Neopets is a virtual pet website, it’s probably very familiar among Generation Y millennials, as a majority of them would have, at some point in time, visited the website. This post seeks to explore the “addictive” nature of the website and key takeaways. This will be invaluable to help your own website retain your visitors and keep them interested in coming back.
Initially launched in late 1999 by Adam Powell and Donna Williams, Neopets is now under Knowledge Adventure, an education software company. The general concept behind Neopets allows users to create and care for virtual pets and explore the virtual world of Neopia. There are myriad things to do, ranging from exploring various islands of varying themes like prehistoric times and fairies (Lost Desert, Faerieland, Tyrannia etc.), playing different games of various genres (reflexes, strategic, chance etc.) to pitting their pets to fight against each other and running their shop to sell items and invest in the Neopian stock market.
At the peak of its popularity, Neopets was averaging 117 minutes spent on their site per week in 2001. That is just under 8 hours a month that users spent browsing a website. It has one of the highest returning visitors to their website for several years. By May 2005, it was reported that Neopets had about 35 million unique visitors, 11 million unique IP addresses per month and 4 billion web page views per month. Although the figures did fall after a few years, it still holds an impressive 2 hours and 45 minutes duration per month by 2008. As of 2017, it currently averages about 5.8 million visits per month.
1) Find the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your product/service, AKA be “Wily Wonka”
Take a long, good hard look at your business and seek to understand the ins and outs of it. There’s a need to understand the crux of it, essentially the USP, to see how it differs from other competitors. That’s what makes you stand out from the competition and more valuable to your customers. It could be that your product has an additional feature or your service comes with 24/7 support or extended warranty duration. Be different to stand out, Willy Wonka stood out from everyone because he’s so different. He got people talking about him and this helps spread his name. Likewise, apply this approach to your website.
Neopets has identified that the USP of its website is the ability to take care of pets without all the hassle. Gone is the need to clean up your corgi’s poop, to walk your Labrador, cleaning your Koi’s tank and dealing with strands of fur all over your apartment. Your virtual pet is always there, even if you are unable to take care of it for days, weeks or months. Because they can’t “die” if left unattended or neglected. The option to customise your Neopets is also a unique feature that is not so easily available in reality.
2) Content is King
Even in 2017, with declining visitor figures, Neopets averages 26.6 pages on the website per visitor with an average session lasting 18 minutes and 20 seconds. Currently, Neopets has about 150,000 pages indexed in Google. Thus, it’s easy to see why visitors are compelled to stay on longer and view more content. With more content of varying types but still related to their theme, Neopets can reach out to more users.
Granted, this doesn’t give you the go ahead to flood your website with endless streams of content. Too much irrelevant information forces upwards to 60% of consumers to give up looking for a product or service on your website. The information that goes on your website has to relevant and related to your business and purposeful. A blog feature or Latest News tab should be an essential part of your website to create more compelling content that will entice visitors to stay longer and find out about your company.
There’s also the issue of frequency of uploading content, studies have shown that posting about 16 and above posts a month will generate 3 to 4 times more traffic to your website as compared to companies that upload 0 to 4 posts a month. This comes up to about 4 times a week.
3) Make your website fast and easy to navigate
It has been documented that Internet users will leave a website if it takes long to load. Bounce rate goes up the longer a website takes to load, 12.8% bounce rate for a 2.4 second loading time, a 20% bounce rate for a 3.3 second loading time. Conversion goes down and users will leave your website, where every second delay in loading results in a 7% loss. The reality is that once they leave, they aren’t likely to come back, especially the numerous options out there for them to get them what they want.
A website that loads faster is going to have visitors stay longer, increasing the chances of conversion. In addition, Google search engines do factor in website loading speed as one of the criteria for search results. Thus, it’s pivotal that your website loads quickly and upon reaching your landing page, users can navigate to where they want to.
4) Build your spider web
Channel your inner Spiderman and hyperlink words within posts made on your homepage or landing page. These links should be relevant to the content that users are looking, and provide more information on said topic. With more links on the website, it will increase the chances of people exploring other aspects of your website.
Ideally, these links should be of a different colour to stand out, blue is the common and universal colour used. The hyperlink should be descriptive enough so users know where it is taking them.
The surprising things you can pick up and learn from a website you patronise when you were young, huh? It might just be time to log in again and feed that starving Neopet of yours.
Lost time spent on Neopets: A study on the average time spent on a website meant for children.