How to kill the bounce rate?

Reducing a site’s bounce rate can be one of the biggest opportunities for e-commerce marketers. Here we look at typical bounce rate levels and what techniques can be used to bring levels down.

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is calculated as the number of visits viewing one page only, divided by the total entries to the page. Or as Google puts it “the percentage of single-page visits”.

How do websites perform?

Kissmetrics calculates the average bounce rate at 40.5% but as you can see below it can be as high as 80%.


What’s more is you may only have 15 seconds with the user before they leave.

15 seconds to interact with your visitor

According to a study by Chartbeat who looked at 2 billion visits, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds on a page.

So why is my bounce rate so high?

Five possible reasons:

1) When the visitor’s expectations are not met

Poor website design for example.

And an example of poor design is having too many options.

A simple study illustrated this.

Social Triggers offered 24 flavours of jam on one Saturday and 6 the following Saturday.

Which gave more sales?

You would think having more options would lead to more chances of ticking the user’s box.

But the opposite was true. With the 24 jam scenario only 1.8% bought.

With the 6 jam scenario 12% bought.

Simplicity in choices but also simplicity in design and navigation is also important.

Simpler design can also have the added benefit of faster page loading.

This from Kissmetrics shows the direct relationship between speed and page abandonment.



Speed clearly has a direct impact on bounce, it also has a big impact on SEO, so it’s clearly a top priority.

So how do you design a site that loads quickly and is appealing to use and explore?

Here’s a good list from Hubspot:

  1. Keep it simple – people are in a hurry and come to your site to solve a problem. They want to move through your site quickly, particularly on mobile. Clear text, not too many colours, only use graphics if they help, not to show off
  2. Think hierarchy – show the most important things first, so top left. A simple call to action top left of the page, above the fold, is important. Then have a ‘Learn more’ click below to explore further, if they want – don’t force
  3. Intuitive navigation – simple, and use breadcrumbs so they don’t get lost,  ensure there is an easy to use search box, and don’t make the site too deep (max 3 levels but only if you really have to)
  4. Consistent – don’t create different looks for different sections – be confident with one design
  5. Cross device – check your site across mobile and tablet
  6. Conventions – use things people are used to – logo clickable to get to the homepage, links changing colour when clicked, using a shopping cart icon, etc.
  7. Create credibility – be upfront with what you offer and the prices, don’t make the visitor work for it
  8. UX testing – test, test and test. Gather feedback from UX software of user behaviour on your pages and test new pages
  9. Also a big one from us – pop-ups. Tempting as they may be, they can be a real frustration especially when used on the first page visited
  10. And look at your 404 page – instead of a “page not found” message, provide links and messaging to help the user

How to increase speed?

There are numerous sites offering page speed testing.

I personally use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

This will provide a large list of recommendations, from compressing images, using different image formats, removing unwanted css, etc.

And remember, page speed not only puts users off, particularly on mobile, but it also severely impacts on organic ranking.

As we’ve covered on other articles, one of Google’s key criteria for ranking is page speed and also the effect speed has on the user experience.

Using visual assets

Another key component is the use of visuals. Here’s a great example:


2) When your site isn’t usable

Firstly you need to ensure your site never goes down.

So make sure your server is reliable.

Make sure there are no broken links – use an online broken link checker, for example Screaming Frog, on a regular basis.

If a page keeps loading wrong, ditch it.

And as before make sure you have all devices covered, and ideally an app.

3) When users don’t know what to do

As before keep the design and content simple. This will also help SEO. Here’s a good example from Marketing Experiments:


The 2nd design increased conversion by 64%. Simpler design, with easy choices and actions required.

4) Not being genuine

With so much cyber crime users are careful to check your site is trustworthy.

If you’re not a big brand like P&G etc, then you have to pro-actively demonstrate trust.

Use of 3rd party endorsement can help here. Awards, testimonials, customer reviews, security verification by your hosting company (SSL certificate etc), and using social icons to show your popularity and that you have nothing to hide.

5) Failing to inspire

As above, if users don’t get what they want in 15 seconds they will bounce.

First impressions are everything!

The homepage below is a great example of showing exactly what the site is about.


Also you should know the facts about your audience – age, location, education, gender, income, marital status, ethnicity and occupation.

Dig in to Google Analytics.

Then tailor your content accordingly.

And look at psychographics to understand why your customers are buying. Interests, personality, lifestyle, behaviour and attitudes.

A good read here.

Look at your brand personality. Love this Millward Brown diagram of brand archetypes.

Which one is yours, and which one should it be?


UX work

Use a heatmap software to understand where people go on a page, where they get stuck, which links they are not clicking on; and try to understand why.

Test theories and new design ideas, and re-measure. Also get a scroll map to tell you how far people are scrolling down a page before they leave.

In summary

Remember the 15 second point above.

Work hard to understand your audience, and build a simple, easy to use, direct and trustworthy site that inspires. And continually measure and test to bring the bounce down as a top priority – there can’t be many things more important digitally than this. And finally don’t under-estimate the effect of page loading speed.

Hope that helps!




Matthew Brown
Matthew Brown
Matthew has 20 years director level experience in digital marketing and website development (working at a number of ecommerce businesses including Scholastic, Dada, McAfee and The Open University). Matthew founded Jam in 2000 in parallel to his digital marketing career but over time has moved to 100% focus on building the Jam business and a team of highly qualified digital experts.