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Website Frequency and Recency Climb with the Right Drivers

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Website analytics

Google Analytics provides a report on website frequency and recency that reveals insights about the stickiness of a site’s traffic.

Frequency is the number of times a visitor comes to the site over a specific period of time. It is common to use a full month for the measurement.

Recency is measured as the number of days that have taken place since the most recent visit.

One way to calculate frequency is by dividing the visits by unique visitors (or sessions divided by users) to arrive at a ratio. For many sites, it is common to have an average of two or three visits per unique visitor per month.

Sites that post content daily will usually have a high rate of frequency while sites that post monthly or rarely will of course have a low rate. Media sites in particular have a higher frequency, especially among loyal users.

Clearly, a higher frequency is valuable because it leads to more page views, more ad inventory, more transactions and then more revenue.

Website Frequency / Recency Report

The Google Analytics frequency and recency report is available by going to Audience / Behavior / Frequency and Recency.

It is one of the simpler reports in GA. The default screen shows the frequency in the form of Count of Sessions, Sessions and Page Views.

Google Analytics frequency and recency

The Google Analytics frequency report shows the number of times an average visitor has come to the site over a specified period of time. For example, under Count of Sessions, the number 3 on the left and 291 on the right means that 291 visits were the result of unique visitors who came to the site three times apiece.

The simple metric is a division of visits by uniques (or in GA, sessions divided by users). The GA report takes it a step further by breaking down the visits into specific groups of frequency.

Frequency Drivers: Content and Marketing

Site publishers often concentrate on total visits and unique visitors without tracking the frequency. But a site can provide much more revenue and other benefits without growing unique visitors by persuading its core audience to come back more often.

Website frequency drivers are content, features or functionality that give visitors a reason to come back again. Some of the best frequency drivers include:

  1. Posting content more often leads to a lift in search engine rankings.
  2. Posting to social media accounts more often produces clicks on the posts that bring people to the site.
  3. Well-produced email newsletters using quality lists get high open and click rates.
  4. Contests.
  5. Interactive features such as commenting and forums attract repeat visits.
  6. Revitalizing and republishing old content gives people another reason to come back.

Frequency Drivers: Funtionality

Google itself is a frequency driver because the functionality of its search engine has value and gives people a reason to come back to it. Once there, they may search on topics that are relevant to the same site they have recently visited.

The same is true of other features it has developed in recent years including email, documents, calendar, contacts, etc.

In each case, the feature has ongoing use, value or benefit.

Weather and news media sites are good examples of frequency drivers using content. People often go to weather sites daily or even several times a day to track the forecast.

They also go to news sites regularly to keep up with the headlines, especially for a major ongoing story. Local news sites have a high level of loyalty among repeat local visitors.

Uniqueness Matters Too

A frequency driver by itself isn’t enough. It must be unique or at least be rare enough that site visitors will have trouble finding it elsewhere.

The local newspaper — especially in smaller communities — will have headlines and articles that are unlikely to be found elsewhere.

As a result, their uniqueness makes the frequency of visits more likely.

In contrast, weather forecast are frequency drivers, but weather forecasts are found on thousands of sites. As a result, they have a lower level of loyalty.

A well-designed product that creates brand loyalty is the best way to hold onto those return visitors.

So frequency drivers keep people coming back. They ensure the longevity of the site because they boost revenue.

Finally, they must be either unique or have high enough quality to build and maintain loyalty.

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