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Marketing | Jul 26
Dann Albright on September 7, 2018 (last modified on April 22, 2021) • 21 minute read
When we polled dozens of marketers on their website’s bounce rate, we figured some sort of average would emerge.
And while 28% of respondents reported a bounce rate <30%, in reality, the results were pretty scattered. There was no clear majority in terms of the average bounce rate marketers are seeing.
After thinking through this, we realized this made complete sense. Bounce rate is conditional–it all depends on the specific page a visitor is on, or what the goal of your page is, or heck, even what you’re selling in the first place.
But while the specific bounce rate of any one website is conditional on so many things, one thing is universal–everyone wants to lower their website’s bounce rate.
I mean, who wouldn’t want their website visitors staying on site longer?
That’s where all those conditions and various contexts make things tricky.
Reducing your bounce rate can be complicated.
The key (and often the hardest part) is understanding why people are bouncing in the first place.
Is your page loading too slow? Is your information architecture making it hard for them to find what they came for? Is your ad targeting off?
All of those factors—and many more—can affect your bounce rate. Unlike other digital metrics, it requires a human insight into your visitors. What do they really want? What is it they’re looking for? And how can you best present it to them?
We received over 75 responses from marketers across various industries with insights on how to improve your bounce rate. Here’s what we learned.
*Editor’s note: To make it even easier to track your overall bounce rate, as well as your bounce rate by each specific page on your website, we put together this free dashboard. It’s plug-and-play, so you’ll be able to visualize your bounce rate across key pages on your website in minutes.
“People do not like waiting,” says Tim Absalikov, co-founder of Lasting Trend. “Statistics have shown that for every second it takes your page to load, starting from a 10% bounce rate on a page that takes around 2 seconds, the potential for visitors to leave increases by 3-5%.”
Athena Bond, digital marketing strategist at Evo Strategies, agrees: “Half of website visitors only wait 3 seconds for a web page to load before leaving.”
And the consequences move beyond your bounce rate. “[A] one second delay in load time can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% drop off in satisfaction, and a 7% decrease in conversions,” says Brandon Schroth, digital manager for Gillware Data Recovery.
So what can you do? Well, increase your page load speed. Here are some ways to do that:
Yanor also recommends using Chrome to see how fast your page is. Head to Settings > Developer Tools > Audit to run a performance audit of your site.
“You will get a score from 1 to 100,” said Yanor. “If your score is less than 20 you absolutely must try some or all of the tactics above.”
It’s especially important to decrease your page load time if your visitors are mobile. “Odds are, most of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, and those users are unlikely to sit around and wait while your page loads,” says Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing.
“Worse yet, if your page loads in fits and starts and links hop out from under their fingers, or they lose their place when scrolling.”
(Author’s note: I can attest to this. It’s infuriating.)
McLoughlin suggests getting a faster server, incorporating fewer page elements, removing flashy animations, and emphasizing a responsive design.
While we received a lot of technical tips on reducing bounce rate, we also received lots of content-related tips as well.
One common refrain was to match searchers’ intent. What are people looking for when they come to your site?
If you’re not offering it, you’re going to get a lot of bounces.
“Give customers what they want,” said design and marketing consultant Tish Gance. Even if visitors aren’t ready to buy, they want information.
“By providing that key information they seek you decrease the bounce rate, increase your relevance on Google, and also build trust with the customer that you are a source to solve their problem,” said Gance.
Maple Holistics CMO Nate Masterson gave similar advice. “One of the most effective ways to decrease your bounce rate is to give the readers what they want from the get-go.”
Put your popular products and services at the top of the page, use a reasonable number of calls-to-action, and keep your pages clean, Masterson adds. (And don’t forget to A/B test.)
How do you know what your users are hoping to find? Besides taking advantage of background knowledge on your target audience and company, you can use tools to figure it out.
“Identify which search phrases are used most by visitors to find your pages,” said Acidre. “Then, identify those that have high impressions, but low clicks. Are your landing pages able to genuinely help solve those queries? If not, adjust your content to answer those queries. Is it easy for the page’s visitors to find what they’re looking for? If not, make it very visible to your site visitors.”
Acidre added, “It would also help to use highly descriptive anchor texts for your internal links to encourage visitors to stay longer on your site to check more of its other relevant pages.”
