Bounce rate is one of the most commonly talked about terms in digital marketing.
The reason for this is because it is also one of the most important factors in a business’ online success.
“Bounce rate is the number of people who came to your site and left without visiting a second page. It can also be defined as the percentage of single page sessions on your website. Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik, describes bounce rate as ‘I came, I puked, I left.”
While average bounce rates vary depending on a site’s industry and the details of a site, reducing this number is the goal of any good marketer, no matter what industry they work within.
According to Kissmetrics, the average website has a bounce rate of 40.5%.
This number includes everything from retail and service sites to content sites and portals.
But how exactly do you go about reducing this rate?
Well, that is the purpose of this short guide; to provide you with five ways in which you can reduce your bounce rate.
Let’s take a look:
#1 – Know Your Visitors
One of the biggest problems with the web design and landing page strategies implemented by many marketers is that they do not know their visitors like they should.
Before you can ever do anything to fix a high bounce rate, you have to gain an understanding of who is actually visiting your site.
Hopefully, if you are handling your marketing correctly, you are driving visitors that are a part of your target market.
But you need to go deeper than that.
You need to utilize analytics to gain a better understanding of exactly what these visitors like, what they want, what their fears are, what their dreams are, etc.
Doing this will enable you to better structure your web pages to align with the unique needs of your visitors.
As Quicksprout founder Neil Patel points out:
“Understand your audience before you change anything. Know what language they speak, where they live, what they search for, and why they visit your site. You won’t be able to take any real bounce-rate crushing action unless you first understand your visitor.”
Patel goes on to also talk about the importance of knowing what your visitors want.
This is something that can also come from analyzing data about your visitors.
The bottom line is that understanding who your visitors are and what they want is required before any further action can be taken.
Patel goes on to say:
“If you know exactly what your visitor wants and give it to them, then they have virtually no reason to bounce.”
#2 – Improve the User Experience
The user experience, also called UX, is probably the single most important factor in how a visitor feels about your site.
As Neil Patel says:
“User experience is everything. The user must feel comfortable, confident, and clear when they’re on your website.”
The consequences of a visitor not feeling this way is simple; your bounce rates will be much higher than you want them to be.
But how can you improve your user experience to the point where you can ensure that users feel comfortable, confident, and clear?
Well, the team at User Focus put together a comprehensive list for helping improve your UX.
Some of the more important idea that they pointed out include:
Run Usability Tests
Running usability tests is one of the few ways to get immediate feedback of the UX that your site provides.
It is also incredibly easy to do and takes very little time to complete.
Basically, all you need is a few willing participants. This will preferably be someone who has never visited your site before.
From there, you simply give them a task to complete on your website and observe the process that they go through to complete it.
As usability expert David Travis says:
“It’s (a usability test) the single most powerful weapon in the user experience arsenal. Nothing beats watching a user struggle with your interface. It’s truly one of those scales-falling-from-the eyes moments.”
Travis also put together a few principles for making your usability tests as effective as possible.
Improve Navigation for Different Objectives
When a visitor comes to your website, there are more than likely going to be dozens of things that they can do.
But far too many marketers fail to outline the different goals that their website has and therefore do not optimize navigation for the intended objectives.
To understand what needs improved when it comes to navigation, it is important that you first outline all of the different scenarios that a visitor may go through.
Write as many scenarios and goals as you can think of down on cards and include a description of the process that a visitor goes through to get through those goals.
As you are writing these descriptions, it may become clear to you right away that several of your intended goals are far more difficult than they should be to complete.
Once you written these descriptions and goals out, perform usability tests with each scenario.
From there, you will have a much better understanding of what areas are in need of navigational improvement.
Put Yourself in the Shoes of the User
As you begin to make changes to your website’s user experience, it is important that you always keep your user’s perspective in mind.
Travis advises that every website owner:
“Take a deep breath, step back, and really try to empathize with your users as they go about their tasks with your system.”
Not every aspect of your user experience is going to be perfect.
But making the effort to put yourself in the shoes of the user and improve user experience will make it much more likely that visitors remain on your site.
#3 – Prevent Confusion
Confusion is the greatest enemy of any marketer.
It does not take a genius to figure out that visitors who come to a site and are immediately confused will, a majority of the time, leave and not come back.
This is one of the simplest things in marketing to understand, yet many marketers simply do not perceive it as an important factor in bounce rate.
To prove the point that landing page confusion is a major enemy of marketers and website owners, the team at Marketing Experiments took a look at a few case studies.
