Category Archives: Website Abandonment

How to improve site load speed to increase conversions

Does load speed matter?

A slow loading webpage creates a poor user experience, but does it really make a significant difference if you have an awesome proposition, product or website? Well, Google discovered that page speed does matter big time and it shelved a potential improvement to its search engine results page as a direct result.

After listening to customers in research express a clear preference for 30 rather 10 results on Google search, Marissa Mayer, Director of Search Products and User Experience, decided to A/B test displaying these two options. The experiment showed that displaying the extra 20 search results increased the time for the page to load by 0.5 seconds.

Shockingly this led to a 20% fall in full page renders when 30 results were displayed.  In other words one in five users searching on Google were not willing to wait an extra 0.5 seconds for a page to load.

Research by Google indicates that mobile users are even more sensitive to page loading speed. A page load time of between 1 to 5 seconds means the probability of a bounce increases by 90%

Image of impact of page load speed on bounce rate for mobile devices
Image Source:

 

So how quickly should a webpage load? Research for Akamai and Gomez.com found that almost a half of users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less and that many will leave a site if it hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds. This demonstrates that users have relatively high expectations and could help explain the impact on conversion of slow loading websites.

As a rule of thumb if your site loads within 3 seconds that is pretty good performance. More normal is between 4 to 7 seconds, but don’t be satisfied with that, look to reduce it. Anything more than 7 seconds and you definitely should be looking to take action to reduce the time your visitors have to wait to interact with your website.

You should seek to reduce load speed provided the ROI makes sense. This can be assisted by A/B testing identical pages that have different load speeds. Provided you see an uplift that outweighs the cost of improving the load speed then it is worth continuing the process.

How to measure load speed?

Image of tape measure
Source: Freeimages.com

All web analytics tools should allow you to see your individual page load speeds. If you are using Google Analytics go to “Behaviour” and select “Site Speed” and “Page timings”. In the drop down menu select “Average Document Interactive Time” as this is a measure of how long before a user can begin to interact with the page. This is a more meaningful indicator of load speed as many sites have content loading in the background well after the page appears to have loaded to a visitor.

 

Google Analytics site speed overview
Google Analytics – Site speed overview

 

Other tools to measure load speed:

  1. Google Developers: Free resource that rates your page load speed for desktop and mobile devices. Generally your site should get a score of over 80 to be performing well, but see how you compare to your major competitors to benchmark your site speed.  It also provides recommendations for the main areas to investigate to improve your load speed.

Google Developers Page Speed Tools

  1. WebPagetest: Free tool for the more technically minded user that allows you to define the geographical location and to test different in different browsers. This gives you a detailed breakdown of the load speed of individual elements on the page.

 

  1. OctaGate Site Timer: Provides a Free evaluation of the impact on load speed of images, frames, iframes, script files and it also follows redirects. It also helps you identify the key offenders for you to optimise.

 

  1. YSlow: This gives you a Free analysis of load speed and indicates why page speed is slow based upon Yahoo!’s rules. It also enables you to select the browser you wish to test the page in.

 

How to speed up your site:

1. Minimise page size:

image of 2 weights
Source: FreeImages.com

1.1 Use GZIP compression – Check if your web host is using GZIP compression and deflation as this can reduce file size by up to 70% without adversely affecting the quality of images of videos.  Enter your site URL into the GZIP test tool to find out if your site is already GZIPPED.

1.2 Use JPEG rather than PNG images – PNG images don’t compress photographs anywhere near as much as JPEG files can and so make sure you use JPEG’s when you can. Smaller file sizes can help improve load speed markedly.

1.3 Adjust JPEG image quality – By setting the image quality of JPEG’s to 50-75% you can often significantly decrease the size of your images without any obvious reduction in image sharpness.

1.4 Avoid single page websites – Trying to get all your content on a single page is problematic at the best of times, but it also tends to result in very slow loading times because the page is often long and there are no other page to move content to.

