When a Website Bounce Isn't...Wait, What?

Recently while performing a Google Analytics accounts audit, we stumbled upon an interesting observation. The VDPs on this client’s site showed bounce rates that were over 10% below the site average.


What Happened: A new vendor started advertising and added “interactive events” to the site. Any time one of these events was triggered (page scroll, >30 seconds on page, page engagement, etc) a session would no longer result in a bounce.

While there is merit in tracking additional website engagements, caution must be exercised not to artificially increase (or decrease) metrics. In the above situation, if a shopper were to click on an ad, then move to a new window, they would not be considered a bounce provided they stayed on the site for 30 seconds (even with no actual page interaction).

In our above scenario, there were two main items of note:

  1. It was not obvious that these changes were made. In speaking with the vendor, we were told this tracking was “part of the normal set-up”, however there were no annotations in Google Analytics. If another party were to look at the data this change may not be apparent, resulting in an inaccurate view of what is being measured.
  2. More importantly, these events were only active on VDPs. When comparing bounce rate among campaigns, this vendor’s campaigns performed better in comparison, as they were landing on the VDPs with the adjusted bounce rate.

Takeaway: To prevent data inconsistency situations (like above), here are some questions to ask your vendors/partners:

  1. What is the goal of this campaign?
  2. How does this campaign help me accomplish my business goals?
  3. What are the KPIs and how are these KPIs measured?
  4. How often and in which format will we see campaign results?
  5. Do you need Google Analytics Access?
  6. If using Google Analytics, are you making any changes to the default tracking settings?

Hopefully by having these discussions with your partners prior to campaign launches, everyone will be coordinated regarding what success should look like and how it is being tracked.

Part 2 of this segment (the next post) will touch on a few different tips for managing your analytics accounts and evaluating vendor results.

April 7, 2017

Chris Grinnell

Analytics Manager