Advanced Content Analysis – Weighted Bounce Rate

One of the most requested data points, and fortunately, one of the most optimizable metrics available in SiteCatalyst is bounce rate. Reporting on your pages’ bounce rates gives insight into which pages are the most “sticky,” and which need a little bit of help to get users to go deeper.

Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of users who enter on a given page, but then leave without viewing another page. In SiteCatalyst 15, bounce rate is an out of the box feature. However, for those on SiteCatalyst 14, the formula for the bounce rate calculated metric is defined this way:

Bounce Rate = [Single Access]/[Entry Pages]

When pages have a high bounce rate, this usually indicate that there is a problem with getting users to engage in the site and click through to the next page. As a marketer, if you are getting tons of traffic from paid search, but everybody leaves immediately, that isn’t a good return on your ad spend! It’s very important to keep your eye on bounce rate.

One of the gotchas with bounce rate reporting is that pages with very few visits can float up to the top of the report and bury more important pages at the bottom. Here’s an example:

You can see above that the first page, the free trip promo page, has an extremely high bounce rate of 97.25%. This means that 97% of people who enter on that page don’t view any other pages. However, this page had only 8,740 visits, a paltry, rounded-off 0% of total site visitors.

To correct for this, you can create a calculated metric called Weighted Bounce Rate that pushes pages that have a high bounce rate and high traffic to the top of the report for easier analysis. The formula for Weighted Bounce Rate* is:

Weighted Bounce Rate=([Single Access]/[Entry Pages])*([Page Views]/[Total Page Views])

By adding this metric to the report, we now see which high-traffic pages have the worst stickiness issues:

The report now shows that the first page of the new account application has a lot of traffic (yay!) but a very high bounce rate (oh no!).

To overcome bounce rate, additional analysis should be performed on the high bounce pages to see why users are leaving immediately. Perhaps there are too many account type options being presented to the user, and they get confused? Maybe search engine optimization efforts shouldn’t be pushing traffic directly to the new account application? Small changes can be made to high-bounce pages and then reporting can be done to see if the changes make a difference.

However, keep in mind that even though bounce rate can be a good metric to keep tabs on, make sure you “keep your eyes on the prize” and watch your main conversion metrics. Your site should be optimized to achieve the highest number of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) conversions, such as new account opens, online trades placed, or funds deposited. For more information about determining KPIs and how to determine your conversion points, see KPIs: Focus on the Special “K”.

* For a list of my favorite calculated metrics (including Weighted Bounce Rate), see SiteCatalyst Knowledge Base Article ID 1620, “Does Adobe offer a list of commonly used calculated metrics?”