Your Bounce Rate Is Stealing From Your Marketing Budget

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Understanding how to execute a marketing plan is just as important as knowing how to evaluate its effectiveness. Unfortunately, marketers can launch sophisticated display advertising campaigns without instrumenting their activities – reminding us of the famous quote from John Wanamaker,

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Is half of your B2B advertising wasted on bounced visitors?  Read this post to find out.

Everyone knows that bounce rate is an important metric, which measures the percentage of visitors that leave your website without navigating beyond the entry page. According to Avinash Kausik, Google Analytics guru and author of Web Analytics 2.0, “it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.”

It’s easy to draw some conclusions by looking at your own data, such as “we should improve the content and design of any pages with 50%+ bounce rates.” But let’s dig a little deeper.

Consider this: your bounce rate is stealing from your marketing budget. Let’s say you are a savvy marketer spending $1,000 per month to retarget visitors who left your website. Unless your are fine-tuning your ad campaign with multiple inclusion and exclusion segments, you are most likely pounding bounced visitors with ads even though they disqualified themselves.

Let’s take a real example from a client. They have a 58% bounce rate along with a $1,000 a month retargeting budget.


They were burning $580 per month on visitors who are uninterested in their solution.

But, wait, shouldn’t you retarget visitors who bounced so you can bring them back to your site? That may be true if and only if your bounce rate is not predictive of a visitor’s interest in your solution. For example, a one-page website that doesn’t have many other pages would have a high bounce rate despite visitors having keen interest in the product. In that scenario, the bounce rate is uncorrelated to product interest or purchase intent. This is not the case for most B2B marketers who have a deep website with multiple pages and assets. Fortunately, there is an easy way to detect these scenarios: segment people by time spent on the entry page.

Here is an Engagement report by session duration from Google Analytics for this client:


In this example, I would not recommend retargeting the 3,354 visitors who spent 10 seconds or less on their site. To confirm, let’s view session duration segmented by “Bounced Sessions”:


In this (real!) example, 100% of bounced sessions came from visitors who spent less than 11 seconds on a page. Given that bounced sessions made up 58% of the total website traffic, this marketer wasted more than half of their retargeting budget. Ouch.

So what should you do if you find yourself in this quagmire? Consider wrapping your retargeting pixel in a JavaScript function that calculates the number of pages a visitor has seen and their time on site, firing the retargeting pixel only when the visitor exceeds your frequency and time thresholds for a “real prospect.”

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