In July, I was invited by Constant Contact (thanks guys, you are awesome!) to write a blog post about the 8 Money Draining Mistakes that can cause a small business website to lose sales. The post sparked a variety of questions, which was a lot of fun.
When Constant Contact invited me to write the post you are reading now, we decided to focus on what tends to be the most expensive money draining mistake — high bounce rate.
Before we dig into how to fix bounce, let’s make sure we fully understand it.
Here’s a scenario that happens every day within the typical small business website.
Someone visits the home page, a product page, or perhaps a blog post the business owner wrote (NOTE: bounce can happen on any content page within a website).
The visitor quickly scans the page from top to bottom, left to right, and after a second or two, they decide they hate it (oh no!). They’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t what they were looking for, and they immediately leave the site to continue searching.
They also did all of that without making one single click within the site to see if any of the other content might solve their problem. Instead, they are gone.
That is bounce rate. And it is one of the most powerful metrics we have because it gives us insight into whether or not our customers feel we are delivering what they need.
Most un-optimized websites have a bounce rate between 50 to 60 percent.
In other words, after all of the hard work you put toward building traffic through trade shows, advertising, public relations, email campaigns, content development, social media, and search engine optimization, between 50 and 60 percent of the people you attract will immediately leave without making one single click. It’s maddening.
Let’s test that statement. Stop reading, open your Google Analytics dashboard, and check your bounce rate. If it 30 percent or less, give yourself a pat on the back because that is the target any business owner should strive to reach.
But if your bounce rate is above 50 percent, then the rest of this post will provide you with three practical and tactical steps you can apply to drive down bounce rate while increasing sales (conversions).
Before I share the steps, I will illustrate the opportunity cost of high bounce rate in the form of lost leads and sales.
So let’s say your website attracted 12,539 unique visitors during the past 12 months and you really want to have an outstanding holiday season this year.
And let’s say your website bounce rate is currently right in the middle of the 50 to 60 percent range (54.88 percent to be exact) for the purpose of this example.
That means 6,881 site visitors immediately bounced from your website during those 12 months (12,539 x .5488 = 6,881).
The remaining 5,659 were your suspects that you could attempt to convert with some form of call-to-action that could result in a lead, such as a phone call, visit to your store, etc.
Now, let’s say your call-to-action process has been fine-tuned over the years so 4.77 percent of your suspects are being converted into leads. Between 2 to 4 percent is the global standard.
This means 270 leads, phone calls, store visits, etc. were generated during the 12 months (5,659 suspects x .0477 conversion rate = 270).
And lastly, let’s assume you have a history of converting 50 percent of your leads, such as inquiries, phone calls, store visits, etc. into sales, and each sale has an average value of $500.
The revenue generated via your website would have been $67,500 (270 x .5000 = 135 sales x $500 value = $67,500).
Now, let’s lower bounce rate to the target level of 30 percent. I first learned of the 30 percent target from my good friend and mentor, Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist for Google and co-founder of Market Motive. He is also the author of an incredibly popular blog.
Now only 3,761 of the visitors bounce during the same 12-month time period (12,539 x .3000 = 3,761).
You now have 8,778 suspects instead of 5,659. Big difference.
Let’s also assume you maintained your 4.77 percent conversion rate into leads and your average order remained at $500.
Your 8,778 suspects would convert into 418 leads, and those leads would convert into 209 sales, which would result in $104,500 in revenue (418 x .0477 = 418 x .5000 = 209 x $500 = $104,500).
This represents a 54.81 percent increase in sales between the two examples.
The only thing that changed was bounce rate. It is a very powerful metric!
The great news is that any business owner can apply these three simple steps to reduce bounce rate.
Step 1: Complete the X-Y-Z exercise
Just answer three simple questions and blend the answers into a clear and concise statement.
- We do X (X equals the products and services your business provides to customers)
- For Y (Y equals the profile of your typical customer)
- So that they can Z (Z equals the result outcomes your customers receive from your products or services)
Then place your X-Y-Z statement on your website above the fold. Your visitors will see it right away and they will know they are in the right place. When that happens, bounce rate goes down.
Our home page is a good example. The bounce rate is 7.42 percent.
Step 2: Eliminate visual clutter
The March 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review reported the results of a study on consumer choice, which confirmed that providing more options did not increase choice. This still stands today. More options actually decrease choice or buying decisions.
So instead of having 15 options on your website, including photos, copy blocks, or calls to action, just have three easy-to-understand options and eliminate all the rest. Your customers see a multitude of options as visual clutter and that encourages bounce.
Step 3: Create clear calls to action
Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, director of Marketing Experiments once said to me, “Clarity always trumps persuasion.” And that goes for the calls to action within your website. Are you being clear with customers regarding the steps they need to take along the decision-making path?
Don’t you hate it when you go to a website, and you want to give them your money so you can buy something, and you just cannot figure out how to make the purchase?
Don’t make that same mistake. Have a clear and concise path to purchase.
In the interview below, I sat down with Avinash Kaushik and asked him several questions about bounce rate and why it was important for business owners to understand their analytics and these various metrics.
Avinash said to me, “Stephen, it’s because if you care about it and if you understand it, then you will be rich. But if you don’t care about it, and you just dump it on someone else’s lap, then you will be poor. That should be incentive enough.”
I think he is right.
Make this holiday season a great one with increased holiday sales!