If you’re like most website owners, you spend a lot of time driving traffic to your page only to see them bounce away in mere seconds. While some of the bounce rate of your site is simply from people landing on your page mistakenly or getting distracted from other things, there are some ways you can improve the stickiness of your site and keep people there once they arrive.
A high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean visitors aren’t reading your content, though. Google defines bounce rate by how many actions the user takes after landing on a page. If someone lands on a page but takes no other action than reading that page, the bounce rate appears high. Your fans may read a full article but not take action. You must also compare your bounce rate to the average number of seconds on your page.
How low should your bounce rate be? It depends on your goals for your landing pages. If you only want visitors to read your content and not take another action, then a higher bounce rate is acceptable. However, if the goal is converting visitors into customers or subscribers, the bounce rate goalpost is lower.
Now that you understand the underlying triggers for bounce rate, here are some reliable ways of lowering your page’s bounce rate:
1. Focus on the People
Since your bounce rate reflects people’s reaction to your page, your first step toward improving bounce rate is knowing your audience. Once you understand what the people who visit your page want, you can revamp your page to meet their expectations.
Create a buyer persona – or several – based on what you know about your current site visitors. Utilize Google Analytics, backend web traffic patterns and polls of your existing customers. Putting a name and a face to a pretend customer allows you to filter everything you do through the lens of how that person might view your website and your brand.
2. Create an Amazing Headline
The headline is the first thing a site visitor sees and either keeps a person on your page or drives them away. The headline should clearly define what the page is about and the information you’ll share on that page. At the same time, the headline has to grab the reader and keep them reading.
Your headline needs to be large enough to grab attention and set apart from the rest of the text. You have five words or so to grab the reader’s attention and define your page. Even though your goal is to lower bounce rate, you don’t want to waste precious resources on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, so be as descriptive as possible.
Conference Badge has a strong headline that states what they do in simple, straightforward terms. Their caption reads “Name badges. Easy and fast.” You don’t have to get crazy with your headline. Let users know what your page and/or your business is about. Keep it short and to the point. Note how the text is also larger and bolder than the text surrounding it, so it draws the eye the moment you land on the page.
3. Make a Beautiful Landing Page
The aesthetics of your site matter. You have a few seconds to make an excellent first impression on site visitors. Your site should look professional and uncluttered. Researchers discovered 94 percent of the negative feedback sites received related to the design of the website. Elements such as user-friendliness and the attractiveness of your website all play into the first impression you make.
If you’re unsure about the appearance of your landing page, ask for feedback from your regular customers and make changes, conducting A/B split testing as you go until you have an aesthetically pleasing page. You can also hire a designer to tweak the design you already have.
4. Highlight Special Offers
Entice new customers into trying out your e-commerce store by offering special discounts, free shipping and highlighting items on sale. If a site visitor spots something that interests them at a great price, they may be more likely to become first-time customers. Sales are also an excellent way of clearing out inventory on items moving slow.
Consider offering a discount code to new customers if they sign up for your mailing list. Even a small discount gives them a better deal and entices them to take a chance on you, but it also collects their email so you can market to them at a later date. Set up cart abandonment procedures where you email the person and remind them of the item in their cart and offer free shipping or a discount if they complete the order.
Wing Tactical uses a carousel to highlight some of their most exciting products. The carousel rotates through a variety of firearm accessories, hitting on items that interest different buyer personas. On one slide, there is an offer for 20 percent off Aero Precision Mil-Spec AR-15 upper receiver.
A carousel works well because you can easily swap out offers or highlighted products from season to season. Featuring different products keeps your site pertinent to current sales and gives visitors something fresh and interesting each time they visit your site.
5. Use Hangers
You already know you must hook the reader with your headline, but you also have to keep the reader interested throughout all interactions and elements on your website. A hanger keeps the reader hanging on. Use wording such as “find out how to save 20 percent” or “learn more about this service.”
Even though your focus is initially on a headline, you also need subheadings throughout your text to both break it up and keep the reader hooked throughout. Every single word on your page matters.
6. Improve Readability
Have you ever visited a website that was one large chunk of body text? A big block of words is hard to read on a PC, but particularly difficult to comprehend on a mobile device, which many people now use for accessing the Internet.
Break up your text with <h1><h2>, and <h3> headers as well as bullet points and shorter paragraphs. We’ll talk more about images below, but images also play a role in creating a break from huge chunks of text.
