The 3 Types of Bounce Rate and what they say about Your Customer Experience

How Good is Your Website’s Entry Page?

Not to be confused with Exit Rate, Bounce Rate is one of the most significant metrics in the online marketer’s toolkit. It’s essentially the percentage of visitors who enter a website and then leave after initial contact (hence ‘bounce’), rather than continuing the journey into your website.
In essence, your bounce rate helps you determine the effectiveness of a critical ‘conversion’ generating page on your website — the entry page.

Top Ranking Sites Outperform the Rest by a Factor of 3

Depending on your website type, typically the higher the bounce rate the less effective the landing experience.

A ClickTale study comparing the top 10,000 eCommerce sites with the rest, shows that the smaller players had, on average, a bounce rate 3 times higher than the top performers.

Smaller e-commerce sites with Average bounce rate of 34% compared to 9.4% for the top performing sites. Data provided by ClickTale, courtesy of

Bounce rate can also help determine the quality of your traffic. High bounce rate coupled with large volumes of single source traffic could indicate poor referrals. But, to determine the quality of your traffic you need to understand ‘why’ that entry page is not performing as it should.

The alternative is series of A/B testing, trying to discover what works. But in the meantime, while dealing with the guesswork, you might be losing potential customers, revenue and waste resources. Ideally, with an informed or qualitative insight into your bounce rate, you will be able to answer these important questions:

  1. Why are visitors not engaging with my homepage?
  2. How do I encourage navigation to another web page within my site?
  3. How do I get my visitors to advance within the conversion process?

In order to answer these questions, its vital that you first determine the type of bounce that your website is experiencing. It’s therefore important to identify your different type of ‘bouncers’ and shed light on desertion trends. This is a crucial step on the way to effective website optimization.

Not all bouncers are the same!

While web analytics tools define bounce rate as the percentage of single-page sessions, ClickTale analyses the bounce rate on the visitor level and differentiates between the types of bouncers, based on visitors’ actual Engagement Time. This metrics of Hard, Medium and Soft bounce rate provides a unique insight into how your visitors truly interact and experience a page, making bounce rate not only a qualifying metric, but also an actionable one.

Unique Bounce Rate Analysis showing three types of bounce rates; Hard, Medium and Soft.

Hard Bounce: “Yep, I’m Definitely on the Wrong Site

Hard bounce visitors are those with no interest at all in your page. How do you know? Because these visitors visit your entry page, and leave almost immediately. Hard bouncers will have a minimum of engagement; so less scroll or clicks across the page to indicate that they didn’t waste any time in looking or reading to find out anything about your offering. The conclusion can only be that they shouldn’t have landed on your page in the first place!

Medium Bounce: “Hmm, I’m Not Sure About This

Medium bounce visitors show slightly more engagement across the page and typically stay few seconds. They are probably not your ideal target audience but may have the potential to come back at a later time for more exploration.

Soft Bounce: “Yes It is The Right Site, But I Can’t Find What I Want

Soft bounce visitors are those who typically remain on the entry page longer than just a few seconds, and show plenty of engagement across the web page; scrolling down further, clicking on more items, reading and viewing additional content. However, although they spent a considerable amount of time on your site they still left. They possibly could not find what they were looking for or were nervous about making a commitment.

Once you’ve analyzed the types of bouncers you can then start to determine why they left. First of all, let’s put aside the hard bouncers, those who really didn’t intend to come to your site and really don’t need your product or service.

Essentially, there are 3 reasons for why a visitor may have left your site:

Am I Attracting the Wrong Traffic?

Although few seconds may not seem like a long time, it could mean that confusing ad copy in your marketing campaigns and PPC ads are generating the wrong type of visitors to your site. As soon as they arrive on your site they immediately know they’re in the wrong place and leave. If you have lots of hard bouncers then this is probably the reason for it.

Is Poor Website Layout & Content Turning Good Visitors Away?

This could be from a number of reasons:

  1. If you site navigation is poor, or menus and options are not clear, well-intended visitors may leave after a few seconds of struggle. In all likelihood, these visitors are not finding the product/category they are looking for quickly or easily enough.
  2. Another problem, (the reverse of the above) is that the messaging on your entry page is confusing visitors and doesn’t live up to the promise of your PPC ads.
  3. If the page loads slowly, well-intentioned visitors will leave.
  4. Also — if the page is generally uninviting — with poor layout, lack of effective visuals or not offering clear information, visitors will quickly lose interest and leave.

Are My Calls to Action Not Performing?

Here are some of the common reasons for failure:

  1. The calls to action on your homepage do not stand out enough on the page, and are blending in with other page elements. Tweaking the color could immediately solve this issue.
  2. The calls to action fall below the average fold line, and therefore, most visitors are simply unaware they exist.
  3. Banner blindness — There are so many ads and calls to action that your visitors become blinded to the ones that really convert.
  4. The messaging on your calls to action are not enticing or don’t promise anything.

Use ClickTale to Identify & Reduce Bounce

Essentially you have two tasks: to reduce the instances of hard bouncers arriving at your site and to start more effectively converting the soft and medium bouncers.
Soft and medium bouncers are interested in what content your website has to offer. It is therefore important to try and encourage visitors to stay put. These bouncers are an indication that there is something missing on your entry page and by optimizing your web page(s); you have the potential to convert many of these bouncers.

The ClickTale Digital Customer Experience management is a great way to start analyzing and repairing a high bounce rate:

Start with the Page Console, This will give you a good overview of any page’s overall customer experience performance including the average bounce rate of the page, engagement time, scroll reach and errors.

Take note of user behavior using the different Data-Rich Heatmaps;

Scroll-Reach heatmap featuring Link Analytics

  • Red areas of the page, while indicating strong engagement, don’t necessarily mean strong usability. It could be that visitors are concentrating on distracting links or visuals instead of where you really intended.
  • During your Heatmap Analysis, use Link Analytics data to learn hover and click behavior. There could be links on your web page that do not get a huge click response from visitors but that are indeed hovered over. This makes a significant difference when gauging the level of engagement visitors have with this particular piece of content. Also, there may also be links that website visitors do not know are links and are not clicking where you had originally intended them to click.

And finally; drill down into individual user session playbacks, watch the actual customer experience of the user on your website, see the pages exactly as the user saw them and follow the user journey on your website. That will confirm your suspected trends and patterns and reveal what needs to optimized.

This post is written by Sam Green and originally published on the ClickTale blog.

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