If your company has a website (and it should), whether it be a few information pages or a fully enabled e-commerce site, your goal is to engage your visitor, entice them to explore your site and understand what you offer, and then hopefully visit your physical store or make a purchase online. The last thing you want your visitor to do is take a fleeting glimpse at your homepage and move on. This fleeting glimpse or single-page visit is known as a bounce in the digital world; the lower your bounce rate is, the better your site is designed for your target audience.
So, what’s a good bounce rate? A bounce rate of zero would mean that every visitor landing on your homepage would continue on deeper into your site and likewise, a bounce rate of 100% means they all left immediately after landing. It is near impossible to get a bounce rate of zero, so generally speaking a bounce rate below 25% is excellent and above 50% is not ideal and should be addressed.
The best way to determine your bounce rate is to install Google Analytics (GA) on your site. Depending where your website is hosted, enabling GA may be a simple request to your tech support. If you want to research it yourself, search “how to set up Google Analytics” and you will find some great articles on how to get started. Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that can provide you with a wealth of information about your site and visitors, from both a historical and real-time perspective. Your site’s bounce rate can be viewed in multiple areas of GA including Audience > Overview, Behavior > New vs. Returning, and Acquisition > Overview.
If your site is simply an information website that lists your company’s description, location, and hours, you should expect a high bounce rate since your visitor will find everything on the first page and then leave. If your site is an e-commerce site, you want visitors to browse, click, search, add to cart, and hopefully check out with an order. In this situation, you want to engage your customer right from their first page view, and doing this well can result in a bounce rate of 25% or less. A low bounce rate takes on increased importance when you are paying to have visitors come to your site. Programs like Google AdWords, or any pay-per-click (PPC or CPC) program for that matter, will only give you a good return on your marketing spend when visitors convert into customers.
Let’s explore 6 actions you can take to lower your bounce rate:
- Messaging: Make sure your site’s messaging clearly indicates what you do. Ask the question “what page do visitors land on?” and carefully examine that page to ensure your messaging is bang on. Remember, you only have 2 to 3 seconds of a new visitor’s attention, so make it count!
- Content: We process visual images much faster than reading or listening. Your site’s landing/home page should be visually pleasing and highlight the best of what you offer.
- Custom landing pages: If you are paying for keyword advertising, consider a custom landing page tailored to each unique keyword. For example, if you sell a variety of books and for the month of March and want to target gardeners, select relevant keywords (e.g. “garden design”) and have a custom landing page featuring a selection of your best gardening design books. The custom landing page should include pricing (and if you offer free shipping, be sure to display it clearly), a short blurb about your company, promotions you are running, and any other information that will assist your visitor in trusting you with their purchase decision.
- Navigation: A well-laid out site will make it easy for a visitor to find what they are looking for. Your search bar should have a prominent position, and the Help, Shipping, and About Us pages should be just a click away from any page your visitor navigates. Remember that many people today are using mobile devices, so ensure your navigation works equally well from a desktop computer right down to a mobile phone. For more information on how to make your site user-friendly on multiple devices, search “responsive design.”
- Page load time: Make sure your site loads quickly. A slow-loading site is sure to get a high bounce rate, as visitors’ patience for slow sites is a thing of the past. For more information, search “how to make my site load faster” and check out Behaviour > Page Timings in Google Analytics for your site’s page load times.
- Pop-ups: If not used carefully, pop-up content or ads can do more harm than good. Never hit your new visitor with a pop-up; at minimum put a delay timer on the pop-up. Pop-ups can be annoying and very intrusive on mobile devices.
When I became involved with Book Depot in 1997 and developed our wholesale bargain book sites Bookdepot.com and Bookdepot.ca, users were far more forgiving and the competition a fraction of what it is today. In those days, our click-through rates and conversions (visitor to customer) were several multiples of what they are today. Customer acquisition is now expensive and the competition is fierce. As a business owner, you can’t afford to have your visitors pay a fleeting glimpse when landing on your site. You need to convert them into long-standing customers, and it all starts with the first impression and information you give them. Lowering your bounce rate is not complicated, so set some goals, make some changes, monitor those changes through tools like Google Analytics, and then do what you do best—servicing your customer for years to come.