Image of popcorngarage.com

1.5 Remove extraneous metadata from image files – Designers often leave a lot of metadata in image files, including comments, thumbnails and other information that they may find useful, but just adds to the file size. Get your designer to create a backup a copy for themselves and then put the website image version through image optimization software to minimise the file size and remove ancillary chunks.

2. Reduce the number of browser requests:

 

2.1 Enable browser caching – Provided your page dependencies don’t change too often you should look to enable browser caching so that the browser doesn’t have to dynamically generate the page every single time it loads. Contact your server admin or if you use WordPress you can use plugins like WP Super Cache to significantly improve page load times.

2.2 Use CSS sprites to combine small images into one file. Most websites have lots of small images (e.g. logos, icons, buttons etc.) which normally have to be fetched individually from the server. CSS sprites significantly improve performance by combining all the small images on a page into a single file called a “sprite”. This reduces the overhead of having to fetch multiple image files.

2.3 Merge related CSS and JavaScript files – Combining individual CSS and JavaScript files can reduce the number of files and thus help your browser load much faster.

2.4 Minimise the number of redirects – Multiple 301 redirects can confuse your browser and slow page load dramatically. Be careful not to create too many redirects as this can kill load speed.

3. Minimise the distance to your site:

3.1 Reduce the distance to your site – If you have users spread out around the globe consider a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to allow access to a server near the geographical location of your visitors. CDN providers such as Amazon Cloudfront and Softlayer provide competitive CDN services that can significantly improve site load speed.

Conclusion:

The evidence is clear – load speed is an important driver of bounce rates and conversion. Don’t let a slow site speed harm your conversion rate as there are plenty of ways to improve load speeds. Make sure you regularly check our site speed and use the above strategies to improve your site’s performance. It could make a large difference to your conversion rate.

Here is a great infographic from Skilled.co on how load speed affects your website.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

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  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.com, Foxybingo.com, Very.co.uk, partypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.

9 Solutions For Shopping Cart & Website Abandonment

Convert Abandoning Visitors To Customers:

Updated: 17th June 2017

On average, around 96% of people who visit a website will leave without generating a lead or converting. Many have no intention or desire to convert. They are probably not be in the market for what you sell or offer. Some will have arrived on your site by mistake or are simply doing research.

However, there is a proportion of visitors who are currently in the market for your product or service, but abandon your site. These visitors could potentially be persuaded to buy if they are engaged in the right way and your value proposition is sufficiently compelling. This is where your conversion activity needs to be targeted – site abandonment may be costing you dearly.

A systematic approach to website optimisation will allow you to identify areas for improvement. Beyond this there are two kinds of tools that can respond to site abandonment and shopping basket abandonment. It is possible to convert abandoning visitors.

Cart Abandonment:

Shopping cart abandonment is a massive problem for online retailers and if you can convert abandoning visitors you could massively increase revenues. Taking statistics from 29 different studies, the Baymard Institute in the UK, have estimated that around 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. Just reducing this rate by 1% could increase revenues by millions of pounds a year for major retailers.

Image of chart showing reasons for abandonment during checkout process
Image Source:

Help is at hand though with Shopping cart abandonment tools. Using a single line of JavaScript the software enables automated emails  to be sent to visitors who leave your website without buying items in their basket. Here is a great case study from MAGEMAIL of the best performing abandoned cart emails. These solutions can make significant progress towards converting abandoning visitors.

 

Site Re-Marketing:

For those visitors who you don’t have contact details for or abandon your site before they login, there is onsite re-marketing. This uses real-time personalised onsite messaging to target form abandonment and other revenue-reducing behavioural issues (e.g. when visitors move to exit your site or become inactive). Onsite re-marketing helps to increase visitor engagement levels and should allow you to convert more abandoning visitors by reducing site abandonment.

Why don’t sites use these solutions?

Many sites use in-house solutions, such as email marketing cycles for newly registered customers, to try to engage non-converting prospects. However, relatively few companies have the resource or expertise to develop fully-integrated solutions which can email prospects in real-time or conduct onsite re-marketing.

