Web analytics for small businesses: why you should embrace your Bounce rate

web analytics bounce rateAs a small online business owner if you haven’t already discovered Bounce rate then you are missing a trick. This helpful, easy to understand measurement is arguably one of the most useful metrics around.

Web analytics help you measure, evaluate and ultimately improve the performance of your e-commerce business. However, the reality of running a small business means time doesn’t often afford you the luxury of becoming a specialist in any one area. Instead you are in a constant state of flux as a salesperson, accountant, marketer, administrator and even web analytics guru!

” If you could only choose one metric to look at, Bounce rate might be your best choice” Google Support 

So if you want to get started with web analytics and measuring the performance of your website but aren’t quite sure of where to begin then this is where bounce rate comes into its own. It can help you quickly and easily understand your online performance, enabling you to implement improvements.

What exactly is bounce rate?

In a nutshell, Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors to your website who only view a singe page for a short period of time before leaving. For example during a visitor session a single hit on a page will be a bounce. So unlike many metrics with bounce rate it is usually the lower the percentage the better you are doing.

If your bounce rate is really high then it may indicate that when visitors arrive on your site there is nothing there to engage them or make them want to visit any other pages. Pulling no punches, web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik puts it in terms of customer experience as;  ” I came, I puked, I left. Literally that’s the definition”.

Before we examine this further there are of course exceptions to this. Bear in mind that there are some pages that when having a  high bounce rate is not an issue. For example if:

  • your website is a single page website
  • the page you are reviewing contains all the information your user requires , such as a contact page, an information page or your blog where visitors have just come to read your latest post offering.

Also, if you haven’t added a tracking code to your webpage you may also see a high bounce rate so check for incorrect tagging.

Why is your bounce rate so useful?

Rather the focusing on the general bounce rate for your website it is of more value look at the bounce rate for individual pages. Excluding the exceptions we’ve just mentioned above, a high bounce rate can help highlight areas of your website that are letting you down and need improving. Most importantly it helps you ask yourself the right questions. For example :

  • Is my content relevant to my target audience?
  • Do my landing pages match up with the offer /promise/ I”ve  enticed them to you website in the first place
  • Do my search term keywords and key phrases accurately reflecting the content of my website
  • Is my website easy for users to navigate or confusing for them to get around.

Bounce rate is a straightforward, easily understood measurement that can allow you to quickly highlight potential problem areas of your website – giving  you a focus and starting point from which to make improvements.

What should you be aiming for in terms of an acceptable bounce rate. Obviously bounce rates are going to vary for page to page, business to business but Avinash Kaushik offers the following benchmark from his personal experience. He suggests anything above 50% is a worry and that  getting a bounce rate under 20% is difficult. So I would imagine aiming for around 30-40% sounds a sensible target to work towards.

How can you improve your bounce rate?

Once you’ve identified those pages with a high bounce rate what can you do to improve on them? Have a look at the following suggestions and think about how implementing them could improve your visitors overall experience and as a consequence reduce your bounce rate. Which in turn increases the likelihood of engaged visitors and higher conversions.

landing pageLanding Pages: Don’t underestimate the importance of your landing pages. If your bounce rate is high you may want to take a closer look at how your landing pages are working. Firstly are they pertinent to the email, banner ad, social media link or key word search that your visitor has clicked through on. If there is disparity between the promise and the actual landing page then visitors will simply leave. In other words makes sure your landing pages matches the message you are conveying in your promotional channel. Ideally you should have a separate and specific a landing page for each specific offer or ad campaign.

Content ImageContent: Take a critical look at the content of the pages that have a high bounce rate. Are they written with your target audience in mind?  Your content is the backbone of your website and should be central to everything you do.  The higher the quality of your content the higher the likelihood you will attract AND retain visitors and thus reduce bounce. So ask yourself is your content:

  • Compelling and engaging
  • Interesting and informative
  • Concise and digestible
  • Relevant, targeted and reflects your visitors information needs
  • Fresh and up to date?

Web Design Button on KeyboardWebsite design and navigation: You may have a great product and top quality  content however if your website design means navigation is difficult and your pages lack curb appeal then visitors are not going to bother to stay around and find out more – they’ll take one look and leave. So make sure your website design is well structured, clearly laid out, easy to navigate and looks appealing.

SEO for beginnersTracking code and keyword/ key phrase optimisation: Firstly check that the pages with a high bounce rate have got a tracking code. Sometimes when you are adding a new page it is easy to forget to add in the tracking code and consequently this incorrect tagging this can result in high bounce rate. If you tagging is all as it should be then spend a bit of time researching your keywords and phrases. Make sure you optimise the content of your pages to accurately reflect the search terms that are bringing users into your site.

call to actionCall to action: Sounds obvious but a surprising amount of landing pages don’t have a clear call to action. When an interested visitor clicks through to your site, it should be immediately apparent what it is you are asking them to do next. Visitors won’t want to play a guessing game so make sure your call to action is unambiguous and clear to see.

 

Bounce rate – useful resources:

Here are a few useful websites and interesting articles to help you get to grips with bounce rate a bit better:

  1. Goggle Support Bounce Rate 
  2. Avinash Kaushik talks bounce rate in this short video
  3. Standard metrics revisited
  4. Kiss Metrics – what you can learn from your bounce rate 
  5. Morevisibility – improving your bounce rate

We’d love to her your thoughts and experiences on this post, so please do leave a comment.

