"Sticky"--that's what every Web site builder wants his site to be, and it's shorthand for a site that holds the attention of visitors. If a visitor clicks in one second and then clicks out the next, you won't build a relationship, sell products or capture a space in that visitor's mind. But when a visitor spends 10 minutes or even longer, that's a platform for doing business. In one recent week, the average eBay visitor spent about 1 hour and 5 minutes, according to stats compiled by NetRatings, a traffic analysis firm. But, it's hard to score those kinds of visitor stays. "Any visitor can click out of your site in a fraction of a second," says Datovech.
Then there's even worse news. According to Datovech, "[For Internet users, about] 35 percent of the time that is spent surfing goes to the top 50 sites. It's hard for other sites to win and hold visitors."
Despite that, it is possible to build a sticky site. Recently, developers have used an arsenal of tools--including chat boards, Web-based calendars, auctions and more in an attempt to increase stickiness. But a site doesn't have to involve gimmicks to succeed in stickiness. "It's about content," says Datovech. "Good content and easy navigation will keep them coming back."
To some, that's a double-edged sword. Some sites are jammed with spiffy content, but if casual visitors can't find it they'll leave. "A site needs to be easy to use and have fast response times," says Datovech. "A site that delivers on this will be sticky."
Another tip for creating a sticky site is to give something away. "People love freebies," says Brian Dos Santos, a professor of information systems specializing in e-commerce at Kentucky's University of Louisville college of business. Such as? "You can give away information," he continues.
So think: What do you know about? Write up a "Special Report"--make sure to label it that way--and watch your visitors rush to get this info. Says Dos Santos, "So many small-business sites blow it by offering nothing except a sales pitch. People are starved for information, and if you offer it, they'll stay."
Head to About.com for more details on sticky sites.
Robert McGarvey has covered the Web since 1995 from his home office in Santa Rosa, California.