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Identifying real customers from the window shoppers on the Web site

By Doug Logan

I had the pleasure of hearing Ira Neimark, the former chairman/CEO of Bergdorf Goodman, speak at a Luxury Daily conference last year, the Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2013.

While Mr. Neimark spoke on a multitude of great topics, one discussion that really stuck with me touched on distinguishing between an actual customer and a window shopper. He explained that by looking at a man's shoes and watch, he could quickly determine whether they could truly afford a pair of Tom Ford shoes, or if they were just looking for a nice restroom to freshen up in.

My first thought was, "That's great for bricks and mortar, but what about a Web site?" Well, keep in mind that the customers walking into a bricks-and-mortar store are the same customers who are browsing a Web site.

Even if you cannot see the watch that online or mobile browsers are wearing or the brand of loafers they have on, there are still things we can observe, track and analyze to determine the difference between a window shopper and an actual customer.

Every Web site is different, and a Web site's purpose and audience can vary greatly. So while there is no single surefire way to cull your ideal customer from the herd, I can at least give you some ideas that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing:

1. Where did they come from? In the analytics world, this is typically referred to as the "traffic source," but there is more to it than just understanding if a user came from Google or an advertisement. What device is the user viewing your Web site with? Is it the latest iPad or an older Android phone? Who is their service provider?

If you see anyone visiting your Web site from "Aircell," then you should probably consider them a pretty good potential customer. Why? Aircell is the one of the largest providers of Wi-Fi aboard aircrafts in the United States, particularly NetJets.

2. Where did they go? Let us go back to the Bergdorf Goodman example. The store has a pretty big Web site with a lot of notable designers and high-end products.

Anyone who goes to the Bergdorf Goodman Web site and spends significant time looking at every designer of men?s shoes is probably looking for a good pair of shoes.

Contrarily, someone who spends time jumping around the Web site looking at everything from men's shoes to pajamas and ends up spending a lot of time in the "Sale" section of the site is probably just a window shopper.

To give a real life example, we helped Ferrari identify actual potential customers from visitors who were just looking at pretty pictures.

Users deemed as potential consumers would be those who spent time on the site, navigated their way to the dealer locator and ultimately visited a dealer's Web site to learn more.

We tracked this information and were able to separate the actual customers from the window shoppers.

3. What did they do? Clearly, if you run an ecommerce site, then your job is a little easier ? did they buy something? But if you do not have an ecommerce site or even if you do, and nothing is purchased, that does not mean that they are not a potential customer.

What are some of the questions a prospective customer asks in your store that indicates buying intent? For Bergdorf Goodman, maybe it is when a customer asks about alterations.

So if someone on the Bergdorf Goodman Web site searches for and reads about their alterations policy, is that not the same thing?

It is important to know your audience, and in turn what to look for in a good customer.

Know what to look for, and you will be weeding out the window shoppers in no time.

HOPEFULLY I HAVE helped you figure out ways to start analyzing your traffic better.

Once you have a better understanding of your traffic you can start building each user a more unique and personalized experience through your Web site and every marketing touch point.

I do not think I need to tell you the value of providing uniquely personalized experiences to your customers, especially with the demands of today's modern affluent consumer.

Doug Logan is president of Inovat, a Elizabethtown, PA-based digital agency. Reach him at .