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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

How Does Load Speed Affect Conversion Rate?

When customers have questions, the Internet floods them with answers—and some of those answers might come from your competitors (or, less combatively, from sites that simply aren’t your own, which is still plenty problematic!) Website load time should therefore be a chief consideration as you optimize.

Web users have high expectations for load speed, and your business risks major losses by not building out digital offerings accordingly. For most sites in all sectors, getting your pages to load in under 2 seconds is best. Research shows even 1 second can make a big difference: Sites that load in 3 seconds have a 40% higher bounce rate than those that load in 2 seconds. If your site achieves $5 million in sales annually, that could mean a loss of up to $2 million.

Moreover, poor load time today doesn’t just mean poor business outcomes today. Up to 80% of web users said they wouldn’t return to a site they’d had trouble accessing. Bad load speed also affects word of mouth promotion, as many web users (justifiably) won’t recommend companies with which they’ve had a poor customer experience. This is a true butterfly effect.

Sites that load in 3 seconds have a 40% higher bounce rate than those that load in 2 seconds. If your site achieves $5 million in sales annually, that could mean a loss of up to $2 million.

A popular example of the power of load time is a recent Google survey, in which the company asked users how they’d feel if the search results page showed 30 websites instead of the current 10. Google received positive feedback on the idea and implemented it; however, with 20 more sites to load, Google took half a second more to produce the results page.

This extra half-second agitated users so much that bounce rate increased an average of 20% for the sites included on the 30-site results page. Just for some perspective, it takes humans about 400 milliseconds to blink (and there are 1000 milliseconds in a second)—so load speed was literally only a blink of an eye longer, and users were still less likely to convert because it was slower than they expected.

How many more blinks of an eye are customers waiting on your site? To test the load speed of your organization’s pages, you can use tools like Web Page Test to analyze how fast your site renders in different countries, as well as Google’s PageSpeed Insites to measure how your page performs (it uses a helpful scale of 0 to 100.) Also, keep in mind that load speed tends to increase as you add more elements to your page. Therefore, work with developers and designers to make sure your site isn’t bogged down by extraneous content and code.

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