Adjusting Bounce Rate via Google Tag Manager

I have talked about adjusting bounce rate in Google Analytics before, where I explained in great detail why you need to adjust your bounce rate and what are the benefits of such adjustment.

What I am going to share with you today is, how you can adjust bounce rate via Google Tag Manager.

Adjusted Bounce Rate and Google Tag Manager

Standard bounce rate can be a flawed metric as it does not consider the time spent on a page. If a user came to your website, spent 5 minutes reading the content on a single page and then left, Google Analytics will consider it as a bounce. With adjusted bounce rate, you can fire an event after a certain amount of time has elapsed and once the event has fired the corresponding visit will not be counted as a bounce.

Google Tag Manager is a handy TMS (Tag Management Solution) that allows analytics implementation without editing your website code. As of now, there is no predefined way to track adjusted bounce rate in Google Tag Manager, you need to configure the events.

There are multiple ways to adjust bounce rate using Google Tag Manager.

Adjusting Bounce Rate in Google Analytics via Custom HTML tag

The easiest way to adjust bounce rate via Google Tag Manager is by deploying Google Analytics Tracking Code via Custom HTML Tag instead of using the Google Analytics tag template.

In this way, you can easily customize your GA tracking code. Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Determine the minimum time it takes for the majority of your website visitors to complete a goal conversion and/or ecommerce transaction. You can determine this time through this article: Adjusting Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Step-2: Create a new custom HTML tag in Google Tag Manager and name it ‘Universal Analytics Tracking Code’:

custom html tag

Step-3: Copy-paste following code in the HTML box:

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXX-XX‘, ‘auto’);
ga(‘require’, ‘linkid’, ‘linkid.js’);
ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
setTimeout(“ga(‘send’,’event’,’Profitable Engagement’,’time on page more than X minutes‘)”,XXXXX);
</script>

Replace ‘UA-XXXX-XX’ by your property ID.

Replace X minutes with the minimum time required (in minutes) to profitably engage with your website users.

Replace XXXXX with the minimum time required to profitably engage with your website users in milliseconds.

All I have done here is added one additional line of code in the Google Analytics tracking code, immediately after ‘ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);’:

setTimeout(“ga(‘send’,’event’,’Profitable Engagement’,’time on page more than 3 minutes’)”,180000);

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Adjusting Bounce Rate in Google Analytics via Timer Trigger

The other way of adjusting the bounce rate via GTM is through ‘Timer Tigger’.

The timer trigger will allow you to send events to Google Analytics at timed intervals. We can use this trigger to fire an event on the web page when the user spends enough time reading the content and should not be considered as a bounce.

The following steps will give you more idea on how to set up a timer trigger:

Step-1: Create a new Google Analytics tag of type Universal Analytics and name it ‘Fire profitable Engagement Event’.

Step-2: Configure the tag as shown below:

Tag Type: Universal Analytics

Google Analytics Settings: Select your Google Analytics setting variable

Track Type: Event

Category: Profitable Engagement

Action: time on page more than 3 minutes

Step-3: Create a new Timer trigger with the following configuration:

Set the ‘interval‘ field of the timer trigger according to minimum time it takes for the majority of your website visitors to complete a goal conversion and/or ecommerce transaction.

Once you have set up the timer trigger, your event tag will fire when a certain time (specified in interval field) has elapsed. In my case, the ‘Fire profitable Engagement Event’ tag will fire after 180000 milliseconds or after 3 minutes and it will fire only once.

Note: The ‘Limit’ field of 1 indicates that the tag will be fired only once. If you want this tag to fire after every 3 minutes, then leave the ‘Limit‘ field of the timer trigger empty.

Step-4: Once you have created this new tag, preview your container and then publish it.

Adjusting Bounce Rate by Trigger Group (using Scroll Depth and Timer Trigger)

One of the best ways to adjust bounce rate is to use a ‘trigger group’ with a great combination of scroll depth and a timer trigger. Let me explain it through an example.

Case 1: Suppose a user comes to your website and spends 10 minutes on the page without any scroll or clicks. In actual fact, this should be considered as a bounce since the user has not performed any interaction. Hence, using just a timer trigger may again give a false bounce rate, even though such cases would be very minimal.

