Have you ever wandered into a store, taken one look at the merchandise, and turned right back around? We’ve all done it and for different reasons. Maybe you realized immediately that the merchandise is not right for you. It’s possible you didn’t like the layout or there was something ‘off’ about the presentation. Maybe the store window was the best part, hiding all the disorganization inside. Or, just maybe, the sales rep was pushy from the start. This is the real-life version of bounce rate.
Online, it’s much easier to measure these instances. With the help of analytics tools, digital marketers can study user behaviors and determine what steps to take in order to reduce the number of times people click on a website and then immediately lose interest.
Bounce rate, by definition, is the percentage of visitors who leave a website after only viewing one page.
The reasons why a person might leave your website after visiting just one page are not always under your control. In some cases, such as when your page takes visitors off-site, it’s even expected! Life is choppy and hectic. A small bounce rate is natural and understandable. But if your bounce rate is 75% when it should be 30%, there might be a problem. If your visitors simply aren’t engaging, they probably aren’t buying, which will cause your bottom line to suffer.
Improving Your Bounce Rate: Real World vs. Online
A website is much like a bricks-and-mortar store, except in digital mode. There are many lessons to be learned about how to reduce your bounce rate by considering how a shopkeeper draws customers to their store and keeps them there.
Shop Window vs. Meta Description
Before you even step inside a store, consider if the signage and window display is enticing. Does it lure customers in?
In the digital world, the shop window and signage are the meta tag and description, the first point of contact on a search engine result page before the customer even enters your site. As the small blurb on a search engine result page, your meta description acts like an elevator pitch. It should be clear, concise, up-to-date, and accurate. It should also draw the visitor in. Yes, misleading meta tags and titles can lead to a high bounce rate.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Revise and rescript your tags and titles to make them more accurate, and you’ll find that fewer visitors will hit the back button. Remember, this isn’t the time to stuff your character limit with keywords. Be real and make sense.
Front of Store vs. Home Page
When a new customer steps inside your store, what is their first impression? How is the shop organized? Are there clear and distinct sections, or is it a case of sensory overload? When you enter a store, you want to feel that you can ease comfortably into browsing mode. The same goes for your website. It should be inviting and attractive from the first moment.
What makes a great homepage?
- Is it well organized and easy to navigate?
- Do you have a search function that visitors can easily find?
- Does it give the visitor just enough information to make them want to click on another page?
- Is it too heavy on images or text? Or is there a healthy balance so the visitor is both visually and intellectually stimulated?
- Is the web design aesthetically pleasing, with cohesive color templates, intuitive page elements, and straightforward design?
Building a user-friendly site structure is fundamental to keeping your visitors engaged. It boils down to an intuitive design that leaves no room for guesswork.
Salespeople vs. Pop-ups
No one likes to go into a store and be immediately and endlessly bombarded by pushy salespeople. The same is true of pop-ups – the digital equivalent of annoying sales reps.
Pop-up ads can contribute to high bounce rate if the visitor is forced to fend off a slew of CTAs, surveys, ads, and sign-up forms before they even have a chance to get acquainted with the site. While some pop-ups are essential from a marketing perspective, try to think like your customers – then you’ll better understand when pop-ups are necessary, and when they are just too much.
Quality Merchandise vs. Quality Content
The sign on your shop window says that you sell authentic Venetian glass/official NBA jerseys/ handmade Cuban cigars. When your customers come in, they expect to find what you are offering.
Digitally, the content of a store is like the content of a webpage. Poor quality content, or content that doesn’t deliver on its promise, will cause many people to leave your website immediately.
What defines poor quality content?
- Thin web pages
- Keyword-heavy sentences
- Third-rate writing
- No links, or low-quality links
Fortunately, you can easily improve your bounce rate by improving the quality of your content. This includes the caliber of your links.
The speed of Service vs. Page Load Times
No customer wants to be bombarded by pushy salespeople. On the other hand, they also don’t want to be left to fend for themselves when they need help. If the sales rep takes too long to approach the customer, or if the credit card transaction takes too long to process, customers are going to walk out the door and never come back.
Like a physical store, your website should be a well-oiled machine. A page that is slow to load is like an instant kill switch that will increase your bounce rate. There are many ways to improve your load times, such as setting up accelerated mobile pages, eliminating bad code, and compressing image files.
Thinking like a brick-and-mortar store owner makes you realize that bounce rate isn’t that complicated.
In fact, most of what a shopkeeper does to keep their customers happy and engaged applies to the digital world. From the moment your customer walks in, your job is to make them feel comfortable and engaged so that they don’t bounce out.