Marketing February 11, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 536 Reads share

How NOT to Read Website Bounce Rate to Avoid Losing Money on Marketing

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What is website bounce rate? Bounce rate refers to the amount of visitors who come to your website, look at one page, and leave. They don’t browse around; they don’t click anything—they simply leave.

This is generally viewed as negative: many companies get fooled into thinking it always signifies that visitors aren’t engaging with their website. It’s not that simple.

Because we use this data to inform our marketing, skewed interpretations mean wasted time and lost profits. Therefore: We must be very careful what we consider “a bounce.”

No, really… What is website bounce rate?

To consider every isolated visit to a single Web page as a bounce is completely wrong and totally off base.

This superficial thinking can botch your company’s promotions if you’re not careful, as you’d be building marketing plans around incorrectly interpreted website data.

Consider this:

Cheryl searches for “marketing for company website” in Google.

The first search result she visits is a marketing firm website that’s outdated and ugly. Font is too small to read anyway, so she “bounces” back to the search results after viewing the website for only one second.

She’s only visited the one page.

The second search result Cheryl visits is a boutique marketing firm website that instructs her to call to schedule a free consultation. She dials that number, closes her browser, and goes to her 1 o’clock meeting.

She’s only visited the one page.

Should both of these scenarios be considered a “bounce,” a negative ding against your website landing page that signifies that it’s ineffective? Clearly not.

Failing to think deeply about what a website “bounce” truly is results in misinterpreted website data, which inevitably leads to ineffective marketingWhy?

Because a quality marketing specialist bases their next marketing move on the results of your current marketing. If they think that marketing isn’t working, when, in fact, it’s getting the exact result(s) you intend… well, you can see the danger here.

For certain Web pages, a visitor entering and quickly leaving is not necessarily a bad thing.

For a complete picture, one must consider the following two questions:

#1. How long is the visitor staying on the website?

Are they staying for 6 minutes? Or 3 seconds? A short visit of only a few seconds usually indicates a problem that should be addressed.However, even that isn’t set in stone, because you must consider the next question.

#2. What is the GOAL of the landing page and how long does it take to complete?

If the page goal can be completed in under 10 seconds, then an 8-second visit may not be a bounce. You’d need to use other pieces of your web traffic logs to fill in the blanks here, such as the number of actions being completed from that page. (You are tracking phone calls as actions, right?)

For instance, if your landing page has a phone number as the only call-to-action, you’d have to track calls to that number to have ANY idea of whether your Web design is working to get you the results you intend.

That mandatory info helps you determine whether your website helps your company to successfully convert leads… or whether those visitors are truly bouncing and you’ve got more work to do.

Asking these two questions before unfairly labeling a website visit a “bounce” will help your company know:

  • whether the one-page visit is really a negative strike against your conversion rate, or
  • whether the visit is from a lead who FOUND what they were looking for—and then simply left.

Pretty important info. Don’tcha think?

One final important point…

A high website bounce rate may be due to the wrong traffic types.

When—not “if”—your website gets traffic from sources not well targeted to your offer, website bounce rate will likely be high. And why would that happen?

We can’t always control which traffic sources send visitors to our websites, of course. This can throw off our website bounce rate, and other analytics, if we’re not very discerning in how we interpret them.

For example: If your company website gets mentioned on a blog for something totally unrelated to what it sells—like a blogger admiring the design of your photography website—you may see a wave of visitors.

Those visitors aren’t coming for what you sell. (Generally.)

In cases like these, it’s useful to exclude that particular traffic source and recalculate website bounce rate for the given period. However, even that isn’t always possible! Why not?

Many website visits in your traffic logs that are labeled as direct entry may not be. Most marketers understand “direct entry” visits to be from visitors that typed in your Web address directly, or that visited your site from previously saved browser bookmarks. But this isn’t always the case.

In fact, up to 64% of visits labeled “direct entry” may actually be from search engines! This makes it near impossible to exclude all traffic from untargeted sources when recalculating website bounce rate. However, a skilled marketing specialist will at least be able to get a clearer picture.

The Reveal:

Take a deep breath. Website bounce rate isn’t rocket science (although, honestly, things may now seem a bit more complex than you expected)!

The important thing to remember is to never blindly follow any one expert’s advice (and expect it to work) without considering “your marketing backstory.”

No one event happens in a vacuum, but certainly not when it comes to analyzing website traffic.

Make sure YOUR organization considers all vital details when determining the importance of website bounce rate… and whether every “quick visit” is truly a bounce!

Images: ”Bounce Rate 3d words to illustrate viewer, visitor or audience retention on a website or Internet home page, resource or site/Shutterstock.com

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H. T. Major

H. T. Major

H.T. Major runs Excellent Presence an elite Web design firm helping culturally- and gender-diverse small service businesses grow, using strategic websites and goal-focused marketing. Connect with H.T. on LinkedIn and Twitter. Then, visit ExcellentPresence.com for a FREE strategy session to get your company more clients online.

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