In the retail sector, much attention is paid to the science and analysis of “Footfall”.  Footfall is defined as the number of pedestrian traffic that crosses a store’s threshold.  Each one is a potential customer, who has arrived on the premises for a wide range of reasons.  They may have responded to an advertisement, came with a friend, been recommended to the store, be an active motivated shopper, merely browsing, or even just getting in out of the rain.  Whichever it is, each one causes a draught when they open the door, and helps to wear out your carpet.  The most successful retailers really do study the science of footfall, and try to ensure that everyone is a paying customer.  Just try leaving IKEA once you have entered the store – it’s almost impossible!

In this regard, websites can be very similar, and are optimised using similar strategies to many real world shops and malls.  Your bounce rate metric is the measure of the percentage of visitors who view only one page on your site, before leaving and going elsewhere.  Again, the traffic you receive can come from many sources, and has arrived at your door for many similar reasons to the shoppers above.  If you are running a business, you need to prompt every visitor into an action, whether it be to purchase a product, make an enquiry, or in the case of job sites, register or apply for a vacancy.  In the case of job sites, any visitors that bounce, are not only a waste of bandwidth, but could be costing you valuable marketing pounds.  A typical BR in the recruitment sector is between 40% and 60%.  In this sector, candidates are by definition, “browsing” many job adverts, before applying. There is no cost in applying, but an application is a commitment every job board is looking to secure from job seekers.  A bounced visitor is a tantalising possibility of the registration/ application that could have been.  As with any sales process, it is vital to know the point at which you lost them.  Bounce rates are caused by two key elements – the source of the traffic, and the stickiness of your site, and most importantly the relationship between the two.

Firstly let’s examine the sources.  You may be using several routes to attract or drive traffic to your site.  Google Analytics provides a particularly useful to compare and analyse their respective bounce rates.   The source must accurately target candidates, and reflect the content of your site, otherwise visitors will be disappointed as soon as they arrive to see that the role does not match their expectations.  In the case of vacancy aggregators, the information provided must include Job Title, salary, location and a brief description.  This greatly helps to target candidates, reduce your bounce rate, and consequently cost per click.

At a time when the number of window-shoppers is greater than ever, and every marketing pound is a hostage, it is vital to analyse your own stats, and plan accordingly.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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