What is a Bounce Rate? Why Should You Care? In this blog we will walk through bounce rates with a focus on optimizing for conversions. You’ll learn the questions that will help you better understand why people leave your site quickly as well as the powerful business benefits of reducing your bounce rate.
Google Analytics defines bounce rate as the percentage of single-page visits where the person left the site without doing any other interaction. It is a measure of the percentage of people who land on your website and fail to do anything else such as click on a menu item, or follow any internal links leading to other pages on your site. What we can get from this is that the visitor was not interested because they either did not find what they were looking for, there were technical issues like error messages and slow loading of the page, or that the site is not user-friendly or professional-looking. All of these things can be a contributor to bounce rate being high. A high bounce rate for an eCommerce site means that you get fewer conversions.
Why did the visitor leave so quickly?
But checking if a visitor came and went without doing interaction is a very simplistic way of looking at this metric, this could only be the tip of the iceberg. Yes, the person did visit only one page. Yes, that person left without doing anything else. This are all true, but there are also other factors that we need to be aware of in order to know why the visitor bounced. Objectively looking at the bounce rate and trying to randomly fix the site from top to bottom is like giving your car a hot new paint job because it does not start. You could be wasting your effort if you do not know what exactly to fix.
Consider these questions:
- What was the visitor’s intent?
The intent is very important as it lets us know why the person came to visit. In our case, it could be to check a product out, and not necessarily buy it. The common online shopper will do a lot of browsing before committing themselves into buying a product especially if that product costs an arm and a leg. In such cases the shopper would compare between different competing products to see which one is better quality-wise or the better deal. In cases where you are seeing a high bounce rate in a specific product page, the visitor could just be looking or didn’t find your offer compelling enough. If that potential customer has previously visited the site and left their email address, we can then run a follow up email campaign offering discounts, free shipping, or even freebies to make them return and make a purchase. As you can see, there are still opportunities to convert bounces into sales. But for unique first-time visitors that bounce, we can take that as a learning opportunity. And with proper information regarding the source of the visitors, we can formulate targeted solutions.
- What source did the visitor come from?
The source of the traffic also has an impact to our bounce rate. All traffic actually contributes to increasing or lowering the bounce rate for your site. If the visitor engages with the site, then that will lower the bounce rate, but if the visitor left without doing anything else, then that increases the bounce rate. This knowledge can help you learn more about your site optimizations and marketing campaigns. For example, if you did a Facebook PPC campaign to funnel visitors to a specific page and you see a high bounce rate, then the obvious conclusions would be that the PPC is targeting the wrong audience, or that the page just doesn’t engage them.
- What sort of page did the visitor land on?
We have discussed that the bounce rate is a bit iffy when it comes to telling the whole story and it is up to us to decipher why the bounce rate is what it is. Knowing the function of a page where we are sending traffic to makes a big difference in our understanding of the increase or decrease in bounce rate. Take a blog for example, when a visitor arrives on the page, the intent is to read the blog and in most cases the visitor will navigate away or close the tab outright. This is the definition of a bounce; the user didn’t do anything other than read the blog. But this is not a bad thing because that is the nature of that page, sure it would have been better if the visitor read some other topics, but at the end of it the page served its purpose so an increase in bounce rate here is not detrimental. Now what if traffic is being sent to a product page that is meant to engage and convert a visitor? Then in this case an increase in bounce rate surely paints a negative picture for the product or the way that it is listed.
The answer to the above questions will help paint an overall picture of the state of your eCommerce site and will help you target your efforts on the correct areas.
What’s a good or bad bounce rate? It depends…
But how do we know what’s a good or bad bounce rate? According to Google Analytics, these are the industry standards, so if you fall within these numbers, your site should be well in the green. We must root our expectations in reality, after all.
Benchmark Averages per page/site type:
- Ecommerce and Retail – 20-40%
- Content – 40-60%
- Lead Generation – 30-50%
- Blogs – 70-98%
- Service Sites – 10-30%
- Landing Pages – 70-90%
As you can see, blogs have the highest bounce rates simply because of their nature. People find a blog about a certain topic and then leave once that curiosity is satiated. E-commerce and service sites have the lowest because people really do need to browse these sites, so if your eCommerce site is seeing high bounce rates, you need to do something quickly.
Reducing bounce rate can increase revenue
At the end of the day, conversion is really what we are aiming for and bounce rate can be one of the most relevant metrics you should be optimizing for in your eCommerce site in order to get visitors to convert, we need to get them engaged, that means optimizing the site to provide the needs of your chosen audience.
Tips for decreasing your bounce rate to improve e-commerce conversions:
- Optimize your product listing by giving great product titles and descriptions. Having professional looking images and life shots of the products help greatly in convincing customers.
- Make your site user-friendly. Make navigation easy, especially with regards to finding products. A very big turn off for visitors is if the search and advanced search functions do not work well. Make sure that the search function allows users to find relevant products even if they do not know exactly what to type in the search bar.
- Make the checkout process easier and streamlined. Sometimes, this can make customers abandon their cart, especially if they already got frustrated with some other quirky things about the site.
Doing these optimizations will help to ensure that targeted traffic are not bouncing but are actually engaging, giving a high probability of conversion. In conclusion, even though there is another side to the story of bounce rate, in the context of eCommerce, smaller is better.