The Right Recommendations Will Keep Your Visitors Engaged

 “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

steve jobs

My spin on this quote is, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”    

We recently went to dinner with some friends to a new restaurant/brewery in our town.  We ordered a couple of appetizers that, based on the description on the menu, sounded amazing (which they were).  We passed on some traditional appetizers like cheese curds, hummus, hand-cut fries because why not try something new at the new place, right?

Then the table next to us received their appetizer.  All four of us just watched as the waiter set their dish down…commenting on how incredible their appetizer looked.  We watched as the couple enjoyed their first bite and started perusing the menu to see if we could figure out what they were eating.  Finally, one of us asked – “that looks great – what is it?”  They replied – “the cheese curds, and they’re amazing.” Based on their recommendation, we ordered the cheese curds as well (even though we had no intention of getting 3 appetizers that night).  The couple next to us was right – they truly were amazing.


Recommendations on your site can work in much the same way.  You may entice visitors to your site based on a sale, or cool ad you place.  They may poke around a bit – ‘walking down the aisles’ – to see what you have to offer or say.   But they’re not engaged at all – they’re not digging deeper into the products you offer or content you have on your site.  Not every product or piece of content on your site will keep your visitors engaged. 

However, if you have recommendations on your site, it’s like the table next to you receiving an incredible looking appetizer.  A recommended product or piece of content that is based on the page you’re currently viewing, and it piques your interest.  You want to find out more, you want to see what it’s about, and you may even want to purchase it or subscribe to the website’s newsletter. 

Netflix’s Carlos Gomez-Uribe and Neil Hunt determined this early on in a published paper (PDF):  “If we create a more compelling service by offering better personalized recommendations, we induce members who were on the fence to stay longer, and improve retention.”  Netflix highlights recommended shows based on what you’re watching, in a similar way as an engagement widget with a recommendation floating in on a page of content, or a recommendation of a similar product through various software applications on the market.

Salesforce has found that shoppers who clicked personalized recommendations:

  • Comprise of 7% of visits but drive 24% of orders and 26% of revenue.
  • Were nearly twice as likely to come back to the site.
  • Had a 10% higher Average Order Value (AOV)

With the right mix of recommendations and other enticing tools on your site, you will see improved visitor engagement resulting in increased sales and subscribers.

Debbie wears multiple hats at SiteVibes, including writing and researching awesome topics to share with customers, partners and just general site visitors. When she isn't doing day-to-day SiteVibes work, Debbie enjoys volunteering with nonprofit organizations, digging into a new book, and going for walks.