Editor's note: this is a guest post from Ben Allen, conversion rate optimization expert.
A website’s analytics is filled a multitude of different data types: ranging from recording how many people visit your site to how long they spend on each individual page. Having access to this data is invaluable in making healthy, informed business decisions and should be a key element when composing marketing strategies.
One major analytic that doesn’t get enough attention is bounce rate. Marketers focus on other datasets like general site traffic or page flow, which are both important, but don’t paint a full picture of what’s happening on the site. Bounce rate can be a useful tool in informing the administrator what visitors are doing and what is driving them away from your site. Here are a few methods to improve your site and hopefully start increasing your traffic!
Giving People What They Actually Want
A high bounce rate indicates visitors are leaving your site without traveling to others pages. People might bounce away from a site because they don’t like the interface, the content is uninformative, or they had no desire to travel to another page.
Let’s address the issue of visitors not receiving the content they want. This is typically represented in data with extreme traffic to a page, a high bounce rate, and an average time spent on a page with content. You can reason from this data that people are landing on the page, poking around for a little bit, not finding what they were looking for, and subsequently bouncing away. A prime example of this are click-bait articles that mislead visitors with their headlines and descriptions to draw a click.
To decrease this bounce rate, start analyzing why visitors aren’t connecting with your content. Begin with where they are entering your site, which is mostly through search results. The meta description creates a promise to the visitor, saying “this is what to expect on my page in you visit us.” Does your meta match your content? Are you holding up your promise? If not, either change your meta or change your content.
Using Mouseflow’s heat mapping tools on your site is another great method to see if people aren’t liking what they are seeing. If a page’s heat map shows little activity and a high bounce rate, it might be time to reconsider the content and navigation tools on your site. More specifically, Mouseflow’s attention heatmaps can help the site administrator identify which content areas are more informative than others.
Your Content Is Boring People
Boring content is a serious problem. If you can’t entertain your visitors with your content, they will leave. There are two main indicators that you might be boring your readers.
The first is providing a boring impression via your site structure. This is initiated through a lack of images, huge chunks of text, a boring headline, and uninformative sub headings. The stats that might hint at this scenario are a fairly high bounce rate and a mix of times spent on the page.
The second sign is presenting uninformative content. You might have successfully given the appearance of being interesting, but you can’t fake being interesting. Either it is or isn’t, and if your visitors get bored with your content, they’ll eventually leave. A high bounce rate with a long time on the page is indicative of this. If a page does meet this data set, look into ways to make it more interesting or easier to read.
Mouseflow is an incredibly helpful tool in properly identifying what’s going wrong with your site. With Mouseflow’s session replay feature, the administrator can filter specific users and watch recordings of visitors navigating the site, and easily identify problem areas. If a user scrolls quickly via your content and leaves, the content and structure of your page is likely boring.
Stronger Calls To Action
Whether it’s to sell a product or make revenue off ads, a website’s goal is to keep a user actively engaging on the site for as long as possible. You need to give them a reason to click to the next page, which relies on your call to action infrastructure.
A clear sign of weak call to actions is when everything on your analytics appears normal and healthy except having a high bounce rate. This indicates visitors aren’t feeling a need to click to another page and, feeling satisfied with your content, are bouncing away.
Mouseflow’s heatmap tracking can help identify where users are spending the most time, the least time, and what site areas need to be tampered with. If they aren’t identifying the call to action, there would be little activity (in the Mouseflow click heat-map) near the link or button. If they are seeing it, but the offer isn’t interesting enough, the visitor’s mouse might hover over or near the button, but with no click.
If you’re building a marketing funnel, a good call to action should give visitors a need to continue. If your content answers a question or solves a problem, take it to the next step, leading them eventually to buying your product. Since you already solved their initial need, create a new one at the end of your content and then provide a call to action leading to more content to fulfill it.
Performing A/B testing on a site is the catalyst between an “okay” marketing strategy and an “effective” marketing strategy. When running different campaigns, looking for increases or decreases in bounce rate. This can give you an early indication at how effective the changes are. Mouseflow’s click heat-maps and funnel features can also provide further insight into whether a certain layout is more effective. If site structure B is leading to more sign-ups or checkouts (determined via the funnels feature), it would be wise to consider moving your site structure to option B.
Focusing on improving bounce rate in an A/B test can give you a lot of insights about your target market. You can learn what is actually interesting to them and how to keep them invested in your site.
When A High Bounce Rate Isn’t Bad
There are plenty of times where a high bounce rate is bad. It reveals visitors abandoning your page because you likely failed to captivate their attention. However, there are a few circumstances where a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
One potentially acceptable area for a high bounce rate is the Contact Us page. If you’re a business that takes a lot of phone calls or your end goal is for people to contact the business for an appointment (like a health care business), a high bounce rate could even be considered a good thing.
Another example is with product pages hosted on a 3rd party site like eBay or Amazon. If a person lands on a page and then clicks a link leading to a product site, it counts as a bounce even though they are going exactly where you want them to be. If this is the case, be sure to track outgoing links to ensure people are bouncing in the correct direction. You can also track individual sessions with Mouseflow’s software and record when they leave a page to go to your 3rd party sales page.
Using Everything In Your Analytics
A major barrier when it comes to viewing a site’s analytics in only focusing on a few basic data sets and calling it good. Learning how to use Google Analytics, with all of it’s many different tools and ways to interpret data, can guide marketers on how best to grow their site. A single number set can give an impression of what’s happening, but combining data paints a large picture.
Which analytics do you focus on the most? What are you doing to help lower your site’s bounce rate? Let us know in the comments below.