I had an interesting email pop into my inbox over the weekend and the subject line immediately caught my attention:
“Your bounce rate doesn’t matter.”
First of all, excellent subject line.
Second of all…WHAT?!
Since my early days as a digital marketer, I’ve been told that bounce rates are a huge deal. And to be honest, I never questioned it. But this email had me thinking…does it really not matter?
So I did some digging and here’s what I found!
In order to same-page right off the bat, let’s refer to the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of bounce rate:
The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
It’s important to note that a visitor can navigate away from your site in several ways:
- Using the “back” button to exit
- Closing the tab/window
- Session timeout
- Click an external link to another site (including an affilate link)
Boo-yah. Now that that’s out of the way…let’s discuss!
To answer the question for those who scrolled down to see a simple “yes” or “no”…
Your bounce rate is not as important as you think it is…but it is still important (sometimes).
There — was that vague enough for you? I’m sorry to say but the answer isn’t nearly as cut and dry as the email subject line claimed to be. And here’s why:
Bounce rates are subjective and extremely contextual.
ThinkSEM wrote a fantastic blog post on the subject that deserves a look-see. From other various articles, blog posts, and discussion threads online, I was able to come to the following conclusions about bounce rates and their extremely controversial reputation in the digital marketing world.
1. Blog posts will always have a high bounce rate (and that’s a-okay!)
When’s the last time you saw a blog post headline, clicked on it, read it, received the info you wanted, and then moved on with your life (aka you ventured right to Buzzfeed or Facebook after reading)?
If your answer isn’t, “ALL THE DAMN TIME” I don’t want to hear it.
This happens constantly and it’s to be expected. Do not mope when your bounce rate for blog posts is high (like 90%…that’s common!). This is all part of the process and there’s nothing wrong with high bounce rates in this instance.
2. The importance of a bounce rate varies from landing page to landing page
Keep this in mind and save yourself months (or even years!) of suffering and despair (dramatic…yes. Accurate? All too often).
Remind yourself of the intent of each landing page. Is it meant to entice the user and lead them toward several other landing pages on your site? Then you should absolutely give a s!%t about your bounce rate. If it’s a one-off (i.e. a form submission, infographic, blog post, etc.).
You know your landing pages better than anyone — only you can determine if a landing page’s bounce rate is positive or negative. Don’t let Google tell you otherwise!
3. A high bounce rate could mean your CTAs need work
If you’re reading this and realizing just how subjective bounce rates are, you could be looking into your “convertor” pages — the pages that are meant to convert users and entice them to take action.
If you’re seeing a high bounce rate on these important landing pages, there could be a logical (and amendable) reason: your CTA is in need of some work.
I found this fantastic article from Themeisle that offers 5 tips to help create strong CTAs — most of these tips can be incorporated and executed in one day. Who doesn’t love that?
I know, I know — no one likes the answer to a question to be “sometimes,” but in this instance, that truly is the case! Bounce rates are highly contextual and supremely subjective.
The answer honestly depends on you and your team’s objectives.
For more answers to common digital marketing questions, be sure to check out our Resources page. We have tons of free downloadable resources and hundreds of blog posts!
Cheers to your success,
Digital Marketing Specialist