Bounces Have Intent
A lot happens before users bounce off our pages. And a lot less has happened, when it comes to paying attention and trying to optimize for one of the biggest problems in marketing — Bounce rate. We have been monitoring it as one of the key engagement metrics and it is something that worries when the rate goes south.
At a very high level, there are two components that cause a higher bounce rate.
- The first one is the experience you provide when on a page. Do users find what they are looking for and do they find it quickly? Has the messaging on “ad copy” aligned with the initial content the users see on the page? Are the users able to get engaged with the content and locate the next click before running out of patience?
- The second one depends on the strategies you have used to bring in relevant traffic. Depending upon the offsite messaging on the ad or the target population — overall quality and intent of traffic you bring-in defines the bounce rate you will see finally on the page.
Did you say it’s more than 50% of your investment?
Bounce rate may vary from as low as 25% to as high as 90%, depending upon the industry you operate in, the nature of your business, the demand for your products & services, the quality of traffic you bring in, and many more demographical and geographical factors. Having a high bounce rate, simply means, you are losing that percentage of your investment made to pull them on site.
There could be two ways to try to solve this problem, first is to try to reduce the bounce rate. But no matter how hard you try, you will still have a significant proportion of investment bouncing. So, the next focus should be to use it. And generate business out of bounced traffic.
Let’s try and investigate on how quickly your traffic bounces. I have used our web analytics tool (Entent Flowstream Analytics) to measure the “active time” (different than session time) of users before they bounce. And included multi-brand across e-commerce, BFSI, Media houses, and Travel. The overall bounce rate for this sample is 41%.
Notice how 34% of bounced traffic is leaving without doing any activity on the page, thus 0 second active time. This is where the page has not loaded fully, and highly impatient traffic bounces off. But there is one more important callout here, another big chunk of 33% has spent more than 30 seconds before bouncing.
Bounces don’t have intent: Myth in Marketing
As a general practice, we closely monitor the bounce rate but hardly try to solve it. The main reason is the lack of data points measuring and analyzing bounces. This reduces our ability to understand the behavior of bounced traffic and leave us almost unequipped to solve it.
This situation, in the long run, has created a myth around us — “Bounces don’t have intent” and there is hardly much which can be done for this lost opportunity. The reality is far from this myth.
The First step is to get the data points by measuring the behavior of bounces. Simply put — what gets measured gets managed, so does the problem of bounce rate. Let us investigate a couple of statistics generated using FlowStream.
The above graph shows the average active time of bounced traffic plotted by traffic percentile. Stating with overall traffic to moving on the best-engaged traffic towards right on the x-axis. We can see the average active time increasing. What’s surprising is that 76% of bounced traffic has active time more than overall page active time. And 22% of bounced traffic have spent more time on the bounced page than average visit time for all traffic. Unexpected, right?
What gets measured gets managed
Earlier I have talked about approaching this problem in two ways. One is to reduce bounces and second is to use it.
Let’s focus on the first part — How to reduce:
- Journey optimization: Help users find what they are looking
This can be done by looking into overall navigation pattern and focusing on the elements which grab their interest the most. For example, using an advanced path flow report, which breaks the path(s) flowing into a page and path(s) flowing out from a page could be very helpful. This helps understand the most important path(s) bringing in the highest engagement.
This will be different for different pages and different channels. So, optimizing your navigation by optimizing the buttons, links, and navigation bar will result in significant improvement. Note that while looking into favorable path-in or path-out, you need to focus on not just the % of traffic but their engagement quality and intent for these paths.
Reduce bounce rate by removing less engaged traffic source
This is simple yet very effective. We have been doing this already by looking into bounces and overall conversions. But this was limited and inaccurate due to the limitations of tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Site-Catalyst. I have covered these gaps in detail in another article (search for “Is Google analytics missing big? Leaving you 51% data blind?”). Now with FlowStream, the most accurate optimization is possible at a much granular traffic source level. Just break your traffic sources in smaller segments and evaluate their Traffic Quality Index (TQI)and Intent. Remove those which have very low quality.
Page load optimization: This is one of the key reasons for high bounce rates. Every second you take additional to load a page, almost 7% of your visitors bounce off. If you have not started it already, ask your tech to prioritize it immediately and target 2–3 sec as the ideal time to load the complete page.
Onsite content optimization: making it more engaging and a quicker serve
Having consistency in the upper funnel and onsite messaging can help a lot. By clicking your ad, the visitors have already indicated an intent. But it is very important to see that similar messaging on the landing page. As a quick assurance that they have landed in the right place, and it was not another wrong click.
Second important point is to figure out the intent of your traffic and highlight what they want. It should be quick for them to find what they might be looking for.
Now, the second part of our approach — Using what we cannot reduce: Identify high-quality visitors from Bounced traffic
After how to reduce. Let’s focus on how to use what we can’t reduce. As you have seen earlier, bounces do have intent and a good percentage of them spend quality time on the page before they bounce. It is very important to identify them and include them in your Re-targeting strategy. There are various new metrics like Traffic Quality Index (TQI), Active Time, Attention Time, and more KPIs which can help to filter the relevant traffic out. This will get you to scale the reach without compromising on the ROI.
Hopefully, this has opened new possibilities for your business and provided food for thought that your team can act on.
The above analysis is carried out based on FlowStream analytics. There is much more you can do with FlowSteam and use engagement, attention, and intent metrics to achieve higher ROI and reach beyond traditional digital analytics. You can visit https://entent.io or reach customer @ entent.io for further details. Apart from bounce rate improvement, there are many more use-cases where FlowStream can be used much more effectively. Signing off for now, till I see you again.