4+1 Personalization Techniques for First-Time Visitors


Every visitor to your online store counts. Anyone who has been exposed to your brand, products, and special offers is your potential customer. This is your kind of ecommerce ‘piggy bank’ that breaks every time a visitor converts.

While there are many ways to turn visitors into customers, it’s obvious that most of your store visits won’t result in a conversion. It’s also true that some of your first-time visitors will never come back.

That’s the hard reality of an ecommerce business. In an oversaturated marketplace, it’s impossible to retain everyone’s attention for a meaningful period of time, even with the help of technologically complex ecommerce development.

This is where personalization comes in. Specifically, personalization for first-time or anonymous visitors that you know nothing about. In this case, you only have one attempt at making a good first impression, which may be your last one in most cases. Unless you’ve saved something up for your first-time visitors, they’ll be gone forever.

Ecommerce experts from Iflexion take a closer look at some of the personalization techniques that might improve the conversion rate of new visitors and make them your returning customers.

Technique #1. Make your site-surfing a delight

The user’s first impression of the brand is shaped once they land on the site. They won’t hesitate to bounce if the site is loading slowly or the layout seems user-unfriendly.

This way, it’s your job to make sure that the design, colors, visual elements and other pieces of the UI puzzle fall in line with the best UX techniques:

A – Boost your site’s loading speed

Go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and check your site’s speed (both on desktop and mobile devices). Google will be kind enough to point out to the factors that slow down your site as well as provide actionable tweaking recommendations.

B – Simplify your layout

Users are not that into aesthetics as they are into intuitive design. They love seeing what they came for in the first seconds of their visit. Therefore, push the main site categories to the page’s header and make them visible and straightforward.

C – Streamline your site’s navigation

Do you know the golden rule of website architecture? Any page should be no more than three clicks away from the homepage. Obviously, it’s not always possible, but try to do your best to provide a simple menu, clear subject categories, content recommendations, and site search with handy filters.

D – Prioritize mobile

It’s no secret the world is becoming mobile-first. It means that your site should look good both on desktop and mobile, so usability testing on mobile is a requirement. Avoid making touch elements too small, as well as using weird fonts and intrusive notifications.

E – Plug in your support team

First-time visitors who come to a website to talk to the brand representatives are usually those ready to convert. Add a chat box to your site to provide an easy communication starter.

F – Provide localized versions

In case you have audiences spilling across different countries, consider localizing your content to at least top five countries that your visitors come from.

Technique #2. Personalize site search

Most first-time visitors come to the site already with a certain request on their minds. Given this, it’s not a surprise that they go straight to the website’s search box.

There is a variety of website search services that can personalize search results on the go based on other users’ search history.

To maximize the impact of website search on first-time users, seek out the following features in the service you’re going to implement:

  • Search predictions, based on search history or similar searches by other visitors
  • Synonym recognition, for personalizing search with the help of natural language processing
  • Business intelligence, revealing search patterns and notifying of emerging trends

Technique #3. Learn where traffic comes from

Many destinations can drive traffic to your website, from PPC ads to the guest post you did a year ago promoting your products. Most of these sources can be tracked with Google Analytics or other BI tools. To grab the attention of first-time visitors who enter from a specific source, you’ll have to do a couple of things:

  1. Collect information about the source and build a basic understanding of the visitors that arrive through this particular route.
  2. Reconstruct source-specific sales funnels by analyzing converted visits to uncover additional insights.
  3. Use that information to personalize promotions for anyone visiting from particular sources.

You don’t have to be aware of the visitor’s location or other demographic information. Knowing where the visitor came from and what kind of product they might be interested in are valuable pieces of intelligence. If you know that a person came in from a bicycle review website and you happen to sell bikes, then you can instantly act on that knowledge by:

  • Offering a limited discount
  • Exchanging a discount for a subscription
  • Showing a pop-up with the most popular bikes in your store

Technique #4. Make discounts time-sensitive

The idea is pretty simple—if you want people to stay on your site, offer them a time-limited discount. Their deeper personal profiling doesn’t matter when their inner self is confronted with a one-of-a-kind-deal. It’s up to you to experiment. You may want to give them an hour or 10 minutes—A/B testing will point at the time that works best for first-time visitors.

A bonus technique. Experience a first-time visitor journey yourself

All done with the optimization for your first-time visitors? Try how it feels to be in their shoes. Go to your desktop site, try to find something specific, and then place an order. Go through registration and checkout. Contact the support team. Then repeat all these steps on mobile. Are you happy with your journey?

Also, get a sneak peek at your competitors—they are usually a great source of inspiration. Become a first-time visitor on their sites and analyze how successfully they guide you along your journey.


Modern consumers are tough to please, as they expect everything tailored to their needs. To excel in personalizing first-time visits, you have to always stay on your toes. Be sure to explore your visitors’ data, browsing patterns, and behavioral heat maps, and tweak your site based on these insights. Don’t neglect the standard information available on most first-time visitors, like devices they use and learn to weave it into your marketing.

Author Bio:

Kate Pioryshkina is a sales manager at Iflexion. She has over eight years of experience in IT, negotiating countless development projects and an eye for bottlenecks in development that modern businesses struggle to overcome. This skill allows her to identify specific business pain points and allocate the most appropriate resources from iflexion’s talented pool of developers. ‘Exceeding expectations’ is her professional motto. She has the global experience necessary to understand cultural nuances of any project: locale, target audience, and goals. When it’s ‘go time’ there’s no stone left unturned. But outside of work, she loves to travel, explore new destinations, ideas, cultures, and technologies. She’s also a film buff who enjoys a good movie.

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