Some analysis tools even let you customize the content to your visitor. For example, you might use HubSpot’s Smart Content, “triggered content, based on a visitor’s persona, job title, responsibilities, previous activity, or pain points,” says SmartBug Media digital marketing strategist Jennifer Lux.
“When a visitor has a personalized, relevant experience he or she is less likely to bounce from a page and more likely to take the next, logical step in the path to purchase.”
Liam Wiltshire, front-end developer at CoinCorner, recommends looking at what people are searching for to get to your site. This gives you an idea of what they’re interested in. Then, provide “helpful, honest, and accurate content written by a human.”
(Wiltshire also recommends removing pop-ups and modals that get in the way of the user experience.)
Interestingly, Farouk of by ‘rouk recommends a different strategy: “What if you made people feel like they need to get more information when they land on your homepage? One simple way to do this is to make your main offerings buttons on the homepage and house all of the other information on other pages.”
Once you know what your visitors are looking for, you can craft content to meet their needs.
If visitors are leaving your site after arriving from a search engine, “it means your content is not engaging,” says Fundera SEO associate Catherine Giese. “More specifically, it means that your content is not answering the question the visitor set out to answer.”
Make sure your title isn’t misleading, Giese recommends, and answer your visitor’s question. Take a look at your pages that have a low bounce rate and see what lessons you can learn from them.
Kevin Stewart, head of design at LeaseFetcher, gave an example of providing immediate value on an ecommerce website:
LeaseFetcher allows visitors to search hundreds or thousands of cars for the right one. “With that many options, there is a significant risk of users getting lost and not knowing what to do next,” said Stewart. “This, in turn, leads to user frustration and a very high bounce rate.”
So Stewart made it easier on visitors. “I designed a large range of product filters covering pretty much everything that’s important to motorists. Think fuel efficiency, performance, body style, doors, fuel type, seats, luggage capacity, rating, popularity and so on.”
This helps LeaseFetcher answer visitors’ questions quickly and easily.
Even if you understand searcher intent and have the right content, poor copy can still get in the way.
Make sure that readers know exactly what they’re going to find on your page, says Carlee Linden, content management intern at Best Company. “Don’t keep your readers in suspense as to what your article is about.”
TSI Apparel CEO Srajan Mishra also emphasized getting right to the point. “Typically, 8–9 sentences or less for an introduction are ideal. When your intro goes on and on, it makes readers hit the back button more often than not.”
The idea of easy-to-read copy goes beyond the introduction.
Here are some ideas from Alon Popilskis, digital marketing consultant at Smart SEO Designs:
If you can do that, he says, you’ll make it easy for users to scan the page for the ideas they’re interested in.
Advanced Cyber Solutions managing director Chris Payne gave a similar list of tips:
Several other marketers mentioned internal links—we’ll share their insights a bit later.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) has given us some valuable insights into what works on landing pages. You can put that information to use in reducing your bounce rate.
For example, Terese Kerrigan of Backlink Queen recommends matching your ad copy and meta descriptions with your landing page’s headline and calls-to-action.
“Your meta title and description or ad copy compel users to click,” said Kerrigan. “If your clickthrough rates are high and so are your bounce rates, then there’s a disconnect between what you promised before the click and what you delivered post-click.”
KDG marketing manager Keri Lindenmuth also emphasized conversions for reducing bounce rate. “Only give your users one action to complete, not multiple. If they don’t know what is expected of them, they’ll end up bouncing.”
And make sure to capture your visitors’ attention right away. Using action verbs like “discover,” “explore,” and “learn” keep users on the page, she says.
Sean Dudayev, business growth expert at Frootful Marketing, included similar tips in his list:
Does your page tell a story? If not, your bounce rate is probably high.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s your landing page or a blog—there has to be a storyline,” says Iga Wójtowicz, project manager at INVO Technologies. “Your goal should not be for them to just click on everything. It should be presenting them with a logical story that presents them with everything they need and want to know about your product or service . . . or about a certain topic .”
Growth Hackers co-founder Jonathan Aufray suggests adding internal links in your blog posts as well as sidebar widgets that show your most popular or recent articles.
