Website Optimization, Bounce Rate, and Conversion Rate
I just read an article about Click Fraud by Daniel Jupp, and although I thought it was a good article about the problem, there was a bullet that I would like to elaborate on. In the final section of the article, Daniel says:
"Website traffic analysis software can help identify what visitors are doing when they arrive at your site. If the software indicates that a large number of visitors are arriving at the home page, not going anywhere else and leaving the site very quickly, this is a good indicator that click fraud is taking place. Again, this data can be saved and reported to the search portal. "
Here's my point. I help companies build and execute their web marketing strategies and website optimization is a big part of my job. This includes landing page optimization, email optimization, paid search optimization, etc. I aim to increase conversion, period. Anyway, the part about checking your web analytics application to notice high bounce rates on your homepage struck me as odd.
First, if you are driving people to your homepage via paid search, then you should reevaluate your campaign strategy. I know this is a necessity sometimes if you lack the resources necessary to build custom landing pages, but to think that a high bounce rate on your homepage means you are experiencing Click Fraud is a stretch! There are so many websites out there that are not optimized properly to meet customer expectations (and to ultimately increase conversion). And I'm not talking about small websites without marketing budgets... There are three large scale websites in particular that I have worked with over the past 18 months that see over an 18% bounce rate on their homepage. And yes, I am working on that... So, if a website has 400,000 visitors per month, they are seeing 864,000 people per year leave without taking another step... Just imagine the revenue bump if you converted even a small percentage of those visitors. For example, if you converted .5% of those visitors that bounce and your average sale is $50, that's $216,000 in revenue.
Landing Pages Are Crucial to the Success of Your Campaign
Back to my point, when launching any type of online marketing campaign, a landing page is crucial. Think about it, imagine wanting to buy a Jeep Commander, finding a dealership, walking in, only to have the salesperson dump you on a lot filled with 1000 cars and only some of the them are Commanders. If you have a large e-commerce site, then that's exactly what you are doing if you send prospects to your homepage from a paid search campaign or email. The landing page should be tailored to convert that prospect, period. It should include all of the information that the person needs to move forward in the buying process. What's on the landing page completely depends on your product and company, but be specific, be brief, and provide clear calls to action.
In closing, high bounce rates on your homepage do not necessarily mean you are falling prey to Click Fraud... It might very well mean that you aren't driving people to the right place or that your homepage isn't part of your persuasive selling system! Don't spend all of your time on the external factors of a campaign (the creative, the blast, the keyword research, etc.) You should also think about where you are sending them. In my experience, too many companies are still a few years behind when it comes to website optimization, using landing pages properly, and enhancing conversion via scientific marketing.
PS A quick analogy...I have a 3 year old daughter and she loves watching "Far Far Far Away Idol" at the end of Shrek 2 (a parody of American Idol and with all of the creatures from Shrek). The performances were extremely well thought out, well written, and well executed by the animators. Each contestant was hilarious in their rendition of the popular song...there is even an appearance by Simon Cowell. Then the winner is announced and the entire scene falls flat... It was apparent that they ran out of time during the production of the segment. It just doesn't feel right, my daughter even looks disappointed, and you're left with a feeling of "that's it??" I couldn't help but think that this is a great analogy to sending someone to an un-optimized page on your website via an online marketing campaign. So, be sure to think of Shrek 2 when mapping out your next marketing campaign! ;-)