Their main goal when running the case studies was to determine whether a page that has one clear objective will perform better than one that has multiple objectives.
In the three case studies that they ran, landing pages that were altered to have only one clear objective performed 19%, 65%, and 66% better than those with multiple objectives.
Increases like that are astronomical in a world where increasing conversion rates by even fractions of a percentage point can mean thousands of dollars more in revenue per year.
The real point that Marketing Experiments was trying to make with these case studies was that clarity and the prevention of confusion is absolutely necessary to reduce bounce rates and increase conversions.
They went on to lay out five key principles for ensuring clarity on landing pages. Some of them include:
- One objective per page. Whether it be to sell a single product/service or get a visitor to subscribe to an email list, your landing page should have only one goal.
- Eliminate anything that does not support primary objective. Any wording, photos, graphics, or images that do not support the primary objective should be eliminated from the page. This is also important to reduce page load time, which plays a major role in bounce rate.
- Use visuals. While you certainly do not want to overdo it, visuals are proven to increase conversion rates on landing pages.
- Avoid off-page links. All of the information necessary to help the visitor complete their transaction should be included on your website, and preferably within the page. Including off-page links reduces momentum and makes it difficult to get the visitor to return.
HubSpot put together a helpful article about Design Tips for High-Converting Landing Pages that you would be wise to check out if you want more information on this topic.
No matter how you design your landing pages, however, it is essential that confusion is avoided and that one clear objective is identified.
Once this objective has been identified, do not shy away from making it obvious to your visitor what that objective is.
#4 – Improve Your Page Load Time
In today’s day in age, your page load time is as important as any other factor on your website.
Multiple studies have proven that impact that even a 1-second increase or decrease in page load time can have on your business.
Unfortunately, the impact that page load time has on bounce rate is hard to measure.
The reason for this is that most website analytics measurements do not measure data until after the website has been loaded.
This means that users that leave your page before it is loaded will generally not be included in the bounce rate.
Even though its impact on bounce rate is difficult to measure, there is little doubt that a high page load time is a bad thing across the board.
According to Crazy Egg contributor Kathryn Aragon, 1-second delays can lead to, among other things, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
Aragon went on to point out that mega retailers and websites like Amazon and Walmart experienced increases of hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes even millions, when decreasing their page load times by just 100 milliseconds.
But unless you are a web designer or someone who is experienced with the inner workings of your website, it can be difficult to understand what needs to be done to improve your page load time.
Adam Heitzman, of Six Revisions, put together an article that can serve as a valuable resource for helping even non tech savvy website owners decrease page load times.
As he points out:
“Users are enamored with speedy websites, and when a site responds slowly, visitors lose their patience and are less likely to come back. Improving the speed of your website is important not only to users (and bounce rates), but to search engine rankings as well.”
While some of the tips he provides are technical, he points out that the first step is to analyze your current page speed.
From there, you can see where you stand compared to the industry average and make changes like optimizing images and compressing content to improve speeds.
#5 – Improve the Story Your Brand is Telling
The art of storytelling is something that is talked about quite a bit by modern digital marketers.
There are times where your bounce rate may have little to do with the technical features and user experience that your site provides.
Instead, it may come down to the fact that you are not telling a story that intrigues or resonates with visitors.
Digital marketer Rob Longert is a major advocate of brand storytelling, saying:
“A low bounce rate is a good indicator that the story you’re trying to tell is resonating with customers and potential customers. Brand storytelling is about cutting through the clutter and hooking your visitors in the story, products or content on your site, and analyzing bounce rate is a good way to tell if that’s working.”
If you want to excel at storytelling, Content Marketing Institute contributor Debbie Williams recommends that you ask yourself a few questions.
Some of the more important questions she outlines include:
- What’s your reason for being? You want to be able to articulate to your visitors what the overall purpose of your business and website is.
- What’s your history? People want to know about the history of your business and the products and services that you offer. If not for the purpose of connecting, being able to point this out to your visitors is at least important for building trust.
- Who are the main characters in your story? Users don’t want to deal with faceless entities. Instead, they enjoy knowing who they are working with or buying from. A strong about page that displays your team is a great place to tell this story.
At the end of the day, a brand without a story is not a brand at all.
Every business has a story, don’t be afraid to tell yours.
The Final Word
As has been proven throughout this article, your bounce rate plays an integral role in the success of your website and business.
Utilizing the tips laid out above can help make sure that you are doing everything in your power to decrease your website’s bounce rate and take your business to the next level.