Why a Close Analytical Look at This Metric is Key
It’s of the most commonly measured metrics in digital marketing and a frequent source of freakouts for agencies and clients alike: the bounce rate.
A quick crash course, in case you’re unfamiliar: the bounce rate tells us the simple story of how many users landed on a page and bailed vs. those that landed and decided to stick around and browse.
Simple enough, right?
Sure. And the general consensus in the digital community with regards to this metric has been, more or less, “high = bad, low = good.”
That is not, however, always the case.
Context is Key: Look at the Purpose of the Landing Page
It’s easy to get on board the train of thought that says, “if the majority of users are landing on this page and leaving without a look at the rest of the site, it must be a bad page.”
But hear me out.
Your users are visiting your site for a specific reason. Whether that’s to register for an event, download an E-Book, make a purchase or request a service, they’re looking to you and your competitors for the best solution to their problem, issue or query.
That’s why context is important. If you’re analyzing your site’s traffic and engagement and a high bounce rate is a concern, break it down on a page-by-page basis and look at the overall goals of each one.
When a High Bounce Rate Isn’t a Cause for Alarm
For the purposes of our example, we’ll bundle all of the above instances of why users visit your site into a convenient Contact Us page, a staple of sites across just about every industry.
Let’s say you’ve got a minimalist contact page with a form, phone number and email address. Looking at Analytics for the past six months, you notice your contact page has a bounce rate hovering around 70%.
However, looking at your conversion data for the past six months, you also notice that most users chose a phone call to get in touch with you: this avenue accounts for over 75% of your goal completions.
Logic dictates that the majority of users will visit the Contact Us page, take note of the phone number, and bail to make a call at their convenience.
Thus leading to a high bounce rate – but with the trade-off of a good conversion rate from a high volume of phone calls to your business.
When a High Bounce Rate is a Bad Thing
As much as I’d like to have this article be an all-smiles reassurance that you never need to worry about this metric, I think we all know that isn’t the case: there are times when you’ll want to take action on your bounce rate if it’s trending towards the higher end.
Let’s say, for example, you have a set of landing pages that are not designed for conversions, but rather to encourage them to click through to another page such as Contact Us.
If these pages are showing a high bounce rate – say over 50% of users – you might need to take a close, analytical look at them to determine what could be pushing users away.
Some core engagement elements to analyze would include:
- Headers & Copy: Ask yourself if the language and writing style you’re using do enough to encourage users to convert.
- Imagery: Look at the quality and relevance of any images you’re using on the page. Are they what you’d want to see, in your customers’ shoes?
- Page Formatting & Layout: Make sure the page is easy to read, with a good flow and easy navigation towards next steps.
- Mobile-Friendliness: We’re in the mobile-first era now, so make sure your pages are easy to browse & functional on phones.
- Calls to Action: Are you using the right language to help users take that next step?
So What’s a Good Bounce Rate?
Understandably, it can be difficult to establish what a “good” bounce rate actually looks like. The fact is that it varies based on factors such as industry and type of website (i.e., E-Commerce vs. educational).
This article at ConversionXL sheds some more light on this question, breaking it down by website type, industry, channel and device.
Here’s a slice, based on a breakdown by website type (Data courtesy of Customedialabs):
- E-Commerce and Retail: 20 – 45%
- B2B: 25 – 55%
- Lead Generation: 30 – 55%
- Non E-Commerce Content: 35 – 60%
- Landing Pages: 60 – 90%
- Dictionaries, Blogs, Portals: 65 – 90%
High Bounce Rates Can Get a Bad Rap, But…
They don’t always entail bad news.
As I stated above, context is important.
So the next time you’re doing your due diligence in checking up on your site’s Analytics and notice that your overall bounce rate is higher than think it should be, break it down, analyze your key pages, and look at the bigger picture before you panic.
In the end, it’ll lead to better insights and a better online experience for your users.
If you’re interested in diving even deeper into the intricacies behind the bounce rate, we highly recommend giving the article we linked above from ConversionXL a full read. It’s a fantastic overview and includes some great visual breakdowns of this data.
We’d also recommend a look at the other article we linked from Customedialabs, from which ConversionXL got some of the data they present.
Both are great sources for more in-depth information on this metric, and how you can use it to make most of your website.