How to master the most misunderstood metric in marketing
Metric Stack 28: Bounce Rate and more!
Bounce Rate is a surprisingly complicated metric to define and track. The concept is simple enough: people land on a web page, don’t interact, and bounce!
But did you know that your bounce rate increases even if someone loves your content and spends an hour reading your latest blog post?
This edition of the Metric Stack Newsletter will tell you what your bounce rate actually means - and what to do about it.
What is Website Bounce Rate?
Website Bounce Rate, most commonly referred to simply as “Bounce Rate”, is the percentage of single interaction sessions or visits out of the total sessions on your website. Here’s the formula:
Bounce Rate = Single Interaction Sessions / Total Sessions
Let’s get this clear: a single interaction session is when a visitor to your website exits without triggering more than one engagement hit or request to Google Analytics.
This means that certain parts of your website, such as your blog and other top-of-the-funnel content pages, will naturally have a higher bounce rate than the rest of your website. You may want to segment or filter out such pages when analyzing your website’s overall bounce rate.
But before you analyze your website’s bounce rate, it is crucial to fully understand how bounce rate is calculated in Google Analytics.
How Google Analytics calculates bounce rate
Google Analytics (GA) measures time as the interval between interaction events or engagement hits. This means that GA also measures bounce rate as the percentage of sessions that do not record more than one engagement hit.
What is an engagement hit? In summary: pageviews (screenviews if you’re tracking on app), event hits, social interactions, e-commerce items, and e-commerce transactions.
If you want to go down the rabbit hole of events in GA, here’s a helpful link.
But all you really need to know about how bounce rate is calculated:
Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions on your website that only send a single engagement hit back to the Google Analytics server.
Now that we’re crystal clear on what exactly bounce rate is, are you ready for some benchmarks?
What’s a good (or bad) Website Bounce Rate?
You should generally aim to keep your bounce rate low. But what counts as a low or high bounce rate?
There’s benchmark research data that suggests that the average bounce rate should be around 47%.
This varies wildly by industry - if you’re B2B like many readers of this newsletter, sadly you can expect much higher bounce rates >75%. Take a look at the data from Contentsquare’s 2021 Digital Experience benchmark report to see where your industry falls:
Is a high bounce rate always bad?
Disclaimer! A low bounce rate isn’t necessarily good either: bounce rates less than 20% almost always indicate errors in your installation of GA, duplicate tracking codes, or incorrect event tracking.
Sometimes bounce rate isn’t the best metric to measure the “success” of a web page.
Especially for blogs, journalistic websites, and online dictionaries (MetricHQ for example), success is measured by the percentage of people who get the exact information they’re looking for.
They visit a page, read the information they need, and leave satisfied all while increasing your bounce rate!
How high bounce rates impact you and what to do about it
One of the most surprisingly viral quotes about bounce rate from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist, states:
“I came, I puked, I left”
Extremely high bounce rates (greater than 90%) could mean that your site is impossible, or infuriating, to use. And you do NOT want website visitors to exit with a feeling of disgust.
Revise your website’s design & UX, ensure browser / device compatibility, and insert links or CTAs for visitors to follow.
High bounce rates in the range of 70% - 90% are a sign that you need to make your CTA more compelling. This is particularly important if conversion is your #1 goal, whether it’s trial starts, newsletter sign ups, or demo requests.
Identify what’s causing high bounce rates: is your copy not resonating with your target audience, is the quality of your web traffic poor, are annoying pop ups cutting the session short? Address those issues for decreased bounce rates and increased conversion rates as a result.
Take your Google Analytics data to the next level
Bounce Rate and other digital marketing metrics ultimately empower you to achieve your revenue goals. The smartest way to do that is by tracking metrics and acting on the insights hidden within your data.
Here’s a great resource that’ll help you get started exporting your Google Analytics data: learn how to use the Google Analytics Query Explorer to export data.
What do you do next? Move beyond spreadsheets and manual reporting. Take your analysis to the next level by creating a web analytics dashboard with PowerMetrics, a free-forever analytics tool from Klipfolio.