“The more chances your visitors have of saying on your website, the higher the probability that they will,” said Aufray. “I also recommend adding search bar on your site where people can search your website by typing keywords.”
(Jon Nastor, host of Hack the Entrepreneur, also recommend adding sidebar links. These links have had “an astonishing impact on our bounce rate,” he says. (Nastor’s website boasts a bounce rate of only 2.46%.)
While good internal linking practices help every visitor, they’re especially helpful for people who reach top-of-funnel or brand awareness pages, says Sam Kessenich, director of search marketing at Rytech.
Kessenich also recommends using Google Tag Manager to implement scroll tracking. You can then see how far down the page people are scrolling before they click (or bounce).
And if you really want to get people to click, don’t use a regular text anchor, says Jimmy Chan, founder of Pixelicious. “[U]se a large graphic with bold CTA buttons to stand out. The idea is to encourage visitors to click somewhere, anywhere to reduce the bounce rate.”
Of course, there is such a thing as overdoing it on links.
The Advisor Coach founder James Pollard recommends sticking to a few relevant links to avoid looking “spammy.”
Immediately assaulting visitors with a wall of text is a sure way to get them to bounce. Quite a few marketers told us that using some form of media at the top of your post (and strategically placed throughout) can prevent that from happening.
Here’s what some of our respondents said:
You can also go beyond traditional image and videos by including interactive elements.
“Interactive clickable elements such as charts, maps, calculators, and quizzes” get users to take action, which means they don’t count as bounces when they leave the page, says Atanas Valchev of Pixus.
He also recommends using Google Tag Manager to track a variety of events, giving your further insight into the actions your visitors are taking.
That sentiment was echoed by several other respondents as well.
When a user hits your page and leaves without interacting or clicking a link, that’s a bounce, right?
Before you set out to improve your bounce rate, it’s imperative that you have a firm understanding of how bounce rate is calculated in tools like Google Analytics.
“The most effective strategy to improving bounce rate is adding an adjusted bounce rate tag to your Google Tag Manager,” says Jackie Tihanyi, digital marketing specialist at Fisher Unitech.
“By adding an adjusted bounce rate, you are letting Google Analytics know not to count these users as bounces,” adds Tihanyi. “A user may visit your site, find all of the content and information they need and then leave your site without visiting another page. Without the adjusted bounce rate tag, this user would be counted as a bounce even though they had an effective experience.”
Workado founder Justin McGill provided a similar solution. “Send events to Google after 30 seconds (or whatever timeframe is relevant to you). Then fire those events every 15 seconds or so after that.” This gives you a better indication of whether people are actually consuming your content.
You can also set up an event for a specific amount of scrolling, says Angle180 president Sarunas Budrikas.
Both options will give Google a better idea of what visitors are you doing on your site. And whether they’re actually bouncing, instead of getting everything they need and then leaving.
And, finally, make sure you don’t have your Google Analytics code in your page twice. “I’m amazed at how many clients make this mistake and have a completely wrong understanding of their metrics, including bounce rate,” says Market8 growth optimization expert Dustin Drees.
“You can’t reduce your bounce rate if you don’t first gather visitor data,” says Juli Durante, team leader and marketing strategist at SmartBug Media. “When I review visitor tracking data, such as click maps and scroll maps, it’s usually very apparent where the gaps are.”
She gives a great example: “Let’s say we have visitors coming to a blog post and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page, but then they bounce at a rate of 90%. That indicates that the blog post itself has the right information for the audience landing there, but visitors aren’t incentivized to learn more.”
In this case, Durante says she’d check the page’s calls to action. If the CTAs are good, she’ll move onto tags, internal links, and other best practices. After that, it’s time to experiment with things like “related posts” modules, in-line forms, and plain-text CTAs.
“The more data you have, the more your creative brain can take over to ensure your success,” adds Durante.
SmartBug CRO strategist Kristen Patel also recommends looking at behavior flows in Google Analytics:
“By presenting visitors with a natural and visible next step, you can expect for this page’s bounce rate to decrease,” she says.
Motivational speaker Brian Carter uses heatmaps to see where visitors are having problems. “You may be surprised by the problems they’re having, but then you can fix them.”
Carter also points out that a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “[S]ometimes there are reasons why it’s OK or you’re still getting what you need or want for a specific goal or tactic.” It’s important to take your metrics in context.
