Our cultural vernacular has increased over the past decade as internet terms have become part of our lexicon. “Bounce rate” is one of these terms. It relates directly to online visitor behavior and how quickly visitors leave a webpage without clicking through to any other pages. It’s a key measurement of engagement, and by lowering your bounce rate, you’re bound to boost your conversions.
Bounce Rate Defined
Let’s define what a bounce rate is before we try and understand what makes one good or bad. A bounce rate is a value that refers to the number of website visitors that visit a page once and leave without completing the website’s desired behavior (e.g. clicking on the next article, putting a product in a shopping cart, signing up for a newsletter, etc.). This rate is calculated by taking the number of visitors who viewed only one page and dividing that number by the total number of visitors. So if you had 100 people visiting your page, and only 30 clicked through to another page on your site or followed your calls to action, your bounce rate would be 70%.
There are a number of reasons why site visitors may not engage with a webpage:
- It’s not the information they’re interested in
- They clicked through to the page on accident
- The information on the page does not interest them once they’ve read it
- They decide not to purchase (e-commerce activity)
- They decide they don’t want to share via social media
Obviously, none of these reasons are particularly desirable. The goal of a website should not be to only get visitors to the page, but to encourage them to interact with the content on the page once they’re there, usually in an intended and guided manner.
Getting your visitors to stick around and interact can be a tall order. According to a KISSmetrics infographic, the average bounce rate across all websites is a little over 40%. Even more sobering is the fact that the average website visit lasts only 190 seconds, or a little over three minutes. What does this mean? It means that businesses must capture visitors’ attention quickly if they hope to make an impression and convert their visits to actions.
Defining a Good Bounce Rate
While it’s common to define online analytics as good or bad based on historical performance, using bounce rates as your sole metric might not offer any valid insight. A good bounce rate for one company may be a terrible bounce rate for another, meaning that you should pay attention to what bounce rates are relevant to your field. In general terms, a bounce rate of 50% or less is considered excellent, while anything 70% or more is considered poor.
When Bad Isn’t Necessarily Bad
For the most part, bounce-rate effectiveness is best measured by a marketing campaign’s ability to produce a desired result. In what instance would a higher bounce rate be considered acceptable? Typically, a higher bounce rate is forgivable if the desired action can be concluded in one visit. If the goal of the webpage is to offer one-click ordering or simple signup for more information, a higher bounce rate may not be a bad thing. If the goal of the page is for visitors to look for more information or to click through to another page, then a high bounce rate indicates that the page’s content is not working to its fullest extent.
Evaluating Bounce Rate
The best way to determine your bounce-rate target is to first analyze the goal of your campaign. If the goal is a one-click action as outlined above (i.e. information signup or one-click ordering), then you shouldn’t be discouraged by a higher bounce rate. If the goal of the campaign is to encourage further website exploration, then you want a lower bounce rate.
Adjusting Bounce Rate
You can analyze your campaign’s bounce rate throughout its implementation and make adjustments as necessary. Typical adjustments include:
- A stronger call to action to get the response you want
- Clearer webpage layout or navigation
- Revised headlines or content to highlight different information or facts
- Pricing changes
The other important aspect of bounce rates is that they should only be used to measure activity on entry pages of your site. Many analytics programs offer specific metrics beyond bounce rates for these pages. It’s important to understand how people are getting to your site, what pages they’re entering on and what pages they’re exiting from. Spend some time investigating the different entry and exit pages for your website as well as the common paths of site visitors. A path is comprised of the different pages visited by a user while on your site. This information may give you further insight into what is drawing visitors to your site and which pages are not holding their attention.
While conclusions drawn from bounce rates can be subjective, it’s important to understand what you’re measuring and how it can be evaluated. Don’t hesitate to adjust your bounce-rate expectations based on the specific campaign and its goals. Where bounce rates are concerned, it’s more important to understand what they are and how they work, as opposed to blindly expecting a specific rate.