May 13, 2010

Don’t Drive Away Customers. Manage Your Bounce Rate

How sticky is your website?  Take a look at your Bounce Rate in Google Analytics, or whichever tool you are using.  Is the bounce rate higher than 40% for your homepage?  If so, it’s time to question what is driving away your visitors.

Bounce Rate measures the percentage of people who visit your website and leave instantly – typically in 5 seconds or less.  That’s shockingly fast.  In less than 5 seconds a visitor decides this site is not for them, and clicks the back button as fast as they can.

3 sure fire ways to drive away visitors

A lot of companies make basic mistakes on their homepage that simply drive away customers:

1.  Intro videos

Ick.  No one has time to sit through a 5 to 30 second video when they visit a new site.  These videos are the worst.  Video is a powerful tool, but not as a first impression.  Help your visitors get acclimated, and then let them choose to watch a video or not.  When you see the button “skip this video” it really means “skip this site.”  Visitors want to get to the real content, not a commercial.

2.  Popup Flash Videos

Have you ever visited a website, and all of a sudden a person walks on screen and starts talking to you?  The individual may introduce the company and how to navigate the site, or they may inform you of a new promotion.  Either way, the video is jarring.  When you startle your customers, they leave.  Get your customers deeper into your website before using these Flash video tactics.

3.  Get to the point

When you visit Google, LinkedIn or any other major site you have clear expectations of where you will find content.  The same goes for corporate homepages.  The most clicked on links from a homepage are typically About Us and Contact Us.  Does the layout of your homepage adhere to your users’ expectations?  When a visitor can’t qualify what a company is and what it does in less than 5 seconds they’re gone.  Make sure you have the most important information out front where users expect it will be, otherwise they will bounce.

Drive your Bounce Rate down

The homepage is critical.  For many websites, it’s the highest visited page.  Check out your Bounce Rate.  Are you drawing in visitors, or repelling them?

You can always take steps to improve your Bounce Rate:

1.  Clearly define the purpose of your homepage.  What do your visitors expect?  What information are they looking for?  Does the layout, design, images and text support these requirements?

2.  What brought visitors to your site?  Take the time to understand who is referring traffic to your site.  Based on each source, what are visitors’ expectations?

When you understand where your customers are coming from, and what their expectations are, you can take steps to reduce your Bounce Rate.

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