If you are looking to increase sales from your store, at some point you absolutely must read what your website analytics are telling you.
It’s not enough to just drive more traffic to a site or add more products in the hope of increasing sales. Sure, that may have a small and limited impact, however, to really increase and sustain sales, you must find out where your problem spots are. You can locate these problem spots by reading your website analytics. They hold the key to your success.
However, oftentimes users ask … “there are so many numbers in my analytics, where do I start”?
The most logical place to start is to find out where users are leaving your site.
While there are a number of key metrics that are important within your analytics, none can be more important initially than your “Single Page Bounce Rate” in determining where problems are.
Assuming you are receiving qualified traffic to your site, “Bouncing” a potential customer due to circumstances completely within your control is like kicking them out and saying “I don’t want you here.” That’s no way to make money.
Bounce Rate is NOT the same as the Exit Rate. Both are very important and worthy of review, but do not confuse what the two metrics report on.
Likewise, website bounce rate and single page bounce rate, although similar metrics, report on two different areas of a site. For purposes of this article, I’ll focus on single page bounce rates.
While each are important in determining problem spots, the first one to focus on is the Bounce Rate (I’ll explain why later in this article.)
Wikipedia defines a Bounce as:
“A Bounce occurs when a website visitor leaves a page or a site without visiting any other pages before a certain session timeout elapses.”
More detailed information can be found by going to Bounce Rate at the Wikipedia site. I highly recommend reading it if you have not already as it contains some very helpful information on the topic.
Why Should I Focus on Bounce Rate First?
Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist states, “it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrrying.” (source)
Simply put, if you know your traffic is qualified and it is not getting past a certain page on your site, then there is no reason to focus efforts on deeper pages until you first get them past the initial problem page.
It stands to say that if they can’t get past the initial page, they aren’t even seeing the deeper pages so focusing efforts on improving them first will not improve your conversion.
Tackle one problem at a time and then move on to the next.
For example: If users are not getting past the home page, there is no reason to initially focus efforts on the product pages because they aren’t making it there anyhow.
Instead, you should focus on first getting them through the home page and to the product pages. Then evaluate and make changes to those product pages as needed — of course focusing attention on those spots which your analytics deems problematic.
The most effective approach to increasing conversion using the Bounce Rate metric is to start by finding the 5 pages on your site that have the highest bounce rates which do not include the “expected bounce pages” as referenced below.
Wikipedia also states, “It is also important to consider that bounce rates mean different things for different pages on a website. For example, if the page that you are investigating is the final step of a process (purchasing a product, registering for information) having a high bounce rate should not be unexpected. On the contrary, if the page that you are analyzing makes up the first step of the process (viewing a product), then a high bounce rate might be cause for concern.” (source)
Now, take those 5 pages and put them in order of bounce rate from the highest to the lowest. This is the order in which you should begin analyzing, testing, and making changes.
Beginning with the page having the highest bounce rate, review the individual elements as they relate to the objective of the page.
Begin asking yourself high-level questions such as:
- “What is the primary objective of the page?”
- “What do I want my potential customer to experience on this page?”
- “Does this page convey the message I want my customer to interpret?”
- “Are there any elements on the page that distract the potential customer from completing the objective determined in #1 above?”
- “If I were the customer, what would I like and dislike about the page”?
- “Does the page present it’s objective in a clear and un-compromised fashion?”
These are just a basis for where you should start your analysis, the questions will vary depending on your unique business needs.
Analyze your findings and make needed changes to correct the issues for the page.
Continue this process for each additional page listed among your five and you have just created a “road map” that targets some of the main problem points in your site. Providing you made the correct changes to address the issues, you are well on your way to increasing conversion of your online store.
Once you have control of your bounce rate and have visitors moving through your site toward the end goal, consider repeating this process for those pages with highest Exit Rates, but that is for another article.
Good Meat. I just have to thank you for all the info you are giving out on this site. As I am working out my link strategy, and website metrics, I am sure reading your blog will help me sell more American Flags and flags in general.
I am looking at my analytics account and see the bounce rate listed but that gives me a graph of bounces per day or hour. Where do I go to find the pages with the highest bounce rate?
That depends on your analytics system. If you are using Google Analytics, you would login, go to “View Reports” then select the following sequence from the left navigation:
From there, click on the heading that says “Bounce rate” (listed with the metric results) to sort in order from highest bounce rate page to lowest.