Dissecting eCommerce Website Bounce Rates

eCommerce-bounce-rates

We hear this question a lot: "Is my bounce rate good or bad?" In general, it's common knowledge that low bounce rates are good and high bounce rates are bad, but there's so much more at play. Let's take a closer look at bounce rates in the context of eCommerce websites, but many things addressed here will be applicable to any website. Let's start at the beginning.

Defining a Bounce

A bounce is defined by Google Analytics as a single-page session on your website. This means sessions where the user entered the site and left before visiting another page, without an interactive event.*

Defining a Bounce Rate

A bounce rate for a website is defined by Google Analytics as the percentage of single-page sessions without an interactive event. Single-page sessions divided by all sessions will give you bounce rate.

A bounce rate for a particular web page is the percentage of single-page sessions that entered on that page - total bounces on the page divided by the number of entrances for that page.

What is a Good Bounce Rate?

Here's where things get tricky. The first thing you should do is look at your bounce rate over a long period of time. Is it consistent? Has it gradually (or sharply) increased or decreased over the last year? What happens when you compare year over year?

This exercise is to check the overall health of your bounce rate. If you see any sharp drops or lifts, those are likely caused by implementation issues, which I'll talk a bit more about later. It's a good idea to have a feel for what your "usual" bounce rate is. This way you can tell how it's changing over time. Most folks would like to see their bounce rate gradually decrease over the next year, indicating more engagement on the site. You'll want to know if x% is a good bounce rate for your website.

Dissecting eCommerce Bounce Rates Google Analytics

This year's bounce rate, compared to the same time period last year, in the Audience Overview Report. 

In addition to comparing your bounce rate against itself over time, you can compare to the Benchmarking reports (Audience > Benchmarking) in Google Analytics. There is one large caveat here. You are trusting that everyone who opts into Benchmarking accurately represents the industry they've classified themselves as and that their implementation is correct (or at least without large problems). The reports are still worth a look if only to satisfy your curiosity.

Bounce Rates: By The Numbers

I know you're thinking: "Just tell me what a good bounce rate is." Take this with a grain of salt, but here are some averages based on what our team has seen across an array of eCommerce sites. Even with a large sample set, sites are different sizes, driving different amounts of traffic, etc. Use this scale as a general gauge to begin to determine where you're at with bounce rates on your website.

QuestionableIf your bounce rate is in the 0–20% range, or 85–100% I'd be skeptical. Something is probably broken. If you're in the 0–5% range, check to ensure there isn't an interactive event being sent on (or immediately following) page load. This could be something like a video or photo carousel that plays automatically, or a scroll on the page. Or you could be double firing pageviews, which you'll want to fix immediately.

If your bounce rate is too high (85–100%), check to see if your pageview tracking is missing from a large portion of your site. Also review your Channels report to see where that traffic is coming from. You could be sending a lot of paid traffic that doesn't care about your site/business, for example. Or there could be some UX issues with your website. If your bounce rate seems too high or too low for your site in general (outside its normal range), look into it to confirm the accuracy of your data. That means if your site has always had a bounce rate of 60% and suddenly drops to 40% - especially if you haven't made any adjustments - examine the data.

Not GoodBounce rates from 70–85% aren't good. They don't immediately indicate something is broken, but something could be. If you are great at sending traffic to your website and have seen an increase in sessions, but with a higher bounce rate, that is a great opportunity to examine what you're doing strategy-wise and make changes. I'll go into ways to improve your bounce rate in just a moment. Where this might be an "okay" bounce rate for another kind of website, it's not good for eCommerce, where almost any KPI is going to take more interactions than a single pageview.

Needs ImprovementMany websites' bounce rate falls somewhere in the 60–70% range. I prefer to call this "Needs Improvement." This isn't an unusual bounce rate. It might even be "normal" for your website, depending on what your website does and how many of your users you expect to convert. If your bounce rate is in this range, consider actively trying to improve your bounce rate. (More on this in a moment.) Most eCommerce websites will want to strive for average to above-average bounce rates and won't settle for being in the 60–70% range.

Average40–60% seems to be the average bounce rate for eCommerce sites, especially those that have done minimal additional work to maintain a good UX when users enter the site and to drive qualified traffic.

Very Good30–40% is a good bounce rate. This means most users are making their way to a second pageview or an interactive event. Most eCommerce sites' goal is conversions (purchases), and making a purchase likely takes more than one pageview. Some products require a long lead-time, too, so you might expect information-gathering for initial visits, which likely (hopefully) still includes multiple pageviews per session to view products, product descriptions, the shopping cart, etc. You know your website and how it's expected to work. But, in general, eCommerce companies are usually looking for strong engagement.

Extremely GoodIf you're in the 20–30% range for bounce rate, you have likely already gone to extra measures to drive qualified or well-targeted traffic to your site. You have created an easy-to-use interface with clear navigation and great search algorithms to provide relevant results and relevant content to your users. If you haven't done anything before to try to improve your bounce rate, I'd be a little concerned if your bounce rate was in this range. You might do some analysis to be sure it's accurate and nothing's broken. But if it's accurate, this is a great place to be.

