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How to Engage New & Returning Website Visitors

Have you ever thought of your website’s new and returning visitors as two different audiences? Does your website’s layout work for both audiences? How about the messages you target them with?

If you aren’t already segmenting your visitors, this is the guide for you. We’ll provide you with some concrete tactics to keep new visitors from bouncing and make sure returning visitors come back!

New vs. Returning Visitors

A “new visitor” is just as it sounds—it’s a person who is brand-new to your website. New visitors usually organically land on your site in one of three ways: a search engine query, another website that linked to your site, or a social media post.

A “returning visitor” is one who’s stopped by before and is back for more. Returning visitors aren’t always direct traffic—they could be someone who has interacted with you online, and has come to associate your brand as a trusted source. This means that, perhaps in addition to coming to you directly, they’re more likely to click through to your site from a search query or on social media.

3 Ways to Boost Engagement of First-time Visitors

Naturally, the goal of your website is to impress first-time visitors so that they will not just land, but stick around to explore your offering, and then come back on future visits. Here are three ways to engage your first-time visitors:

Keep it Simple.

Your goal is to create a website which is simple to navigate and has an attractive layout. Your navigation menu should be clear. Dividing pages into labeled subpages can give your visitors a “road map” for where to go as they explore.

Say Hello!

You want to make your new visitors feel welcome. Give them special recognition for being new to your website. A lightbox (also referred to as a popup or overlay), which can display messages on your website as it loads, is a great way to personally recognize first-timers, and also collect email addresses for future use. Targeting Tools gives you the ability to not only create a lightbox with customized messaging, it also allows you to specifically target new visitors with that messaging.

Start Here.

A “Start Here” or “101 Section” is an easy way to give new visitors a clear path through your site. A curated “Best Of” section linking to your most popular posts is another way to guide new visitors to posts that peak their unique interests. One option is to create a dedicated page on your site. Another option is through a tool like AddThis Related Posts.

3 Ways to Boost Engagement of Returning Visitors

Engaging your returning visitors is just as—if not more—important as engaging the first-timers. Creating a strong ongoing relationship with your loyal audience is key to the success of your website and the first step to creating brand advocates. We’ve got three tactics you can implement to increase engagement with returning visitors.

Keep it Fresh!

Keeping visitors coming back for updates also helps boost your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). How do you keep it fresh? It depends on the type of website you run. If you’re selling products or services, show off customer testimonials or the latest and greatest offerings. If it helps to be “in the know” in your industry, then strive to be the first to post on trending current topics or to report breaking industry news. If you have a service-based business, then show new blog posts first so each time a person returns to your website, they’ll be greeted with fresh content.


Consider resurfacing your evergreen content with website marketing tools. Evergreen posts are your timeless posts that have a long shelf life. These posts will be as true and relevant next week as they were one year ago. AddThis Related Posts can help you highlight that content and keep users engaged.


It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your website. One way is through “content-riffing”—spinning new posts out of old ones. Another way is by updating and refreshing your most popular posts to share in a revised way. Repurposing on social media may create a dynamic new aesthetic.

With a few simple tools, you can create a positive, successful experience for all visitors to your website. New visitors will come back and returning visitors will make your site a favorite!

Last modified:  September 7th, 2016