Hope that I didn’t trick you with the title. I think that secrets are for everyone to know, and that’s why I’ll share it straight from the start: first-time visitors almost never convert into buyers. That’s it. If you’re aware of this, you’ll easily find a solution to the problem that you have just named.

Here are a few facts about first-time visitors:

  • 99% of them don’t buy from their first visit
  • First-time visitors are strangers
  • At their first visit they become aware of your brand, products
  • In the awareness stage they’re not ready to buy – buyer lifetime cycle

Converting first-time visitors into buyers is a step-by-step process built with the sales funnel’s stages in mind. Or that’s how it should be to give results.

First of all, almost all of the first-time visitors, more exactly 99%, don’t buy from the first visit. This kind of behavior shows that people have to make repeated visits to get to know someone’s brand in order to buy products. Therefore, establishing trust should be your goal.

“Trust” is a word that doesn’t have much in common with performance marketing, results, and metrics. Though, it remains your duty to integrate it with your numbers and specific marketing tactics.

My suggestion is to start making your website the promoter of your business, company or brand. Make it speak for you and give your brand a personality. Your website will help achieving the business goals only if it’s allowing your visitors to get to know things such as:

  • who’s selling to them?
  • which are the seller’s values? (moral values?)
  • do they agree with his mission and positioning?
  • do they trust him with the delivery and other promises stated on the website?

Only when people have clear answers to these questions, they will be ready to buy. In order to give them these answers, though, you and your marketing team need to have time and repeated visits to the website. Otherwise, you cannot create the intention to purchase.

Secondly, first-time visitors are only strangers. If you’re looking at your sales funnel (if you haven’t created one yet, check out this step by step guide), you’ll observe that each stage correspond to some behavioral characteristics.

I see the traffic generation as a tactic that only drives people in the first stage. Therefore, convincing them to subscribe becomes the focus of the conversion marketing reps in a company. They should focus only on getting email addresses from the first-time visitors in order to build a big and beautiful database.

The other important thing to do in the first stage should be an email marketing program that is converting first-time visitors to the website into second and third visitors, obtaining the precious repeated visits that lead to first-time purchases.

The email marketing program dedicated to obtaining repeated visits should include a clear tracking method to measure the success of your marketing efforts. For example, you could send a test email newsletter to two groups of visitors, male and female (cohorts of traffic). Then, measure its open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate.  Start tracking the behavior of these two groups until they buy for the first time. Take the winning behavior pattern and replicate it to other bigger segments in order to achieve a higher conversion rate for the first-time visitors.

Testing on small groups of people helps you determine how to make all of the website’s visitors trust you. I suppose that you don’t want to risk all of your marketing budget on an email marketing program that you only guess that is working. Make sure that you know what’s working by making tests. Trust is not unachievable!

If you’re in doubt of the target conversion rate for the funnel’s stages, here is a nice infographic with an industry’s benchmark that will help you.


Finally, you should remember one thing: in the first stage of the sales funnel people are not ready to buy, but they can give you their email address. In order to convert first-time visitors into buyers, you have to focus on the funnel’s conversion rate at each stage.

Start optimizing your funnel’s stages with Omniconvert. It’s free to start!