What if I told you that your bounced vis­i­tors include some of your best cus­tomers and one of the most prof­itable seg­ments for your site? Sound crazy? Read on…

Bounce rate is one of the most loved met­rics. Bounce rate is an indi­ca­tor of page per­for­mance and tells you if your page was com­pelling enough to entice entries on this page to click-through to an addi­tional page of your site or if they decided to leave your site all together. It is cal­cu­lated as sin­gle page vis­its divided by entries (sin­gle page vis­its is also called sin­gle access vis­its in SiteCatalyst).

Omni­ture Dis­cover allows us to take a deeper look at bounce rate by dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between a hard bounce and a soft bounce. By a hard bounce I mean that they came to your site, saw one page, left, and never came back. By a soft bounce I mean that they had a single-page visit once but they did come back some other time.

You can imag­ine that some­one com­ing to your site and imme­di­ately leav­ing is a bad thing but how many of those bounces are because a big fan of your site has book­marked your site to load every time they start up their browser? This per­son may visit your site reg­u­larly and buy lots of stuff but may also often load his browser (and your page with it) and then nav­i­gate else­where. This illus­trates one case of how some­one bounc­ing from your site doesn’t mean they hate you. This kind of analy­sis is great for all sites but espe­cially for sites like woot​.com, steepand​cheap​.com, blogs in gen­eral, or any other site that is mostly just one page. If your site just has one page than you are pretty much guar­an­teed to have a high bounce rate so it is worth tak­ing a closer look.

Here is how you can look at these soft and hard bounces in Dis­cover. Below are the total vis­its and sin­gle page vis­its for a site over the past few weeks (see this Dis­cover tip for trend­ing sin­gle page vis­its). At the site level, vis­its are the same as entries so we can use vis­its to cal­cu­late the bounce rate (41MM/83MM) which is 50% for this site (ouch).

All Visits w Single Page Visits

To take a closer look and see what amount of these sin­gle page vis­its are a hard bounce we can use the fol­low­ing segment:

This seg­ment is look­ing for vis­i­tors to the site that have only one visit and a path length of 1 (aka, a sin­gle page visit). Sim­ply put, this is a vis­i­tor whose only inter­ac­tion for the time period was a sin­gle page view. When we add this seg­ment to the report we can then see how many of these sin­gle page vis­its are the “for­ever lost” kind.

Notice that 53% of all sin­gle page vis­its are a hard bounce (22MM/41MM). That’s only half of them! You can either sub­tract hard bounces from all sin­gle page vis­its to get the soft bounces or you can apply the fol­low­ing segment:

This seg­ment is look­ing for vis­i­tors with mul­ti­ple vis­its where at least one of those vis­its was a sin­gle page visit. These will be our soft bounces. And here are the results.

47% of Sin­gle Page Vis­its are from our Soft Bounce seg­ment. These are sin­gle page vis­its that inter­act with your site out­side of the sin­gle page vis­its counted here. Keep in mind that this in not in chrono­log­i­cal order and so they may have had a bounce visit before or after another visit.

Now it gets really inter­est­ing when we look at rev­enue per vis­i­tor by seg­ment to under­stand how much money I’m mak­ing off of these peo­ple. You can see that of these three seg­ments below, my soft bounce group has sub­stan­tially higher rev­enue per vis­i­tor than both of the other seg­ments. The other seg­ments here are “All Vis­its” which is a sim­ple site aver­age and “Ex Hard Bounces” which is all vis­its minus the hard bounces (just to make it a lit­tle more fair when com­par­ing to the soft bounce group). Com­pared to the site aver­age, the soft bounce vis­i­tors are three times more pop­u­lar (and yes, this is real data.) Appar­ently, even though the soft bounce group does have a sin­gle page visit on their record, they cer­tainly make up for it dur­ing other vis­its. (Notice that by week the num­bers are lower…this is caused by a dedu­pli­cated vis­i­tor count used as the denom­i­na­tor. Stay tuned for a future post on work­ing with vis­i­tors in Discover.)

So there you go…soft and hard bounces. Hope­fully this gives you pause if you are try­ing to be tricky and pro­vide dis­counts to peo­ple that are imme­di­ately leav­ing your site. These peo­ple may have already pur­chased or are likely to return with­out you hav­ing to give away money to do it. Look at the data for your site to see if this is the case.

13 comments
Stefan Nilsson
Stefan Nilsson

Just like Melissa, I'm wondering if there's something like this in SiteCatalyst/DataWarehouse?

Rapid Prototyping
Rapid Prototyping

Really interesting concept about the bounces and really was impressed by what I read about the “soft and hard bounces” – never really thought of it in the light of what is written here – makes sense!! It really gives you a completely different picture of the people who visit your site and am certainly planning to use Discover to check out the traffic in my site!! The illustrations were great and will get back with my feedback shortly!!

ateeq ahmad
ateeq ahmad

I have pondering this exact problem for a while now and I think the concept of a soft bounce and a quantification of this through Discover is ideal because it saves me from querying my DWH for days on end.. Thanks very much Kevin!

Andrea Moro
Andrea Moro

Interesting article, but how do you aggregate multiple visit from the different sessions?

Melissa Kavanagh
Melissa Kavanagh

This is such a great post. Of course, it leaves me with more Discover-envy than I had before...Is there no way to do something like this in SiteCatalyst/DataWarehouse?

Bente Lønnquist Busch
Bente Lønnquist Busch

Great and interesting post! I have never looked at bounce from this point of view before. I think it is the most useful if you want to look at your traffic from a visitor point of view, and you're making a great point when you say that your biggest fans might have your website as home, and therefore will bounce from time to tome. However, if you look at metrics that use sessions (conversions per session, etc), I'd say that bounce is bounce, and I'd still be interested in how I could tempt all my users into looking at more stuff on my site once they arrive - and perhaps persuade them into buying.

Laura MacTaggart
Laura MacTaggart

@ Marc The reason why you are unable to save the segments is because you are trying to save them to the SiteCatalyst folder. If you select another folder from the drop down in the Save window, like Favorites, you should have no problem saving the segments.

Paul
Paul

Kevin - Thanks for the post. I was able to replicate the steps you put forth with my data using a three month time frame. The one question that I have is regarding the Revenue Per Visitor metric. When I changed the granularity from Day to Week to Month, the RPV increased 2x to 3x with each change. I think that this has something to due to Visitor count in the equation, so I am wondering on how Discover calculates the Unique Visitor based granularity of the report. Any insight that you could provide would be most appreciative. Thanks Paul

Tom Miller
Tom Miller

This is really what web analytics is all about. You've taken perhaps the most mis-used site metric (bounce rate) and, with a modest inclusion of additional data, completely refuted the most obvious speculative conclusion that would arise from the original dataset. Great illustration!

Cheryl Fuerte
Cheryl Fuerte

Great post about soft and hard bounces- valuable insights too.

MG
MG

Hi, I am trying to recreate these segments within Discover but seem to be encountering an error. I've tried to save both segments and both times, I receive a Segment Error message telling me there are incompatibly elements in the segment (incompatible element being Visits). Any insights on how I can resolve this issue? Thanks, Marc

Kevin Willeitner
Kevin Willeitner

Sounds like you are trying to save the segment in the SiteCatalyst folder. Segments saved in the SiteCatalyst folder need to be compatible with segments that you can create in Data Warehouse. Because this segment uses some incompatible elements you will need to save to a different folder. If you do not have any other folders set up you can create a new one by clicking on the folder icon in the bottom right corner of the Segments Pane. Then press New button to create a new folder. Once your folder is created you can save your segments to it.