If bounce rate is a problem, then using tools like HotJar or Lucky Orange will help you to figure out what’s going wrong.
Is someone more likely to bounce if they get to your site from social media? Paid search? Organic?
Kiyo Wiesnoski, digital media analyst at Adlava, suggests segmenting your traffic into organic and paid. If your organic visitors tend to bounce, you’re likely providing a poor user experience. Look at your content and design to see if you can make any changes.
If your paid visitors are bouncing, it’s likely that you’re targeting the wrong audience. Time to head back to the ad-targeting drawing board.
Those aren’t the only options for traffic sources, though.
James Gardner, of MedTouch‘s market and business development team, also suggests looking at links from other sites. Is the context of the link outdated or inaccurate? Do what you can to get them updated.
He also recommends analyzing your ads to delete the ones that cause the most bounces. And tweaking the others to better target your audience. And for organic traffic bounces, making sure you have a logical next step and a good CTA.
Exit-intent pop-ups show a message when it looks like someone is going to leave your website, i.e. scrolls to the top of the browser window. This can be one last chance to grab their attention.
“Pop-ups can annoy some people,” says Colton De Vos, marketing and communications specialist at Resolute Technology Solutions. But they also give you “a chance to get your main message or value offer in front of people as they are leaving your website.”
Because it only appears when someone is showing exit intent, it doesn’t disrupt the browsing experience, says De Vos. (He also recommends using a quarter-page pop-up in the corner of the window if you don’t want to take over the entire page.)
Nelson Jordan, co-founder of Agency Match, suggests making an offer with these pop-ups.
“This is the perfect time to include either a discount, for example, a code for 10% off, or offer the visitor a piece of valuable content in return for their email address. Once you have their email address,” said Jordan, “you can move them through your automated email sales funnel.”
That being said, there’s certainly the potential to throw too many things at your users. “Don’t annoy your visitors too much,” says Folsom Creative president Brandon Kidd.
“There is a trend of adding popups, notifications, scroll highjacking, CSS transitions, etc. While there is data that may suggest one or all of these strategies will improve conversion rate, combining them can have the opposite effect.”
Kidd recommends judging whether these effects will slow your page speed or make it harder for visitors to find an answer to their question. If it makes for a worse user experience, it’s best to remove it.
Says Nicolina Savelli, content and social media marketer at Wily Global, “[the] most dramatic improvement for decreasing our bounce rates was adding a chatbot to our website.”
“When we first launched our company website, our bounce rate was pitiful; 64%-84%,” added Savelli. “It was SEO optimized, responsive, and clean. So, naturally, I was horrifie, and started testing areas I felt could capture our audience for longer periods of time. The first tactic that worked was launching a landing page slider. Our homepage originally had one static image and a single CTA. I decided to ask our designer to create 4 visually engaging slider graphics, each with their own CTA. The minute I added the slider, our bounce rate fell to about 30%-40%.”
Savelli adds: “The second, and most dramatic improvement for decreasing our bounce rates was adding a chatbot to our website. This dramatically decreased our bounce rate to 2%, even with an increase in traffic to the website. The option forced users to browse longer and ask questions, rather than bouncing off the page.”
“[R]esearch shows that a well-designed chatbot is more than capable of reducing bounce rates,” Jenna Erickson told us. Codal‘s marketing manager summed up why that is: “a chatbot can ask your website visitor what they are exactly looking for, understand their needs, and engage with them based on those needs.”
Chatbots can also improve visitor trust, she said. Bots can answer questions immediately, which provides a better user experience, and companies can customize the tone to match the tone of their website.
Ivana Veljovic, marketing manager at Aurity, points out that chatbots can be great for collecting user feedback. You can find out what they’re doing on your website, which problems they’re having, and get information on how to keep them engaged.
We received a lot more advice on reducing bounce rate. In the end, it became clear that your bounce rate is likely related to specific factors on your page, so you’ll have to use a strategy that addresses your particular issues.
Here are some of the ideas we received:
As you can see, there’s a huge range of tactics for reducing bounce rate. In the end, it comes down to why your visitors are bouncing in the first place. If you can figure that out, you can address the issue.
Have you taken action to reduce your bounce rate? What worked? What didn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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