11 August 2021
Today, in marketing, a lack of data usually isn’t the problem. Quite the opposite. Generally there is too much—from reach to viewable impressions, CTR (click-through-rate) to video view rate, cost per click to cost per acquisition. How do you cut through the noise to what really matters? Well, for starters, it’s important to know what metrics are available and to know what they actually mean. One question we get a lot is “what is bounce rate?” (Quickly followed up by “what is a good bounce rate?”) This question probably stems from the fact that bounce rate is on the home page of Universal Google Analytics. Google is giving it a prominent position, so it must be important, right? So to help you start weeding through all those metrics, lets talk about bounce rate—what it is, whether it matters, and how to improve it. What is bounce rate? A bounce, as defined by Google, is “a single-page session on your site.” In other words, it’s when someone comes to your website, sees only that one initial landing page, and then leaves the site. For example, let’s say you’re running a Google Ads campaign to get individuals to open a new business checking account at your financial institution. John sees your ad and clicks on it. He’s directed to a special landing page on your site. John lands on that page and eventually clicks the back button. It does not matter how long John is on that landing page—10 seconds or 10 minutes—or how much of the landing page he sees. In other words, whether he immediately clicks the back button or reads all the way to the bottom and then clicks the back button, it’s a bounce. Bounce rate is the percentage of times a bounce occurs on your website. You can calculate the bounce rate by dividing all the single-page sessions by all sessions. So if your checking account landing page gets 100 sessions and 10 of those sessions don’t visit any other pages, your bounce rate would be 10%. Pro tip: A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. So when someone visits a website they are starting a session and during that time period they may view multiple pages, click on things, or even make a purchase. All of those actions occur during that one session and are grouped together. This Google Analytics help article provides more information. What is a good bounce rate? It depends on your website and your business. (Yes, we know, that’s a frustrating non-answer.) Unfortunately, there is no absolute number you can use to judge your website’s bounce rate. A high bounce rate may indicate something is wrong with the website. Especially if there is a high bounce rate on a specific page while the rest of the site has a low bounce rate. Going back to our example with John, maybe that landing page does not match the ad he clicked. John clicked an ad for a special new business checking account but the landing page is talking about new business loans. Whoa! He’s in the wrong place … so he leaves. However, remember, bounce rate is defined as a single-page session. So while we know John only went to one page, what if he took a valuable action while he was on that one page? Let’s say your landing page is spot on, but the only way someone can open a new business checking account is to call the bank, make an appointment and then visit a location in person. John sees the phone number right there on the landing page, so he calls to make an appointment and then leaves the website. Google Analytics doesn’t know he made that call. Once he leaves the landing page, it’s a bounce … even though you just got an appointment from your Google Ads campaign. In this instance, you don’t really care that John bounced, right? Another example of an inflated bounce rate is if you have a login option on your site that directs to a different domain. Let’s say your financial institution has an online banking portal for customers. If someone comes to the homepage, immediately logs in, and is redirected to that online banking portal, they just bounced. This scenario could obviously lead to a lot of bounces every day. The type of business you have and how your website is set up will factor heavily into what you should be looking for in terms of bounce rate. We recommend that you evaluate bounce rate in conjunction with other metrics (such as conversions). In addition, pay attention to outliers; if there’s one page with a much higher bounce rate than the rest of the site dig in and try to figure out why. Pro tip: If there are important actions someone can take on your website, such as watching a video, you can set up event tracking. By default, when an event occurs, Google counts that as an interaction and even if the visitor only hits that one page, he or she will not be counted as a bounce. However, if you want to track events but not impact your bounce rate you can tell Google to see it as a non-interaction event. That means even when the event fires the individual must hit more than one page or it is still a bounce. Does bounce rate matter? So, wait, there’s no good answer to what is a good bounce rate? Does this mean bounce rate doesn’t matter? Umm, not quite. As mentioned above, bounce rate can indicate that there is a problem with your website as a whole or a specific page. Maybe something is taking too long to load or doesn’t match the user’s expectations. Another factor to consider when thinking about bounce rate is SEO (search engine optimization). A lot of people will tell you that bounce rate is part of Google’s algorithm when deciding who shows up where in the search results. For a variety of reasons, this does not technically appear to be true. What Google does appear to be considering for SERP (search engine results page) rankings is what’s known as “pogo-sticking.” As we’ve already talked about, a high bounce rate is not inherently an indicator of a bad website. Individuals could be converting on that landing page or moving to a different domain (like the online banking portal). What is an indication of a bad website is when someone leaves the site unsatisfied, goes back to the search results, and clicks on another organic result right away. Google actually has a patent called “search pogosticking benchmarks,” and according to that patent, the search engine is tracking the number of times search results are selected before a user doesn’t come back to the SERP as well has how many additional results are clicked after your website was selected. If Google concludes your website is causing pogo-sticking, you may be in trouble from an organic rankings standpoint. While high bounce doesn’t necessarily equal pogo-sticking, it could, so be sure to evaluate pages with high bounce rates to ensure you’re providing an optimal user experience. How do I improve my bounce rate? How to improve bounce rate will depend on what’s causing the high bounce rate in the first place. This is where an analytics deep dive is needed. You’ll want to look for answers to questions such as: What is the speed of the site or the page in question? A slow load time could be causing people to flee. Is the bounce rate higher on mobile devices? If so, evaluate the site or page from a mobile device to look for issues. Is the conversion rate on the page in question also high? If so, the bounce rate may not be anything to worry about. If you need help understanding your bounce rate or any of the metrics related to your site, St. Gregory can help. Our Google Analytics certified digital marketing specialists would love to help you implement a tracking plan that provides the exact data you need. Contact us today for a consultation.
