Is my website's bounce rate too high? [industry benchmark data]

Your website is generating traffic and it’s technically sound, but one thing leaves you wondering: is my website's bounce rate too high for my industry?

Is my website's bounce rate too high? [industry benchmark data]
Written by Raza Kazi
Analytics, Web design, CRO  |   8 minute read

Your website is generating traffic. It’s technically sound with everything logged in Google Analytics, but one thing strikes you - your bounce rate seems abnormally high. People are visiting your page but that’s all they’re doing, leaving before exploring anything else.

What can you do to solve this problem? And when should you start acting on it? Is there a percentage you shouldn’t surpass? Does a certain number spell bad news? We answer all of these questions to help you figure out if your bounce rate is too high and what to do about it if you need to bring it back down to earth again. 

Bounce rate by industry in 2021 at a glance

So, what's an acceptable bounce rate? Unfortunately, there's no single answer. Your bounce rate depends on your industry. There’s no definitive right or wrong answer but what you can be sure of is if you feel it’s too high, it probably is. 

In part, acceptable bounce rates are based on personal opinion. Different experts will quote different numbers for different reasons.  A good way to gauge if you need to improve your bounce rate is by comparing it to industry benchmarks - not the ‘best’ websites in the world or generic case studies online. 

Here’s a quick summary of average bounce rates across the most common industries in 2021.

Bounce rate industry averages 2021Image via Content Square

You’ll notice B2B bounce rates tend to be higher, with most other industries sitting around the 45-50% mark. The average bounce rate, across all industries, is 47%, meaning roughly one in two visitors tire of your website before they even begin to journey through it. 

Have the above figures got you questioning? Does your industry sit where you thought it did? Continue reading to discover the variables which cause these figures. But first, let’s run through the basics.

So, what's a bounce rate?

A bounce rate is a universal metric shared across most software that monitors your website’s performance. It concerns the percentage of people visiting your website then leaving within the first few seconds (without taking any action).

To be clear, a visitor lands on a page and fails to interact or move to another page to find a resolution. They may close their browser window, revert to their Google search or most unfortunate of all, switch their attention to a competitor’s website. 

Why is website bounce rate important?

A high bounce rate indicates a web page or an entire website requires improvement. Sometimes all a web page needs is a quick content polish. At other times, the need for change might be greater, requiring a more rigorous improvement process. 

Bounce rate is important because it’s one of the only metrics that produces quantifiable insight into both the number and quality of visitors. Despite how we feel about our website’s content, the numbers never lie. 

Designers, content writers and proud business owners can watch their bounce rate to remove bias and encourage a more engaged audience. 

What are the industry average bounce rates?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There’s not an objective ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to bounce rates. Your goals will depend on your industry and the content you produce.  

Yet, industry average bounce rates give us a loose target to aim for. Let’s dive into that table above in a little more detail. 

Low industry bounce rates 

Among the lowest bounce rates are apparel (44%), consumer electronics (44%), travel (43%), grocery (40%) and energy (38%). Although 55% of typical visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website, visitors to these sites tend to spend longer or at least explore the website a little more, taking some form of action. 

At first glance, this group of websites have no obvious relation to each other. Yet, that’s not quite the case. Both apparel and consumer electronics sit in similar categories. Plentiful interlinking keeps visitors engaged, giving them the option to click a variety of phrases such as: 

  • Style this item with
  • Often bought together
  • Compatible with
  • Recommended for you 
  • Based on your shopping history 

In turn, browsing can become binging as customers enjoy long site sessions. 

If you sit in any of these categories with a slightly different figure. Don’t panic. Try to think of ways you can customise the shopping experience and interlink offerings where appropriate. 

Similarly, grocery and energy enjoy a close bond, both being essential services for homeowners. A user would rarely visit these types of sites without a clear intention meaning they’re more likely to complete a call to action or visit more than one page to find information. 

Fixing a high bounce rate in these industries then is about refocusing your relationship with the customer, stopping to think about how you can help them to build loyalty and gain trust.  

Finally, travel stands alone, with its statistics changing year on year. 

digital 22 office

We suspect travel’s low bounce rate in 2021 is due to the current climate, with people less likely to travel internationally. This means travel sites might experience lower traffic volumes but with a lower overall bounce rate. 

To maintain a low bounce rate in this area, you may need to temporarily revise your buyer personas

The motive to travel has changed with only a segment of the previous target audience able to make plans far in the future. In response to this, you should speak to the surviving traffic and own it, engaging those who are seeking some sandy solitude. 

Average industry bounce rates

This year, the average joes among us are automotive (45%), luxury (46%), financial services (47%) and beauty (48%). 

Visitors to these sites don’t automatically fall head over heels for the company and its content, yet they don’t rush off too quickly either. 

If you surpass the 47% mark in any of these fields, there's hope for you. And for the more competitive, there are plenty of ways to get your good enough score to a great one. 

You could consider: 

  • Altering ad campaigns to attract more qualified users
  • Sharpening on-site copy to align with customer pain points
  • Making quick formatting changes to give greater visual appeal 
  • Checking for broken links and error pages within your website 
  • Building a knowledge base for information-hungry users
  • Automating product suggestions to give plenty of options
  • Updating the CTA or creating a split CTA for testing

Also note, these benchmarks are taken from annual data that averages out bounce rates over the year. So, if your bounce rate ebbs and flows in different seasons, take note of this before being too reactive. 