Tennis ball image courtesy of Feelart/FreeDigital/Photos.net

 

 

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How to optimise your landing pages and increase conversions

Apollo moon landing

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good landing.

Landing pages play an integral role in maximizing online conversions. Yet, a surprising number of small online businesses overlook their importance.  A good landing page should engage your visitor, generate a response, increase conversions, answer your customer’s information needs, reduce your ‘bounce’ rate and support your brand.

“Landing pages can be described as the entrance doors to a website that only selected customers are directed to” (Gay et al, Online Marketing, 2007)

Put simply, your landing page is the destination web page a customer arrives at when they click on a link – usually from a marketing communication or referring site. The landing page, the page on which your customer enters your website, is incredibly important as it is often the first impression that they get of your business.

Do you recognise this all too familiar scenario? You spend time putting together a fantastic offer and communicate it effectively to your customers via a great, targeted email campaign.  Your customer, enticed by your exciting offer, clicks on the link through to your website – then inexplicably exits your website immediately? So what might be going wrong? One possibility could be down to the web page you have sent your recipient to – the landing page.

Exit signBounce rate – how are your landing pages performing?

“In a nutshell bounce rate measures the percentage of people who come to your website and leave “instantly”. Thought about from a customer perspective rather than I came, I saw, I conquered, the action is I came, I saw, Yuck, I am out of here.” Avinash Kaushik

The bounce rate is a really useful measurement to use when you are evaluating the effectiveness of your landing pages. Your bounce rate is essentially the number of customers who arrive at your website then leave immediately – without looking at any other pages. The basic rule of thumb is the lower the bounce rate the better. A high bounce rate may suggest some issues with your landing page.

A good starting point is to look at your Google Analytics (or equivalent) Landing Page report and look at the landing pages with the highest bounce rate. From here you can visit those landing pages and review what might not be working so well – unrelated or irrelevant content, no call to action, confusing format and so on.

So what is an average bounce rate to measure your performance against? Actually, an average bounce rate is difficult to pin down as it will differ for industry and web page type (for example a contact us page is automatically going to have a high bounce rate due to the nature of it use – in fact a high bounce rate in this case would indicate your contact page is doing its job). However to give you a ball park figure , Google put the average around 40%-60% so this is probably a good starting point to begin with.

“According to Google the average bounce rate for most sites falls in the range of 40% – 60%.  If your site bounce rate is below 40% you are doing well and if it’s above 60% then you definitely need to find out why”. Anders Analytics

Welcome mat imageWhat makes a good landing page?

So, your hard work has paid off. You have successfully grabbed your customer’s attention and they’ve clicked through to your site. How then do you make sure you don’t lose them? The first thing to remember is that the page your customer arrives at may be the first experience they have had of your website. You need to make them feel welcome and reassure them they’ve arrived at the right place.

1. Create different, campaign specific landing pages

Often the first place that visitors are automatically directed to is the home page, and sometimes this is appropriate. However, the problem with the home page is that due to the broad  job it has to do, it can’t be very message specific. This can make  it difficult to develop a customer’s interest and elicit a particular response.

You need to consider where it is the customers is coming from – be it an email newsletter, search engine, social media site or a specific marketing promotion – and direct your customers to a landing page that is appropriate to the message being communicated. For example if your customer has been enticed by a special promotional offer, then you should have a specific landing page dedicated to that offer. The landing page should enable the customer to easily find out further information about the offer and there should be a clear call to action.

2. Think about it from your customer’s point of view.  

Before you write the copy for your landing page, think about what it is that will drive your customer to click-through to your website. What link has bought them to you – what are they expecting to find? You then need to write your copy accordingly. Your landing pages should provide additional, relevant information to your searchers based on the offer or referring site that they have just clicked through on.

3. Have a clear and specific message

Make sure that the message you are conveying to your customer is clear, targeted and specific. Don’t get distracted and try to be all things to all people. Keep your message concise, relevant and to the point.

4. Have recognisable and consistent branding

Make sure your landing page reflects your brand and is consistent with the rest of your website – even if your landing page is just temporary for a time-specific promotion. Remember, even if your ultimate objective is conversion, you must try to ensure all visitors (even those who choose not to convert at this time) have a positive experience. As we mentioned earlier, this maybe your users’ first time on your website and so you need to create a good first impression if you want them to come back.

5. Clear and easy call to action

Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to convert. Your call to action should be obvious and it should be easy for your customer to respond to. If you’ve got them this far, you don’t want to put them off with a complicated call to action or a request for too much information. The more straightforward it is, the more likely it is you’ll get that conversion.

6. Well thought out page design and layout

As with any other web page, think carefully about page design and layout. It should be easy to navigate, user-friendly (for example how easy is it for your user to complete an action?) and visually appealing.

I’ll leave you with some solid landing page advice from Web Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik on improving your bounce rate:

“If you want to have high performing web pages make sure that you:

1. Have a clear understanding of what the purpose of that page is and

2a. a clearer understanding of what drove customers to the page and

2b. what they want to accomplish to ensure that

3. #1 and #2 are in alignment.”

We’d really love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic, so please do leave a comment.

Exit sign image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome mat image courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net