Tech Crunch does a good job of breaking up huge chunks of text and making them readable. Notice in the screenshot of one of their posts how they use subheadings and images to draw the user’s attention. Paragraphs are short with plenty of white space around them. Balanced positive and negative space is easy on the reader’s eyes and translates well on mobile.
7. Lose Pop-Ups
Pop-Ups annoy site visitors and aren’t very effective at converting people into customers. Only 14 percent of site visitors even consider responding to a pop-up ad at all. If you must use a pop-up, make sure it is a fantastic offer and use it to convert visitors into subscribers.
Pop-Ups should be easy to exit out of by clicking a close button, an X or by clicking on the main part of the website page. If visitors can’t get the pop-up to go away easily, they very well may bounce away from your site altogether and head to a competitor without annoying pop-ups.
8. Change Your Call to Action (CTA)
Your call to action (CTA) needs to be in a spot that’s obvious to users. The goal of a CTA is getting your site visitors to take a specific action. If you can make the button more personalized to a particular buyer persona, it will perform as much as 202 percent better.
The study found that smart CTAs, when targeted to individuals based on elements such as location, language or previous visits performed best. Keep your CTA personal, short and filled with action words.
Your CTA needs to contrast with the rest of the page, so it stands out and draws the visitor’s eye. It should also be short and to the point.
Join.me places their CTAs above the fold on their landing page and creates bright buttons that contrast sharply with the background. The wording is simple and guides visitors to the best location for them – either start a meeting or join a meeting already in progress. The text on each CTA button is two words.
If you have more than one buyer persona, either build separate landing pages or create more than one CTA as Join.me did for their landing page.
9. Tell a Story
People are inundated with marketing every day. They hear ads on the radio, see billboard ads, get inboxed with marketing offers and see even more advertising on social media. If you want to grab the average person’s attention, you need a way to rise above all the noise from other companies.
Storytelling is one way of grabbing user’s attention and keeping it, but how does storytelling work? For example, if you want to explain to your consumers their need for a new filter in their furnace every month, you might start by talking about a customer who forgot to change their filter and the issues they had and then go from there. A story makes your content more relatable.
10. Be Transparent
Today’s customers appreciate transparency and authenticity from the brands they do business with. In a recent study, 73 percent of consumers indicated they’d pay more for a product if the company were transparent. People need to know they can trust your brand.
What does transparency look like in practice? First, if you make a mistake, own up to it and figure out how to improve the situation. Notify consumers of any product recalls or issues with a product and already have a solution in mind.
Clearly define all of your policies, including return policies, how long shipping takes and guarantees and how they work. Provide as much information as possible.
11. Update Frequently
One reason for a high bounce rate could be lack of changing content. If a site visitor comes back to your site and sees the same material that was there a month ago, they may bounce away never to return. Update your content frequently and keep your page fresh.
Adding new content, such as through a blog or offering videos and infographics also gives you something to share on social media and shows search engines your site is current and active.
12. Go Mobile First
Internet access via mobile phones is around 63.4 percent currently and rising steadily year after year. People get on their smartphones while at their kids’ soccer practice, waiting for a doctor’s appointment and during any downtime. If your site isn’t ready for mobile visitors, you’ll wind up with a higher bounce rate.
Have you ever visited a site via a mobile device that had tiny text or huge text and the layout was crazy? That site wasn’t mobile responsive and more than likely you grew frustrated and bounced away.
Create a site with images and a layout that adapts to mobile or preferably considers mobile users first. Making your site mobile-friendly is fairly simple. You must shift the types of images you use and code a bit differently. Keep the layout simple, so there aren’t a lot of elements for mobile browsers to contend with and you’ll find a winning mobile formula for your site.
Your goal for your pages should be to create sticky pages visitors want to stay on and focusing on the action you’d like them to take. A high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean your page isn’t effective, but it might say you need to put more focus on your conversion funnel and tweak elements on your page.
A bounce rate is quite complex and many different elements on your website play into your final numbers. Look at your bounce rate alongside time spent on page as well as your overall goals for your site. Your bounce rate might not be the lowest in the industry, depending on personal goals, but anyone can improve bounce rate with minor effort.
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Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. Her work is featured on Manta, Marketo, Website Magazine, Creative Bloq, and Sunlight Media.
Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.