In 1971, the Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers, which would become known as one of their best albums of all times… and one of the most controversial pieces of cover art ever. The front of the cover displayed a close-up of a man’s denim-clad groin, with early vinyl editions featuring a working zipper and a real belt buckle you could actually undo. (It would even be dubbed the greatest album cover all of time by VH1 in 2003.) It was also the first work that the Rolling Stones would release that featured their trademark lips and tongue logo.
Over 40 years later, the lesson from this release holds true for everyone with a website today: be usable, be fun, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to cut through the clutter. And most importantly: be sticky.
Sticky? My website? What?
In the world of website owners, “sticky” is a term that means different things, depending on your business goals. It usually means that people stay on your website, looking at multiple pages and spending quality time with your content before leaving. Sometimes it means that they come over and over again to your site, always eager for the next big thing that you’re talking about or promoting. Whichever way you look at it, “sticky” is a good thing.
How do I know if it’s sticky?
There are two main indicators of whether or not you’re “sticky” enough to be successful. The first one is your bounce rate. Your bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your website after only looking at one page. One of the greatest minds in all of web analytics, Avinash Kaushik, refers to this phenomenon as “I came, I puked, and I left.” No matter what business you’re in, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible.
Keep in mind that it makes sense for some businesses to have a high bounce rate. For example, if you’re a breaking news site, people tend to only check the headlines on the first page before leaving, so you might see bounce rates of 50% or higher. However, for most businesses, we recommend at most a 25% bounce rate (preferably less). If you can’t get 1 in 4 people to learn more, you need to update your website copy or your offer.
Whatever website analytics tool you use, whether it’s Measureful or another tool like Google Analytics, bounce rate is always on the main dashboard because it’s so important.
Sample snapshot from Google Analytics: bad bounce rate, low page views per visit, not enough returning visitors
Sample from the Measureful report: good bounce rate, not enough returning visitors (3 out of 33 is not good)
Sticky = multiple touches
You can also determine your website’s stickiness by how many pages people look at when they visit. This metric is also known as “page views per visit.” This is usually an indication of how useful your website is at providing information people want. If you have a good average page views per visit (which is usually 3 or more pages per visit) but low conversions, you need to work on your offer. If you have low average page views per visit (2 or less), you need to work on your content and find out what your audience wants to read that they aren’t getting from you right now.
You can also look at the percentage of returning visitors you have. There’s no industry benchmark, but we recommend at least 30% or higher – you want at least 1 in 3 of your visitors to want to come back, in most cases. Even if you’re a business that deals with one-time or very low-frequency needs (such as a home purchase, wedding planner, estate planning, etc.), these are typically high-consideration items and you should expect several visits prior to purchase.
Sticky = attention
In conclusion, you want to be fascinating, just like in real life. Your website should make people want to get to know you or your business better. They should want to read more about what you do, and keep up with breaking news and new content. Keep your bounce rate low, your pages per visit at 3 or above, and your returning visitors over 30% or you’ll be singing along to a much less successful 70’s song: Baby Come Back.