But this was my first car. It was up to me to make it work. So I had to tinker on it most weekends.
This was before internet; there was no blog post entitled, “10 Quick Ways to Turn Your Beater Car into a Tuned Street Performer.”
A decade later, my first website in the 1990s was the equivalent of a high-mileage 1979 Honda Accord.
Over the years, I upgraded to better performing cars; and I upgraded to better performing websites. In both, performance and function are what counts the most.
Today, I see many people buy brand new websites just like my lucky classmates.
These new websites may LOOK like shiny new cars, but they share a problem I had with that old tailpipe-smoking, wheel-shuddering, gearbox-grinding blue Honda I bought a few decades ago...
I hated seeing spots of fluid on the pavement under my car. It told me I had a leak, but it was up to me to figure where it was coming from. I’d have to check all the hoses, drain plugs, or any component that had liquid in it – the radiator, engine block, brake cylinder – until I found the leak.
After finding the leak, I’d have to learn how to fix it.
Similarly, every website unintentionally leaks prospective customers because of a problem with the website, its content, its appearance, or its function. Some sites gush out visitors nearly as fast as they come in. Hopefully, that’s not yours The best websites measure visitor leaks with figurative thimbles.
Unlike a car, however, the leaks aren’t as evident as drips appearing on pavement. You need to look for the leaks, and then you can figure out solutions to help plug them.
Your website – right now – while you’re reading this – did you hear that? Someone just left your website without buying, even though they MAY have completed a sale. Your website let them go. These prospects are leaking out the bottom of your website.
Drip drip drip. Lost revenue.
Let’s find the leaks.
FIRST TYPE OF LEAK: VISITORS FIND YOUR WEBSITE AND IMMEDIATELY LEAVE
If a person visits your website and immediately leaves without clicking on any of your website’s links or looking at any other pages on your website, it’s called a bounce.
Imagine if Google or Facebook threw a visitor your way, they hit one of your pages, and they immediately go elsewhere. It’s like they bounced off your webpage.
If you have Google Analytics or a similar tool installed, you should be able to find some of the biggest leaks in terms of what pages on your website are bouncing a much higher percent of visitors than you’d expect.
In Google Analytics, you can see each page’s Bounce Rate in the “Landing Pages” report (Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages). This tells you how many visitors enter your website on that page and leave before they view a second page on your website.
In the above chart, we can see that the entire website’s average Bounce Rate is just under 23%.
But we can see there are two pages in the chart that show bounce rates around 60%; much higher than the website’s overall average.
That shows you a potential spot where your website is dripping leaked visitors onto the pavement. It’s up to you to figure out WHY those pages bounce much higher than the website’s average.
There are many reasons why a visitor may bounce:
- It’s not optimized for a mobile user.
- It takes too long to load.
- They want to purchase a product, but it’s out of stock.
- They expected your product to be a certain price (listed elsewhere or in advertising), but your price displayed is different.
- The subject matter is not what they were expecting. They were searching for how to build card houses with their kids; and they landed on your blog review of the Netflix show, “House of Cards”.
- The visitor doesn’t like the visual appearance of your website because it looks old, unprofessional, or generally unimpressive.
- They find your website hard to read.
- Perhaps the visitor has a desire to go further, but your navigation is confusing or unclear.
- The page is related to what the visitor is seeking, but they don’t find the content helpful.
- The visitor is thinking about purchasing a product, but your website is not upfront with shipping or sales tax, and the visitor doesn’t want to take the time to search for that information.
In thinking about WHY a visitor may bounce, you can look at those pages of high bounce rate with a new eye and ask yourself, “Do I see anything wrong with this page, if I was a new visitor who knew nothing about my company? Is this page different from other pages on my website, somehow?”
Also take a look at how much time a visitor spends on a page before bouncing. A visitor who is on the page for 60 seconds probably has a different reason for bouncing than the visitor who is on the page for only 5 seconds.
In the chart above, both of the high-bounce pages show visitors who are spending around a minute on the website. This information immediately tells us that the average bouncer did not land on either page by accident – there is something on the page answering what they were seeking; but not enough for 60% of the visitors to want to further explore the website.
So, getting visitors to your webpage is one challenge – having them stick around is another challenge; and it’s your job to figure out why some pages are not keeping visitors as well as others.
SECOND TYPE OF LEAK: VISITORS GO TO MULTIPLE PAGES ON YOUR WEBSITE AND EXIT FROM ONE PAGE MORE THAN OTHERS
With my teenager Honda Project car, I also had the type of leaks where nothing would puddle under the vehicle while parked, but the fluid level went down while driving it. The thing would run, but it had mysterious leaks as it was driving along.
I didn’t have Google to ask, “Why does anti-freeze fluid get less while driving?”
But for all of us website owners, we DO have Google Analytics or other similar tools to help us see where the majority of visitors are leaking out of the website while they make their way through it. Google Analytics shows the Exit Rate Report for each page at Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages.
A high exit rate on a webpage is not always bad. There are some pages where you’d expect a high exit; where it’s the end of a natural flow on your website. One example is the Order Confirmation page – the customer has completed a purchase – they have nothing further to do on your website.
In the above chart, we can see that the average webpage on this client’s website loses about 22% of visitors – it’s the final page a visitor sees before leaving the website. That’s the “Exit Rate” average of the site’s pages.
But there are a couple pages that immediately stand out for having 40%+ exit rates.
One of those pages is the Cart page. For this website, with this Exit Rate report’s date range, 46% of visitors who made their way to the Cart page were leaving it.
If nearly half your visitors are adding a product to the cart, and then immediately leaving the site, it would be a high priority to address. The solutions to test could be layout, promotional language, cross-browser and cross-device compatabilities, information about shipping/tax in the cart, visual cues to proceed to checkout, etc.
Especially on pages that are in the direct path to complete a lead generation or a purchase; reducing the Exit Rate can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
In the above example, 46% of visitors who arrived to the cart page were leaving. If some work were done that reduced the Exit Rate to 35% on that page; it means more people staying on the website and potentially funneling further into the checkout path.
PLUG THE LEAKS AND DRIVE OFF INTO THE SUNSET
Finding and fixing leaks is only one part of keeping an old Honda cruising along. Once the engine is running and car in driving condition - without identifying the biggest leaks - it requires constantly adding more fluid just to keep the status quo.
In the same way, if your marketing and advertising spend is increasing traffic to your website, but if many of those visitors are leaking out before you can convert them, your website is not performing as great as it should.
Plug the leaks and drive up conversions!