If you knew why people were bouncing from your website, what would you do about it?

I was recently asked to host a roundtable discussion at the Marketing Experiments Optimization Summit in Boston on May 22. We practice data driven-marketing so I was excited to have the chance to discuss the issue of bounce rates with marketers from across North America and “why people leave.”data driven marketing why do visitors bounce
Website bounce rates can tell us a lot of things. As with any data analysis, it comes down to assessing your goals and tracking back to the specifics details that indicate why you may or may not be achieving them. Website bounce rates can tell a fascinating story for any business owner whether you sell to other businesses, consumers, locally, nationally or internationally.
As part of the discussion format, I shared data driven marketing information from 16 types of companies and looked at the high level details of their bounce rate data against their onsite conversion strategy.
Download our data driven marketing discussion guide here.

Here is a snapshot of our discussion on bounce rates.

What is an acceptable bounce rate for a website?

There was no clear consensus on this issue. As you see from the data we compiled, we see one company that has a 70%+ bounce rate. That would cause alarm for many business owners, but in the case of this company, it doesn’t tell the whole story. This particular company has a very generic keyword strategy so a lot of search engine traffic that is driven to the website, bounces at a rate of 70%. But what goes through has a 1.23% conversion rate for a not very strong offer (subscribe-to-our-blog). So people that come in through the right keywords, like their content and the rest are not the right prospects. Most B2B websites have a lower than 0.015% conversion rate on subscribing to a blog. Change your content strategy if no one is subscribing to your blog.

What does page popularity tell us about our users and the power of the value proposition?

As you can see from Company #1 on the discussion guide, traffic is clicking through to where it’s supposed to (check-out-what’s-in-stock) and they have a strong conversion rate after getting there. This company’s bounce rate is roughly 40%, so 60% of the traffic is doing what they are supposed to and converting a 5%+ rate. This is pretty good when the call to action is to contact a sales rep directly after checking out the stock on the website. If the majority of your traffic is landing on one specific page on your website, engage them with a strong call to action.

How do you use bounce rate data to see if you have a keyword problem?

Google Analytics will tell you the traffic sources of where people are coming from: places like campaigns, social media, organic search, paid search, referrals or direct (they typed in the company name). When you look at bounce rates by traffic source, you can quickly determine the strength (or weakness) of your keyword strategy. In the case of Company #10 on our discussion guide list, this company was the only company whose second most popular keyword, after the “not provided” category, was not their company name. Instead, they had a keyword that was pivotal to driving the right traffic to their website. Unfortunately, they squandered the opportunity because there was no conversion point or call-to-action after they got people there. With a 44% bounce rate, 56% of their traffic was there because of a specific topic (how-to-start-a-business) but they lost great traffic after they landed on the page. If a “money” keyword is driving the right traffic to your website, make the ask.

How do you interpret high bounce rates for a specific page on a website?

The answer to this question was unanimous: you have bad content. If visitors are bouncing from a page at a high rate based on going directly to a page, you need to ask yourself, “what is the purpose of this page and why is not achieving its’ purpose?” Improve your content if no one is reading it.
By the end of the data driven marketing discussion, we all agreed that bounce rate needs to be assessed in terms of who you want on your website and what you want them to do when they get there.
Marketing Experiments has done many live optimization clinics and have great stats they can share about what they call “click thru confusion.” Click thru confusion occurs when someone searches a word or string of words (known as keyword or keyword phrase) in a search engine or social media site and receives Page One search results. The choice they make to click thru to a website or a profile is based on the search algorithm lining up results based on their search. When they make a choice and land somewhere that has nothing to do with the search term or their understanding of the content, they leave. This affects the bounce rate on your website and is a direct result of your content, keyword strategy and call-to-action on your website.
If you provide nothing more than brochure-ware like copy about your product or service and have nothing more than a “contact us” tab as a conversion strategy, not only will your bounce rate be high but your time on site will be lousy. Use data to make decisions about how you can improve the power of your value proposition and conversion strategy.
Anyone interested in website optimization and receiving the tools and training necessary to turn their website into a high-performing sales tool, should consider attending a MECLABS / Marketing Experiments event.

Take a look at your own stats and ask yourself, “if people are bouncing from my website, what can I do about it?

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