It is important to understand that some sites have short-term loyalty with visitors while others have long-term loyalty.
For example, a travel site about the Caribbean has value for a matter of weeks or at most a few months. Visitors may visit the site before a vacation to get more information about their trip.
They have a limited need to visit the site for a certain amount of information. They have no need to visit the site after the vacation. Return visitors may range between 15 and 20 percent of total visitors.
An e-commerce site such as Amazon or Ebay may have more frequent visits because people buy goods and services more often and do so on a regular basis. One online source estimated that e-commerce sites have a 30 percent return rate within a limited amount of time, such as one month.
A local news site has frequent value for months or even years. Visitors often live in that area and have an ongoing need or desire to visit the site to stay abreast of local news. Return visitors may reach as high as 70 percent of total visitors over the course of one month.
Clearly, the type of site determines the return visitor rate.
True PPC Value
Google Analytics is the most widely used analytic software and a good source for tracking return visits from a PPC campaign.
Go to Acquisition / All Traffic / Source-Medium to see the initial number of visits from PPC sources such as Bing, Facebook and Google AdWords. Assume for the moment that a campaign delivered 182 visits in the previous week.
Now go to Audience / Behavior / New Versus Returning. This report will show the breakdown in total site visits between new visitors and returning ones. The returning number includes both paid and non-paid.
Scroll to the top and click on Add Segment. Click on Paid Segment and Apply. It should show the total returning visits plus the paid returning visits. Total paid returning visits is 46.
Now go to the PPC campaign source and see that the number of paid clicks is 159.
Understanding the Results
The PPC source shows the total paid visits for that one week period was 159. But Analytics is showing the total PPC visits is 182. What causes the difference of 23 visits?
A return visit may be the result of clicking on a campaign ad a second time. It also may be the result of visitors who came back to the site on their own because they liked what they saw.
So 23 visits came as a result of visitors who had a reason to come back and did it on their own without clicking on an ad a second time.
The first measure of value is simply the return visits that came on their own divided by total paid visits in AdWords. In this case, the return rate is 23 / 159 = 14%.
Return visitors as a percentage of total paid visitors is another way of looking at the results. In the case of this travel site, the return visitors represent 28 percent of total paid traffic including both people who clicked on an ad a second time and people who returned on their own.
The return rate is 18 percent for all traffic. So the PPC campaign is delivering a much higher rate of return visits.