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Hidden Conversion Killers: Page Load Times


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We all know that ineffective page elements like a bad call to action, incorrect color usage, and long forms can ruin conversions on your landing page, but what about the factors you can’t visually see? When optimizing your sales funnel for sticking points you have to pay attention to some hidden conversion killers that can potentially kill your conversion rate. These factors can easily be the difference between a profitable campaign and a money hemorrhaging marketing nightmare.

The first hidden conversion killer I want to address is page load times. This is something few usability and conversion experts actually spend time on (even though they know it’s important) so pay attention and make changes where appropriate!

 

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Optimizing Page Load Times for Conversion

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I can’t say it enough: page load time is huge. