Online marketers know the price that will be paid for site content that fails to impress the consumer: a site bounce that happens faster than you can say “content optimization.” The reasons for a site bounce range from showcasing too much or too little information to not having a mobile-friendly site.
Furthermore, your audience’s expectations are high. They expect to find what they need quickly, and if the user can’t find what she’s looking for in an accessible way, she’ll move on to the next site in her search results list.
Although new approaches to design, content and user interactivity are constantly being developed, overhauling a site won’t change its bounce rate if you’re not giving users the content they want, and in an intuitive and helpful design.
The content tightrope: Balancing information and design
You’ve likely seen it dozens of times. You reach a website’s intro page and you instantly start scanning the screen for what you need, whether it’s info on offered products, business hours or something simple like an “About Us” page. A great deal of text is crammed together, with different category tabs along the width of the page that are too vague to be helpful.
Or you find that it’s just the opposite: The design may be visually appealing, with a nice balance of space and information, but everything is so spread out that you have to do several seconds of scrolling to find what you need. Both situations are frustrating, since emphasizing either text or design to the detriment of the other will prevent your site from being successful. Thus, the bounce occurs.
It’s natural that many Web designers want to show off their skills by structuring images and text in original ways. Having a sharp and engaging website is important, but if it doesn’t feature some well-written and informative content, you’ve got a shiny package with nothing inside. You may draw folks in with a cool design, but your bounce rate will be steady if your content is buried or you don’t provide compelling content at all.
Staying a step ahead of your audience
Whether you’re a world champion chess master or an amateur enthusiast who plays pick-up matches at the local chess spot, you’ll have learned that thinking ahead is crucial for winning the game. Garry Kasparov has spoken about how it’s mandatory for him to be thinking three to five moves ahead of his opponent when in a match.
In the marketing field, thinking ahead means considering your audience’s perspective, asking the right questions and then having the winning answers in store for users when they land at your site. Although the idea of knowing your audience has almost become a cliché through repetition, it’s a crucial step toward winning them over and creating a community of loyal consumers, rather than continual bounce stats.
Also, once you’ve determined the path you need to take with design and content, don’t skimp on the details. Even grammar mistakes can be enough of a turnoff that will lead users to the the Back button and search for another site with better quality content.
Staying a few steps ahead of your audience will convey to them you not only know their needs, but that you can be trusted, and that’s where brand loyalty begins. Shoring up loyalty these days depends on being able to connect with the consumers no matter their device, which brings us to the issue of mobile platforms.
The arrival of mobile marketing
2014 has been predicted as the year when mobile traffic will outpace that of desktop use. With Apple’s iOS 8 set for release this fall, mobile traffic will continue to increase, and businesses that don’t have a strong mobile presence (or none at all) will suffer the consequences. Google has also recently announced that businesses without a mobile platform will see their search rankings negatively affected.
Non-mobile sites are one of the biggest reasons why users bounce, and this increasing mobile activity has added a whole new dimension to Web design. A site that isn’t mobile-friendly conveys to the user that your business is way behind the times, no matter the quality of your content. Maneuvering around a site that isn’t mobile-friendly is a chore and as more people do their searching and shopping through mobile devices, you’ll be giving your competitors a great advantage by not being able to cater to both desktop and mobile users.
Strategies for passing the test
Passing the bounce test requires a threefold approach:
- Ask the right questions about your audience and what they’re looking for
- Devise an effective design that’s cross-platform for any device
- Create informative, engaging content
Each of these approaches will go a long way toward reducing your bounce rate, and putting yourself in the shoes of your typical user will help you understand what they’re looking for, knowing how to present it and making sure it’s informative.
Monitoring a site’s bounce rate is one part of how online marketers know when content works, who responds to it and how frequently it’s shared. Keeping up on all these points will help strengthen your ability to craft a successful website that consumers will respond to enthusiastically. In the end, you’ll have a site that provides the right amount of information in an attractive package that will draw traffic and grow your business.
Image Source: Flickr