Case 2: Suppose a user comes to your website; scrolls to the end of the page in just three seconds and then leaves. In this case, even if scroll tracking events are fired (if set up), the engagement is not fruitful and still should be considered as a bounce.

In Case 1, although the user has spent sufficient time on the page, it is actually a bounce since the user has not performed any other interaction. In Case 2, even though the user has interacted it is not fruitful engagement as scrolling the whole page in 3 seconds and leaving the website should be considered as a bounce but it is not. That’s where the concept of a trigger group comes in, to help us in adjusting bounce rate more accurately.

A trigger group is a new concept by GTM. You can create a group of multiple triggers in one place and the corresponding tag will fire only after all triggers in the group are fired at least once.

All the triggers in a trigger group are inconsequential. That means the trigger group will fire after all the triggers in a group are fired, regardless of order.

Trigger groups are very helpful in the case there is a dependency for an event to fire on two or more conditions. If we use a trigger group using scroll depth and a timer trigger for the above example, our event will fire only if the user has scrolled down to a specific depth on the page (specified by scroll depth trigger) and has spent a minimum amount of time on the page (specified by timer trigger). This will ensure that in both cases mentioned above Google Tag Manager first evaluates the conditions and fires an event when both conditions are met. This will ultimately give you a more accurate bounce rate.

Keep in mind that multiple triggers in a single trigger group are always connected using the “AND” condition and the trigger group will fire the event only if all the conditions return ‘True’.

We can create a trigger group for this using the following steps:

Step1: Click on ‘Trigger’ and then click on ‘New’

Step2: Click on ‘Trigger Configuration’ and choose the trigger type as ‘Trigger Group’

Step3: Click the ‘+’ sign to add the required triggers to the group. You can also add conditions to the trigger group if you want to fire it on specific conditions. Since we are measuring if the user has read (scroll) the content on the page or not, and spent enough time going through the content, we have two conditions here:

  1. Scroll depth should be 50%
  2. Timer trigger should be 30 seconds

Once you have set up the trigger for the event, you can go and validate it in preview mode and then publish it.

Tips for Setting Adjusted Bounce Rate

With multiple options available to set the adjusted bounce rate (ABR), using the correct method depends on your website and its business requirements.

Here are few tips for setting adjusted bounce rate

#1: Setting Up Timer Interval:

Setting up a timer interval to determine the profitable engagement event is of prime importance.

There is no standard predefined time to declare a profitable engagement. The time interval completely depends on the content of the webpage and the standard time to read it.

If you have a technical blog or have code explained in your content, a standard user might need little extra time to read it and in this case, the time interval could be from 2 minutes to 5 minutes. In the case of simple content then the time interval could be more like 1 minute.

#2: Track All the Feasible Events on Web Page:

Tracking all the events on a web page is also an important aspect which determines the bounce rate of the page.

If you don’t track all the relevant events on the website, a user may land on a page, interact with content like an outbound link, media play pause, form submission etc. and still be counted as a bounce.

#3: Mark Non-Interaction Hits in Analytics Tag to False:

Non-interaction hits in Google Analytics tag determines whether to treat an event to affect the bounce rate or not.

By default, it is set to false which means the event sent to Google Analytics will reduce the bounce rate and consider the corresponding event as a user interaction. If non-interaction is set to true, it will not consider the event as a user interaction and thus bounce rate will not be reduced for such events.

Generally, promotion impression events,  product detail view, product impressions and all other events which are fired without any user interaction should be marked as ‘Non-Interaction Hit = True’ and for all other events ideally it should be ‘Non-Interaction Hit = False’.

#4: Considering Scroll Tracking for Adjusted Bounce Rate:

It is really an individual choice whether to consider scroll tracking for bounce rate or not. A user can scroll a whole page in just a few seconds. Also if you refresh the browser when you are at the bottom of a page, all scroll tracking events are fired at once as the page comes to its bottom after refresh.

Hence, using scroll tracking as an interaction to reduce bounce rate can be of use for a heavy content site if the user scrolls after 50% of the web page. You can set up non-interaction hit to true only for 25% scroll by using a custom JavaScript variable in the non-interaction field.

Create a variable as a JavaScript variable with the code below:

function() {

  return {{Scroll Depth Threshold}} === 25;

}

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

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