Stop obsessing about bounce rate

SUMMARY: Bounce rate is a really good metric, but it’s not a key performance indicator. Bounce rate is great at telling you that some pages on your website, including your landing page, are bad but improving that won’t necessarily help you achieve your objectives when it comes to your brand.

When analyzing a clients site I usually start with some key metrics including the bounce rate. However, improving the overall bounce rate doesn’t mean a damn thing if other metrics are sucking wind.

Here is a list of the most important metrics for your site:

1ne: Path through the website – I love this metric because it’s a great way to see how people are evaluating your product/brand. It’s a snapshot of the conversion process.

2wo: Page views/time on pages – Another great metric. We like to think that visitors are going to go to the pages we create but that’s not true. Users go to the pages THEY want to read not because you’re trying to tell them what a great company you are.

3hree: Time on site/page – How long does it take to read a page heavy in content on your site? If your metrics show that visitors are only spending a few seconds on your page then they’re skimming not reading your content. This is why I always advise clients to use “call-outs” with key brand messages.

4our: Bounce Rate – A high bounce rate tells me that website visitors don’t like what they’re seeing on your page/site. Too many brand/marketers are focused on creative eye-candy but on the web, you should try to stick a rule that “more is less”. Be careful though, fixing the bounce rate alone is not going to meet brand KPI’s.

5ive: Sharing – Today people trust each other a lot more than marketers. If people are sharing your content that’s a great metric. Try and make specific content shareable rather than whole pages though.

6ix: Organic search metrics – It’s said that unless you’re on the first page of Google you’re invisible to people who search the web. The key question you need to ask, however, is “are people really searching for your product?”. Do shoppers really conduct searches for frozen pizza or do they conduct long-tail searches for “the best-frozen pizza?”. People are smart enough to enter brand.com in their web bars to get to your website.

Notice that website visitors and returning visitors are missing? Frankly, they don’t mean a damn thing. E-marketing people need to tell a story using a combination of metrics. Don’t just use numbers, say “because of our online campaign the total visitors to our site increased X% and they wanted to learn where our product was available at retail”.

Finally, emarketing people need to explain how web metrics should not be taken out of context and how they all work together to provide a great online brand experience. I have seen a lot of brands go down with the claim that they had a lot of visitors to their website.

Stop obsessing about bounce rate