Bounce Rate Revisited: How It Applies To The New Buyer Journey

bounce-rate-marketing-living-edge-road-traveledThere are a lot of differing opinions about bounce rate:  The factor assigned to the duration of an individual’s visit to a particular website. The general consensus is that VERY low or VERY high bounce rates are bad and that optimally, bounce rate targets should be set, based on industry, between 40%-60%. I’m not disputing whether organizations like 21Handshake are right or wrong. I’m simply asking if it’s not time to revisit bounce rate guidelines now that so many functions of business and industry can be segmented into molecule-sized units.    


I’m not a fan of shopping.  In fact, I prefer to spend as little time doing it as possible.  When I need something, the first place I look is online—either at branded websites or on Amazon.  If I MUST go to a store to touch or try on something, I know EXACTLY what I’m looking for and make a beeline to that department.  I’ve gone through the selection process before ever leaving home.  All that’s left is FINDING AND PURCHASING THE ITEM  THAT’S IN MY HEAD.

If a bounce rate could be assigned to that shopping experience, what would it be?  70%?  80%? 90?  Based on what you learned about me as a CONSUMER, where would the bounce rate fall on a scale from low to high? How many consumers do you think likely share the same attitude?

A good friend, Nick Westergaard, wrote a BRILLIANT post a few years ago called “The Age of Interruption Is Over“.  It describes the opposite scenario—where a high bounce rate is bad.  More importantly:  What causes it to be bad. How convenient, as holiday shopping season is right around the corner!  In Nick’s post, the only bounce rate is the one in which those mall doors are BOUNCING OFF THE HINGES!  


If money were not a concern, how many people prefer to spend time engaging with community members instead of transacting business? In other words, would most people prefer the recreational weekend activities or working in their offices?

The answer is obvious unless you have a career that allows you to work like you’re on vacation.  Here’s the quandary:  The purpose of marketing has always been to distract consumers and keep them in the buying environment/mindset.  Why are so many displays set up in retail environments?  Why are people staffed at mall kiosks handing out “free samples” to anyone who passes by, whether they want them or not?  To DISRUPT consumers.  This contradicts the objective of people like me who know what they need and want before they even leave the house—to get in and out as quickly as possible.  Why?  So I can spend MORE time engaging with members of my community that I want to be around.  For many people, this community is our family.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to set bounce rate targets for transactions as high as possible (85% or above) and bounce rates for community engagement targets as LOW as possible (15% or below), with anything in the middle considered NOISE?


We’re experiencing great change across a multitude of industries. Consumers are making purchase decisions before they ever leave the house, if they ever need to.  Most people say that others they know, like and trust influence their decisions more than branded store personnel. Yet businesses continue to try to influence purchase decisions using distractions to entice and convince consumers to consume.  I get it…that’s how a consumption-driven economy survives and thrives.  On the other hand, streamlining transaction processes (especially automated ones) would accomplish the same outcome.   HIGH bounce rates will reflect the efficiency of those processes.  Conversely, LOW bounce rates would reflect the effectiveness of relevant content stimulating deeper community engagement.  Wouldn’t the integration of these two strategies benefit all parties involved?

A great mentor once said to me:  “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”  His wisdom is quite relevant to this post. Many activities in the middle are generating a lot of noise. Breaking through has become extremely challenging, yet many insist on staying the course.

Perhaps it’s time to check the date on that map…