A client recently asked me to determine the cause of frequent bounce rate spikes in their Google Analytics reports. Once every week or two – their bounce rate would skyrocket for a day, sometimes a bit longer, and then return to normal.
The concern was that perhaps some technical issue with the site, or the server it’s hosted on, might be preventing the site from fully loading, or people from navigating past the initial landing page at intermittent times.
After comparing the bounce rate to overall traffic though, we determined quickly that this increase in bounced visits mirrored a proportionate increase in overall visitors to the site:
This tells us that we’re probably not dealing with server issues, and after viewing their traffic sources on the days in question the increase in bounce rate could be explained quite easily – email campaign traffic.
When we compared the traffic/bounce spikes to the client’s email campaign schedule, the results lined up beautifully, and we had our answer.
Once this was determined, the client asked an excellent question:
Is there anything we can do to bring it down or is it to be expected with eblast traffic?
The answer is yes. There is something that CAN be done about it, but first let’s consider whether or not we SHOULD do something about it.
Among developers and traffic junkies, the phrase bounce rate is often whispered in hushed tones. A high bounce rate usually means there’s a problem with your page – that it lacks some quality needed to engage the user. The navigation might be confusing, or the page could just be boring.
The truth is bounce rate doesn’t always mean there’s a problem. Consider your site’s contact page. Typically it has your address, phone number, directions/map etc. It shouldn’t be too terribly alarming if this particular page has a high bounce rate because it’s purpose is to display your contact info – not necessarily direct the viewer to a new page (though that’s definitely an option).
So while it’s certainly possible to lower the bounce rate of traffic generated by an email campaign – it’s worth considering the message of the email and the ultimate goal of the landing page. The fact is some pages – especially those of a more informational nature – don’t require any further browsing, and a higher than average bounce rate means simply that the page in question is doing it’s job – providing the end-user with exactly the content they are looking for so they can get back to browsing.