Bookmarkers: The Overlooked Revenue Source

Brian Dunlap
There is no more valuable a commodity to webmasters than traffic. Regardless of how much a website has to offer, entire domains are rendered totally useless by a lack of sufficient visitors. It's no wonder, then, that webmasters spend so much time working to drive surfers to their sites. So oft overlooked in the ongoing struggle for traffic is the Web's underappreciated traffic asset: the bookmarker.

Traffic and the role it plays in revenue generation is a simple and clear-cut model. A user comes to your site, sees your product or service, and decides to spend money on it. Life moves on and everybody's happy. What if, however, that user doesn't buy? So many sites lose that surfer as a potential revenue source if and when they don't buy that first and only time around. They came, they saw, they left and won't be seen again, destined to forever be yet another statistic on the right side of your conversion ratio.

If, despite not buying that first time around, that user is nonetheless compelled to bookmark your site and commit to visiting on their own at some point in the future, they're a potential revenue source indefinitely. Bookmarked surfers can form a solid traffic base promoting your site through word of mouth and advertising it to friends, coworkers, bulletin board chat buddies, and anyone else with whom they choose to share their newfound appreciation. They can form the basis of an exponential growth in traffic to your site. As regular visitors, they still retain a potential to convert despite not having done so the first or even first several times around. More frequent visits to your site translate into deeper navigation through it and exposure to more of what it is you're selling. Your main promotional index page might not have appealed to a particular bookmarker, but that doesn't prevent him from stumbling across one of your less prominently featured back up offerings at some point down the line.

Even a bookmarker that buys from the outset remains a potential source of revenue, having already proven the willingness to spend money. Just as Vegas casinos have “whales”—high rollers from whom the money comes in large amounts—websites would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to make themselves the purchasing hubs for surfers with ample disposable incomes.

There are many ways to provide your visitors with a reason to bookmark your site. Whereas newsletters and mailing lists make an effort to call back surfers who've come along in the past, they still fall short of the ideal scenario—a user compelled to be a repeat visitor of their own accord. There is no better way of doing this than updating your site regularly and frequently. Making it obvious to the surfer from the outset that yours is a site with something new to offer all of the time, they'll have greater reason to check back on it just as often. Even if you lack the actual content or product base to release something brand new every day, rotating your displays and updating the visual offerings at your main index page could do just as well.

Many webmasters have found that providing users with increased opportunities for interaction with one another as well as the site owners can be a valuable traffic retention and repeat visitor tool. Bulletin boards, discussion forums and chat rooms—inherently fluid and constantly new and updated—can help establish a core user base committed to visiting the site regularly. Operating one of the Net's most successful and heavily trafficked gay resource directories, Sobe Digital Inc recently implemented an open source bulletin board that now boasts almost 10,000 registered participants, with well over 100 posting online at any given time. co-owners JD and Seth actively participate in board discussions and make themselves available to the site's visitors, further adding to its appeal and the eagerness of surfers to register, participate, and come back regularly. “The forum has to be one of the ‘stickiest' features you can add to a site,” JD attests. “ has always had a loyal following, but we've noticed a significant increase in repeat visitors as the popularity of the forum has grown.” The success of a bulletin board can be hit or miss, however, and webmasters should be prepared to help get it off the ground.'s community forum has demonstrated its value as a traffic retention tool—and JD and Seth are ready to push it even further. As successful as the forum has become”, remarks JD, “the bulk of the members never post. So our goal in the future is to foster even greater participation by those lurkers.”

When your visitors willingly, eagerly, and without complaint subject themselves to the sales opportunities your site presents with little effort on your part—as is the case with committed bookmarkers—your revenue generating potential increases dramatically.

Brian Dunlap is the Director of Marketing for Bionic Pixels.