A: Bounce rate can be an interesting starting point for analysis, but many analysts have used it as too much of a proxy for success. It can be tempting to look at a landing page or look at a higher bounce rate and make a judgment about the content or the design of that page based on this one number. But it's only one of five or six metrics that should be used, even for a surface level analysis of a piece of content, let alone a deeper dive.
One weakness of using bounce rate as an indicator for success is that it doesn’t offer a reason why people leave your site from the landing page, so you might draw the wrong conclusions. There are many reasons why someone might end up on a landing page. For example, an outdoor gear company might create a special landing page for an email campaign. The page focuses on rock climbing equipment and is targeted toward the portion of its audience that scale rocks, but the marketing team sends the campaign email to the entire audience.
Out of the company’s whole audience, only five percent of customers are interested in rock climbing, but other people click through the email as well because they like the brand or saw the discount and want to know more. When the segment of the audience who doesn’t care about rock climbing realizes the page is only offering or promoting climbing gear, they will bounce.
The bounce rate is high, because a lot of people are leaving the landing page rather than clicking through, but that doesn’t mean the landing page was ineffective. The email segmentation was unfocused. If the marketing team had only sent the email to the five percent of the audience interested in rock climbing, they would have seen a low bounce rate.
In addition, the bounce rate doesn’t matter as much as the conversion rate, or the actual revenue generated. If 40 percent of those who clicked through the landing page convert, and spend several hundred dollars each on equipment, that is overall more successful than another page that had a lower bounce rate, but also a lower conversion rate and less revenue. The actual value of the second landing page is much lower, despite having a lower bounce rate on the landing page.
Bounce rate is often taken at face value, without the necessary context. How the data is collected also affects the effectiveness of bounce rate. For instance, when companies build a landing page, they are rarely considering how having a video that autoplays after five seconds will ultimately affect the bounce rate. There's a lot happening behind the scenes that can lead to a misinterpretation of the metric, much more so than factors like revenue or conversion rate, which are pretty standard and rely on metrics that are universally defined across companies and vendors in the digital analytics space.