The Silent Killer of Your Marketing ROI

Bounce rate is a concept many of us would prefer not to think about, but, unfortunately, it is one that demands notice. In the simplest terms, bounce rate is the percentage of visits to your Web site in which a person has left your site from the entrance (landing page) without doing anything. This means your Web site content has failed to ignite a visitor's interest and, as a result, the visitor has left, giving rise to the term "bounce."

High bounce rates are very costly. First, you pay for traffic that you are not utilizing. Second, the cost per click on Google PPC ads will be higher, because of Google's quality score. Third, high bounce rates take a heavy toll on search engine optimization and Google rankings, a serious concern for any company.

Fortunately, bounce rates are easy to track. By applying several tricks and tools, you can bring about drastic change in a matter of days.

Lowering Your Bounce Rate

Begin by checking your current bounce rate, to identify the scope of your problem, if there is one. Also identify whether you have any major leaks coming from specific traffic.

Good bounce rates are influenced by the following factors:

The clarity of your site. No one is going to stay on your Web site if they are not able to clearly and intuitively view all that your company has to offer. The viewer must be able to read what you've got to say! An easy tool to use for this is Contrast. This powerful tool allows the viewer to easily read and focus on the crux of your message. Used cleverly, Contrast can lead the viewer where you want him to go. Furthermore, with the increasing use of mobile devices to view Web content, Contrast plays an even more critical role than in the past.

A clear navigation path. Implementing obvious, clear, and accessible site navigation can drastically help reduce bounce rates. Guiding your viewer through a logical flow of information will enable him to easily access more information. Consider, for instance, the natural flow of the eye and where its tendencies lie. Facebook is a good example of this—clever organization of site possibilities and uploading of photos, written messages, status updates, etc., have contributed to Facebook's meteoric rise in a very short span of time.

The call to action. A prominent, well-thought-out call to action is a crucial component for your Web site. Without it, the money spent on marketing is lost. Let's say you have succeeded in bringing the viewer to your Web site for a decent amount of time. What's next? Nothing is more frustrating for users than not knowing what you want from them. The moment they become confused, you lose another potential client. In order to lower the chances of this happening, your site should have a number of clear calls to action. These are clear statements of what you want the user to do. Many of us go to Web sites to gain information to make informed decisions. Web visitors want to be convinced—they want to get excited about the product you are selling. A good call to action will focus viewers on the benefits of your product, without bringing to mind anything that they stand to lose, be it money, time, or whatever else they are giving up.

A clear message. One of the contributing factors to a high bounce rate is visitors who simply do not understand what your offering does, or what you want from them. If a visitor is confused as to what goods or services you offer, the game is up! Be very clear when stating what your company or organization provides. For instance, if your company provides data storage, SAY SO! Fancy slogans are no good if the viewer has no clue to what those slogans refer. This applies to offsite ads as well.

A good walk-through. A much recommended tool to help new viewers navigate your site is an interactive walk-through. People instinctively like to be taken by the hand and shown around. A good walk-through can have a huge impact on the number of bounces your site will incur. Large multinational companies have taken note of this and have started to add interactive walk-throughs. Recently, a new user interface was released for Gmail and YouTube with a "new design overview." The e-commerce world, led by eBay, has also started placing instructional balloons which help their users buy products. Similarly, Salesforce has added balloon tips to complicated processes for its CRM solution.

Bringing relevant traffic. A Google Analytics report that shows thousands of visitors coming to your site will obviously make you very happy. But will this help conversion? The answer is generally no. The solution is to bring relevant targeted traffic to your company site. Heavy traffic is important, but it needs to be targeted as well. The best way to do this is through search engines. You will need to make sure that you rank high on your keywords in order to bring in relevant traffic. Concentrate on optimizing your Web site for search engines, in order to attract the most targeted traffic. Remember, 200 relevant visitors are much more likely to result in higher conversions than 1,000 irrelevant visitors.

This holds true for social networking too. Do not spam. Contact only those who are likely to take an interest in what you have to offer.

Drawing the attention of the viewer. Most likely your ad will be placed next to other ads offering similar services. This is your time to shine! It is important that you state in your ad why viewers need your company's product or services. Distinguish your claims from the claims of your competitors and convey why your company deserves immediate attention. Testimonies and personal experiences of others who have used your product or service are effective ways of showing that you can deliver on your promises. People most relate to others who remind them of themselves. This is why personal accounts show real-world success, going a long way in gaining the trust of potential clients.

Use of numbers. Another good tool for drawing attention is the use of numbers. For instance, "Save $100" has a much better ring to it than simply "Save money." The viewer has now associated your product with saving a distinct amount of money. Humans are naturally inclined to remember numbers and statistics, so doing this is likely to give you a major advantage over ads using words alone.

Site speed. The speed on your site is also important. Obviously, as your site slows and potential customers become frustrated, your bounce rate grows. Professional hosting packages are the ideal solution for the business looking to keep site speed up and bounce rates low.

As the tips here make clear, there is no magic wand to wave at your bounce rates to make them lower. You must consider the reasons behind them, and employ tactics to combat them. By following the simple steps above, you should see a very noticeable impact on your bounce rates!

Rafi Sweary is a cofounder of WalkMe.com, the world's first interactive online guidance system, enabling organizations to overlay onscreen 'Walk-Thrus' into their Web sites or apps. To learn more about WalkMe, visit www.walkme.com.

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