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Average bounce rate for ecommerce: what is it and how you improve yours?

Ve Global
Ve Global
Digital Revenue Optimisation
Average bounce rate for ecommerce: what is it and how you improve yours?

Bounce rate is something of an ecommerce mega-metric. Every time somebody enters your webpage but doesn’t engage with your content, that’s a bounce.

For example, a user might immediately return to Google search results, enter a new URL into the address bar, timeout their session, or just close the browser entirely.

Often, this is because your content isn’t providing what the consumer is looking for, in which case you may need to optimise your webpages or reassess strategy with your digital marketers. Even in the case of it being the right content, a high bounce rate could also speak to the quality of content.

We’re going to be discussing the who, what, why, and how of ecommerce bounce. We’ll cover everything you need to know about what’s good and what’s bad when it comes to your ecommerce bounce rate, and how to optimise your pages for optimum engagement from your users.

We’ll be talking about:

Bounce rate data highlighted in Google Analytics

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of total website visitors who view your landing page—or other content—but then leave without engaging with the rest of your website.

This is slightly different from exit rate which measures how often users exit your online store after one or multiple page views.

To recap, “bounce” counts as any of the following scenarios:

  • When a user lands on your homepage but takes no further action
  • When a user lands or your product page but then leaves the site
  • When a user lands on your contact page but then leaves the site

In the first two instances, your user’s “bouncing” is always problematic. It means that they did not find exactly what they were looking for or hoping for on your webpage. In the third instance, however, the user may bounce because they have found what they’re looking for.

This just goes to show that bounce is not an unequivocally bad thing. It depends on the context in which bounce took place. In general, bounce is only problematic when it occurs on service pages such as landing pages, product pages, and checkout pages.

If a website’s bounce rate is high on these pages, it could be an indication that customers aren’t satisfied with the website, service, or product offerings. In this case, your bounce rate is a clear marker for change, and you should start to think about making some alterations in line with your consumer’s expectations.

To sum up, bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage number of sessions that trigger a single request. Depending on the context, bounce rate is not necessarily an inherently bad thing, but a higher bounce rate on service pages can indicate customer dissatisfaction

Infographic - What is a good bounce rate?

Different types of bounces

Let’s up the ante a little bit. Did you know that bounce on websites comes in many different forms?

Lots of people don’t realise this, but there are actually three distinct types of ecommerce bounce. These are: Hard bounce, medium bounce, and soft bounce.

Understanding the type of bounce that your website visitors are displaying is a really useful way to go about making changes that really fuel user engagement for the better.

Let’s take a look at each bounce type in some more detail.

Bounce type # 1 - Hard bounce

A hard bounce is an unequivocal bounce. Your user has clicked on your site and immediately realised that it wasn’t what they were looking for.

This user probably has little-to-no interest in the content of your website. They will engage minimally, or not at all, then leave immediately. It is likely that a hard bouncer wasn’t ever intending to land on your webpage in the first place. It may have been a mistake or they may have misinterpreted a search engine result.

If your business is generating a lot of hard bounce then the solution lies in your marketing channels. You’ll want to amplify your media channels with a targeted and smart campaign extension to your website.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to do this, you could ask Ve’s experienced campaign strategists  to help you build positive brand sentiment with a high-impact, customer-centric campaign. You can get dedicated support and reduce any existing marketing wastage with a more effective media strategy.

Bounce type # 2 - Medium bounce

Medium bouncers are typically those who engage a little bit (perhaps a few seconds), but then click away. Medium bounce visitors probably did intend to visit your website—and they might return again in the future—but for some reason or other they lost interest and bounced.

In some cases, this could indicate that your web content is lacking in some way or that your product offerings aren’t meeting your customer’s expectations.

Bounce type # 3 - Soft bounce

Out of the three, soft bouncers typically stick around the longest. Unlike a medium bounce visitor, a soft bounce website visitor will usually stay on your page for more than just a few seconds. This user will engage with your landing page by scrolling down or viewing a few items.

Despite their engagement, however, a soft bounce will still end without any commitment (for example, a purchase) being made. This is an indication that whilst the customer was intrigued by your brand, they were not confident enough to make a purchase.

In order to target soft bounce, businesses need to optimise their online customer journeys and make sure that they are providing maximum support, engagement, and personalisation.

One way to achieve this is to incorporate a Digital Assistant into your customers’ journeys. Ve’s Digital Assistant will help you sell products and support your online customers by recreating an in-store shopping experience online.

What is the average bounce rate for ecommerce?

An ecommerce store will typically experience lower bounce rates than some other website categories. Ecommerce site bounce rates range, on average, between 20% and 45%. In general, a bounce rate below 20% can be considered to be exceptional. In turn, a bounce rate exceeding 45% might be an indication that your website requires some further optimisation.

