In today’s digital world, many companies’ websites are their products, and therefore represent most, if not all, of the customer experience. In any business, brand leadership is (or should be) constantly seeking ways to improve the customer experience.
In a restaurant, you make the food better, consistently train the wait staff, and reduce wait times as much as possible. In brick and mortar retail, you carry the best selection of goods that your customers demand. If your business resides on the internet, you make sure your website offers your users the very best experience possible.
Why do we do these things? Because every business is in business to serve customers and make a profit, so why should internet-based businesses be any different? The short answer is that they shouldn’t, and businesses whose websites represent the majority of their customers’ experience should be investing heavily in improving the performance of their websites. The reason why is very simple:
Web performance has a direct impact on the customer experience of any website.
Several recent case studies demonstrate evidence that, when a business optimizes its online presence, the results are clear from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the P&L.
First, when we drive traffic to a web property, our goal is to have some conversion goal as the objective for that traffic. Once we’ve determined that conversion goal, our next step is to maximize the percentage of conversions that occur. Large eCommerce sites have proven that web performance directly impacts conversion rates. Staples reduced its homepage load time by 1 second and saw a 10% increase in conversions. Wal-Mart, in investing in web performance optimization (WPO) of walmart.com, learned that for each 1 second improvement in page load time they earned a 2% increase in conversions. By improving their initial conversion rate, each of these organizations was able to directly impact the ROI of their ecommerce website.
Why does poor performance impact the conversion rates of your consumer? The most popular explanation is that consumers are impatient and are unwilling to wait an abnormal amount of time for a web page to load. However, it goes deeper than that. Brand equity and consumer trust is damaged by a poor performing website. A study in 2013 found that 44% of online shoppers saw that slow transactions make them anxious about the success of a transaction. This aligns with how we perceive long wait times when shopping in-store: long wait times equate to a poor customer experience, which in turn, negatively impacts our chance of returning.
The conversion phenomenon also works in reverse, i.e. the impact of not investing in website performance. The global leader in ecommerce, Amazon.com, whose 2015 revenues will exceed $100 billion, discovered that they experienced a 1% decrease in revenue for every 100ms increase in page load time. That’s one-tenth of one second having a noticeable effect on $100 billion in revenue.
Another core problem for consumers is the cost of accessing your website or web service. The advent of mobile browsing and data consumption first brought this cost to the forefront of consumers. However, as data caps become more prevalent, the cost of data consumption becomes even more of an issue for both the providers of internet services and the end users that consume them.
Luckily, many WPO strategies revolve around reducing the weight of a web page, either by caching common assets, compressing and optimizing files, or eliminating unnecessary or duplicate requests. All of these efforts reduce the amount of data consumed by end-users and distributed by service providers.
Netflix, the reigning king of over-the-top consumer video content distribution, was able to cut outbound traffic in half by implementing WPO efforts. One of the key lessons they learned is:
The surest way to improve performance is to measure, measure, measure.
In other words, if we don’t first monitor, we cannot then improve. Improving your customer experience should be your number one concern and maintaining a fast and reliable website will improve the customer experience, boost your brand equity, and help to reduce consumer costs in a world where data is no longer unlimited.
Rigor is the first end-to-end web performance monitoring and optimization platform for digital organizations. Our platform programmatically identifies, prioritizes and remediates the root causes of poor site performance and reliability.
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