Common Causes of Website Abandonment: Diagnosing the Bounce Rate

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With lots of traffic and a site-wide code freeze, the holiday season is a great time for ecommerce marketers to review and analyze their website performance. This week, we’re going to review some of the steps our abandonment experts take in determining the common causes of website abandonment.

As discussed in our article, ‘Defining Website Abandonment: Part 1,’ website abandonment is defined as the number of unique conversions divided by the unique visitors. This metric provides general insight into the website’s overall effectiveness, however when diagnosing common causes of website abandonment, marketers need more specific data.


Common Causes of Website Abandonment
UpSellit’s Abandonment Experts typically begin their analysis at the very top of the website’s conversion funnel at the point of entry, commonly referred to as the entrance page. Not to be confused with a landing page or a home page, the entrance page is where the visitor first lands on your website. Sometimes a great review or article can cause a significant percentage of your traffic to arrive at a specific product page, so it’s important to review where the majority of your traffic is arriving on your site, not just your home page or designated landing pages.


how bounce rate affects website abandonment
Once your top entry pages have been identified, the next step in identifying common causes of website abandonment is to calculate the bounce rate for each top entry page. A ‘bounce’ is typically defined as a visitor who arrived at your website, did not perform any actions, and then abandoned. The bounce rate is simply the number of unique visitors who ‘bounced’ divided by the total number of unique visitors who arrived on that page.

The bounce rate is especially important in determining your common causes of website abandonment because it provides powerful insight into your traffic generation and marketing strategy. A website visitor who bounces does so because your website did not align with their expectations. According to the Google Analytics Benchmarking Report, the average entry page bounce rate for US traffic is 42%. With such a high percentage of your traffic abandoning within moments of arriving, optimizing for your bounce rate is a key process in boosting your website conversions.


abandoned shopper expectations
Now that you know your website’s top entry pages and which of those entry pages have the highest bounce rate, it’s time to start analyzing your data. Given that the bounce rate is attributed to a misalignment between the visitor’s expectations and the website, there are two approaches to optimizing the bounce rate. The first approach looks at the quality of the traffic being driven and the expectations created before the click. The second approach looks at how the entry page works to meet these expectations.

To determine the best approach for your analysis, it is important to segment traffic by their referring URL (where they came from). Understanding the thought process that lead to the visitor’s click-through is a key part of understanding their expectations. In a situation where the majority of the traffic is coming from various forms of advertisements, you should review the ‘promises’ being made and assess how your entry page may be falling short on fulfilling those promises. For organic search traffic, review your entry page’s meta data, and more specifically its description text to make sure that it is framing the entry page effectively. For traffic that’s referred from linked articles etc., review the top sources and determine where the inconsistency may lie between their explanation and your website.


reduce website abandonment

If your messaging is consistent between the link and the entry page, yet your bounce rate is still exceeding 42%, then follow these steps to check for some of the more common causes of website abandonment.

• The page load time is one of the most influential factors for the bounce rate. According to Akamai, 47% of online shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Here’s a great resource for testing the load speed of your entry pages.

• Site design and branding creates a first impression that can be very influential in the purchase decision. A dated, unattractive or cluttered website design can cause a visitor to immediately abandon before they even get the chance to read any copy.

• A broken or unusable entry page will cause any online shopper to immediately abandon, so be sure to test display and functionality for all browser types and operating systems. While the majority of online sales still take place on desktop computers, a significant amount of research and comparison shopping takes place on mobile devices, so be sure to test for mobile operating systems as well.


website abandonment solutions
You can deduce with reasonable certainty the common reasons for website abandonment by simply reviewing and analyzing the wealth of data made available by website analytics. However, the most effective method of finding out why your customers abandon is to simply ask them. With UpSellit’s website abandonment solutions, businesses can identify abandoned shoppers and engage them in an automated chat or a dynamic abandonment survey to find out exactly why they are leaving.

For more information about UpSellit’s website abandonment solutions, or for a free abandonment consultation, please click here.

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