Are Bounce Rate Metrics Red Flags?

SOLVE
ShariM
Contributor | Platinum Partner
Hi,

I have a general question around the value of using website bounce rates to determine site (or page) success in HubSpot.

 

Sometimes we see very high bounce rates when there are a lot of blog posts (85% etc). Some website managers find this metric alarming. I would like to better understand if this metric "is as bad as it looks".

 

My feeling is that Hubspot sites tend to have high bounce rates both due to having a lot of blog posts and having a lot of landing pages. A landing page is meant to get people to complete a form, so they might leave after doing that. (And these are on a subdomain). Which creates a high bounce rate, correct?

  • So what is Hubspot's view on this?
  • Should I be concerned?
  • Isn't conversion rate a better metric to focus on than bounce rate?
  • Should we take steps to improve bounce rate (find pages with high bounce rate and delete/redirect them)? 
  • Does using a lot of landing pages/offer pages increase bounce rate? (Is there a way to exclude these from site metrics for bounce rate)?
  • Do you have any additional information I should review? 

Shari Monnes

1 Accepted solution

Accepted Solutions
mike-ward
Solution
Key Advisor

Hi @ShariM ,

 

To get the ball rolling, I'll share some of my thoughts! I've had these exact conversations with clients before, and generally I stay away from reporting bounce rates to clients these days...

 

My view: I agree with your assertion that generally we might expect HubSpot pages to have higher bounce rates, when used for blog posts and landing pages. Obviously, this mostly depends on how (and to whom) you're promoting your content, but a landing page whose primary source is paid media would obviously have a significantly higher bounce rate than, say, the home page of your website.

 

Should you be concerned?: No, I don't think so. But see below for how I'd recommend you use the metric.

 

Isn't conversion rate a better metric to focus on than bounce rate? Yes! I would say so, absolutely. That's what truly governs the ROI of your marketing materials. Measuring leads, deals, sales, customers etc... should be the real goal here.

 

Should we take steps to improve bounce rate? It's definitely worth looking at though, I think, but not as a priority above the conversion! The easiest thing (for blogs) is probably to look at the CTAs and consider stronger linking between content. The use of pop-up forms to promote other content, for example, can be a quick and easy win to set up to help people flow between content. For your landing pages, you should probably only really have one action, in which case your conversion rate and bounce rate should be inversely proportional, so focusing on either is really the same thing. If you have many non-converting routes off your landing pages though, good opportunity to reduce them as much as possible 🙂 

 

Is there a way to exclude [landing pages] from site metrics for bounce rate? I would have thought so. It depends where you're reporting your bounce rate from (i.e. also Google Analytics? Or just HubSpot?) - but the HubSpot reports have categories for domains so you could separate out 'landingpages.domain.com' from 'www.domain.com'. I would use a separate subdomain for landing pages vs blogs vs main marketing site though, which it seems like you're already doing, right?

 

Do you have any additional information I should review? My personal feeling on this is that bounce rate is a useful operational metric, but a pretty horrible KPI. It can help you hone in on improving CTAs, but not at the expense of, for example, not driving social traffic to your blog articles because it tends to have a high bounce rate. So I wouldn't consider it important for measuring real performance - you hit the nail on the head with saying the conversion rate is a much better place to focus. I do think it is useful to monitor as a trend over time though, as it can really help you understand what content may be resonating and help inform your content update/rewrite/retire strategy. And it can help you ensure your links between content stay as fresh and appealing as possible.

 

As an aside, I'm not 100% sure how HubSpot calculates bounce, but I know with Google Analytics, for example, any on-page event trigger will count as an interaction and therfore not count as a bounce. So, even if you're doing something totally innocent (like firing an event on page load for some other purpose) you'll suddenly see that page have a 0% bounce rate.

 

In summary - focus on what brings true value to your sales and marketing efforts and not on the minutiae. Who cares if your landing page has a 99% bounce rate if it generates $1m in sales per month, or if your blog articles have high bounce rates but your brand perception scores for thought leadership are off the charts and you get tonnes of great social engagement from them 🙂 

 

I'm sure some others will have some thoughts too, this is just my two cents/pence!

 

Cheers,
Mike

 

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1 Reply 1
mike-ward
Solution
Key Advisor

Hi @ShariM ,

 

To get the ball rolling, I'll share some of my thoughts! I've had these exact conversations with clients before, and generally I stay away from reporting bounce rates to clients these days...

 

My view: I agree with your assertion that generally we might expect HubSpot pages to have higher bounce rates, when used for blog posts and landing pages. Obviously, this mostly depends on how (and to whom) you're promoting your content, but a landing page whose primary source is paid media would obviously have a significantly higher bounce rate than, say, the home page of your website.

 

Should you be concerned?: No, I don't think so. But see below for how I'd recommend you use the metric.

 

Isn't conversion rate a better metric to focus on than bounce rate? Yes! I would say so, absolutely. That's what truly governs the ROI of your marketing materials. Measuring leads, deals, sales, customers etc... should be the real goal here.

 

Should we take steps to improve bounce rate? It's definitely worth looking at though, I think, but not as a priority above the conversion! The easiest thing (for blogs) is probably to look at the CTAs and consider stronger linking between content. The use of pop-up forms to promote other content, for example, can be a quick and easy win to set up to help people flow between content. For your landing pages, you should probably only really have one action, in which case your conversion rate and bounce rate should be inversely proportional, so focusing on either is really the same thing. If you have many non-converting routes off your landing pages though, good opportunity to reduce them as much as possible 🙂 

 

Is there a way to exclude [landing pages] from site metrics for bounce rate? I would have thought so. It depends where you're reporting your bounce rate from (i.e. also Google Analytics? Or just HubSpot?) - but the HubSpot reports have categories for domains so you could separate out 'landingpages.domain.com' from 'www.domain.com'. I would use a separate subdomain for landing pages vs blogs vs main marketing site though, which it seems like you're already doing, right?

 

Do you have any additional information I should review? My personal feeling on this is that bounce rate is a useful operational metric, but a pretty horrible KPI. It can help you hone in on improving CTAs, but not at the expense of, for example, not driving social traffic to your blog articles because it tends to have a high bounce rate. So I wouldn't consider it important for measuring real performance - you hit the nail on the head with saying the conversion rate is a much better place to focus. I do think it is useful to monitor as a trend over time though, as it can really help you understand what content may be resonating and help inform your content update/rewrite/retire strategy. And it can help you ensure your links between content stay as fresh and appealing as possible.

 

As an aside, I'm not 100% sure how HubSpot calculates bounce, but I know with Google Analytics, for example, any on-page event trigger will count as an interaction and therfore not count as a bounce. So, even if you're doing something totally innocent (like firing an event on page load for some other purpose) you'll suddenly see that page have a 0% bounce rate.

 

In summary - focus on what brings true value to your sales and marketing efforts and not on the minutiae. Who cares if your landing page has a 99% bounce rate if it generates $1m in sales per month, or if your blog articles have high bounce rates but your brand perception scores for thought leadership are off the charts and you get tonnes of great social engagement from them 🙂 

 

I'm sure some others will have some thoughts too, this is just my two cents/pence!

 

Cheers,
Mike

 

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