However, it’s also important to remember that bounce rates do not give us the full picture, and cannot account completely for a user’s individual experience. For example, one user might click on your landing page and click away after just three seconds. Another user might click on your landing page, browse a bit, and then click away after one or two minutes.

You might be tempted to think that the latter user is more engaged than the former. But, in reality, that might not be the case. This shows us that, while bounce rates are a very useful performance metric in ecommerce, they should not be treated as the whole truth.

Bounce rates should be just one of many KPIs that you’re employing to monitor your online performance health and quality.

Chart showing the number of websites across bounce rate ranges

Bounce rate comparisons

We’ve established what bounce rates are, what they indicate, and some of their potential limitations. Now, let’s take a look at how your bounce rates may vary depending on the channel,

industry, or device from which your users are engaging.

Bounce rates don’t behave in exactly the same way across all channels and industries. Likewise, bounce rates vary noticeably depending on the devices your users are employing to access your products and services.

Bounce rates by channel

Bounce rates will vary depending on where your website traffic originated from. If you’re using Google Analytics, for example, traffic will be categorised under one of the following:

  • Direct traffic: Your user navigated directly to your page URL
  • Organic search: Your user navigated to your page via an organic search engine result
  • Paid search: Your user navigated to your page via a Pay Per Click search result
  • Display traffic: Your user clicked a banner ad or other ad display  
  • Referral traffic: Your user was directed to your website via a link from another site
  • Email traffic: Your user clicked on an email remarketing link which took them to your website
  • Social traffic: Your user navigated to your page from a social media network like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram

Identifying where your bounce rates are highest and lowest is a great way to improve your channels for increased engagement and ensure that your webpage is always optimised for use across your users’ preferred devices.

Infographic showing benchmark bounce rates by channel

In general, display traffic is the traffic type that tends to generate the highest bounce rate. This is mainly because many people think of third-party ads and banner ads as akin to junk mail. These advertisement types are often deemed explicitly promotional and do not inspire user trust.  

The channels with some of the lowest bounce rates are referrals and emails. Referral and email remarketing is the most likely to reach a more targeted audience. In other words, referral and email traffic tends to be engaged, interested traffic made up of users who actively want to hear about the products and services you have to offer them.

Email traffic, in particular, can be especially lucrative. Particularly if your users had to opt-in to receiving promotional emails in the first place. You’ll know that your network is already invested in your brand and ready to buy.

Bounce rates by industry

Bounce rates also vary depending on the particular industry in which you’re operating. A recent report published by ContentSquare observed the highest levels of bounce within the Telco industry and showed retail apparel leading the way with the lowest bounce rates at just 44%.

Infographic showing bounce rates by industry

Bounce rates by device

Did you know that bounce rate benchmarks actually vary by device, too?

In general, mobile users bounce a lot more than those navigating your website from a desktop or laptop. This is most likely because of the way we use our mobile phones. We are more likely to be multitasking across a range of different apps and tabs or become disrupted whilst browsing away.

If your website is predominantly used from mobiles then you may find that you have a bounce boom. If that’s the case, it’s important to optimise your website’s user experience for mobile to make it as intuitive, engaging, and easy to use as possible.

Infographic showing bounce rates by device

Is a “good” average bounce rate accurate?

When people talk about bounce rate, it tends to always be in terms of what’s “good” and what’s “bad”. In reality, however, bounce rates are much more nuanced and subtle.

A high bounce rate isn’t always a sign of catastrophic results. Likewise, a low bounce rate might not always be the ecommerce halo that people like to think it is.

You see, it all depends on your individual customers and your particular industry. It’s all about the context of each and every visit. So, while ecommerce bounce rate is a seriously useful metric, bounce rate alone should not be used to define all business decision making.

For example, many users won’t purchase big-ticket items on their first visit. These items usually require some deliberation and discussion with significant others. Plus, today’s customers are savvy and know how to research their big-ticket purchases well.

Just because that customer doesn’t make a purchase on their first visit to your website, doesn’t mean they won’t return once they’ve made their purchase decision. Perhaps they first needed to do some price comparison or look up some existing customer reviews to feel more confident about their investment.

How to calculate bounce rate

It’s time for the technicalities. We can generalise about bounce rates till the cows come home, but does one go about actually calculating them?

Calculation

Bounce rate as a calculation is the percentage of your visitors who enter your site and exit without visiting a second page. This metric is calculated by dividing the number of one-page visits to your website by the total number of visits.

You can calculate this yourself using your own data resources or view your bounce rate (along with a range of other performance metrics) via analytics tools like Google Analytics.

Bounce rate equation

Heatmap

Another way to monitor your bounce rates is with a heatmap. A heatmap is a type of data visualisation that displays events as colours in two dimensions. Heatmaps represent data graphically by colour coding different values. They are typically used a lot to show online metrics related to user behaviours—including bounce rates.

