When you run a business website, you face the never-ending challenge of keeping people on your website long enough for them to take action, such as to buy from you or to subscribe.
Some of the most commonly confused terms in the giant book of website jargon are exit rate vs. bounce rate. We’ll explain the differences more thoroughly in a minute, but think of it like this:
A website’s bounce rate accounts for someone who walks into a physical store, quickly realizes they are in the wrong place, then walks out—and probably doesn’t come back.
The exit rate, on the other hand, encompasses people who walk into that store, stroll down a few aisles, and then decide to leave without buying anything.
When you have a business website, you’re going to need to keep up with your analytics. That’s just part of the job. These metrics can provide a lot of valuable insight to make adjustments that ensure the right people land on your website and stick around to take action.
In this post, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about exit rate vs. bounce rate—minus the jargon, we promise.
Let’s dive in.
Defining Exit Rate and Bounce Rate
✓ Exit Rate
The phrase “exit rate” is a web analytics metric representing the percentage of visitors who leave a specific page on your website as their last action (before leaving the site altogether). It’s not that the visitors arrived at your store and left—they looked around and departed from that particular page.
In terms of the math, your exit rate equals the number of exits from that page divided by the total number of page views, multiplied by 100.
So, why would you need to know where your exit pages are and what their rates look like?
Well, a high exit rate can indicate some big problems – unmet visitor expectations, poor engagement, or boring content, to name a few. When you measure and track your exit rates, you’re better able to pinpoint these issues and make improvements for the overall health of your website (and the success of your business).
✓ Bounce Rate
Many people use “bounce” and “exit” interchangeably, but in reality, bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave after only viewing one of your website’s pages. These are visitors who appear on your website, and then instantly navigate away without interacting.
To give you another formula, a website’s bounce rate equals the number of single-page sessions divided by the total number of sessions, multiplied by 100.
A “session” is a group of interactions that a user takes on your website within a given time frame. Therefore, a single-page session occurs when a user visits only one page on your site and then exits without further interaction.
A high bounce rate is a glaring red flag, likely indicating that visitors are not finding what they were looking for or that the page’s content (or user experience) is not engaging enough to make them stick around.
What’s a high bounce rate? It depends on the type of page. For example, an average bounce rate of under 20% is considered pretty strong on an eCommerce site, but a rate under 65% is considered good for blogs.
The Significance of Exit Rate and Bounce Rate
Exit rate and bounce rate are both important web analytics metrics that provide insights into user behavior, user engagement, site performance, and conversions. Rather than being overly concerned when you see a high rate on either side, think of it as an opportunity to address an issue and turn things around.
Monitoring and improving metrics like these can help you create a better site user interface, boost conversions, and generate more conversions. You just need to know what’s working – and what’s not.
How to Analyze Exit Rate
So we told you how to calculate exit rates, but how do you get those numbers to begin with?
If you’re like most small businesses, we recommend using Google Analytics. This is one of the most widely used web analytics tools, and it offers comprehensive insights into all aspects of user behavior, including different pages’ exit rates.
There are many other tools besides Google Analytics you can use out there to monitor the user experience, so pick your poison. Better yet, partner with a website development agency that will assess your specific needs and help you interpret all of the data you find.
As you look at your exit rates, you’ll notice there are some common exit pages on your website. For example, an eCommerce’s checkout or cart page might have a high rate as people leave due to unexpected shipping fees or confusing forms.
Other common exit pages might include landing pages, product pages, or thank you pages where people don’t know what to do.
You may also notice high exit rates on 404 error pages, which means you need to take a second look at your site’s internal linking and look for disconnects.
To identify the reasons for high exit rates on any of these pages, you’ll want to use your web analytics tools to dig deeper into the data. Additionally, you can conduct user surveys, collect feedback, and perform usability testing to gain further insights from your audience.
If that sounds like a lot of hard work, perhaps think about it more simply, like this: if you identify a page with a high exit rate, what could you change on that page to help people take action or stick around. Are you being very clear on what you want people to do next?
- Could you add more subscription forms?
- Do you need more call-to-action buttons?
- Can you add links to other pages with similar content or blog articles?
- Can you provide a way for people to contact you?
How to Analyze Bounce Rate
As with exit rates, there are several tools that can help you assess bounce rates on your website. When looking through your bounce rates, you’ll likely find that the pages with the highest rates are those that…
- Don’t align well with the search results they appear in
- Are frustratingly slow to load
- Need a bit of a redesign or they lack visual appeal
- Aren’t relevant or they are outdated
- Incompatible with mobile devices
- Are peppered with distracting pop-ups
Another common reason that people may bounce away from a particular is that there’s no clear call to action (CTA). If people don’t really know what action they’re supposed to take, they’ll likely disappear (and never return).
