Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing on to view other pages within the same site.
Bounce rate is to marketing as YOLO was to 2011 – but with a lot more credibility. It comes up in every day conversation, no matter how bad you may want to avoid it. That’s because it’s hard to talk about website tracking without taking a close look at bounce rates.
In its purest form, bounce rate is a measurement of web traffic analysis that allows marketers to better understand which of their web pages cause visitors to stay and which don’t. Overall it is a very important metric to pay attention to for businesses looking to increase everything from engagement to conversions.
High bounce rates mean that, for one reason or another, your website is not compelling users to stay. Low bounce rates are the polar opposite. Generally speaking, a major goal of marketers is to get customers to delve deeper into their business’ sites. The reason for this is simple: more engagement usually means a higher chance of conversion.
“More engagement usually means a higher chance of conversion.”
Explaining the Exception
As with most things, there are exceptions to this general trend. So, before we get into the nitty gritty of why people leave and how to make them stay it’s worth noting that bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing.
In a VERY general sense, high bounce rates happen for one of two reasons: Your visitors aren’t finding what they need in the right format OR they are finding exactly what they need. The latter is where high bounce rates aren’t necessarily a death sentence.
It really boils down to your website objectives. Some businesses aren’t aiming to guide their users through various content pages: Some are looking to push a call to action (which could inherently mean clicking off the initial site) or provide immediate information on a main page. If your intended objectives only require users to visit one page then bounce rate is not something you should focus too heavily on.
Beyond Exceptions: The Bounce Rate Problem and Solution
While bounce rates aren’t necessarily always a good indicator of successful engagement, for most marketers they are a legitimate measurement of user retention and activity. As such, decreasing bounce rates is a common goal for many marketing decision-makers. The key to cracking the code here is first understanding what causes high bounce rates and then adopting some best practices to remedy the problem.
So, let’s get into it. As we established earlier, in a macro sense people leave sites if they can’t find what they are looking for. However, the process is a little more detailed than that. We want to take a slightly more granular look at the two biggest reasons for high bounce rates.
Design: There is no excuse for bad website design anymore. Not only do users increasingly see it as a sign of bad credibility but poor layouts can make it difficult to for your customers to find the information they need. This point also extends to elements including page load times and cross-device readability. Just take a look at these stats:
- According to a KISSmetrics report, a considerable 40 percent of users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
- An Adobe study found that 73 percent of consumers believe content must display well on their varying devices and if it loads slowly, 39 percent of these same respondents stop engaging with the site completely.
“Modern consumers want relevant, high-quality messaging.”
Content: It’s no secret that customers crave quality content. A poorly written landing page or product description not only will lower your SEO rankings but it will deter many users from sticking around. Modern customers take content demands a step further. They want relevant messaging at a high-quality level. In fact, Adobe blog contributor Kevin Lindsay pointed to recent research which found that 25 percent of consumers cite irrelevant content as their number one mobile marketing frustration – a number that increases to almost one in three for millennials.
Websites that lack high-caliber and relevant content are extremely susceptible to high bounce rates. In such a saturated and digitally-advanced market, marketers need to ensure their content is on par with modern standards. If not, they risk high bounce rates and ultimately lost conversions.
Logically, to remedy high bounce rates marketers must address these two main issues. The tricky part is determining how. Here’s what we’ve come up with in our own endeavors.
Improve Layout and Usability
This one may seem glaringly obvious but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it. Marketers need to take a hawk’s eye to their websites. From navigation menus to site responsiveness – there are a number of critical layers to optimal design and use and EVERY detail counts.
Consider this: a case study from Skinny Ties saw a 23.2 percent reduction in bounce rates as well as a 13.6 percent increase in conversions (71.9 percent for iPhones) by adding more white space to the website layout and improving usability across devices. We won’t bore you with all the different ways to improve a website but just know that a functional layout and easy to use site go a long way in improving bounce rates.
Leverage User Segments to Create More Relevant Content
No matter what the endeavor, data is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It can (and should) guide your efforts for more strategic content, placement and overall tactics. When it comes to improving bounce rates, data is as reliable as always. Creating more relevant interactions for your audience (and ultimately keeping them engaged with your content) stems from better leveraging the information you already have.
“No matter what the endeavor, data is one of your most powerful marketing tools.”
Marketers should look to their customer data platforms for a more informed approach to content creation. While landing pages can’t necessarily be catered to every individual customer you can use your customer data platform to better understand your audience as a whole and then use that understanding to inform your inbound marketing efforts. Additionally, marketers can leverage customer data to create more personalized offers throughout a user’s online experience.
For example: CDPs can create and then share segment definitions with your ad partners based on keywords and demographics. From there, you can echo campaign messages for those specific user segments and create a relevant and high-performing inbound experience while ensuring message consistency and experience alignment. You need more relevant and targeted information to get your consumers to stick around and CDPs provide the perfect arsenal of information to execute this strategy.
Don’t Regurgitate, Create
Content marketing is a huge trend for modern-day marketers. In fact, according to the Social Media Examiner, 58 percent of marketers rank original written content as their most important type of material – even outranking visuals and video. The key to this statement is original. Consumers are increasingly seeking out thought leadership as a way to better engage with brands. By creating insightful and thoughtful content related to your industry you can secure higher engagement levels with your website and establish your company as a leader.
“Bottom line: Approach bounce rate improvements with innovative and thoughtful solutions.”
The proof is in the numbers – a study by HubSpot found that 82 percent of marketers who blog report higher ROI from inbound marketing. Not only is blogging increasing conversions but it is upping levels of engagement (and ultimately decreasing bounce rates). Content creation is a great remedy for high bounce rates but beware of too much offsite linking. While some blog posts might require sourcing from studies and other industry leaders, make sure you minimize the opportunities to click off your site. When possible use former blog posts or other website materials as resources and link them – in-linking can be a great way to encourage users to spend more time on your site.
Bottom line – bounce rates are a regular pain point for marketers. It is natural to see ebbs and flows in traffic. The important thing is to monitor the numbers closely and approach problematic metrics with innovative and thoughtful solutions.