Really, Frequency and Recency are relevant dimensions in ANY web analytics tool. But for the same of familiarity I am referencing Google Analytics. I am also going to use small numericals just to save on zeros.
Frequency and Recency are important because this is how you begin to understand how “interesting” your site is to the folks who visit. Think about this in real life terms. You have a store and customers come in. Would it be better if customers came back again and again, and would it be even better if they came again and again, like, every day?
So: frequency is how often they came during the time period you select. Let’s call it a month, though it could be seasonal or less than a month if you are running some kind of promotion during that short period. And recency is how many days passed between one visit and the next! So a high frequency number and a low recency number is what you are looking for: lots of visitors coming back again and again quickly.
The closer you get to that paradigm, the more you can be certain you are reaching your target audience with some authority. If you find low frequency (return visits) and many days showing under recency, it says your site is only of passing interest and not geared to bring people back for more.
That’s why it’s a great overall gauge of site effectiveness.
If you go to the “Behavior” section in GA, you’ll find Frequency & Recency as a choice. It makes sense to set the date range to something recent and manageable–for instance, last month. Of course, if your business is seasonal, you may want to make a custom date range to accommodate that.
Let’s say you picked “last month” as your date range. Below, under the “Performance” tab, you’ll notice a box labeled “Visits”; next to it, a box called “Pageviews”. If Visits = 870 and Pageviews = 8590 that means pretty much what it says. That week your targeted property had 870 visits and an average of about 10 pages per visit.
But what if you saw that during that same month, you had, say 150 or 200 visitors who visited over 10 times during that week? This means you have at least a small set of very, very committed visitors–and that you are reaching your audience with effective content. At a certain very high commitment level, depending on what kind of site you have, you may want to check for developers, internal access and other items that may skew the numbers.
Recency tells you how many days go by between the visits of these same visitors. If you have a high number of visitors with zero days since their last visit, it means they are visiting every day. The list in this report is fairly easy to understand after that: take a look at folks who visit once a week or once a month. The less frequently they visit, the less likely they are committed to your offering.
Repeat visitors is always a key metric, but Recency lets you know how committed those repeat visitors are.
The next step is to adjust content accordingly. . .and an entirely new challenge.