February 12, 2021

Bounce rate: What is it? And why focussing on it may be costing your business money.

A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate or ‘bounce’ away from your site after viewing only one page and without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server. *

*Italics are here for a reason - I’m going to discuss the importance of measuring interactions later.

When is it a useful measurement?

Bounce rate is most useful as a measure on the home page or category pages of a site where the primary purpose of the page is to get users to click to other pages.

  • On an eCommerce home page, we want visitors to click to product pages.
  • On a Content Site home page, we want visitors to click to read articles.

Bounce rates fail when….

1. Bounce rate suck at measuring content pages

But let’s have a look at a typical blog, content or newspaper website. They generate a lot of direct organic search traffic to their articles. If someone lands on an article page, reads the full article for 5 minutes, consumes dozens of ads in the process - is this a good experience for the visitor? Is it a valued visit for the blog and its advertisers? Well of course they would prefer if you read more than one article, but it is still a valued visit.

2. Bounce rate stink at measuring sales pages

As conversion experts we often recommend pointing traffic to dedicated landing pages that remove all navigation links to the main website.

This means the visitor ONLY has two options:

  1. Get in contact via the form or click-to-call interaction, OR
  2. Leave the site!

As we say to our clients: We 100% guarantee that the Bounce Rate will go up! But so will Sales. Because the main focus of a landing page is to convert the visitor into a paying customer. And to give them just enough information to become a sale or lead without being distracted.

So what should we measure on a landing page?

Measurement is only useful if it is actionable. Can the measurement help with these questions?

  • Is our advertising on [Google or Facebook] working? We want to compare the quality of traffic coming from different sources. Is Paid Search sending better quality visitors than Facebook ads?
  • Is our content doing its job? You won’t get a Conversion to a lead or sale if the visitors aren’t reading the copy.

Of course for dedicated landing pages, the primary measurement will be - did the page generate a lead or sale? But this is a very small data pool. And it will take time to collect enough to be useful. We want more data and quicker. What we want to measure is Engagement.

How to measure engagement

Here are 3 simple measurements for engagement:

1. Time on page

A nice simple way to know if visitors are reading your copy and engaging with your page. And it’s easy to report on in Google Analytics. Out of the box.

A simple metric: % of Visitors who stayed more than 3 minutes

2. Scroll depth

If your campaigns are mobile focussed - and that means ANY campaigns on Facebook, then percentage scrolls can be a good measurement. It doesn’t come out of the box though - you’ll need some expert help installing a script to measure scroll depth.

A useful metric: % of mobile visitors who scrolled more than 75% of the page

3. Video views

If your landing page has a video and you think it’s assisting with Conversions, we CHALLENGE you to test this. In our experience, across many campaigns - poorly implemented videos contribute very little to Conversions.

A useful metric: % of visitors who watched more than 50% of the main video

And even more interesting: % of converted visitors who watched more than 50% of the main video

Adjusting bounce rate

You can do these calculations manually, or you can actually create an Adjusted Bounce Rate in Google Analytics. One approach is to remove visits with Time on Site over [x] mins from the Bounce count.

You can also setup any interaction with your page to remove the visit from the Bounces. For example, you should ensure interactions like Click-to-Call or using an onsite Calculator etc are removed from the Bounce count.

What’s more important to you, a lower bounce rate? Or… more sales for your business?

There are lots of variables that bounce rate doesn’t factor in, and focussing on it distracts you from the things that really matter. In the end, the key metrics that really matters to your business is the cost, number and quality of leads and sales. And that’s what we focus on at LiveSwitch.

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