When someone designs a website, they often make the mistake of thinking they are designing it for themselves. In other words, they design it how THEY like it, with no consideration if it talks to the people they wish to reach. It doesn’t matter whether YOU like it or not (within reason of course); but rather, whether it will pull in your target audience. How do you know whether it’s working or not? Your bounce rate will tell the tale. So what does your bounce rate say about your website?
Let’s take a look at what a bounce rate is, what it says and how you can improve it. It all starts with Google Analytics.
So what’s a bounce rate? A bounce rate (sometimes also called an “exit rate”), is a measurement of whether or not someone proceeds further into your website from the initial page he or she entered. In essence, it lets you know whether or not your visitor liked what he or she saw, enough to consider going deeper into your website to explore for more. There is a time factor involved; which is different from analytics to analytics. It could be 30 seconds to 1 minute; but the time is not published—at least not that I could find.
If your site is well designed (read about good website design here):
…people will vote with a deeper visit. This is important, because you cannot make the sale on a blog or your homepage. Too many make the mistake of trying to do so, at their own peril. And when you consider that the two most likely pages someone is going to come into your website through are the homepage and a blog article, if your site is not well thought through—with strategic and tactical insight—they will go no further. Moreover, unless you are doing proactive marketing (banner ads, advertising, e-mail marketing, social-media ad placements or ad words), 90% of your traffic will arrive via your blog.
Even if your blog articles are well-written and entertaining, if the site is not designed to pull them deeper, once they’ve read the article, they leave.
A bounce rate does not mean the same thing to all websites. For example, if you are using a single landing page, your visitor has no more pages to navigate to—it’s do or die! Therefore, you will have a high bounce rate by default. By this, I mean, if the time is set to one minute for a bounce. Typically, on a landing page one can get the full gist in less than a minute. If the visitor is interested, then he or she will stay and not be a bounce. But what if the visitor WAS looking for what you offered and the page did not speak to him or her? Within that minute they left.
This is why I recommend multi-tiered landing sites. You see, a typical bounce rate may be in the 50% to 65% range—the lower the better. Why? Given the nature of search engines, many may find your page by accident. They are not looking for what you have to offer and so, understandably, they will leave. So a good portion of your traffic will be just that; which is why a 50% bounce rate is considered good. However, if you have an 80% bounce rate, how do you know how many were lost to bad messaging, so you can improve your sales?
If you have a three-page landing site (not page), it not only helps with SEO (because one-page does not have enough content to satisfy Google for a quality site), but you can see what your true bounce rate is by how many go deeper and how many just leave.
For the average website, it’s less of a challenge. You see, you should have plenty of pages and your Google Analytics report will show you where your traffic not only came from, but what they looked at. If you use WordPress, WordPress analytics will show you in a simple-to-read format report of which pages were read and how many visited for the day, week, month and so on. See image below.
Once you know what page someone came in through and then left, you can review it to figure out why. A good practice is to ask several people who are NOT of your industry, to look at the page and ask for feedback: how does it look; what do they like or not like; does it pull them in; if so, why; if not, why not?
However, besides making changes to one page in particular, there are other things you can do on your website as a whole to improve engagement and lower your bounce rate. Let’s look at some of these.
The first thing that needs to be done is reviewing your content. Many people believe that just sharing information on their product or service is enough. Well, what you say is not as important as HOW you say it. Plus, if you can say it with impact in fewer words, even better.
So a top down review of your verbiage on your home, about, services and contact page is crucial. Use sales-magic words, but make sure it’s not written in a used-car salesman vernacular. Be real. Persuade, don’t sell. Use calls to action. Ask powerful questions. In the words of Brian Tracy, international sales trainer and public speaker, “A person whose mind is changed against their will, is of the same opinion still.” In other words, no one likes to think they don’t know. So don’t tell them; ask them. This way, since they have to answer the question, they assume they changed their own mind; instead of feeling led by you.
If you are doing social-media marketing and have plenty of blog content, 85% to 90% of your traffic will enter through your blog. Why? Sharing it in social media will bring traffic, but also, Google search results will be for many of your blog articles. (Social media will improve your SEO, but I digress.) When they enter your site via an article, all they will see is your header, article and sidebar.
Many people waste their sidebar with useless stuff or have little to nothing at all. They don’t think it through. It should have two goals:
1. Capture the identity of the person who visited.
2. Pull them deeper into your website.
You do this with conversion forms, blog subscription, social-media following icons, recent articles and ads linked to the content you want them to see. This may include special offers, tips and how-to’s, white papers and videos (see my sidebar on the right side for an example).
People love to know what others don’t. More powerful is feeling left out; NOT knowing what others know! It’s the herd mentality. When you offer a FREE, NO OBLIGATION exclusive member’s area (assuming your website has good content and is done well), people will join. This is an excellent way of delivering your message in its full glory, because those who would sign up expect it. It also allows you to build a marketing database you own.
Moreover, at some point, it’s a segway to monetizing your site for content consumption, not just sales of merchandise and services. But that’s a topic for another article.
When you arrived at my site to read this article, you most likely saw a modal pop-up asking you to take my Marketing IQ Quiz. This quiz has dropped my bounce rate by 20 points and increased engagement (because on most questions, I have links to articles in my blog that offers information on the topic of the question). Quizzes, trivia and challenges work great!
You can use one of these for fun, with trivia questions or a challenge of some sort. You can create a questionnaire that helps your visitor identify what he or she needs that you offer; lowering or eliminating objections—or to pre-qualify a prospect. You can use it as a game to entertain. However you use it, it adds great value to you and your visitor—and that’s the key to success. Your visitor has to feel he or she is getting an exchange of value by visiting your site, to give value (reading your content and deciding to give you his or her name and e-mail address).
So read your Google Analytics report. See what your bounce rate is, where your traffic is entering, how many are leaving and then truly study your website. Ask questions and for advice. Don’t take any criticism personally. The wise person knows when to listen to criticism and ask probing questions; the fool thinks it’s an attack on him or her. After all, your website is your marketing hub. No matter what you do, everyone eventually lands on it. So if you took the time to create and promote it, take the time to tweak and improve it. After all, it is your business.