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[un'jargon'ed] Bounce Rate

What is Bounce Rate?

Imagine inviting someone to a party, & they walk in, take a quick look around, & then walk right back out.

That's what bounce rate is about – visitors who come to your webpage but leave without exploring a second page or performing a desired action.

That desired action could be clicking on links, completing forms, exploring different pages, making purchases, or even just spending a decent amount of time browsing the webpage.

How is it calculated?

The bounce rate of a webpage is calculated as the ratio of single-page visits to total visits within a specific time frame.

Bounce rate= Single page visits/Total visits over a time period.

For example, if a company's website receives 100 visits in a week, with 50 visitors leaving the page without any interaction, the bounce rate would be 50%.

Tools like Google Analytics (now GA4) readily provides this metric. They give you the scoop on how engaging your content is & if people are sticking around.

Why does it matter?

The bounce rate stands as a pivotal metric when it comes to gauging user engagement on a website.

1/ This is particularly true in case of digital-first companies operating in spaces like ecommerce or consumer technology.

Think about it— before any customer gets to experience a product/service for real, their journey through the company’s website, exploring product landing pages, navigate the user experience & the payment process. This initial encounter with the brand holds immense significance wielding a profound influence on whether a visitor turns into a paying customer or not.

2/ The bounce rate acts as a litmus test to assess the quality of the traffic that a webpage is attracting.

To illustrate, consider a scenario where you're selling maternity products. However, due to generic keywords used in advertisements like “women fashion wear, comfort wear”, you might end up drawing traffic primarily consisting of teenage girls—resulting in swift bounces.

3/ Understanding bounce rate could help in increasing topline numbers by increasing conversions.

Suppose you're running an online store; the bounce rate becomes an invaluable metric. It provides insights into the number of people leaving your platform without interaction, their demographics, how long they stay, and more. Consider this: every bounced visitor could have been a potential customer. That's like money slipping through your digital fingers.

4/ On a technical level, it is possible that Google’s algorithm indirectly considers bounce rate as a metric for organic ranking, as it reflects whether the users find the website’s information helpful or not. When a visitor leaves the page without any interaction, Google may interpret it as a signal that the web page should not be ranked as highly, as there might be a mismatch between the content & the searcher's intent.

Thus, understanding bounce rate empowers companies to promptly implement corrective measures, ensuring the right audience is enticed, & tailoring what their experience is like when they visit the company’s homepage or landing page.

How are bounce rates important at different stages of company’s growth?

This metric holds importance through the entire life cycle of a company, especially for a digital first company.

In the early-stages, bounce rate tells a lot about how the target audience is perceiving the product/service. A high bounce rate doesn't necessarily mean the product/service isn't valuable, it might be due to slow UX, low website security, or weak content.

It can be used to reaffirm the company’s STP (Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning) approach & serve as a crucial metric, indicating the effectiveness of user experience & engagement.

In the later stages it helps companies as an optimization tool to help them make continuous improvements.

Companies can run A/B tests on designs & keywords to experiment & improve the website’s performance. They can also make use website & readability assessment tools to evaluate website performance & obtain specific recommendations to improve the same.

Case Study:

1/ Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, a chocolatier since 1936, sought to boost online sales while serving various audiences. By updating their website's look & partnering with ShipperHQ for smoother payments & shipping, they achieved a remarkable 97% reduction in bounce rate, along with a 33.56% increase in visitors & 45% more mobile visitors.

2/ Catbird, a jewellery brand, enhanced its mobile user experience to cater to mobile-oriented customers. Implementing features like wish lists & convenient payment options, they achieved a 52% rise in mobile conversions, a 39% growth in mobile revenue, & a 45% increase in mobile transactions.

3/ Transcat, a testing tools provider, revamped its website with improved navigation & user-friendly checkout solutions. This led to a 17% increase in mobile visits, 2.5 times more account registrations, & a notable 13.7% rise in site traffic.

How to interpret bounce rates?

At first glance, it might seem like a simple number – high is bad, low is good. But it’s not quite as straightforward as it appears.

Sure, a low bounce rate is like a pat on the back, signalling that visitors are sticking around & exploring the website. A high bounce rate is like an alarm bell suggesting that visitors are landing on the site & quickly deciding, "No, not for me," before vanishing out.

Now, here's the twist. How high is too high? How low is wonderfully low? Bounce rates are influenced by factors like your industry, where you operate, who your audience is – are they young or old/ male or female, what their interests are, what device do they use while browsing & so on.

An abnormally high bounce rate should raise caution & call for immediate action. There could be numerous reasons for the same as slow loading times, excessive advertising, confusing navigation, irrelevant content, technical errors preventing user interaction like 404 errors, browser compatibility issues, lack of web accessibility for disabled users, poor page layout, security concerns, bad reputation, non-responsive design, slow page speed, & low-quality content.

Notably, Google highlights a significant correlation between mobile page load times & bounce rates. In fact, a mere increase in mobile page load time from one second to ten seconds elevates the likelihood of a visitor bouncing off by a substantial 123%.

On the contrary, an abnormally low bounce rate is not always a green flag. There should be substantial reason for the same, & if there isn’t, it should be reason enough to raise suspicions.

