Conversion Rate Optimization: Understanding Your Exit Rate

If you are paying attention to conversion rate optimization, there are various metrics available to you to increase your level of engagement with your target audience. One that you may not have thought about is your exit rate. Understanding your exit rate can provide you with useful insights into how people are behaving on your website. Armed with this knowledge, you will then be in a position to optimize your site to cut down on your exit rate and boost your conversions.

Is Your Exit Rate the Same as Your Bounce Rate?

 Your exit rate and your bounce rate are related, but they are not the same. Both metrics record the percentage of people leaving a page after viewing, but they are different in the following ways:

  • Your exit rate is how often visitors are leaving your website after viewing any number of pages. If they have viewed more than one page, it does not count as a bounce. 

     

  • Your bounce rate measures how many people have not interacted with the page they have landed on (e.g., by commenting, clicking a link, or going to another page). They just abandon your site. However, such a bounce also counts as an exit. 

The two metrics may appear to be measuring the same thing. However, you need to examine what your visitor did next to decide if it’s an exit or a bounce. The following diagram illustrates that a bounce is also an exit, but not every exit is a bounce.

Bounce vs Exit Rates

Bounce vs. Exit Rates – Source: CXL.com

Is a High Exit Rate Bad?

 Not always. Let’s assume you have an online store. A visitor arrives on your homepage, then views a product page and your checkout page and exits after viewing your ‘Thank You’ page. Your visitors’ journey looks like this:

Homepage Product Page > Checkout Page > Thank You Page

Your ‘Thank You’ page will show a high exit rate due to people purchasing a product and then leaving your site. Obviously, this is good and not a problem.

However, a high exit rate on your checkout page indicates an issue with your sales funnel. Visitors are leaving without purchasing, so you need to find out why. Could it be due to your product price, your payment processor, or your shopping cart technology? Whatever it is, something is causing them not to complete their purchase, which you would only be aware of by looking at the exit rate of your pages.

Here are four strategies to help you understand your exit rate and how to reduce it:

1. Understand Your Visitors’ Behavior

Website analytics will show you how your visitors are journeying through your site, including which pages they are entering and exiting and their bounce rates. A variety of analytical tools are available to you, including Monster Insights, a Google analytics tool for WordPress websites. 

MonsterInsights Plugin

MonsterInsights Plugin

To find your exit rate with MonsterInsights, click Insights » Reports » Publisher
then navigate to the Top Exit Pages report.  

Top Exit Pages Report - This report concentrates on the top ten exit pages of your website. For each page, it gives you the number and percentage of exits and total page views. Using this report, you can determine which pages people are leaving from and then dig into them to try to figure out why they’re going.


2. Encourage People to Stay on Your Site

Some webpages serve as the natural end of a user’s visit, e.g., your ‘Thank You’ page following a purchase or event signup. But you can encourage visitors to stay on your site:

  • After identifying all the non-funnel pages where people are leaving, you could add an opt-in form to capture leads and grow your email list.
     
  • Suggest helpful blog posts via an exit pop-up that shows them how to use the product they just bought. 

3. Optimize Your Conversion Funnel

Use the information gleaned from your Exit Page Report to determine where people drop off and why they aren’t moving forward. This could turn out to be your marketing funnel, sales funnel, or some other audience journey map you may have.

  • Example: Let’s assume you’re a business coach, and you are offering a webinar that people need to sign up for. After they subscribe, people are given several dates for watching the webinar. You notice that many people reach this stage but never choose a date to watch. Instead, they navigate away from the page, giving it a high exit rate. 

    Maybe you need to pay attention to the best times to run webinars or maybe you are not providing dates far enough away to give people time to work it into their schedules. 

4. Ask Visitors for Help

Sometimes you’ve taken the time to understand your visitors’ general behavior, improve your customer journeys, and entice people to remain on your site throughout their visits, but people are still exiting. The mystery is still there, so why not ask people directly about it? 

Exit-intent tools can track and monitor a visitor’s movements and detect when they’re about to exit your site without buying or giving you information. Most website owners use this technology to capture more leads or reduce cart abandonment, but you can use it to find out more about your website. On every page with a high exit rate that mystifies you, add a pop-up exit-intent feature and encourage people to tell you why they are leaving.  

You may uncover something completely surprising that will save you from blindly tweaking and testing changes on your site. Instead, you’ll have targeted information you can use to fix the issue and reduce your exit rates for those pages.

WPForms Plugin

WPForms plugin

Understanding Your Exit Rate: Wrapping Up

Your exit rate can provide you with a lot of information about your website and how you can improve it. Exit rates can be used to optimize your funnels and landing pages and fix content issues, all leading to increased conversions. Regard every high exit rate page as a new opportunity to optimize your website and serve up more helpful information to your site visitors. Good exit rate strategies will help boost your bottom line. 

Interested in learning more about Conversion Rate Optimization? Be sure to check out the first two blogs in this series, including "What is Conversion Rate Optimization?" and "Conversion Rate Optimization: 5 Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment".


About Author

TimAhlenius
Tim has been building, designing, and executing websites since 1999, and joined Americaneagle.com in 2009. His specialties include online e-commerce consulting, web and business marketing, and project management. With technical and creative savvy, Tim is a born entrepreneur & problem-solver. When not staring soulfully at Google Analytics, Tim enjoys roughing it Apple-free in the great outdoors.


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