Take a hard look at your bounce pages and ask yourself, “If I were a visitor, why would I instantly leave this page?” The more you can unearth the reasons for sudden departures, the better you can address the issues and optimize your website.
Strategies to Reduce Exit Rate
Speaking of optimizing your website, we want to share a handful of tips for quickly reducing your exit rates – especially if you’re not sure about what’s driving them up in the first place.
✓ Improve Content Relevance
You know we’re always preaching about content quality at Tall Poppies Design, but we also want to emphasize the importance of content relevance.
When website visitors land on a page that provides the information they are looking for and meets their expectations, they are more likely to stay engaged, explore, and ultimately convert. If they find information that does not meet their needs, they’ll skedaddle. That’s a bad user experience.
As you cultivate your content strategy, try to anticipate what your visitors are looking for. Align the web page with their presumed search intent and think about how you’ll reel them in.
A great way to do this is to address your customers’ top pain points, questions, and challenges, right from the get-go. Web visitors are more likely to find this kind of content valuable and stick around to learn more.
If you’re not really sure what your users are looking for, try starting with some keyword research. What are people searching for when they stumble across your website – and why aren’t they finding it?
✓ Enhance Website Navigation
Improving navigation features is a fundamental strategy for reducing exit rates and improving website engagement. A well-structured, intuitive navigation system makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for and encourages them to increase their dwell time.
Admit it: You’ve clicked away from a website in exasperation when you couldn’t find what you were looking for. Don’t let your site visitors do that!
Add an easy-to-use search bar. Organize your subpages in a way that makes sense. Use clear labels on all of your blog posts and add a table of contents.
✓ Optimize Page Loading Speeds
A poor website performance is arguably the leading reason for high exit rates – and a page’s loading speed is a big part of that. This is especially true when it comes to mobile users.
In 2023, the average page load time is 2.5 seconds on a desktop and 8.6 seconds on a mobile device. If your website takes more than that time to load, you’re likely looking at the main reason behind your concerning exit rates.
Page loading speed is a big topic. At the very least it involves optimizing images, leveraging content delivery networks, using a reliable hosting provider, etc.
If nothing else: optimize your images! By that, we mean: crop it to the ideal display size and make it as small as possible. Save it as a JPG. (Please please don’t use PNGs unless you absolutely have to have a transparent background, such as for a logo or an icon). Consider running it through an image optimization tool, such as Kraken.io to take out even more excess junk in the file’s code.
The important thing is that you’re focusing on improving and facilitating user interactions, and that starts with a page that loads in mere seconds. Don’t let small web dev problems push away hundreds (if not thousands) of frustrated potential customers.
Strategies to Reduce Bounce Rate
✓ Improve First Impressions
You wouldn’t show up to a job interview with spinach in your teeth so why would you let someone meet your website for the first time with glaring visual problems?
Improving your website’s first impressions is crucial for reducing bounce rates, as well as for strong conversion optimization. When users have a positive initial experience upon landing on your site, they’re more likely to engage and stay for a while.
Everything from your website’s compelling headlines to its colors and fonts should capture your ideal user’s attention and pique their interest. It takes a long time to recover from a terrible first impression, so make sure yours is golden.
✓ Create Better Calls-to-Action
As we mentioned earlier, another big culprit behind high bounce rates: unclear (or non-existent) CTAs. If site visitors don’t know what you want them to do, they’ll likely disappear faster than you can say “Click here!”
Try polishing up your current CTAs or adding some if your website is lacking. If possible, sprinkle in some interactive elements to make performing actions more fun – like little animations that sparkle or squirm when visitors click on the desired button.
A clear and concise CTA tells users what action to take next. When users have a clear direction, they’re more likely to engage with your site’s content rather than leaving.
✓ Optimize for Mobile
As we mentioned earlier when talking about exit rates, people have high expectations when it comes to mobile responsiveness nowadays. Your mobile site needs to load quickly, but it also needs to encourage user retention and engagement.
Ensure your website is easy to view on all kinds of small devices, including the most popular smartphones. If it includes forms, optimize them for thumb-friendly use. Make your CTA buttons tappable and ensure your fonts are easy to read.
A low bounce rate and strong mobile user satisfaction go hand-in-hand. Focus on providing a seamless, enjoyable experience for phones and tablets, and you’ll likely see a lower bounce rate.
Turn to the Professionals
Understanding what the exit rate and bounce rate data are telling you is one thing but knowing how to make the right adjustments is a tough task.
Web design, development, copywriting, and SEO are all ingredients of a strong user experience and are crucial in keeping people on the website. These are skills that were built up with a lot of education and experience.
At Tall Poppies Design, we specialize in helping online educators, life coaches, and small business owners refine their websites to perform like champions – and we can help you, too.
Get in touch with us today for a FREE strategy call.
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