In the marketing world, a high bounce rate can signal big problems – could it be that visitors are struggling to find the information they need on the website, or is the marketing campaign failing to bring the correct traffic to the site? Whatever the reason, people are leaving the site quickly, meaning something isn’t performing as well as it should, right?

Not necessarily. What bounce rate fails to tell marketers is what those people were doing on the website and what actually caused them to leave. With this in mind, we take a look at how marketers can gain a more accurate picture of how well their website and marketing strategies are performing, and whether their bounce rate is a sign of trouble or not.

Seeking the full picture

As bounce rate measures the number of people who leave a site after visiting just one page, it is generally assumed that the website isn’t performing very well, causing visitors to click off straight away without engaging with its content.

However, bounce rate doesn’t really tell marketers much about what is happening on the website, or how effective the marketing campaign is at driving traffic to the website and generating conversions. The real story could actually be that a user landed on the website, found the information they needed straight away and then left the site to pick up the phone and call the business directly. But bounce rate doesn’t give marketers any of this information, just that the person left the site quickly.

Alternatively, the user may have spent 29 minutes browsing one page, perhaps watching a video or reading some marketing literature, and then decided to fill in an enquiry form. But as the visitor didn’t move to a second page within 30 minutes of arriving on the site, Google will class this as a bounce. When in fact, this user was interacting with the content and didn’t just leave straight away, as would probably be assumed.

Tracking activity

Bounce rate doesn’t really provide much insight into whether the marketing campaign is working as well as it should. Although marketers can set up goals in Google Analytics to measure form fills, this doesn’t show every user interaction and will not fully explain the bounce rate statistic. In order to determine whether a marketing campaign is successful and bringing valuable leads to the site, marketers need to be analysing the full journey of each individual visitor.

This is where visitor level marketing analytics software comes in as, unlike Google, it can identify the full journey the customer embarked on to reach the point of conversion – from how they first searched online for the product or service, to the pages they viewed and even if they made an enquiry.

Not only this, visitor level marketing analytics software can highlight how long a visitor stayed on a particular page. Google will only measure how long a person was on a page if they move to a second page during their visit, otherwise their time will just be shown as 0:00, making it appear as though they left straight away (even if they stayed on that one page for a while). However, with visitor level analytics software, even if a visitor stays on just one page, it will show how long they were browsing and whether the person interacted with the content.

If visitors left the page quickly without any interaction, in-depth visitor analytics software can provide more of an inclination if they found all the information they needed or whether there were issues with that particular page. Ruler Analytics’ software, for example, can track the exact keywords they searched for to find the product or service in the first place, helping marketers identify exactly how leads are being generated, whether the content is relevant and which marketing avenues are working.

Changing strategy

Alongside visitor level marketing analytics, call tracking software is also incredibly valuable to determine whether a high bounce rate is accurate or not as it can show what happened after the visitor left the website.

To some businesses a high bounce rate may have indicated that a user left the site for negative reasons, but it could actually mean that the customer found all the information they needed and then picked up the phone to contact the company directly – information that is not provided by Google Analytics.

By using combined visitor level marketing analytics and call tracking software, marketers can determine how a lead got to the point of making a call, but also why they did or did not convert. This is because certain products can record the phone calls so they can be played back and analysed at a later date, helping to determine where improvements can possibly be made. It may be that the marketing strategy is working extremely well and is generating strong leads, but the call tracking software finds that calls are being unanswered or customer service could be improved, which is extremely valuable to businesses as they can then identify and fix any issues that may be preventing conversions.

To understand how well their campaigns are working, marketers need to move away from the assumption that a high bounce rate equals a badly performing website. In order to see the full picture, they should consider using visitor-level marketing analytics to evaluate the entire customer journey taking place online, but also combine this with call-tracking software to record what’s happening offline too. This way they can streamline their marketing efforts, focusing on the avenues generating the best leads and ensuring all content is relevant, and therefore making the most of every pound and pence of their marketing budget.