Marketing Analytics Deep Dive: Bounce Rates and Why They Matter

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Posted: March 28, 2011 | Testing and Optimization

Internet math question: If you get 200,000 viewers to your website and 80% of them just check out one page, would you consider your website a success?

In some cases (with bloggers for example), a one-time visit to the website means checking out the latest blog, then taking off and that may be okay. However, if you are a B2B company dedicated to quality lead generation, a one-page hit won’t do you much good.

Follow this primer on what bounce rates are and how you can use marketing analytics to see how low you can go.

First off, bounce rates measure the percentage of people who go to your site, then leave after viewing just one page. A higher rate means your site was a one-hit wonder. A lower bounce rate means that the viewers who came to your site checked out at least one other page on the site.

If visitors are clicking to multiple pages on your site, we can often assume that they are more likely to have found information relevant to their search. The more pages they visit along a preferred click path, the more likely they are to find and complete a well-planned call-to-action. On average, normal bounce rates can range from the high 50s to high 70s, however most marketers are striving to be below 50.

In this world of fickle browsers and surfers, finding a way to not just attract viewers but keep them at your site is a delicate art.

This is where marketing analytics comes in. By using such tools as such as Google Analytics, you can keep those bounce rates low by:

  • Understanding bounce rates for overall site versus specific landing pages can help track if traffic to your site rose or declined over specific time periods (perhaps when you changed ad campaigns, for example). If the overall bounce rate was affected by a particular campaign, then it’s easy to know where to start tweaking. Make sure to compare bounce rates from different campaigns so different marketing segments can learn from one another. Much of what is learned from Pay Per Click landing pages can be applied to pages on the website, found via organic search. Perhaps your Pay Per Click team has identified that your visitors respond best to fulfillment labeled as ‘3 Steps to…’ as opposed to ‘white paper’. This information can and should be tested to see if it holds true across other visitor segments. In addition, keywords that are experiencing a high bounce rate from organic or referring sources can be tested via a PPC campaign in order to identify what content or call-to-action  they are most likely to respond. Once known, an update to web pages can reduce bounce rates.
  • Optimizing your keywords more effectively by measuring the number of visitors driven to your site through specific words. If the phrases you’ve chosen are driving traffic, but that traffic is bouncing, you have identified a big area of opportunity. First, take a look at the other sites that are ranking around you within the search results. Are they relevant? Are they competitors? If not, you may need to re-evaluate the term. It might be one that seemed relevant, but after second inspection it’s not going to send the right type of traffic. If you are ranking amongst competitors and are seeing a high bounce rate, look at the page’s meta description. This is 17-20 word description that should be optimized and lives in the source code of the page. This is also the content that is used as the explanation of the page, within search results. See example below.

Marketing analytics

Compare the content appearing for your search result against the competitors and ask yourself which is more compelling. Which stays true to the content delivered when you click through?

If your meta description describes one thing and your content delivers another, you are likely to see higher bounce rates.

  • Determining which traffic sources are sending the most relevant traffic. If you are getting high bounce rates from specific sources, you can do further research to determine if the traffic they are sending is low quality. Conversely, perhaps particular segments of traffic need unique landing pages. Test a unique landing page with customized copy and call-to-actions before discounting a referring source of traffic. If  the bounce rate is still too high, re-evaluate if those are the visitors you’re looking for or if you have invited the wrong crowd. The best landing page software can help you ward off many of these problems before they start by helping you create quality platforms. When you need to tweak those landing pages, this technology makes it easy and quick to fix.

To drive more B2B marketing success, your bounce rates must be lower. Less bouncing and better viewing translate into leads that are likely to visit your site more often, follow your content regularly and push that all-important “buy now” button when they are ready – because you helped them navigate toward a desired action.

To learn more about lead generation in 2011 and how it impacts your revenue cycle, subscribe to the Modern B2B marketing Blog RSS feed or follow Marketo on Twitter.

Maria specializes in Inbound Marketing for Marketo, leading efforts in adoption of social media channels for brand awareness and demand generation. She has worked in marketing for over ten years, and specifically in online marketing including social media, search marketing, and lead generation and nurturing for the past six.

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Marketing Analytics Deep Dive: Bounce Rates and Why They Matter

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