Factors Impacting Bounce Rate

Most bounce rates fall somewhere in the 20–80% range. If you're outside of this range, something is likely broken. And, if you're within this range, there are many reasons you could be at the top, bottom, or middle. Here are a few other things to consider that might be affecting your bounce rate.

Mobile vs. DesktopIs most of your traffic from Mobile or Desktop? Mobile tends to have a higher bounce rate overall.

External LinksIf the main purpose of the landing page seems to drive users to click your external links (to your other domains where you don't have cross-domain tracking set up, to your social media platforms, to your affiliates), users still "engaged" with your brand(s) could show up as bounces.

Load TimesIf your landing page takes too long to load, users are more likely to bounce.

Bad UXStreaming music, streaming video, pop-ups, gateway pages, surveys, or bad design could lead to a higher bounce rate. Users don't like things that get in the way of what they're trying to do - they don't want to see a survey when they're trying to shop for or purchase your product or service.

Certain Pages / ChannelsIf you narrow the worst bounce rates to a particular page or group of pages, you might only need to make adjustments on those pages. Or you might realize the worst bounce rates are from a particular traffic channel. If you're driving traffic to a landing page, but not discerning between qualified and unqualified traffic, this could lead to a high bounce rate. 

How to Improve Your Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate's baseline might be 60% or 45% right now. It doesn't necessarily make sense to shoot for 30% if that's unrealistic for how your website works and how users typically interact with it, which devices they use, etc. But no matter where your bounce rate is today, you can take some simple steps to improve it. (Unless you already have a 30% bounce rate. In that case, applaud yourself and consider reading this fun blog post instead!)

AdWords: Continue to hone the best keywords (branded and non-branded) for your website. It can be easy to pay for and drive a bunch of traffic to your website, but it doesn't matter if they don't actually want to be there. Driving the right traffic to your website will lead to lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates.

Improve Your Landing Pages: If you are doing the work of advertising your page under different keywords in paid search/with other ads around the web, be sure to tailor landing pages so that they are relevant to the keyword/ad presented. If your meta information or copy indicated a particular product or service, make sure your users land where they are expecting.

Improve Your SEO Ranking: Take a look at your SEO strategy—sometimes the basics can be overlooked. Consider creating relevant content on your site (if you don't already) to help your SEO rankings. Update keyword descriptions and meta descriptions, use internal links on your site for better indexing from Google. Look up more quick tips for improving your SEO strategy or speak to a specialist.

UX: Bad UX is a sure-fire way to increase your bounce rate. Some of the main culprits include a gateway page (that requires an email address before entry) or a pop-up, streaming video and/or music, slow page loads, illogical site design (where users have difficulty locating basic navigation, search, etc.). Users tend to bounce quickly from websites with poor UX.

Improve page load times, be sure your search bar is easy to locate (in mobile and desktop), avoid auto-playing music and video, and resist the urge to include a gateway page, survey, or other kinds of pop-ups. These website optimizations will assist in decreasing your bounce rate and increasing your revenue generation.   

The Moral of the Story

One of the baseline KPIs we look at is bounce rate. If it has, at any time, spiked or plummeted...it's probably broken. If it's high (70-85%), work to improve it. If it's low (30-40%), ensure the data is accurate.

Keep track of your bounce rate over time, especially if you are making subtle tweaks to improve it. To know if your bounce rate is good or bad for you, compare it to previous time periods. A lot of websites stick in the same range for an extended period of time (unless they are making changes to their site, landing pages, load times, advertising strategy, SEO, etc.). If you know your bounce rate is regularly 62-63%, and this month it dips to 55%, this should trigger you to analyze your data to try to find out why. Use your data (a solution like Metricstory can help!) to keep making informed incremental changes in order to lower your bounce rate and engage your customers.

Remember that it's not actually bounce rate you care about it...it's engagement. You want your customers to engage with your brand and your products, ultimately converting to drive revenue. Your website connects you with your customers and allows them to connect with you.

*If you have events implemented on your site, and have them set to "non-interactive = false," a single-page visit with an interactive event is not considered a bounce because your user engaged with the site while they were there. Had they visited the page and truly done nothing else (or you weren't tracking if they had, or if any events triggered were set to non-interactive=true), that session would be considered a bounce. A bounce will have a single pageview, a session duration of zero, and no interactive events.

Tags: Google Analytics, E-Commerce, eCommerce, analytics, optimization

Megan Gonzales

Megan Gonzales

Megan is a revenue-generating, brand-building marketer. She loves combining compelling content and creative with strategic digital campaigns for maximum results and has a knack for helping bring stories and business objectives to life. When Megan isn't at Metricstory, you can catch her cheering on the Huskies and Seahawks, playing music, practicing yoga, and exploring the beautiful PNW with her husband.

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