Here’s why I don’t mind a high bounce rate

chrislema-face

Have you ever bought something from an infomercial?

Maybe you're not that person. But I was.

I was watching television and I'd seen this commercial so many times that I was no longer mesmerized by it. I took the information at face value and just had to decide if I was ready to make the purchase.

I'm talking, of course, about the Total Gym.  Because if it's good for Chuck Norris, it's gotta be good for me, right?

The one on the television was $500. And since I was not even 25, that was a good price. But when I called them on the phone to buy it, I experienced a strange dynamic. They offered me a different device for $700 and an even better version for $1000. With 3 or 4 easy payments.

As you can imagine, I did what many 25 year olds do. I bought a larger device than I needed, for more money than I had, and used a payment plan to do so. And then, within a month, I was super happy it fit under my bed.

I'm going to shift the story here from the past to the present, but trust me – I'll bring it all around in a minute or two.

My bounce rate fluctuates between 70-80%.

It always has. Since I started this edition of my site (3 years ago).

Most people, especially if they've been to a bloggers conference, a conversion conference, or pretty much any internet conference in the last decade will likely assume a low bounce rate is good and a high bounce rate (like mine) is bad.

What is a bounce rate?

The bounce rate of your site is this:

The percentage of people who arrive to a page on your site and depart your site from that same exact page – without visiting any other page.

So you can see why a high bounce rate makes a lot of people unhappy. They want visitors to bounce around their site and check out all the super cool posts.

At this point you're likely wondering a) why I don't mind a high bounce rate, and b) what does it have to do with Chuck Norris?

I'm glad you were wondering. I'm going to tell you.

Here's the reason why I don't mind a high bounce rate

Let me preface this by saying that my site may not be like your site. So what applies to me may not apply to you. But I don't want you to copy me. I simply want to challenge your thinking to make sure that you're doing what's best for you.

Plus I want to tell you how I've optimized my high bounce rate.

But before I do that, let's dig into my high bounce rate and why it's perfectly fine with me.

I write posts with one main point. They answer one key question. And they're attempting to be helpful.

So it's no shocker that people go on Google, do a search with a question in mind, and find an article of mine. Then they click.

The majority of traffic I get is sent to me from Google as someone is trying to figure something out.

This will be important in a second. But let me take you back to that Total Gym phone call.

I wanted something. It was pretty simple. “Please let me buy your product.” Their response was anything but simple.

“While I have you here, let me share with you some of the other options you may want to consider.”

This is called an upsell or cross sell – which is where “do you want fries with that?” came from.

Either way, all that upsell info on the call could have distracted me from my purpose – to buy a piece of equipment that I wanted.

It didn't in the case of the Total Gym, but it has in tons of other situations.

I don't mind a high bounce rate because it suggests that a person:

  • had a question
  • searched for an answer on Google
  • visited my post and read it
  • left with what they needed

That's perfect. I don't want to mess with it by saying, “while I have you here, let me show you some of my other cool blog posts you should spend  your time on.”

I don't want to interrupt their process because in several cases, they take off to go buy something and I get an affiliate commission on it. And I don't get paid by the number of pages a person reads on my site.

Each post is self-contained so a person can get in, read, take what they need, and leave.  That's on purpose. I don't want you to hang around on my site, clicking more posts and spending time on the site just to make me feel good about myself. That's silly.

Get your info and go!

But wait…how do I get them to come back?

Of the roughly 700,000 folks that visited my site in 2014, only 200,000 came back more than once. A lot of people came, got what they wanted, and took off.

And I'm fine with that.  I really don't want people to get here and get blasted by tons of tricks to keep them around when they already got what they needed.

But what if I had more to share and they never knew about it? Right?

That's why everyone tells you to get an email list.

But my sign ups were just ok.

And that's when I finally decided to leverage some technology to help me out.

Optin Monster increased my sign ups by 100%

Let's start where we all know we need to start.

I hate popups.

Seriously. I heard Ryan Deiss talk about the rapid request for your personal information and he compared it to a couple picking out baby names on their first date. Tell me if that's not a perfect illustration.

Anyway, as much as I hate popups, I can't argue their efficacy. They work. It's true.

I just happen to have a close friend who runs a team of folks that have created Optin Monster. And trust me when I tell you that it is pure awesome.

So here's what happened.

I was talking to my buddy Syed who let me know they were shifting Optin Monster to a SaaS. And he was showing me some cool features related to when you could trigger a popup.

What they can do now is show you a popup, only when you're leaving (exit intent), when you're leaving from any post with a particular string in the url.

What that means is that I can have a popup show up, only when you're leaving my site, from any post that has “membership” in the post url – regardless of the tag or category.

And that is huge for me – because it means I can use different popups for different people leaving from different parts of my site – even if they've only been to the site once.

So I gave it a try 6 weeks ago.

I normally get about 25 sign ups a week. Not a ton. But that's fine. I know most people don't want more email in their inbox and I'm good with that.

In the last 6 weeks, sign ups have doubled – giving me 45-50 sign ups each week.

And that's only on three topics so far – presentations, pricing, and memberships. I've not added anything for ecommerce or blogging, for example.

I don't mind one-time visitors

I have never minded one-time visitors. My bounce rate has been high and I've not been frustrated by it. Again, my monetization comes from actions predominantly off my site, so a departure can be a very good thing.

But that doesn't mean I don't want people to come back if I have an article they'd like to read. So for them, I've loaded up Optin Monster and it's been fantastic.

By the way, in case you didn't know, Chuck Norris does not lift weights, weights rise before Chuck Norris.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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