Do you want to know what Las Vegas is without tourists? A towering stack of mind-boggling electricity bills. That’s why the entire city is carefully decorated and structured to appeal to visitors on a visceral level – one they’re often not even aware of. Slot machines aren’t put in a specific place because “something ought to go there” or “the casino down the street has them” – that would be a massive waste of resources, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, too many businesses are doing this with content, and they can’t understand why their bounce rates are through the roof. We do – would you want know to know why?
Think about the emotions that arise when you hear phrases like this spoken to you – “I need to have a word with you” or being “We need to talk” – did your stomach drop just a little bit, thinking of the bosses’ office, or a grade school principal? That’s because one-way conversations are seldom the stuff of positive legend: they’re far more likely nightmarish-first-date styled stories about ego or getting in trouble, rooted in a speaker’s unwillingness to connect. Your customers or visitors need information, sure, but they want to feel like their needs and experiences have a particular influence on that conversation. If your content is “speaking to” instead of “speaking with” readers, you’re probably actively pushing them away. Engage with questions in your content, and don’t assume you know everything about them – leave room to learn.
Now, imagine you’re shopping at a bookstore and pick up a novel that looks interesting. You flip it over to read the synopsis as part of your buying decision and read, “Amy was a small-town girl, Roger was a big city stockbroker. They had a rocky beginning to dating each other, but they eventually settled into a great routine. He proposes in chapter 8, and the book closes with her revealing that she’s pregnant. There’s probably going to be a second book.” Would you still want to buy that book?
You probably wouldn’t, because all the mystery and discovery has drained out of the plot: you know what to expect, and your mind fills in the blanks using too much information. If your sub-heads are too informative and the opener of your content is too literal, you’re telling the reader exactly what page they can turn to read about Roger popping the question. Instead, tease at content, don’t offer it up on a silver platter – as content guru Sean Kirby notes, you want your content to “look” scannable in structure, but still encourage readers to stay and read about what comes next.
Most importantly of all, great content should never be an island. Yes, it should stand up by itself, but it should also naturally lead the reader into further engagement, including future blog posts and downloadables. A reader that enters your sphere of influence already engaged is a much easier “sell” than a cold-caller, after all. Link both forward and backwards in your content library, leading your readers on a leisurely stroll through your content, rather than a cram-fest to glean actionable tips out of a single piece before leaving forever. Building this partnership, and a chapter-style outlook in your content marketing, will naturally decrease your content bounce rate over time. If you aren’t sure which of your older posts are best for interlinking, Kissmetrics’ Kristi Hines suggests sorting by page bounce rate within your analytics and focusing on the lowest percentages as the “winners.”
We would love to hear how you keep your visitors from ‘bouncing’!