Subtle Marketing Errors; How Marketers fail to use Web Analytics properly

The Missing Set of Marketing Errors – Bounce Rate

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Many marketers and SEO people like to talk “bounce rate” – as though it is an accurate number and there is some target.

Those who are more sensible suggest that lower is better – but it depends on the circumstances.

As an Google Analytics Consultant – I’ve got a couple of stories to share about why Bounce Rate isn’t what it seems. First to define what we mean.

Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who hit one webpage on a site and leave the website (perhaps by closing the browser) without visiting any other pages.

One of the problems here is that your notion of “website” isn’t necessarily the same of the Analytics toolset.

For instance if Google Analytics code is missing from the second and subsequent pages that a person visits – then Analytics thinks a bounce has occurred. Now in simple cases it can be obvious the “code is missing”.

Of course this could occur if you simply omitted the code from all the pages. This kind of error was easy before content managed websites with templates came along.

But you can still do it fairly easily. Things to check

  • the template doesn’t run across all the pages.
  • there are iframes – so content from other sites forms part of a sequence
  • there are 3rd party sites such as payment gateways.

A second problem is the general one. Google Analytics can tell you “what” a user did; but not “why”.

So deciding what to do to reduce bounce rate is anything but obvious.

  • If the content is good, but the navigation on the website is hopeless then visitors may tend to wander around aimlessly looking for the ideal content.
  • If the navigation is good, but the content is hopeless then visitors might decide content isn’t for them
  • If the content is good – but the visitor misses the key points due to poor look and feel
  • etc. etc.

So you need to be really careful about bounce rate…

Do you have stories to share ?

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