The bounce rate?
Sounds like fun, right?
Unfortunately it isn't nearly as cool as it sounds - a bounce is when a visitor comes to your site and doesn't bother getting past the first page before going elsewhere. Why would they do such a thing? Well as I'm sure we have all done, we go to a site and it was either totally not what we thought it would be, or looked scary, or worse, untrustworthy, and so we high-tailed it out of there faster than you can say free cupcakes!
So what can you do to get your visitor to decide to stay a little longer? Here are some tips we've compiled to help you retain visitors' attention when they browse your website.
Is your page taking a long time to load?
You have just a few seconds to catch the user's attention, so make them count. Counting...one...two....three, goodbye? It isn't very long at all. If your page takes a long time to load, then users may lose interest before they even start reading about your company and what you have to offer. Time spent loading plugins (in other words, anything that involves a "loading" screen) or excessive graphics is the time in which many website users decide to hit the back button.
Are they finding what they were looking for?
If you get a lot of traffic to your site for things that aren't relative to your site then this can lead to an increased bounce rate because the people looking for whatever-it-was end up on your site, realize it wasn't what they were looking for and so they promptly leave. This happens a lot when say for example someone searches for "cake mix recipe" and ends up on a site that tells you to use cake mix IN recipes. Close but no doughnut.
First, Give Me What I Came For
If you are running an ad for an item, then the link you provide should go to details of that item. The user doesn't want to have to browse around your site before finding out about the item they were interested in. Department stores and supermarkets still have the luxury of being able to structure their store so that more tempting merchandise is put in front of the consumer before they reach the item they actually came for, web users don't have the patience for this, as a group, they want to see what they were looking for first, but you can convince them to stay a little longer by providing good quality content. If someone comes to your site, make it easy for them to find what they came for. Are some things on your site difficult to find? Having a look at the searches that users have performed on your site will give you some good insights about the content on your site that users may be having trouble finding.
Nudge them (gently)
Where do you want them to click? Can they see the button they have to press? What do they do next? Visual cues and markers can make an enormous difference in user behaviour. Sometimes just changing a button or moving it elsewhere can instantly pull in more subscribers overnight. Making your most crucial things such as your checkout and user forms less complicated can make an enormous difference in both your bounce rate and your sales. It may sound obvious, but if you make it easy for people then they are much more likely to buy, signup, or stick around on your site for long enough to take the action you want them to take next.
Funk & Wagnalls Optional
Your audience are an impressively intelligent bunch, but they aren't really reading all of what you wrote, so can you just give them the short version? Many people enjoy reading, but when they are looking for something on the internet, people tend to give things a quick skim, and then move on. We all do it. People don't need to be impressed by your extensive vocabulary, they just want to understand what you have to say very quickly in bite-sized pieces. To get the most out of your readers' attention span, try breaking up any long content areas with subheadings and give the reader a place to go next by using a call to action,
Don't Interrupt Them UNTIL They're Reading
Imagine you've just loaded up a website that you know nothing about, and they present you with a popup, if you are like most internet users these days, you will probably close the popup and be slightly annoyed by it. Why interrupt your new guest when they're just arriving on the page?
I know that for most business people, getting someone to fill out a survey or subscribe to your list is an essential part of your website's purpose, of course it is! You want people to tell you how you're doing, how they're doing and perhaps even let you keep telling them what you are doing through your newsletter and social media presence. So let's do it, surveys can be cool when you get something for doing it, or even for a chance of getting something. After all, they're letting you know some things about them, and people like even little tiny presents.
Now of course we must discuss the most loathsome of all interruptions before we move on, the pop-up window. It has been given a very, very bad reputation, and with good reason as I'm sure you'd agree. So why do we find the pop-up so offensive? Well having met many in my time, I think the primary reason is that they always block whatever it is that you were doing and you lose your place, and they're mostly not relevant to the audience. So picture this for a moment, you're reading about a topic or service that interests you, and after reading for a few minutes, a little box appears telling me you can get a free ebook about the topic that you're reading about just by subscribing to a list, but if you don't want it you can click the X and it goes away... there, that wasn't so bad was it? Pop-ups to increase e-mail signups <em>if you use them on the 'right' type of site for this type of marketing</em>. If you're not selling information products, then there are other ways it can be used and not abused and certainly can work under the right circumstances, but use it wisely.
Check browser compatibility
If your site works only in select browsers, then some users will find your site difficult to use or navigate. Does your site work for users viewing your site on a mobile device? Does your site work only for people with large monitors? If thinks don't work then users will quickly move on. Make sure your site works for all users.