Differences Between Visitors and Sessions Explained: Increase Shopify Store Traffic

Courtney Sharp e-commerce expert
By Courtney Sharp
Head and shoulders photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Updated August 2, 2023.

A man working on a cell phone while sitting in front of a laptop

Unlocking the full potential of your e-commerce store relies on understanding the intricacies of visitors and sessions. These two metrics play a vital role in analyzing your website's performance, attracting more customers, and driving conversions. Below, we discuss how to manage your visitors and sessions strategies to ultimately increase your Shopify store traffic.

Meet the Expert:

  • Courtney Sharp is a marketing and e-commerce expert. Her marketing agency, Sharp Media Agency, specializes in digital marketing, branding, ads, and social media, with a strong focus on fashion, retail, and beauty commerce.

Visitors and Sessions: Decoding the Jargon

Visitors vs sessions infographic that explains the differences between them

  • Visitors, also known as unique visitors, are the number of individuals who access your website within a given timeframe. It represents the unique amount of people who visit your store, regardless of how many times they visit.
  • Sessions represent the total number of interactions or visits made by users on your website. A session can include multiple visits from the same visitor. For example, if a repeat customer visits your store a bunch of times, each visit will count as a separate session but only as one unique visitor.

Are You Making the Most of Analyzing Your Shopify Store Traffic?

One common misconception among online retailers is undervaluing the importance of analyzing website traffic. While they have access to this wealth of analytics, they don't take advantage of it. For example, some fail to set up proper analytics tools like Google Analytics, so they miss out on valuable insights.

It's about getting a strong standpoint for your analytics and realizing there's a lot of power within that.

However, investing time and effort in understanding your analytics can provide immense value to your brand. Even small improvements in key metrics can lead to significant growth, especially when you're dealing with high sales volumes.

For example, when you're talking about a hundred thousand sales increasing by just 1%-2%, the additional 1,000-2,000 sales can be massive for a company.

Three animated bars on a bar graph on a blue screen

What Types of Key Metrics Should You Consider When Analyzing Your Visitors and Sessions?

  • Drop-off Rate It's important to understand where and why visitors leave your website. By identifying common drop-off points, you can optimize those areas to reduce bounce rates and improve conversions.
  • Heatmap Analysis You can track visitor interactions on your website via heatmap applications like Hotjar. This visual representation helps identify where users click and provides valuable insights into their behavior.
  • Search Metrics It's crucial to assess the search experience on your website, particularly if you want to enhance organic traffic. Optimizing your products and pages for search engines is essential, as search plays a significant role in driving on-site conversions.
  • Traffic Channels Analyzing the channels your visitors use to arrive at your site is essential. Setting up proper tracking with tools like Google Tags can help you determine the effectiveness of your social platforms, influencer programs, or affiliate marketing in driving traffic.

Pro Tips to Increase Visitor Conversion Rates

One of the primary concerns for online retailers is getting their visitors to convert more. Make sure you offer a seamless customer experience by:

  • Ensuring your website speed and navigation are optimal.
  • Being transparent about shipping rates.
  • Optimizing your product pages by using engaging visuals.
  • Keeping mobile users in mind.
  • A/B testing to try different methods.

Which Strategies Can You Use to Increase Visitors to Your Shopify Store?

  • Organic Traffic Making up 50% of your overall traffic, you can prioritize organic SEO by optimizing your website's pages, products, and images. Focus on building reputable backlinks and establishing a strong online presence to attract organic traffic.
  • Paid Traffic Depending on your brand's stage and industry, paid traffic can account for 15% of your website's traffic, so it's important to invest in platforms that align with your target audience. Google Ads may work well for certain sectors, while social media advertising can be effective for others. Tailor your paid media strategy to reach the right audience on the right platforms.
  • Community Building Foster a sense of community around your brand by engaging customers and building relationships. Leverage email marketing, social media, and customer relationship management (CRM) to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Example: Selling Alcohol Directly to Customers

Suppose you operate in the alcohol industry. Most likely, you're going to focus the majority of your paid traffic spend on Google, like Google ads and search ads, because this is where you find the most results for your brand. When people want alcohol delivered, they're not going to TikTok and typing it in. They're going to Google and search, "wine delivered near me."

Which Strategies Can You Use to Increase Sessions to Your Shopify Store?

Improving store sessions requires creating an engaging and interactive user experience. A session should be like a conversation. On the one hand, you should build a brand that brings value to your core customers and communicates a clear brand voice throughout your website. On the other hand, you should encourage users to participate in conversations, interact with your brand, and create a sense of community. By considering both the technical and brand-building aspects, you can optimize store sessions and foster long-term success.

Glossier: Making It About You

Glossier, an online beauty products seller, excels at involving their buyers with their brand. They've centered their community around their brand and repeat this in all their website copy:

Here at Glossier, beauty is about you.

It's where we realized that beauty shouldn't be built in a boardroom—it should be built by you.

We believe in thoughtful design and cultivating conversations. It's at the core of everything we do.

They also feature their customers via videos and images on the website using their products. The captions at the bottom of the imagery include the customer's name and what product they're using. For example, "Shani wears Lip Gloss in Red."

A woman holding a tube of red lip gloss in her hands

A woman applying clear lip gloss to her lips

Harnessing the Potential of Visitors and Sessions: Takeaways for Online Retailers

To effectively analyze the performance of your e-commerce store, it's important to understand the difference between visitors and sessions. This knowledge will help you dispel any misconceptions and concentrate on essential metrics, allowing you to get valuable insights to optimize your website's traffic. By implementing strategies to increase visitors and improve store sessions, you can create a more captivating user experience, enhance conversion rates, and cultivate a loyal customer base.

But remember—there's no one solution. Analyzing your traffic and optimizing your online store are ongoing processes that require a balance between technical considerations and brand-building efforts.

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