High industry bounce rates

Both Telco (56%) and B2B (75%) website owners should hang their heads in shame for having the highest bounce rates on this list...or should they? 

In the case of Telco (telephone companies), industry reputation and competitiveness play a part in fleeting website visits. Users are notorious for quickly hopping in and out of websites to price check a provider and compare it against another. In fact, Telco companies often encourage this by offering price match deals and referencing competitors in their marketing. 

B2B visitors, on the other hand, tend to be more discerning as they avoid impulse purchases and conduct thorough research, often making an initial visit before feeding information back to their boss. 

High industry bounce rates are understandable when put into context. 

However, this doesn’t give these website owners permission to stand still and avoid optimisation. Placing attractive CTAs, time-sensitive offers and clear positioning all help picky customers to commit, driving down that all-important bounce rate metric.

What affects my bounce rate?

Now you know the importance of it and the industry averages/benchmarks, here’s exactly what affects it and how you can improve this figure.

Traffic source

You’ll find that depending on the nature of your website’s traffic, you’ll have varying bounce rates with patterns developing along the way. Outbound forms of traffic such as PPC and email marketing tend to have a considerably higher bounce rather than organic and direct alternatives, such as SEO.

If your paid ads or emails aren’t that effective, they’re misleading or targeting the wrong audience, you’ll notice your bounce rate rise considerably. With organic and direct sources, you’ll find visitors have come with the intent to land on your site. This can be through ranking for the right keywords or having previously visited your website and bookmarking it.

These visitors know what they want and they know what to expect.

Website purpose

Different industries come with varying types of searches but it’s partnered with what you set out to achieve with your website. This potential outcome can differ across industries. If you’re a social networking website, for example, you may set out to keep users on one typical page type with everything in one place.

digital 22 office

This one-page scrolling method is great from a user experience perspective. Although, it would technically be classed as a bounce if they don’t necessarily navigate from that page and just leave your website after the end of that particular session. This can lead to an industry high bounce rate. 

This doesn’t mean you’re worse than a different website than another. For example, a travel website will naturally have more pages requiring the visitor to do a lot more research, so they’ll stick around longer.

User experience

You should always aim to make your content easily accessible and useful to the reader. Or in other words, provide an exceptional user experience. To put it bluntly, your website’s appearance can be make or break when it comes to visitors bouncing.

A considerable percentage of website users surveyed in 2021 (38% to be exact) said they'll stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. The same group also wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile with 57% agreeing to this statement. So, it’s important you highlight your website’s messaging clearly and attractively in a form that resonates with your persona - no matter what device they use. 

Sure, appearance is key, but if visitors can’t see how amazing your website or content is, then they’ll look elsewhere.

With the growing number of people accessing the internet on the go, website load times need to be quicker and websites need to be smaller. Faster loading speed is vital as it not only has a growing influence on SEO rankings but also the fact that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

A combination of the above when it comes to user experience is the ease of navigation a website offers. Every person who lands on your website comes with intent and purpose - it’s your job to make it easy for them. Make it confusing and they’ll spend the time looking elsewhere where it’s easier to navigate.

To sum up, there’s no point in navigating the world’s best content if nobody will ever find it.

So how do I improve my bounce rate?

Here’s what you really want to know. Let’s look at what you can do to lower bounce rates.

Relevant, engaging CTAs

Consider including relevant CTAs that are clear and context-bound. This personalisation works well for food and drink websites where a visitor arrives with one idea but could leave with several if you pull it off correctly. 

For example, if they’ve come looking for a victoria sponge recipe, why not offer a CTA with the copy ‘tried our victoria sponge recipe? You’ll love our lighter version. Less sugar, all the flavour. Learn how now!’ These kinds of CTAs will allow you to gently guide and retain your site visitors for as long as possible by offering value to them.

Website appearance and navigation

If your website has poor navigation and appearance, then your priority should be to think about your visitor’s priorities. What do they want to see? Where do they want to see it?

By doing this, you’ll enable your website to resonate with your core persona while allowing your content to be interacted with more frequently. This results in a low bounce rate as your visitors begin to click around.

Website loading times

On the flip side, if you find your average session duration is remarkably low, the problem is most likely a site speed issue. With the rising prominence of accelerated mobile pages (AMP), you can consider moving pages over to this.

Or change images to JPEG format while keeping logos/graphics in .gif or .png format. Image file size is just the tip of the iceberg but is a big contributor to slow-loading sites.

Focus on your own bounce rate

Although knowing the stats of your competitors and the industry benchmarks is a powerful tool, don’t dwell on it too much as it can be quite harmful. By fixating on achieving a benchmark figure, you might be at risk of losing the uniqueness of your website which can make it less appealing to visitors.

Just focus on your own bounce rate as your website’s performance is the only one that matters. Don’t pull your hair out trying to achieve a benchmark figure as offering value instead will allow you to achieve the results you want.

Eventually, you’ll notice visitors sticking around for longer which contributes to driving conversions and sales. Getting to this stage isn’t an overnight process though and there are lots of moving parts that make an inbound campaign a success.

See what a typical year in inbound looks like

To get visitors to stick around, you need to make your content useful and easy to navigate. That’s the key. Content. It’s a big part of what helps create successful campaigns - and we’ve got a guide to back it up. 

Our year in inbound resource will give you a visual representation of what to expect throughout the year when you implement inbound marketing. It shows what to expect when content is created, how to amplify it and more.

To get your free copy, click on the link below.

Get your copy