Q: Do you know how long people stay on your web page?
A: It depends on what they see within the first 10 seconds
The Nielson Norman Group did a recent study and found that “Users often leave Web pages within 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer because visit-durations follow a negative Weibull distribution.” 

What the heck is a Weibull distribution??  

  The chart clearly shows that the first 10 seconds are critical for a user’s decision to stay or leave.  The reason for this high probability during the first few seconds is because users have become increasingly skeptical of web pages after having encountered numerous poorly designed and useless pages.
If your website can make it past the first 10 second judgement period, you are likely to get someone to look around a bit.  That being said, there is still a higher probability of bouncing within the 10-20 second time frame as you can see above.  It’s really only after people have stuck around for more than 20 seconds that their probability of leaving the web page stabilizes.  So how do you get someone to stick around on your site for more than 20 seconds?

Real-Time Behavior Based Personalization

 The issue I have with the overwhelming majority of websites out there is that they are static.  It doesn’t matter if you are 6 years old or 60, live in Africa or the U.S., a male or a female, work in a small business or a multinational, or work in software or catering.  If every one of those people go to www.somesite.com, they have almost an identical web experience.
The chart above clearly shows that this is a huge missed opportunity for companies.  If people are very, very likely to bounce from your site within the first 20 seconds of their visit, what do you think will have a better chance of getting them past this initial danger zone?  You have two options for their web experience within the first 10 seconds of visiting your site:
  1. Give them the same web experience, with the same content, messages, and offers as everyone else
  2. Give them a personalized web experience, with personalized content,  personalized messages, and personalized offers targeted specifically towards what they are most interested in.  Do it all in real-time.

How do I personalize the web experience in such a small window of time?

 Good question.  There are two scenarios here:

1) Personalize the web experience for a first time visitor:   

  • It may seem difficult to know what a first time visitor is interested in as there isn’t any clickstream behavior to track yet, but there are some things you can do here.  
  • In real-time, you can identify what site they came from (referring site) and what keyword search the visitor entered in order to find your site. By knowing what site they came from, and what their search terms were, you can start to understand their likely interests. 
  • B2B example:  For example, someone comes to your site from LinkedIn, you know they are probably a B2B company, an influencer, if not a decision maker, and probably higher quality traffic.  If their search terms for “Your Company Partner Program” You can present personalized language, content, and offers that your B2B Partner audience is interested in.
  • B2C example: Someone visits from a social networking site, chances are they are pretty active in those communities.  You can present personalized language, content, and offers that are more targeted to those audiences.  Perhaps an offer to receive a coupon if you get people to sign up for a trial of your product through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.  Since this person came from those sites, there is a higher probability they will act on this offer

2) Personalize the web experience for a returning visitor: 

  • This one is easier.  Anonymous visitors can be identified as a return visitor, even if they have never filled out a form.
  • The instant they visit your site, in real-time, you can recognize this is “Anonymous visitor ABC”.  Last time they were here they clicked on “XYZ”, so lets present them personalized language, content, and offers focused on “XYZ” right away.  You are now dramatically improving your chances of having this visitor make it past the 20 second danger zone, because right off the bat you are showing them what they want.  Longer visits converts to increased visitor recency which converts to increased lead conversion which converts to increased revenue.
  • B2B Example: You notice an anonymous visitor is returning to look at a specific product feature such as customer support.  Upon their return visit, you can swap out the content and language on your site to show them customer support testimonials, and a call to action to speak with a customer reference.
  • B2C Example: You notice that an anonymous visitor is returning to view a specific item “X”.  They have never added it to to a shopping cart, but it is obvious there is high interest.  Upon their return visit, you can swap out the content and language to be focused on item “X” as well as similar and complementary items to “X”.  You can even offer them a personalized coupon for this specific item, as well as discounts on related items.

You have now unlocked the mystery behind the 98% of web visitors that never convert.  As you can see its pretty easy to grab someone’s attention with just knowing basic information up front.  The more information you collect, the more personalized your visitor’s experience becomes!  Show the web visitor what they want within 10 seconds and you will increase your web page visit duration.  By using a real-time behavior based personalization solution, you are now equipped to increase conversions, which will increase overall revenues and hopefully get you that promotion!


Here's what we've learned: 

  • To gain several minutes of someones attention you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds
  • To clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds, you must instantly show a user exactly what is important and interesting specifically to them.
  • To instantly show a user what is relevant to them, you need to use a real-time, behavior based personalization solution.  You need to be able to real-time identify that this person visiting my site is “John Smith”, he is interested in “X,Y,Z,” so lets show him personalized content, language, and offers related to “X,Y,Z”
  • In other words, make sure you have a site that uses real-time behavior personalization so that whenever someone visits, they instantly see what they came looking for, make it past the 20 second danger zone and convert.