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Archive for August, 2011

Monitor Bounces: Email

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Like websites, there’s a temptation to look at the positive metrics rather than improving negative ones.  Bounces from email is a great indicator of list health.

An email campaign that has a low bounce rate (under 10%) is often a well built list that is regularly maintained.  The benefit of this is that it usually reflects audience engagement.  Poorly built lists can see bounce rates approach 50%.  This is typically a sign of poorly compiled lists or a build up of bad addresses over an extended period.

Monitoring your bounce rate has a few benefits:

  • It let’s you know if your list quality is acceptable (going over 20% bounce rates is a sign of trouble).
  • It makes maintenance a recurring task so that bad email addresses can be removed.  This often saves money on your email list provider as the list or emails sent gets smaller.
  • It gives an idea of true audience so if your list begins to shrink then efforts to boost subscribers can be launched.

Don’t just focus on the positive metrics like opens and clicks.  Keeping an eye on who isn’t getting your email communications can be as informative as knowing who does.

Monitor Bounces: Websites

Friday, August 12th, 2011

When reviewing website performance we tend to gravitate toward the positive interactions.  These are the metrics we hope will be high: visits, clicks, conversions, etc.  However it can be equally important to measure the negative interactions, opt outs and bounces.  By keeping those numbers low we increase the opportunities that the positive interactions have.  Bounces specifically can be important for uncovering site performance because it’s a direct indicator of how visitors react to our content.

Website bounce rates are when a visitor lands on a webpage and then leaves.  As a general rule a 50% bounce rate is average.  After all every visitor to your site has to leave from somewhere so non-existent bounce rates just don’t happen.  If bounce rates get down in the 20’s% range or less, then you have a high converting page.  This often only happens on landing pages where people come for a certain thing and have to complete a single item to get access to it.  Rates higher than 50% can be a signifier of problems with the pages content.

A word of caution when analyzing bounces, make sure to take the page content into account.  There’s an art to analytics as well as science.  Some pages will be prone to bounce rates and it’s not necessarily a negative sign.  A blog post, video, or article page are good examples.  This is even truer when promotions are sent out advertising these things.  It’s reasonable to expect that the majority of people that land on these pages will view the content that enticed them there and move on.  Some subset will likely click on to something else but the lion’s share of visitors will get what they came for and go.  A higher bounce rate on these pages should be expected.

By default many analytic programs will display bounce rates in a time layout (i.e. bounce rates by day).  This is helpful if a certain campaign is going on for a set amount of time.  However, pulling bounce data by page is often more useful for overall site analysis.  The reason for this is that the pages can be sorted by highest bounce rates.  This will bring your worst performers right to the top of the list.  Then you can move down the list and see which poor performers are expected to have a higher rate and which should be performing better.

Once the list of poor performing pages is compiled, it’s a matter of reviewing those pages and updating the content.  There is something that visitors expect to get from this page but aren’t.  Trial and testing is needed to modify the page so that it’s suiting visitor needs.

Think of your site as having a party.  Having a lot of people show up is a good start.  But if they all peek in the door and head somewhere else it’s not going to be much of a bash.  Bounce rates are a great way to find the pages that are turning your visitors off.  Use that information to make pages enticing and draw visitors in.