Marketing professionals use various metrics to understand webpages’ online performance, and the number of unique visitors is one of these metrics. The number of unique visitors informs a website owner or manager of how many distinct individuals view and remain on a webpage. Understanding unique visitors can help a business accomplish many goals, including determining the size of a website’s audience and studying the impact of a promotion.
In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide to unique visitors, including who they are, how companies use them to make business decisions and what other metrics relate to them.
What is a unique visitor?
A unique visitor is one internet user who accesses a webpage using a distinct Internet Protocol (IP) address. The number of unique visitors is a metric that marketing professionals use to track a webpage’s readability and ability to convert customers. Marketing professionals most commonly measure the number of unique visitors by the day, week or month. Instead of solely using the number of unique visitors to determine a website’s value, marketers often use it in combination with other metrics like bounce rate and visit duration. This broader analysis can help them achieve a more expansive understanding of a website’s performance.
Why are unique visitors important?
Unique visitors are a key metric when building a website’s following or selling advertising space because it shows how many people are visiting the website. While repeated exposure to a potential customer can provide value in advertising, there are diminishing returns after too many exposures. Advertisers want to know that both repeat customers and visitors from a broader pool see and react to their ads.
When trying to raise your website’s popularity or establish credibility within an industry, the number of unique visitors is a key marketing metric for showing that the brand is experiencing brand growth. When your unique visitor count is rising, you know that you’re successfully growing your website and company’s presence. This can minimize the stagnant growth that may occur if only a small, narrow pool of customers dominated your website traffic.
How do marketers measure unique visitors?
A marketer can determine who’s a unique visitor by looking at the IP addresses that visitors use to access a website. No matter how many times an internet user visits a webpage with their IP address, it only counts once for the relevant time period. You can measure unique visitors across any time period with web analytics tools.
Tracking the various IP addresses that visit a website can help you estimate the number of unique visitors to a webpage, but it’s not a perfect metric. A shared computer, like one at a public library, can result in only one unique visitor count even if multiple different users visit the website. The opposite effect occurs if the same user accesses a website from multiple computers or devices. Most marketers usually don’t consider these effects to be impactful enough to skew the data, so the approximations are usually close to reality.
What other metrics relate to the number of unique visitors?
The number of unique visitors is an important metric for determining the popularity and reach of a website, but there are other metrics marketers can use to better understand a website’s performance. Whether you’re trying to grow a larger audience to raise brand awareness or sell advertising space on your website, here are some other key metrics you can study in addition to the number of unique visitors:
Total page views
The number of total page views is a metric that tracks every time a visitor loads a page on your website. This metric doesn’t account for unique visitors, so several of the page views may originate from a regular visitor. For total page view numbers, a visit from a single visitor five times is equivalent to one visit each from five unique visitors.
The average visits count tracks how many times a single user returns to your website within a set period. This metric can give you an idea of how interested visitors are in what you have to offer. If a particular webpage has a high number of visits per day, it may mean many visitors are interested in making a purchase in the near future. The number of average visits metric doesn’t divide total page views by the number of unique visitors, as not every visit consists of only one page view.
Interactions per visit
The number of interactions per visit can be quite high, especially if you have a lot of engaging content. An interaction may include anything from clicking on an interactive button or commenting on a post to viewing a video. For an example of how all of these metrics interact together, consider a person who visits your website three times in a single week. Imagine they interact in six, nine and three ways, respectively. In your metrics, this visitor would appear as a single unique visitor with three visits for the week and an average of six interactions per visit.
In some cases, visitors clicking around to multiple pages on your website is a good sign that you’ve provided them with informative content. While this is true, note that a lack of clicks doesn’t necessarily mean that your website wasn’t useful to them. On pages that feature interactive content or long-form articles, for example, an individual may spend an extended period of time using your website without ever clicking through to a second page.
Visit duration accounts for these visitors by determining how long they remain on your website before clicking on the back button or leaving to visit a new website. High visit duration is good for your website’s search engine rankings, as it shows that you’ve provided visitors with what they wanted. Low visit duration may mean that you can improve how interactive your website’s content is.
When a browser visits your website and leaves without clicking on or interacting with any links on the page, they “bounce” from your website. This is an important metric for search engines, as bounces can indicate that your website didn’t satisfy the visitor, and they went elsewhere to find what they wanted. If a website climbs high in the search engine rankings due to strong search engine optimization tactics but then experiences high bounce rates, its rankings may begin to suffer. This is part of an effort to prioritize high-quality content over attempting to deceive search engine algorithms.
Value per visit
A website’s value per visit is determined by finding the amount of income it generates and dividing it by the total number of unique visitors to the website. This is an important metric that marketers use to determine the profitability of a website, webpage or advertising campaign. It’s also useful for measuring profits as a result of direct sales of a product and measuring the amount of advertising revenue a webpage brings in through advertisement placements.
Cost per lead
Marketers determine the cost per lead by assessing how much money a company spends to develop and advertise a website and dividing that figure by the number of unique visitors the website receives. This metric works with the value per visit to determine the profitability of a website, page or marketing campaign. If your value per visit exceeds the cost per lead, then the website is generating a profit. Alternatively, a negative or low result means you can consider making changes to improve performance.
The use of customer avatars is a method that can help a company better understand its customer base. Companies often create customer avatars by using metrics, gathering demographic information and conducting surveys. An avatar represents a company’s average customer or a specific subsection of its customers.
How marketers use the number of unique visitors
Marketers use the number of unique visitors metric to:
Determine a website’s audience size: The most basic use for a unique visitor count is getting an idea of a website’s popularity at a given moment. A marker can use this information to determine a website’s ranking and get an understanding of the reach they can achieve by advertising or posting an article on that website.
Set an advertising price: When selling advertising space on your website, the number of unique visitors you attract is important to establish your value and get a higher price for each placement. Similarly, if you’re purchasing an advertisement on a company’s website, you can inquire about both the total page views you anticipate for your ads and the number of unique visitors you expect to view your advertisement during its placement.
Run A/B testing experiments: One popular method of running advertising and marketing campaigns is to use A/B testing, which is when each visitor to a website randomly receives one of two or more potential landing pages so that a marketer can compare the performance of each page. When examining the results of A/B testing, it’s essential to know how many unique visitors are viewing each page to ensure that you have an adequate sample size and that performance for each occurs under the appropriate context.
Track growth over time: Tracking your unique visitors over a series of days, weeks or months can help you monitor your website’s overall growth and performance. This is useful for assessing the effectiveness of your advertising or content strategies and allocating resources accordingly.