Do Not Bounce With Me

Keep your eye on the KPIs (Key Pertinence Indicators)!

Recently I attended a conference on Google Analytics where industry guru Justin Cutroni suggested that we look at the bounce rate as an interesting way to track the percentage of consumers who, after performing a Google search, landed on content of so little interest that they immediately clicked back to the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). In the context of a Web site performance analysis, this rate represents the proportion of people who viewed just a single page of the site: the visitor comes, he sees, he flees.

GRP, CPM, CPC: Like the Holy Grail, marketers still seek an indicator to help them calibrate their advertising spend in view of their ultimate objective - which is usually sales. If a marketer invests 1, she reaps x; if x is suddenly lower than usual, she starts to worry. Costly, complex quantitative and qualitative studies may help her get to the bottom of what happened in the interval to adversely affect her bottom line.

But what if the bounce rate - or, even better, the "flight rate" - from her Web site was exactly the indicator that our marketing friend needs in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of the consumer's decision process? When we link the flight rate to the source of the fleeing traffic - be it a banner on a media site or a paid search term on a SERP - we can learn if there is actually an affinity between the consumer and the content he finds when he lands on the site.

Consider these examples:

Did people who typed "airfare to Paris" on and then clicked on the sponsored link "flee" more or less frequently than the average? More often? Hmm, that's odd. Well, not so odd really, when you consider that traffic from the paid search link ended up not on a custom landing page, but on the site's home page - which mentions neither "Paris" nor "airfare."

Thanks to ad networks, plenty of sites send traffic to your Web site, right? But hey, something's funny: Despite the increase in visits, the conversion rate is shrinking. As it turns out, 98 percent of that traffic is "fleeing" as fast as it comes in. Makes you wonder if the price you paid for that traffic was as low as it seemed at the time.

These examples provide a clue to the importance of paying attention to a certain KPI: pertinence. The flight rate serves as a gauge or a warning signal that we need to verify how pertinent or relevant a message really is to the target, and how well that message and the offer behind it match his needs, interest level, curiosity, etc.

Since I can identify the reason a given consumer landed on my site, doesn't it make sense to offer him relevant content?

Marketers need to question their assumptions about customer contacts. We need to ask: What are the terms that people really use to find my offer? And what terms do people search for without finding me, even though my content corresponds to their needs? Which media, creative and messages truly show the strongest affinity?

To find out, take a look at your flight rate and keep your key pertinence indicator in mind. These novel metrics will enable you to help consumers connect the dots ... and connect more effectively with your offer.

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