27 July 2021
Direct mail marketing and print advertising can be powerful additions to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Don’t believe it? According to Smallbizgenius, people who receive a piece of direct mail spend 28% more than those who don’t. At St. Gregory, we’ve been helping businesses launch direct mail advertising campaigns and print advertising endeavors for over 30 years. One area where we’ve seen many businesses flounder is with measuring the return on investment of these campaigns. And if you aren’t effectively measuring, you aren’t getting across the finish line! Below we’ll share two ways we’ve successfully helped businesses measure the impact of their direct mail and print advertising campaigns as well as pro tips to help you avoid common pitfalls. Call Tracking with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising Is your business the type that lends itself to phone calls, such as customers calling to make an appointment or reservation? If so, call tracking is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail piece, print advertising campaign or magazine ad. The concept of call tracking is simple enough; you use a separate, dedicated phone number in the ad and calls to that number are counted. These calls may even be recorded so that information can be gathered about the callers themselves, such as gender and FAQs, and “conversions” can be counted. (Conversions might be the number of callers that actually make an appointment or reservation after speaking with your business.) Pro tip: Call tracking is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, but it isn’t just a marketing tool. Listening to calls is also a fantastic way to collect customer feedback and monitor employee-customer interactions with the aim of improving your business’ overall customer experience. For more information on improving the customer experience (and why it matters) read Customer Experience: Getting the Customer is Only the First Step. In theory, call tracking sounds great, but how do you implement it? You could do it manually. Get a separate phone number, have your employees count the number of calls and take notes about the outcome of each call. But let’s be real—that sounds like a huge hassle, right? Luckily, there are much more automated call tracking solutions available. For example, one that we’ve used here at St. Gregory is CallRail. CallRail allows you to get multiple phone numbers, so if you were doing a direct mail advertising campaign and a magazine ad you could have two separate tracking numbers. The service also records calls so you can listen to them later and integrates with Google Analytics so that you can compare call data with other conversions and compare your various traffic sources. Pro tip: Call tracking isn’t just for mail and print advertising. You can use call tracking phone numbers in any form of advertising from social media campaigns to television commercials. In fact, CallRail integrates with Facebook and other platforms to make the process as painless as possible. For more information on successfully implementing call tracking in any of your marketing and media campaigns, call St. Gregory today. Landing Pages and UTMs with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising If you plan on using your direct mail or print advertising campaign to drive website traffic, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about the URL that will be in the ad. There are two solid options to consider. Append UTM parameters to an existing page. The easiest tracking option is to simply add UTM parameters to an existing URL. UTM parameters, also known as URL parameters, campaign parameters, and campaign tracking parameters, are pieces of code you add to the end of a URL. This code passes information back to Google Analytics so that you can better categorize and measure the results of your campaigns. Pro tip: If you’re unfamiliar with UTM parameters and how powerful they can be for most marketing campaigns, dive in with Intro to UTM Parameters. Not only are UTM parameters free to use, they’re also fast and easy to deploy. The only issue with UTMs is that they can make a URL very long. A long URL is unsightly, may be difficult to fit on a direct mail or print advertising piece, and may be asking too much of your perspective customers. In other words, no one wants to try to type in a URL that is 50 plus characters long. And even if your customers are willing to do so, the longer the URL is the more likely it is they will make a typo and end up on a 404 “page not found” error page, which is beyond frustrating! The solution is to drop your URL, complete with UTMs, into a link shortener tool, such as Bitly, TinyURL, or Rebrandly. A link shortener simply takes a long URL and cuts it down. It does not strip off your UTM parameters or interfere with tracking. Use a dedicated landing page. What if you have a special offer or price you want to make available only to the people that receive your direct mail piece? Or for some reason can’t (or don’t want to) use UTMs? For example, if you’re using a web tracking service other than Google Analytics, UTMs might not be an option. In that case, you could create a separate landing page on your website specifically for your direct mail marketing or print advertising campaign. Whether you are creating a brand new page with unique copy or simply duplicating an existing page in order to measure direct mail or print campaign traffic, there are a few things you’ll want to do: Make the page is an “orphan” page. When a page is an orphan, that means that no other page on the site links to it. You do not want anyone to be able to get to the page unless they have the URL, which will only be in your direct mail or print advertising piece. Tell Google (and other search engines) not to index the page. Again, you want to ensure that no-one can get to the page unless they have the URL; the purpose of this is to try to keep your data as pure as possible. By telling Google not to index the page, you’re preventing your direct mail or print ad landing page from showing up in organic search results. Test your data tracking service, whether this is Google Analytics or some other application. Make sure you are able to collect visitor data. Ensure the page has a URL that is easy to type. Keep the URL as foolproof as possible. Pro tip: If you are duplicating an existing page, avoid duplicate content issues on your site by adding a canonical tag to the original page. Read more about canonicalization here. By using the methods in this post, you’ll be able to get a much better understanding of just how effective your direct mail and print ad campaigns are. At St. Gregory, we have talented team members that can help you design a new webpage, write effective sales copy, and implement a solid UTM strategy to get the most accurate tracking possible for your direct mail or print advertising campaign all while driving sales or leads. If you’re ready to see how well your campaigns, direct mail or otherwise, are really performing, let’s talk!