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Bounce rate is an excellent metric for measuring users’ interaction with your website. A “bounce” occurs when someone visits your website and then leaves without navigating to a second page. The bounce rate that you see when you log into your Google Analytics account is the site-wide bounce rate.

A lot of our clients like to keep tabs on the bounce rate from each of their marketing campaigns individually. Although bounce rate is an excellent metric for measuring website engagement, it is not always a great tool for measuring the success of an individual campaign. If you do like to look at bounce rate by campaign and you are concerned something looks a little high, here are three areas to investigate before you deem your campaign is going in the wrong direction.

What are the different sources of traffic going to the site?

When trying to get people to visit a site, you might try to use multiple tactics to accomplish this. These can include paid search, organic search, social media, and display marketing. Many of our clients run paid search and display campaigns simultaneously. Both are great for driving traffic to your site. Paid Search is great for capitalizing on demand that already exists while Display is great for driving awareness at the top of the funnel.

Since display is higher up in the marketing funnel, the bounce rate can be very high. This is because the user is not actively searching, but rather clicking on an image ad as they browse other content. The average bounce rate for a display campaign can range between 50-90% depending on the type of program that’s running. This can also depend on the amount of traffic that is being sent to the site.

Since paid search campaigns are capturing users who are actively searching for exactly what you have in that moment, they will typically have a lower bounce rate than display traffic. This is why it’s best practice to look at the campaigns separately. If you’ve recently launched a display program, it would be very typical to expect an increase in your overall bounce rate.

The image below is an example of the bounce rate from both a paid search and display campaign. Highlighted in purple is a display campaign that is sending a large amount of traffic to the site with a high bounce rate. The paid search campaign, highlighted in green, is also sending traffic but has a lower bounce rate because the campaign is based off users’ searches. Both campaigns are performing well despite their different bounce rates.

What does your ad say?

If you’re running a paid search campaign with text ads, best practice (and our recommendation) is to have language on the site that matches the keyword and ad copy in the text ad. In some cases, when our client wants to test something outside of their typical ad copy, it can lead to higher than normal bounce rates if they don’t also update their site. To use an extreme example, if your text ad has the keyword “two bedroom Brooklyn apartments,” but the apartment complex is in Manhattan and only has “one bedroom,” the user will be confused and will likely bounce off.

The same can be true for display ads. A good ad should be a snapshot into what you are promoting on your site. Think about what the ad says or shows that makes the person want to click. If it’s a cute dog or an attractive person and they get to your site and see bicycles, they may not stick around. While it’s good to get traffic to your site, the goal should be quality traffic that will spend time and convert.

What is the landing page experience?

Speaking of your site, when was the last time you looked at it and thought about the user experience? If you are working with a site that is off-the-shelf (as opposed to custom), it may be that you’ve never put much thought into it. However, user experience can have a huge effect on bounce rate.

Because so much time is spent making sure the traffic that is being pushed to the site is qualified, it’s really important to make sure that qualified users stick around and have a good experience. Does your website have enough content to answer the questions that your users may have? Are pop-ups turning people away? How is the page load speed? Have you optimized your mobile experience? Is the information your user needs easy to find? Is your site aesthetically pleasing, but does not cater to the user experience? All of these items can impact your overall bounce rate, even if the traffic that is being sent to the site is very high quality.

For example, if you have a lifestyle video of a woman walking and drinking coffee in a park, but your product is your coffee shop, it would be best showing her interacting in the shop itself before she leaves on her walk.

When you are looking at your marketing campaigns, remember that bounce rate is not a direct metric of campaign success. There is so much more to consider when analyzing it. Take a deep breath and know it’s not all about the bounce!

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