Further, many sites have not fully integrated the necessary analytics onto their web platforms to enable visitors to be tracked at the level required for these solutions. However, sites which invest in the necessary technology are likely to benefit financially as they will be able to deliver a much more personalised user experience than those who don’t.

9 Site Abandonment Solutions:

I’ve summarised below nine leading providers of shopping cart abandonment and onsite re-marketing tools to allow you to minimise the impact of site abandonment.

1. Communicator: Provides automatic email campaigns for shopping cart abandonment. Recommends that emails are sent within 20 minutes of abandonment. On average it achieves a conversion rate of 5.2% using highly relevant and personalised communications.

Image of Communicator/corp.com homepage

2.  MAGEMAIL: A triggered email app for Magento sites. This app automatically emails customers who start to checkout but don’t finish. It also offers automated product recommendations based upon past purchases, wish list reminders, win-back campaigns, purchase anniversary emails, replenishment reminders and birthday emails. MageMail also offers you the ability to A/B test and optimise subject lines, content, discounts and sending frequency.

Image of MAGEMAIL.co shopping cart abandonment features page

3. NUDGR from Formisimo: This is a new solution to respond to abandonment of forms and checkouts. It is a machine learning based tool which uses algorithms to precisely identify patterns of behaviour that result in customers abandoning your site. This allows the tool to accurately predict customer intent and offer timely interventions to reduce site abandonment. The solution allows you to tailor offers according to your customers and campaigns.

Image of NUDGR.io homepage

 

4. Rejoiner: Offers automated email campaigns for shopping cart abandonment, and personalised behavioural email campaigns (e.g. for partial web form submission) to re-target users who exit your site. Optimizes campaigns through personalisation, segmentation and A/B testing email campaigns.

Image of rejoiner.com homepage

 

5. SaleCycle: Delivers both onsite re-marketing using targeted messages to 100% of visitors as they are about to leave your website and shopping cart or form abandonment email re-marketing.  Offers A/B testing of emails as standard and claim email re-marketing increases sales between 4.5% to 6%.

 

Image of salecycle.com

 

6. SAP Hybris: Conversion Manager triggers real-time onsite messaging, personalised emails and re-targeted advertisements for shopping cart and form abandonment. Offers A/B testing as standard. Browser Manager triggers 1 to 1 real-time campaigns based upon visitors browsing behaviour (e.g. visitor goes to exit site).

   Image of hybris.com homepage

 

7. ScreenPopper: Helps you convert more users through a pop-up appearing on top of a web page, with the goal of promoting a single call-to-action. The benefit is you get the visitors immediate attention, which can be used to for conversion purposes. If your goal is to get more newsletter sign ups, you can use the pop-up to offer an incentive in exchange for an email address. Free 14 day trial.

 Image of screenpopper.com homepage

8. Upsellit: Delivers a range of solutions for cart abandonment, including live chat, personalised automated email campaigns, real-time site abandonment detection and targeted onsite re-marketing offer campaigns.

Image of upsellit.com homepage

 

9. VeContact: Collects abandonment data to create real-time personalised  emails that seek to bring lost customers back to their pre-populated basket. Claims to achieve a conversion rate of up to 60% of abandoned visitors.

 

Image of veinteractive.com homepage

Conclusion:

Site abandonment costs e-commerce retailers millions of pounds a year is lost sales. Shopping cart abandonment and re-marketing tools can help minimise the financial impact of site abandonment.  As solutions increasingly employ artificial intelligence to determine the timing and nature of interventions we should expect these tools to become more effective in the fight against site abandonment.

Early adoption of AI site abandonment solutions is likely to become a major competitive advantage. AI has the potential to deliver a much more personalised and targeted approach to site abandonment. Companies that don’t use such technology may find their margins squeezed as they fail to maintain conversion rates.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share it using the social media icons below.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, check out the Conversion Uplift  Facebook page or connect on LinkedIn.