Everybody wants more website traffic.

Increased, genuine ‘footfall’ takes business awareness (and profits) to another level, while enhancing return visitor stats means brand loyalty will soar.

The question is how to achieve these goals?..

One answer lies in the science of human habits.

Remember the coffee shop you call in on, every day, probably around the same time? Habit. Or that website you routinely browse, even though you long-passed caring? Habit again.

Habits can be defined as ‘behaviours that are performed with a minimum of cognitive effort’. In others words, your running on autopilot.

The challenge in marketing is how to initiate this process to drive meaningful and positive leads to your website, hopefully on a permanent basis. The good news is it isn’t as hard as you might think.

Here are 3 essential tactics you need to know to make it happen :

1. Encourage Frequent Visitation ; The Initial ‘Fuel’ Of A Habit.

This may seem obvious, yet it is often overlooked. Many companies expect a first time visitor to simply like their offering and keep coming back for more. The realisation that this rarely happens is reflected in analytics accounts the world over.

Give people a reason to come back.

While the exact length of time needed for a strong habit to form varies from person to person, a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 18 days. Frequent motivation is necessary at the start of the relationship. Competitions, daily ‘dares’, and collecting points towards a discount are just a few ways to initiate loyalty.

2. Make Interactions Ultra- Easy. Keep Your Customers.

The science says that difficult or complex interactions stop automated behaviour occurring, as these situations require deeper thought. If you want to keep your visitors, you need to ditch the long, boring forms and annoying pop-ups. Instead, concentrate on making your site as user friendly as possible.

Take hints from the big players. Amazon uses predictive text when product searching, saving the customer valuable time. They also have an opt-in one click purchase system. User experience is a massive factor in a habit forming process. Is your site speed or dated website hurting your traffic?

3. Make The Reward Pleasurable. Watch People Return.

For a habit to be adopted quickly, there has to be some sort of mental pay-off for the user (a dopamine release). Ideally, a few on-going rewards are better than just one at the end of the campaign. Hard to break habits such as smoking give a near immediate reward in the nicotine buzz.

How can you replicate this online in a much healthier way?

Visuals and videos are one method. The massive growth of Ladbible and Unilad are in large driven by humorous videos and gifs that encourage frequent visitation and emotional reward. Can you use the same tactics? Maybe you could have immediately applied discounts working towards a larger goal..

By combining the three necessary habit forming factors, you will go a long way to make visiting your site an automatic process for your customers. For it to be continually successful, a content and user-experience strategy needs to be implemented and adhered to.

The rewards are more than worthwhile – data shows 80% of your future profits will likely come from 20% of existing customers. In addition, new customer acquisition is up to 5 times more expensive than the cost of retaining an existing client.

This article was originally posted at Digital Dock, and has been republished with permission.