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Reconsidering bounce rate in web analytics

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In web analytics, ‘bounce rate’ refers to the percentage of sessions that have only one pageview. Bounce sessions are widely considered to be failures by marketers and web analysts. This article reconsiders bounces by looking at single pageview sessions using a different tool, Hotjar, to make virtual video recordings of such sessions. The results show that while some bounces are indeed failures, many are meaningful, including long visits that simply happen not to include any additional pageviews. The main reason for misunderstanding bounces as failures is that, in analytics, there is no marker to denote the end of the session. As a result, long single pageview sessions are improperly measured and look the same as short sessions through the analytics dashboard. Additionally, single pageview sessions are on the rise due to the increase in mobile browsing, as well as the ability of search engines to put the right content in front of searchers, lessening the need to request another page. Marketers are encouraged to use tools other than clickstream analytics to better understand bounce sessions, and to make the first pageview count for the visitor.
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Keywords: Google Analytics; bounce rate; digital marketing; engagement; measurement; web analytics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Communication, Loyola University Chicago

Publication date: January 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing is the essential peer-reviewed, professional journal for all those involved in the marketing of products or services using digital channels. Its overriding goal is to provide an authoritative, practitioner-focused forum to support the professional development of all those working in, or entering, the field. As such, the Journal's content is both of direct relevance to the practice of digital marketing and intellectually rigorous.

    Topics range from measuring and improving digital media effectiveness and ROI to search engine optimisation, from social media marketing to partner marketing, from mobile marketing to email marketing, website design, display advertising, pay per click and detailed marketing analytics. In short the Journal focuses on any of the established and emerging digital media, tools and practices requiring new approaches to marketing, branding and understanding customer behavior and attitudes.

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