One type of heatmap, called a scroll map, determines how many people are seeing your core content and how far they’re scrolling down your landing page. A scroll map will help you identify which areas on your webpage are used most and which areas are used least.

Session recording

A session recording is an anonymous recording of an individual user session on your website. Via this recording you’ll be able to watch exactly what your user is doing and how they’re interacting with your products and content. This is incredibly useful because it allows you to access the context of every user interaction.

You’ll be able to see with your own eyes what’s causing your users to bounce (if they are). Are they reaching the checkout only to become confused by delivery options? Are they constantly scrolling as if in search of something they cannot find?

The most important thing to keep an eye on is what your customers are doing immediately before they press the back button and bounce back to the search engine or choose to close their browser.

Survey

Another way to assess bounce rates is with survey techniques. Asking users directly about their experience using your website will not only provide insight into what is and isn’t working, but also shows them that you are a trustworthy organisation that puts its customers first.

On-site surveys are a great way to quickly gather feedback from users before they navigate away from your site.

These surveys could take the form of a simple question (for example, did you enjoy your experience using our site today?) or a simple poll (what is the most important thing to you when buying online: X, Y, or Z?). You might even want to add a short follow up question to determine why.

Surveys offer ecommerce brands a simple but effective way to hear from their customer base directly. You’ll be able to store this data for further evaluation and make any necessary changes according to your customers’ own responses.

Surveys offer ecommerce brands a simple but effective way to hear from their customer base directly. You’ll be able to store this data for further evaluation and make any necessary changes according to your customers’ own responses.

You may never have known that your customers wanted more delivery options…

But now you do!

Ve’s smart Digital Assistant can help you find out why customers are leaving your site and even trigger a proactive response (like a personalised special offer) to entice them to stick around. The information can then be used to improve your entire website or individual product and search result pages.

This should help you to lower bounce rates. And, while there may be no such thing as a definitively “good” or “bad” bounce rate, what’s always preferable is a “lower” bounce rate.

What is causing a high bounce rate?

Once you start measuring your bounce rates regularly, there may come a time when you notice that your bounce rate is rising.

Benchmark bounce rates by website type

Remember, there’s no hard or fast rule when it comes to bounce. However, a rapidly rising bounce rate can be cause for concern. In most cases, a high bounce rate can be traced back to one of the following causes:

You’re targeting the wrong audience

A major cause of bounce is when businesses target the wrong audience. After all, if the people seeing your ad campaigns and clicking on your links aren’t your target consumer then there’s little chance that they’re going to stick around for more than a few seconds.

Often this happens when a brand uses very generic marketing strategies. For example, they might be writing SEO content but using keywords that could be applicable to many different kinds of products and services.

Alternatively, a brand might launch a PPC digital marketing campaign, but find that they are generating the wrong kinds of visitors.

Your site design is confusing

Once you’ve got someone onto your website, you’ll need to make sure it’s engaging if you want them to stay. If your site design is confusing or not very user-friendly then that’s a recipe for bounce.

Poor site navigation, inconsistent brand messaging, and unappealing designs can quickly turn customers away. Make sure that your menus, options, content, and designs are aesthetically pleasing, clear, and easy to understand.

Your content needs updating

As well as prioritising the way your ecommerce website works, it’s important to think about what’s actually on it, too. Make sure that your site content is being updated regularly so that it’s always relevant, engaging, and informative.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a while and think about exactly what they might need as they navigate your website. Then, ensure that every piece of content—whether that be a product description or a blog post—is targeted towards those needs. Make your content count.

Your CTAs are ineffective

Call to actions (CTAs) are a great way to drive customer engagement. A great CTA can be the difference between a customer that browses your products and a customer that buys your products.

If your CTAs don’t stand out, or if they stand out too much (try not to make your CTAs too busy), then you’re likely to miss out on clicks.

Your site is too slow or has errors

This one’s a big one. When users experience slow page load times, or find errors on your webpages, then they’re much more likely to bounce off.

Even if your website visitor is an engaged customer with purchase intent, a very slow page load time or a page that simply doesn’t work effectively will quickly turn them off. In fact, research shows that when page load times increase from one to ten seconds the probability of bounce increases by a staggering 123%.

Infographic related to the impact of site speed on bounce rate

How to reduce bounce rate for ecommerce

Your bounce rate’s up and you want to do something to rectify the situation. Luckily there are plenty of ways to turn a bounce rate incline into a bounce rate decline.

Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of what’s causing your bounce rates to creep up, then you can come up with a strategy to get things under control.

The best way to start is to conduct a thorough investigation using the methods we already discussed. Heatmaps, recordings, and surveys will help you identify targeted changes you can make to improve your website for improved customer engagement.

