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By Alan Coleman on 22 Jul 2015

4 Reasons Not to Fret Over a “Bad” Bounce Rate

1/ First up; the prevalent “all bounces are bad” thinking is simply wrong. 

Consider the following searches: somebody Googles yourwebsite + phone number, yourwebsite + opening hours , yourwebsite +discount code, yourwebsite + price, yourwebsite + reviews, yourwebsite + testimonials,yourwebsite + returns. Google directs them to the appropriate page on your website they get the info and leave. These are all examples of bounces conducted by an interested customer moving closer to a purchase. Surely you shouldn’t be optimising to exclude this type of traffic?

2/ The locus of focus. 

The locus of your optimisation focus should be on success. The major failing of today’s analytics is it only measures a small portion of success, in fact your activity is probably generating more “dark conversions” than measured conversions. Dark conversions can be offline conversions or conversions on different devices. As a result, we see lots of traffic that doesn’t appear to convert in our analytics, but in reality does. For precisely this reason, I believe the locus of your focus when optimising should be on amplifying the success which we know is happening rather than excluding elements that “appear” to be failing.

And by success, of course I mean conversion. As website engagement metrics go, the bounce and conversion could not be further apart. Bounce rate measures a visitor’s very first interaction with your website, conversion rate is a measure of their last interaction prior to exiting. There are a rake of far more informative & revealing metrics in between the two, such as time on site, pages viewed, items added to basket, view of key page (e.g. delivery & returns information), newsletter subscription, click-to-call events, etc, all of which are closer to the ultimate conversion and therefore, more likely to be able to influence it.

3/ The Paid Social Conundrum.

If you’re promoting content via paid promotion such as Facebook ppc, Twitter ppc, Taboola or the like, you will know these channels are great for getting eyeballs on your content but the users tend to read the content and then return to Facebook, Twitter or where they came from before your nice creative enticed them to visit your website (i.e. bounce). It’s a simple truth that the next item in a user’s Facebook feed has greater gravity than your next blogpost. Let’s accept that. However, if the content resonated with the bouncing visitors, you now have new people in your purchase funnel or people have moved further down that funnel. It’s a fact that these paid promotion channels will increase your website bounce rate, this doesn’t mean you should be turning those channels off, just measuring them differently. Adjusted bounce rate is a great metric for measuring whether this traffic actually reads the content or not.

4/ Law of the lever.

When you’re working with a small % number, there is massive opportunity to improve your metrics by multiples. When working with a large % number, the maximum possible improvement is limited.

For example:

If a 0.5% conversion rate is bad and a 5% conversion rate is great, there’s a tenfold opportunity to increase your conversions tenfold by going from bad to great. There is lots of potential for improvement.

If a 60% bounce rate is bad and a 20% bounce rate is great, there’s a threefold opportunity to reduce your non bouncing traffic. The large % yields less leverage to improve in multiples.

So don’t get too caught up fretting over a perceived high bounce rate, there are lots of valid reasons as to why your traffic is bouncing. Your time would be better spent by taking a deeper look at conversion and the time on site; page view metrics which are a lot closer to that conversion.

For further insight on the topic of bounce rate and all things Digital Marketing, please check out our Digital Marketing KPI study and feel free to let us know your thoughts on Twitter!

Alan Coleman

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