The 3 types of bounce rate and what they say about your customer experience

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 e-commerce sites with the rest, shows that the smaller players have, on average, a bounce rate 3 times higher than the top performers.

Adding insult to injury, high bounce rates are used as one of the leading SEO factors by search engines like Google to score web page performance and user satisfaction. Over time, a high bounce rate negatively impacts search rankings because it indicates poor user experience on the page.

How do you calculate a bounce rate? Your bounce rate is the number of single page visits: it’s the number of visits, as a proportion of total visits, where the visitor leaves your site without continuing to browse further.

What is the average bounce rate for ecommerce sites? 33.9%

What are some bounce rate benchmarks for industries? Average bounce rates vary significantly depending on the type of site you have. While for blogs, it tends to be between 70-90%, content sites are at around 40-60%, and service site visitors bounce only 10-30% of the time.

What can you learn from your bounce rate? 

Bounce rate can also help determine the quality of your traffic. A 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 or landing page is not performing as well as you had expected it to.

The alternative is to perform A/B testing that can show you what does and doesn’t work. But in the meantime, while dealing with the guesswork, you might be losing potential customers and revenue, and wasting resources. Ideally, with informed or qualitative insights into your bounce rate, you will be able to answer the following important questions:

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

To answer these questions, it’s vital that you first determine the type of bounce that your website is experiencing. Therefore, you need to identify the different types of ‘bouncers’ you are getting, and shed light on desertion trends. This is a crucial step on the way to effective website optimization.

Not all bouncers are the same!

Most web analytics tools define bounce rate as the percentage of single-page sessions. Clicktale, on the other hand, analyzes the bounce rate on the visitor level and differentiates between the types of bouncers. This is done based on the visitors’ actual engagement time. These metrics of hard, medium and soft bounce rates provide a unique insight into how your visitors truly interact and experience a page. This makes bounce rate not only a qualifying metric, but also an actionable one.

Hard Bounce: “Yep, I’m definitely on the wrong site“

Hard bounce visitors are those who do not have any interest in your page. How do you know that? Because these visitors land on your entry page, and then leave almost immediately. Hard bouncers show minimum engagement; less scroll or clicks across the page indicate that they didn’t waste any time in looking or reading to find out about your offerings. The conclusion can only be that they had no intention of landing 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 they typically stay a few seconds (much less than the average time spent on the page, as measured by analytics tools). They are probably not your ideal target audience, but they may still have the potential to come back later for further 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. They 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. It may be that they couldn’t find what they were looking for, or they were nervous about making a commitment.
Once you’ve analyzed the types of bouncers you’re getting, you can then start to determine why exactly they left.

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

1. 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.

2. Are poor website layout and content turning good visitors away?

This could happen due to a number of reasons:

  • If your site navigation is poor, or menus and options are unclear, well-intended visitors may leave after a few seconds of struggle. In all likelihood, these visitors can’t find the product or category that they are looking for quickly or easily enough.
  • Another problem may be that the messaging on your entry page is confusing visitors and doesn’t live up to the promise of your marketing campaigns and PPC ads.
  • If the page loads slowly, well-intentioned visitors will simply get frustrated and leave.
  • And finally, if the page is generally uninviting, with a poor layout, lack of effective images or confusing information, visitors will quickly lose interest and leave.

3. Are my calls to action not performing?

It could be possible that the calls to action on your homepage don’t sufficiently stand out and are blending in with other page elements. Tweaking the color or typeface could quickly solve this issue.

Alternatively, your calls to action might fall below the average fold line, and therefore most visitors may simply be unaware they exist.

Banner blindness is another possible problem. This is when there are so many ads and calls to action that your visitors become “blinded” to the ones that they should click on.

And lastly, the messaging on your calls to action may simply not be enticing enough.

Use Clicktale to identify & reduce bounce rate

You have two main tasks, now:

  1. To reduce the instances of hard bouncers arriving at your site
  2. To start more effectively converting the soft and medium bouncers

Soft and medium bouncers are interested in the content your website offers. It is therefore important to try and encourage those visitors to stay put. These bouncers are an indication that there is something missing on your entry page. By optimizing your web page(s), you have the potential to convert many of them into customers.

How to improve bounce rate

Using Clicktale’s Experience Analytics solution 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, engagement time, scroll reach and errors.

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

  • Red areas of the page indicate strong engagement, but they don’t necessarily mean strong usability. It is possible that visitors are focusing on distracting links or visuals instead of where you intended them to look.
  • During your Heatmap Analysis, use Link Analytics data to understand “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 measuring the level of engagement visitors have with this particular piece of content. Also, there may be links that website visitors do not know are links and are not clicking where you had originally intended them to click.
  • Last of all, drill down into individual user session playbacks, watch the actual customer experience of the users on your website, see the pages exactly as the users saw them and follow the user journey on your website. That will confirm your suspected trends and patterns and reveal what crucially needs to be optimized.

To learn more about how to use Clicktale to reduce bounce rate of your online operation and optimize it for a greater customer experience, book a short private demo with us.


Talk to us to explore how customer experience analytics can improve your business