objective of any e-commerce website should be to convert the visitor into a buyer, and generally, in a minimum number of clicks.

2. Relational websites

Relational websites can be quite similar to e-commerce websites even though we can’t buy products on these websites, they should emphasize a call-to-action (conversion) aligned to more traditional objectives (i.e. calling the company, answering a callback facility questionnaire).

3. Brand promotion websites

Brand promotion websites had for objective to be relational, but also they should be made to constantly increase the aura and the positioning of the brand. But this aura is only possible if users visit this website, the more active users are, the better it is for the organization. For this reason, brand promotion websites should focus on creating incentives to increase the willingness of the user to come back to the website.

4. Newspaper websites

Newspaper websites differs from blogs that are mainly like personal relational websites in the sense that the main objective would be to convert a visitor into an e-mail or RSS feed subscriber. Any newspaper website makes most of its money out of advertising (and VIP content) which reinforces the need for integrating features that encourages the visitor to comeback to the website.

5. Social Network sites

Social network sites (SNs) are emerging in the webosphere as websites where forcing a visitor to comeback is the main objective. In this situation, the objective would be more associated to actions like clicking on an ad or to concepts such as stickiness, but at the end of the day what is most important is that the visitor come back to the website to create a larger and more active network.


In conclusion, to borrow William Shakespeare phrasing, or if you prefer Tom Dickson one, to “convert” or to “comeback”, that is the question? And it all depends on the type of website. However, a good first step for any organization having a website is that, at least, one of these objectives is reached. Questions? Comments? Or Suggestions?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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