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When most people go shopping online, they don't buy on their first visit. Instead they'll take their time, checking out several suppliers, reading a few reviews and then refining their searches.

To boost conversion of prospects and repeat purchasers, you need to get serious about the web experience you're offering. Working hard to really understand online buyer behaviour, then delivering more personalised messages to returning visitors, can pay dividends.

Start with your web analytics tool (like our VrStats.com), which will have full information on the proportion of returning visitors. Google Analytics also offers Visitor Loyalty and Regency reports.

You should determine your purchase latency or how Long on average (and how many visits) it takes between first visit and purchase.

Cookies offer a simple, practical approach to personalising visitors' experience. Easy Jet does this well for initial country selection. Four UK Premiership football teams use a similar approach, with a splash page for first-time visitors to highlight current promotions —funny how businesses in a sector tend to copy each other!

Getting a little more sophisticated, the CIPD (http://www.cipd.co.uk) has a personalisation container to welcome new visitors to the site, but gives different messages for repeat visitors or product recommendations for logged-in users.

Then there are tools like Touch Clarity, used by larger sites such as the UK banks Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds TSB, which automatically deliver personalised messages in containers on the home page or key product pages based on referring site, search key phrase, product pages browsed on previous visit and even browser platform.

Finally the Amazon 'customers who bought X also bought Y, recommendations still work 10 years since their introduction
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