Plus, our Connected Media helps increase the performance of digital ads by elevating customer engagement with high-impact ads that speak to what your customers actually care about.

Investigate the source of your traffic

First things first, start by investigating the source of your web traffic. Find out where the majority of your visitor traffic is coming from and research the bounce rate for that particular source. If most of your traffic is coming from a source with a high average bounce rate then consider diversifying your marketing campaigns to incorporate different sources.

Identify your users’ pain points

The next step is to identify your users’ main pain points. This is an extremely important step because it seeks to eliminate any obstacles that are getting in the way of your high-value prospects. When enough things go wrong, even customers with a high level of purchase intent can become bouncers.

With Ve supported guided selling you’ll be able to support your customers by offering them the guidance and inspiration they need at every step of the sales funnel. We’ll help you better understand your customer needs and preferences and elevate the customer experience with automated answers to common questions and personalised purchase recommendations for similar products.

Update your content and web design

Make sure the content on your website is being updated regularly. Your webpage copy needs to be clear, relevant, and provide your visitors with the information they need in a digestible manner.

Content can make or break a customer’s trust in your brand. Your writing needs to be on-brand and consistent across the entirety of your website and all of your marketing channels.

If your current web copy isn’t working for you, then change things up. Ask your customers what improvements they’d like to see via a survey and start making those changes right away. Ensure that your content speaks to your target consumer without coming across as too salesy or spam-like.

Support your new and improved copy with great web design. That means simple but stylish webpages with a consistent design narrative across your entire website and marketing channels. Avoid too many pop-ups, and ensure that all imagery is high quality and relevant.  

Improve your product pages

For ecommerce brands, product pages are the holy grail of your website. It’s of utmost importance that every product page is optimised in terms of imagery, content, and usability.

Ensure that your product images are clear, accurate, and that it is easy for users to save, “favourite”, and add items to their shopping trolley. Ease of experience will prevent potential customers with purchase intent from dropping away at the last minute.

Optimise page performance

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Slow page load times are a big no no when it comes to preventing bounce. Speed sells in today’s world. Customers don’t want to be kept waiting around for a page to load on their laptop, mobile device, or tablet.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is or how great your products are. If your website is slow, your customers will go elsewhere. The majority of users will bounce if a site takes longer than five seconds to load.

Chart showing bounce rate by page speed

Encourage users to stay with guided navigation

Last but not least, there are some ways that you can actively encourage visitors to stay longer on your website in real-time.

With Ve’s Digital Assistant, for example, you’ll be able to set triggers that will encourage your customers to stick around on your website by providing them with relevant, timely actions that improve their overall customer experience.

This guided selling tool, in turn, works at reducing your bounce rate and helps you actively target customers with personalised engagements.

Getting to grips with bounce

Bounce rates offer ecommerce businesses an indication of their customer engagement and potential avenues for conversion rate optimisation (CRO). However, bounce rates aren’t as black and white as they are sometimes made out to be.

Your customers’ behaviour is impacted by a wide range of factors including your service industry, the channel from which the majority of your traffic is derived, and the devices that your customers are using. All of these things will impact your overall bounce rate.

Nonetheless, bounce can help ecommerce brands identify ways to improve their webpages for enhanced engagement. If you’re worried about your bounce rate, there are plenty of targeted changes you can make to keep your visitors sticking around for longer.

Everything from optimising page performance to updating your content more regularly can make a world of difference.

Plus, there are now tons of inventive ways to keep your customers engaged once they're already navigating your page. By providing your users with relevant, timely engagements, our Digital Assistant will keep your prospects engaged for longer.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Let’s take a look at some common questions ecommerce store owners often have about bounce rates.

Is a high bounce rate bad?

There is no such thing as intrinsically “good” or “bad” bounce rates. Bounce rates are highly dependent on context and vary considerably depending on your visitors’ intent, traffic source, and various other variables.

If your bounce rates exceed that which is normal or expected for your business, however, it may be an indication that you are losing the interest of your target consumers. In this case, you should start taking action to re-engage your visitors.

What is the importance of bounce rate for ecommerce?

Even though bounce rates aren’t an exact science, they remain an important metric for ecommerce businesses around the world. Bounce rates give businesses an indication of the quality of their online traffic.

A lot of single-page session traffic indicates low traffic quality. Combined with supporting performance analytics, bounce rates can help businesses make improvements to their websites and marketing campaigns that will serve to improve user experiences and attract higher quality leads.

What is a good bounce rate?

Average bounce rates range between 20% and 45%. Bounce rates vary depending on a range of factors. However, as a generalisation, any bounce rate within this rate can be considered good.

A better definition of “good bounce rate”, though; one that’s lower than it was yesterday.

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