The most important metric that you should be tracking on your website is its bounce rate. It is a number which tells what percent of visitors leave your site after browsing just one page or within first 10 seconds (exact definition depends on the web analytics tool you use). Higher the bounce rate, higher the number of potential customers you loose because bounced visitors thought your website has nothing for them to offer and leave without any further interaction. With ever-reducing attention spans and ever-expanding options online, your visitors have very little motivation in actively exploring your website for what you offer and how it benefits their day to day lives. So, it becomes responsibility of the first page a visitor lands on to convince him that spending time here is worth it.
Optimizing (reducing) bounce rate is thus tremendously important to your business. There are multiple reasons why visitors leave immediately after arriving; the most prominent amongst them being:
- Expectation mismatch: by to the source they arrived from. Your visitors are expecting to see something on your website while your page talks about something else. This happens a lot of times, especially when you have paid advertising for a specific offer and you link that advertisement to a generic page such as your homepage. Matching the expectation of your visitor is very important. Your site might be talking about multiple different things, but a visitor arrives on it just to learn more about what the source said you offer.
- Organic search irrelevance: increasingly search engines are getting better at finding relevant content for a user search query, but they are still not perfect. I’m sure while reviewing your web analytics reports, you must be regularly surprised by: ‘how come this search query found this page on my website’. Your visitors too feel the same. Try comparing your bounce rate for organic visitors (those who came via search engines) v/s non-organic visitors (those who came via other sources); you would definitely see that the former metric is higher than the latter.
- Your website sucks: your visitors expect a good looking, easy on eyes website upon arrival. They are already sick of advertisement-loaded, poorly made websites all over the Internet and if yours is no better, they won’t be very happy about it. Give your visitors a pleasant surprise by having a website with the right contrast, right typography, right layout and right color scheme. Hire a top-notch designer and pay him whatever you can but please make sure your website looks good.
- Lack of call to action: this could perhaps be the single biggest reason for why visitors bounce from your website. Once visitors have gone through the page they landed on, don’t let them struggle on what they should be doing next. Guide them to the actions you think are optimal for that page. If it is a blog, you want them to subscribe to blog updates. If it is a corporate site, you may want them to go through relevant case studies and whitepapers. In nutshell, don’t let them think too hard to what is their expected next action on this website. Guide them gently using calls to actions placed prominently at the right places on the website. Mostly, these right palaces are the ones where visitor has just completed his original purpose (for which he landed on the site) and is wondering what to do next.
- Too many options: this is the opposite end of the previous point of having no call to action on the landing page. Having too many options for a visitor can also lead to higher bounce rate. This is partly the reason you will observe that bounce rate on your homepage is probably higher than your other inner website pages. Having too many links/calls to actions competing for visitor attention can increase anxiety and lead to visitor leaving the website for a better alternative. This is where experienced conversion optimization firms (such as Wingify 🙂 ) and good web designers help you in creating proper layout with different calls to actions appealing to different kinds of visitors, hence reducing bounce rate.
How to fix the high bounce rate?
As different websites serve different goals and cater to different audiences, there is no sure shot way of fixing the bounce rate. Though there are several general methodologies you can try for reducing the bounce rate:
- Segment bounce rate by landing/entry page: your website overall bounce rate conveys absolutely no actionable information; it is vague and it is imprecise. Best way to get a true picture of your website bounce rate is to see bounce rate for individual landing/entry pages. Using your web analytics tool, see which are the top 20 landing pages on your website and what their individual bounce rates are. You will be surprised to know that there is a dramatic difference in bounce rate across different landing pages. Your top priority should be to fix or optimize pages/categories which are most trafficked and have highest bounce rates.
- Surveys: there are many tools on the web which allow you to survey visitors who are about to bounce, just before they leave the website. Though I particularly don’t like such methodologies because they frustrate an already unsatisfied visitor, you may find them useful for your website and audience type.
- Visitor movies and heatmaps: you can use tools such as Clicktale to record mouse movements, clicks, scroll activity and keypresses of your visitors to find out what exactly they do once they arrive on your landing pages. It can be a tremendous way to find out that, for example, most of your visitors don’t really notice your ‘SIGNUP NOW’ button in the sidebar. (And you thought people aren’t interested in the offering) Similarly, you can use tools such as Crazyegg to see heatmaps to find out where on the page exactly visitors are clicking/engaging and if it is optimial.
- Testing: usually the only way to find out what works is to test it. You should setup a split test to try multiple different website designs, layouts, styling, calls to action, etc. Hire a testing agency, if you wish, but make sure you are doing testing on your website continuously to always reducing the bounce rate.
As Avinash Kaushik says, the only good bounce rate is the one which keeps reducing month-by-month. So make sure you focus your website optimization efforts first one bounce rate and then onto other metrics.
What are your strategies for reducing bounce rates? Do you think you are doing a good job on your website (as far as optimizing bounce rate is concerned)? Are you satisfied with your existing bounce rate?