A school’s tuition page often receives some of the highest website traffic and is accompanied by one of the highest (if not the highest) bounce rates on your website. Bounce rate has always been a topic of discussion, but if you're having trouble spotting the bounce rate in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you're not alone. That's because it now means something different.
What?! How could the Google powers-that-be turn their back on such an important metric?
Well, the idea of a bounce rate still exists, but GA4 now places a greater emphasis on events and actions compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics (RIP). Because of this change, a metric for inactivity on your school’s site isn't as relevant. Instead, Google has introduced metrics like engagement rate and the idea of an engaged session.
To review, let’s revisit the concept of a bounce rate.
What is a Bounce Rate?
Your school's bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a website without taking any action, such as clicking a link or filling out a form. It's calculated by dividing the number of single-page visits by the total number of visits. In other words, a tuition page with a high bounce rate means that individuals are only visiting the tuition page on your site and then leaving.
Although it's absent from many default reports in GA4, you can customize these reports to display bounce rates.
But BEFORE guiding you on how to find the bounce rate in GA4, it's crucial to mention that its calculation in GA4 differs from Universal Analytics (UA). In GA4, the bounce rate won't be a 1:1 comparison to what you saw in UA.
What is An Engaged Session in GA4?
An "engaged session" is a website visit that meets one of the following:
- Lasts longer than 10 seconds
- Contains more than one pageview
- Contains at least one conversion event
The engagement rate is calculated by engaged sessions / total sessions over a period of time. It's similar to a bounce rate in that you're gauging whether or not users are engaging with your site.
To view the bounce rate in GA4 reports:
- From the left menu, select Reports.
- Select the report you want to customize.
- Click Customize report in the upper-right corner of the report.
- In Report data section of the right panel, click Metrics.
- Add “Bounce rate” and click Apply
The Advantages of Using Engagement Rate and Bounce Rate in GA4:
You might use conversion events in varied ways, but the 10-second criteria in GA4 make the engagement and the updated bounce rates more objective compared to the bounce rate in UA.
The UA definition was influenced by the session timeout setting, which is no longer a factor. This ensures that a dip in the engagement rate genuinely reflects users visiting the site and promptly departing.
OK, now that we know they’re measured differently but refer to a user engaging with your site, let’s explore the idea of how to lower an independent school‘s tuition page bounce rate.
What is a Normal Bounce Rate for School Websites?
Our research indicates that the average overall school website bounce rate is between 30-40%. Not bad, considering a good bounce rate is 40% or lower. Most tuition pages will have a higher bounce rate — somewhere in the 60-70% range. (Or higher in some cases.)
Do you want a high or low bounce rate?
Is a high bounce rate really an area of concern?
High bounce rates are generally an area of concern, but not always. One of the reasons your tuition page has a high bounce rate is simply the page’s nature: prospective families come to get a particular piece of information, find it, and then leave — and that’s that. Your page is serving the purpose, even if it has a high bounce rate.
For example, if a prospective family did a search for “your school tuition,” they are likely comparing your costs to other options in the area. In this case, they are likely coming to your tuition page to take a note and continue on with their own research. This is a common scenario and doesn’t necessarily represent a major area of concern, because the page served its purpose to your website visitor.
However, high bounce rates can result from an experience that just speaks to the user, and they leave.
In either case, the strategies are meant to help your prospective family find the information they seek and stop them from immediately hitting the back button.
Tips for Lowering Your Private School’s Tuition Bounce Rate
This means that families have already done their preliminary research and are now deciding where to inquire or apply. Keeping this in mind, reducing your bounce rate — in many cases — means earning a conversion. Now, let’s talk about how we can make that happen!
1. Use a Timed Page Pop
We all know that page pops can have an intrusive user experience — but a timed page pop can offer an incentivizing, relevant piece of content at the right time in the visitor’s experience. With a timed page pop, you can have a page pop display once someone has scrolled 50% of the way down a page or after a set number of seconds have elapsed.
On average, how long do individuals stay on your tuition page before they bounce? Subtract a few seconds from that amount of time so you can catch them just before they were going to leave. So, if the average time someone spends on your tuition page is 13 seconds, have the page pop display after 10 seconds.
Remember that this page pop should offer something incentivizing or relevant enough to individuals in this “consideration” phase to entice a click.
Some good content to add to the page pop would be:
- A link to your financial aid page
- A link to view upcoming open house dates
- A short form to contact an admissions representative with any questions
Some not-so-good content to put here might be:
- Inquire now!
- Apply today!
- Register for an open house!
Individuals who are in the consideration phase still need time to...well, make some considerations. Asking for a big commitment, such as an inquiry or application, will steer them away.
2. Offer Something of Value on the Page
If you don’t have the ability to add timed page pops to your tuition page (yet), offering something of value on the tuition page itself can help lower bounce rates. Because you are trying to earn a conversion during a phase where your prospective family is still weighing their options, providing them with a relevant content offer can lower your bounce rate and position your school as a leader.
Examples of a Good Content Offer for Your Tuition Web Page:
- Viewbook Download: Ask page visitors to submit a simple form (such as first name, email, and enrollment year) to download a PDF copy of your school’s viewbook. This way, you can get their information and send them to a second (and potentially third!) page on your website, thus lowering your bounce rate.
- Helpful Whitepaper: When individuals are in this stage of consideration, they have a lot of questions — and you can help answer them! Why attend an all-girls school? Why is the private school investment worthwhile? Offer a piece of content that answers these questions, as it would be appealing to individuals in this stage of the funnel. If you don’t have the capacity to create a whitepaper, simply write a blog post on the topic and link to that.
Place the content offer in a place visible to all website visitors, and don’t be afraid to add it to the page twice! In our own research, we’ve found that displaying the same call-to-action twice on the same page leads to higher click-throughs! We recommend placing one of these calls-to-action about one-third of the way down on a page, and then again at the very bottom.
3. Link to Helpful Resources and Relevant Pages
The trick to lowering your bounce rate is getting them to visit just one more page on your website. Ending your tuition page with a call-to-action is a best practice because it encourages visitors to explore another relevant page on your website.
Other pages might include:
- A page on scholarships and financial aid
- Parent testimonials
- Your school’s differentiators
- A school blog
- A financial aid workshop
Once you have your list, figure out a creative way to link to them within your tuition page. You might simply add an element to your right-hand column called “Additional Helpful Resources” or “Next Steps.” You may also find it helpful to integrate this information in appropriate locations throughout the content using call-to-action buttons and callouts.
For example, McCallie School has Tuition Assistance Workshops they offer to current and prospective families. The workshop's details and calls-to-action are located in a panel on the tuition page, right above the tuition information.
The key to lowering your school’s tuition page bounce rate is understanding who your audience is and providing them with a way to find new content that is relevant to them. Try one of the new strategies introduced in this post, and keep an eye on your metrics for the next couple of months to see what is most effective with your website visitors.