Like it or not, the majority of the visitors to your website are unknown. Unknown users surf the web anonymously and click around the pages on your website undetected (unless they accept to leaving cookies). Unknown users are the folks that browse as “guests” (or should we say ghosts?): they don’t create an account to make a purchase, or enter any contact details to view your content.
And let’s face it – we all like to remain anonymous when browsing online, especially when we’re making the first contact with a brand and are being introduced to its products and/or services. Perhaps we landed on a website by clicking on a display ad, or we came via Google, but we’re not done sussing the brand out, so why give over our precious information?
For marketers, unknown users can cause headaches. If you can’t gather any data around your prospects, it’s hard to send them personalized messaging to guide them down the sales funnel to conversion. In fact, all you might know about them is the pages they’ve been eyeballing and where they came from. But this isn’t actually a bad place to start.
Don’t disregard this (very large) portion of users and cut your losses. There are plenty of opportunities to turn unknown users into known users – you just need to get creative. Below are seven ideas you can run with.
1. Set up a regular newsletter
An email newsletter is a marketing must-have. Whatever your business, a newsletter is a cost-effective way to drive brand awareness, distribute content, increase website traffic and boost sales.
An email newsletter audience may include paying customers, hot prospects, cold leads, partners, and your blog audience. Importantly, though, they all have something in common: they have explicitly opted-in to receive your newsletter. When it comes to newsletter best practice, ensuring that you’re only sending your newsletter to subscribers is the top priority. Read our blog to find out how sending emails to the wrong people can affect email deliverability.
When an unknown user subscribes to your newsletter, they hand over their email address and become a known user. So, how do you entice people to subscribe?
First, consider what you know about your audience: their buyer persona, their challenges, their priorities, etc. Then write a sentence that describes the benefits of subscribing. For example, an ecommerce beauty retailer may write: “Sign up to our newsletter for trend alerts and limited-time promotions.” A fitness SaaS may say: “Sign up to receive exclusive offers, weekly motivational tips, and the chance to win a free membership!”
As long as your newsletter content delivers on its promises, your subscribers will engage with it, and the more information you’ll gather on their interests to help you set up targeted campaigns.
Below is a glimpse at Ortto’s newsletter: a weekly digest of news, how-tos, and explainers to inspire readers.
2. Use gamification like onsite quizzes to boost engagement
Another way to engage unknown users is to gamify elements of your website. Customizable beauty brand Function of Beauty’s website features an engaging quiz where users can ‘build their hair profile’ in just a few clicks.
The quiz acts as a whistle-stop tour of the brand’s product offerings. Once the user completes the quiz, they are asked to enter their email address to get their hands on their highly personalized formula. And voilà! They become a known user.
3. Capture leads through downloadable content like ebooks and whitepapers
Creating gated pieces of content (i.e. content that is not ‘free’ to access – users must enter their contact details to download the piece) is another way to attract leads. Gated content is popular among B2B/SaaS businesses, and is often things like ebooks, whitepapers, guides, infographics, etc. The idea is that the content is too valuable to give away for ‘free’ (i.e. sat on a blog post) and is meaty enough that users will gladly provide their email address to earn their own copy.
Enticing someone to download a piece of content isn’t as easy as “click here!” You have to sell it to them by writing an engaging synopsis which you can feature in an email newsletter or on a landing page. Or, you may write a blog post that teases the subject matter. Or post the highlights of the content in social media posts.
Below is an example of a landing page that compels visitors to register their interest for an upcoming downloadable guide.
Prospects may stumble across your downloadable content via a Google search, social media, or by browsing your website. But once they exchange their contact details, you will know the type of content that they enjoy and you can enter them into a nurture stream to target them with similar content.
4. Implement capture widgets
Capture widgets are website widgets that help you to convert your visitors into subscribers or grab their attention when you have an offer, promotion, new feature, announcement, etc.
There are different types of widgets to experiment with: notifications, popups, takeovers, banners, forms, spin the wheel, tracked forms, etc.
You only have to spend a short time surfing the web to encounter a popup widget. A popup widget can help you grab visitors’ full attention and grow your mailing list. Below is an example of a popup on retailer Urban Outfitters’ homepage, incentivizing visitors to sign up to their mailing list to receive 10% off their first order.
Exit-intent popup widgets are another type of popup designed to keep a user on the site, turn them into a known user, or convert them into a customer. These popups are triggered when the user goes to leave the site. Below is an example of how Zendesk uses exit-intent popups.
Other ways to use capture widgets.
For SaaS businesses: Use a popup offering to send website visitors a small piece of merch (pens, stickers, tote bags, etc.) in exchange for their email.
For ecommerce businesses: Use spin the wheel widgets to gamify discounts and offers (and keep users coming back for more).
For B2B businesses: Use forms to drive subscribers to your newsletter.
5. Implement popup surveys
Getting your website visitors’ feedback – whether good or bad – is incredibly valuable. They can help you spot simple errors, overpriced items, or glitches on your site.
You may offer visitors a coupon code for completing a quick pulse survey. The result is win-win: you get their email address and you gather their sentiment on your brand.
Building survey popups is easy in Ortto – either use a template or build one from scratch. Below are examples of survey popups.
To get the visitor to leave their email address, add a second layer to these popups – e.g. if the person clicks the thumbs up they would be presented with a CTA to subscribe to your newsletter.
6. Retarget unknown users with lead gen ads
Have you ever visited a site, clicked “accept all cookies”, and later been targeted with ads for the website you just visited? Yep, that’s ad retargeting – a type of PPC advertising that can help you bring back unknown users to your site.
Retargeting is powerful. When a prospect sees a retargeting ad, there’s a 70% chance that they’ll purchase your product over your competitor’s. The click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10x higher than the CTR of a typical display ad. Website visitors who are retargeted are more likely to convert by 43%.
Let’s look at file hosting service Dropbox as an example. A visitor lands on the Dropbox site and is asked to accept cookies. They do, and they browse the site for a little while longer before bouncing off it.
Later, while the user is browsing other sites, they see lead generation ads for Dropbox.
This is retargeting. It ensures that Dropbox stays at the top of the user’s mind and prompts them to go back to the website and sign up.
7. Notify users when stock is repopulated
Don’t let ecommerce website visitors leave your website empty-handed – prompt them to sign up to receive restock alerts for products that pique their interest. See an example from ecommerce retailer Charcoal Clothing below.
You may also give users the option to add a product to a ‘wishlist’ so they can return to it when there is a greater need, and get notified when it is back in stock or on sale. This would require the user to enter their email and create an account, which means they become a known user. Below is an example from MatchesFashion.
Building ‘back in stock’ or ‘wishlist’ alerts is easy in Ortto. Simply create a custom activity. And if you have connected your ecommerce platform such as Shopify, Big Commerce or Prestashop to Ortto as a data source, a ’back in stock’ custom activity is created automatically as part of these integrations.
Rather than viewing unknown users as a lost cause, factor them into your marketing strategy. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to turn them into known users with the right approach.