For instance, a company celebrated an impressively low site-wide bounce rate of less than 10%. When their product pages reported a 0% bounce rate, it raised suspicions. On further investigation, it was found that on clicking the site link, the visitors were redirected to a different page requiring an action to reach the actual page, creating a false interaction, skewing the data. This was due to a tracking code error. In reality, the bounce rate was closer to 60%, costing the company revenue & masking the need for improvement.

In certain cases, bounce rate is not even relevant! Like in the case of single-page sites (like dictionaries, blogs, or portals). In these cases, bounce rate will always be high due to the nature of the content where there is the expectation of only a single-page session.

However, in case of blogs, we can view a specific duration of stay as an action. This helps us determine whether users quickly leave or take their time to read and engage with the post.

What are the industry benchmarks for bounce rates?

The benchmark bounce rate tends to hover around 47% across industries. Yet, this figure isn't cast in stone; it transforms based on device type, with mobile devices boasting an average bounce rate of approximately 51%.

As for specifics, e-commerce & retail domains usually exhibit bounce rates spanning from 20% to 45%. In contrast, B2B websites traverse a range of 25% to 55%. The narrative shifts when it comes to landing pages, dictionaries, portals, & blogs, where rates can ascend to a staggering 60% to 90%.

In practical terms, a high bounce rate in the e-commerce realm generally exceeds 45%, while blogs could see figures scaling upwards of 90%.

To illustrate, consider the case of Flipkart, Ajio, & Meesho, each registering bounce rates of 65.95%, 64.19% & 62.77%, respectively. Meanwhile, Amazon boasts a more favourable figure of 44.03%. This divergence points to Amazon adhering to industry benchmarks while its counterparts grapple with bounce rate challenges, inadvertently leaking potential revenue among themselves.

A parallel scenario unfolds within the food delivery sphere. Dunzo, with a bounce rate of 82.81%, shares company with Swiggy at 76.74%& Zomato at 69.21%. These percentages, notably higher than those of the fashion-focused e-commerce sites, can be attributed to their usage at point of need scenario & a relatively smaller average transaction size. When no immediate need exists, users tend to bounce off promptly, like abandoning a Swiggy page upon realizing dinner is already prepared.

In essence, deciphering industry-specific bounce rate benchmarks equips businesses with realistic goals & a compass to navigate improvement areas.

How to reduce the bounce rate?

To decrease bounce rate, website owners can consider the following tactics:

1/ Improve page load speed: As per GoodFirms Research, 88.5% of visitors leave a website due to slow loading speed. If a site takes more than five seconds to load, visitors are likely to bounce off.

2/ Ensure a responsive website: 73.1% of surveyors say non-responsive web design is one reason visitors leave the website. Factors contributing to this include misleading title tags or meta descriptions, a confusing navigational structure, intrusive ads, & pop-ups, content that doesn't align with the user's search intent, a poor user interface & experience, a lengthy checkout process, & excessive form fields.

3/ Creating an engaging website design that grabs users' attention & keeps them interested.

4/ Improving the readability of the content by using clear headings, subheadings, & bullet points.

5/ Use of compelling titles in hyperlinks to encourage users to click through to other pages on the site.

6/ Implementing chatbots to help users 24/7, providing immediate assistance & answers to their queries.

7/ Using exit-intent pop-ups to encourage users to stay on the site.

8/ Conducting A/B testing to determine which website elements are most effective at reducing bounce rate. (A/B testing, also called split or bucket testing, is a way to compare multiple versions of a webpage & find out which one is more effective. By randomly showing different variants to users & analyzing the results, A/B testing determines which version is better for a specific conversion goal.)

9/ Optimizing SERP (search engine result page) by avoiding misleading title tags & Meta descriptions that may cause users to bounce off your site.

10/ Further, when individuals encounter words like "VISA," "Paypal," or see a "secured by" tag, they develop a sense of trust in the platform & tend to engage more with the content or website.

Are all bounces the same kind?

To understand why visitors, leave a site, it's helpful to categorize bounces into hard, medium, & soft bounces based on engagement time.

Hard bounces spend the least amount of time on the page & show minimum engagement, indicating they had no intention of landing on your page for example, a user clicks on a link for food desserts but is redirected to a website about desert landscapes, immediately realizing the mistake & leaving the site.

A medium bounce occurs when a visitor shows slightly more engagement on the page but leaves as they didn't find exactly what they were looking for. For instance, a visitor reads the company’s blog post but even though it was informative, he leaves in search of another article with more information.

Soft bounces spend considerable time on the company’s site, engaging with the page, but ultimately leave without converting. An example of a soft bounce is a visitor who spends time browsing products on your website but decides not to purchase at that moment. Soft bounces are the easiest to re-engage with retargeting ads or personalized discounts.

To sum it up,

In this digital age, where there is an overload of products/services & an emergence of an attention economy, keeping an eye on bounce rates has become really important. Simply put, this is the window shopping of the digital world. If your store isn’t set-up in the right place, not attractive enough or addressing the wrong audience, then they walk past it.

With webpages acting as the first impression that a potential customer has with the companies, it’s like a vibe check greatly influencing their decision on whether they want to convert into paying customers or not.

Bounce rate holds the key to unveiling concerns within the website's user experience & content landscape. Essentially, it steers businesses towards identifying areas that need enhancement, leading to tests that dissect what resonates with the target user base, creating a ripple effect increasing conversions & revenue.


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