I was recently at an Online Marketing Bootcamp where Avinash Kaushik spoke (Kaushik writes a blog called Occam’s Razor) on the importance of Google Analytics (GA). He talked in detail about all the different aspects of how to use GA effectively for your business. What I would like to talk about today is the importance of Bounce Rate within GA.
I once worked for a lodging company, we’ll call it Company A for the sake of anonymity, whose bounce rate was at 74% when I got there. At first glance I didn’t think much of it because the visits to our site kept increasing as time went on. But as I dug deeper, I realized that yes, our visits were increasing but none of those visitors were staying on our site longer than 30 seconds. Avinash described bounce rate best at the bootcamp; if you have a high bounce rate, it’s like someone “coming to your site, puking on it and leaving.” (If that image doesn’t stick in your head nothing will). What it meant for us was that 74% of the people visiting the site were leaving within the first 30 seconds. No matter how you look at it, that can’t be good.
Company A, did 50% of their bookings through online booking engines which they paid a percentage for. If visitors booked on their site, they paid nothing and most of the time selling rooms at rack rate. So it was my job to get people to the site and entice them to book right there online paying rack rate without costing Company A any service fees. Sounds easy enough right?
But what is a lowly marketing manager to do without a budget for website redevelopment? What we did was, we hired a freelance designer to “refresh” the homepage. Which meant we basically made the pictures more compelling and the call to action stronger and kept within the theme of the original site so that the homepage would still flow with the rest of the site.
With a little brightening of the same homepage photo the photo became much more compelling. We put a box on the right with a stronger call to action (Check Availability & Book Online) with activities and lifestyle photos rotating just below it. Underneath that we included boxes that highlighted updates for guests, dining and featured news to let the guests know all that we had to offer.
Just these small, inexpensive changes, decreased Company A’s bounce rate from 74% to 34% within a month. And visitors were going directly to the accommodations and then rates page which is exactly where we wanted them to go.
As a small business it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have a yearly redevelopment budget for your website but just keeping abreast of your sites analytics, current trends and what your customers are doing and making adjustments accordingly, can make a world a difference in your marketing efforts.
For more information on Google Analytics check out Avinash’s book Web Analytics, An Hour a Day. It’s easy to read (especially if you’re not a tech head) and can truly help you monitor your site stats and make informed decisions that can help your business grow.