In the abstract, your website’s analytics look good. Plenty of web traffic is streaming in from all directions from a healthy mix of organic and social referrals. Still, something is off: Conversion rates are down, bounce rates are way, way, up, and all the effort you’ve put into boosting web traffic seems for not.
Common internet knowledge tells us that if a user can’t find what they’re looking for on a website within 3-5 seconds, they’re far more likely to “bounce” (or leave your website before they interact). If your web traffic is steady but your engagement is still low, it probably means that users are having a hard time finding what they’re looking for. In this case, the time is ripe for some website re-evaluation and optimization.
In this blog post, we’ll take an up close and personal look at 10 reasons users bounce too early. Hang on, it’s time to dig deep:
1) You haven’t discovered landing pages yet
In the online marketing world, a “landing page” refers to a content-specific page that users are referred to when they use specific search terms or click a social media campaign. Say that you have an online shop that sells tea from around the world, from oolong to earl grey. If a user is looking to buy oolong tea online, they might type in “buy oolong online”. Instead of being directed to a general homepage from which they’ll have to navigate to your oolong selection, an oolong tea-specific landing page will guide them directly to the product’s “buy now” page, vastly simplifying and streamlining the conversion process.
Your landing pages can be aligned to a Google AdWords or social media campaigns, and can retain the basic design elements of the their “mother” pages.
2) You’re not A/B split testing
If you’ve ever read up on online marketing strategies, you’ve probably come across the talk of A/B tests. Simply put, an A/B test compares the performance of two or more pages of the same purpose. The differences between the two pages is often minimal, such as a slight change in font size or the color of the “call-to-action” button. Still, these subtle changes can make a big difference in the way a user first perceives a website.
If you’re running landing pages aligned to AdWords keywords, you can run A/B tests (or “content experiments”) through Google Analytics. Otherwise, there are plenty of online tools available that allow you to instantly compare the success of different versions of your website, with Optimizely being perhaps the best known. For a complete run-down of everything A/B testing, check out this article at Smashing Magazine.
3) You force users to log-in before they interact
We’ve all been there: You’re roaming around the internet in search of something, and you come across a marketing strategy on a website that is just so annoying, so persistently grating on your patience, that you want to find the person who implemented it and throw your shoes at them. As far as annoying online marketing ideas go, forcing users to sign-up even before they really understand what’s on offer is right up there.
Web users want to feel like more than a grain of sand in your Big Data desert. At the end of the day, users simply want to find what they are looking for, interact with your website as smoothly and as minimally as possible, and get on with their lives. Don’t burden users with unprompted requests for information, especially in the first moments of arriving on your website.
4) You still think that pop-ups are a good idea.
Much like #3 on our list, few marketing tricks are as irritating as pop-ups. Building a strong following and a loyal customer base requires web users to trust you, not to feel barraged by requests.
5) You’re boring users with walls of text
Arriving on a website can be a little like showing up at a party where you don’t know anyone. You search for someone who seems friendly and normal, but you inevitably spend time cornered in the hallway talking to the bore, the guy who monotonously recounts his pet lizard’s feeding schedule as you’re forced to sit patiently and listen, looking for any opportunity to escape. Greeting your web users with a wall of text is a little like that guy.
Web users have a notoriously short attention span, and don’t tend to relish the idea of having to read an essay before they understand what you do. Instead of confronting users with a “wall of text”, break information up into bite-sized pieces, one to two-sentence long bits of information that serve to provide users with an instant idea of what you do.
Save longer explanations and in-depth content for other sub-pages on your website, or better yet, your blog.
6) You’ve employed the “polar bear in a snowstorm” effect
Visual contrast, or the difference between lights, darks and shapes, plays an absolutely crucial role in determining what web users pay attention to. A lack of contrast between background and text, for example, can render a website almost impossible to read. The same goes for spacing and sizing of text; if text is too small or spaced too closely, a web user’s eyes will become frustrated.
Take a good look at your website, and consider if you can amp up the contrast and spacing between elements.
7) Your website’s loading times are at a snail’s pace
According to Fastly, slow website loading times can result in a host of problems, from abandoned shopping carts to lower Google search rankings. What’s more, each additional second a page takes to load increases the likelihood of a user bouncing by a reported 65%.
While IM Creator pages are designed to avoid slow loading times, there are a number of factors to keep in mind to ensure that they work smoothly. To test your site’s loading time, plug your URL into apps like YSlow or PageSpeed Insights Browser Extensions. Next, take a look at this article by MOZ and follow their detailed steps to make sure you right all your time-based website wrongs.
8) You’re punishing users with flashing lights and sounds
Remember how we said that sign up sheets and pop up ads are the most annoying marketing ploys on the web? Well, we must have briefly blocked the horrors of flashing lights and music on websites from our minds. No matter the temptation, avoid adding auto-play music or animation to your site. Not only are these kinds of distractions corny, obnoxious, and desperate, they also have a tendency to slow down your website.
9) You insist on a fancy intro page
Perhaps there was a time in the not so distant past when intro pages – pages that greet users but hold no content – seemed like an intriguing and sexy idea. These days, they just appear pretentious. Every unnecessary click a user has to make to access the content they’re looking for is a click too many. Insisting that your website has an intro page is a great way to bore users even before they are able to access your content.
10) Your website is cluttered
If users can’t find what they’re looking for on your site within a few seconds, they’ll bounce. Abstract headlines, superfluous information, and poorly-spaced content confuse your website’s purpose and make it difficult for users to assess whether they’ve come to the right place. In order to de-clutter your site, try breaking content up into smaller pieces, or move non-essential information to different pages (or further below the fold). Pay close attention to spacing, too: What may seem like a sparse website to you will be a breath of fresh air for users.
Passengers Leaving Metro Train at Wikipedia Commons