Data Snacks is a new video series from Databox that shares bite-sized tips to help you be more data-driven.
It’s common knowledge among marketers that “bounces” are bad.
However, this accepted knowledge only illustrates just how misunderstood a metric “bounces” really are. No wonder very few marketers can tell you whether or not their bounce rate is good or bad, or even what it actually means for business.
While the metric itself is readily accessible in Google Analytics, the aggregate view on bounce rate across your entire website is rarely enough to determine whether or not your bounce rate is good or bad.
Before we can get into the merits of a good or bad bounce rate, we first need to level set on the definition.
- What everyone thinks – When a visitor leaves my website after only viewing one page.
- Google Analytics’ definition – A session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.
The initial pageview of a website visitor, for example, triggers the Analytics server. That’s one request. If no other requests are made to the server during this session, that visitor would register as a bounce.
What’s considered a request to the server?
This depends on how you have event tracking set up in Google Analytics.
If you’re tracking events like video plays, PDF downloads, etc., then any engagement with those elements will result in a request to the server.
In theory, if you have tracking set up, a visitor would:
- Land on your website (first request)
- Play a video on the page (second request)
- Download a PDF (third request)
This visitor triggered three requests to the server, and therefore would not be considered a bounce even though they only viewed one page on your website.
If you’re not tracking those events in Google Analytics, or added an opt_nointeraction parameter in order to avoid tracking them, then here’s how that same scenario would play out:
- Visitor lands on your website (first request)
- Plays a video (no request)
- Downloads the PDF (no request)
This visitor would be considered a bounce as they triggered only one request from the server, despite the fact that they engage heavily with the page.
Neither scenario is right or wrong in absolute terms, however, understanding how your Google Analytics account is set up is critical if you’re to understand what a “bounce” means for your website.
No two bounces are created equal
The aggregate bounce rate of your entire website is a good starting point, but keep in mind that this number is a reflection of all the pages on your website.
Would you expect the bounce rate of individual blog posts to differ from the bounce rate of your pricing page?
- Blog post views – Lower intent, driven largely by organic traffic, email marketing, and social media.
- Pricing page views – High intent, driven largely by direct traffic and referral links across your website.
Understanding the bounce rate for individual pages across your website will help you better understand what your bounce rate actually means and how it impacts business.
In this first episode of Data Snacks, I show you how (and even include a plug-and-play template that you can use to start tracking today.)
Want the Google Analytics template shown in the video? You can grab it here.