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10 tactics for lowering your website's bounce rate

10 tactics for lowering your website's bounce rate Tom Shapiro
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She was thrilled -- not only was her new paid search campaign driving traffic to her website, but it was also generating online sales! Yet closer inspection revealed that the campaign wasn't producing anywhere near the value it should have delivered. In fact, 75 percent of visitors were leaving the site immediately after arriving. In short, the site had a major bounce rate problem. As a result, the company was spending a lot of money to drive a subpar brand experience.


But our retailer friend is far from alone, as this is a problem that plagues many marketers. The good news, however, is that it is easily remedied. The key is to incorporate bounce rate analysis into your efforts to improve paid search campaign performance. By tapping into the learnings it provides, a bounce rate analysis can help you capture the right audience with the right message in the right way. Ultimately, it can help you drive further campaign growth and maximize your campaign's ROI.


Defining a bounce
So what exactly is a "bounce"? There are various ways to define one, but for the most part, it is a single-page view per visit (though certain analytics packages define it as a site visit under five seconds). Some may argue the validity of that definition considering that certain paid search campaigns have custom, stand-alone landing pages designed to convert the visitor on the first page. However, even in these situations, there is typically a call-to-action that upon click-through takes the visitor to the conversion page (e.g., order page, form submission page, download page, etc.). And in most cases, the brand typically wants the visitor to spend more than five seconds with the brand since anything less than that would be insufficient for most conversion events.


Understanding your bounce rate
Calculating your bounce rate is simple: It's the percentage of bounces among all of your site traffic. And while there are no established industry standards to indicate what would be a reasonable rate, marketers should strive to keep their bounce rates as low as possible. As Google's analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik notes, a bounce rate of more than 50 percent is "worrying." The reason should be obvious: The higher the bounce rate, the more visits to your campaign landing pages that result in a lack of conversions, engagement, and time with your brand.


Bounce rate indicators
If your paid search campaign's bounce rate is high, it may be indicative of a few things: You might be targeting or attracting the wrong audience; your message might be missing the mark; or your product or service might need adjustments. Reducing your bounce rate can improve the relevancy and impact of your marketing. Just as importantly, it will enable you to redirect wasted marketing dollars toward efforts that deliver more to your bottom line.


Bounce rate analysis basics
A bounce rate analysis can help you make more money from your paid search campaign, but it needs to be in alignment with your overarching campaign goals. Different websites and campaigns have different goals -- onsite sales, lead capture, download, call, store locator request, contest entry, video view, brand engagement, etc. -- so your bounce rate analysis needs to take that into consideration. In essence, it should not be done in a silo.


So, what can you do about poor bounce rates? Plenty. Read on for 10 tactics to help you lower your bounce rate and drive the performance of your paid search campaign.


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Taking action
A thorough bounce rate analysis (and resulting actions to correct problem areas) should include the following steps.


1. Analyze the source of the visit. Identify the search engines and the channel (search vs. content network, etc.) with the highest bounce rates, and test different ads accordingly in these sources.


2. Analyze the keywords. Are certain keywords leading to a 100 percent bounce rate? Test match types and negative keywords to refine the precise keyword phrases on which your ads appear.


3. Analyze the campaign funnel. Is it seamless, consistent, and intuitive? Do your ads and landing pages capture the query intent? Do they use consistent language? Always test new ads and landing page variations to ensure that you are minimizing bounce rates while maximizing conversions.


4. Analyze the timing. Do you experience a much higher bounce rate on weekends vs. weekdays, or in the morning vs. the afternoon? Explore lowering your bids on different days of the week and at different times of the day.


5. Analyze the landing page design and layout. Test different colors, buttons, and images. Test different page layouts.


6. Analyze the calls to action. Test different types of calls to action and the wording of such calls to action on your landing pages.


7. Analyze special offers. Test various types of "specials," whether discounts or value-add offerings. Test whether a percentage discount works better than a dollar-amount discount, etc.


8. Analyze the internal navigation. Don't assume that all of your visitors will have the same immediate need or objective. Some may desire to explore your website in further detail, so test whether the inclusion of additional navigational options on your landing pages improves overall results.


9. Analyze the trust elements. Test different elements that help build trust in a first-time visitor. Include a customer testimonial, link to a privacy policy, and display "trust marks" (e.g., VeriSign, Better Business Bureau) on your landing pages.


10. Analyze your customers. It's not just about your analytics data. Don't forget to ask your customers and prospects about their likes and dislikes. Include surveys on your site or send out a survey via email, ask your customer advisory board, or conduct focus groups.


As you work on improving and refining your paid search campaign, remember to include bounce rate analyses as a regular part of the process. Doing so will help you capture the right audience with the right message in the right way, and drive further campaign growth.


Tom Shapiro is director of search marketing at iProspect.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Tom Shapiro oversees and manages Digital Marketing NOW, which provides strategic design & marketing services that drive client revenue growth. Digital Marketing NOW cuts through all the hype and develops clear, differentiated marketing...

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Comments

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Commenter: Nicole Brown

2010, September 14

Saw this interesting research about site metrics:

http://www.analyticsseo.com/blog/average-website-metrics-google-analytics-bounce-rate-time-on-site

Looks like a typical bounce rate is about 40 %.

Commenter: Hugh Gage

2009, August 18

I think average site wide bounce rates can be misleading. Segmented by content type it is often higher on product pages and lower on home pages reflecting the level of specificity for each type of page. A site wide bounce rate of over 50% is indeed bad news but a bounce rate of over 50% on a product page is actually quite common. I think BR should always be considered in the context of the type of entry page.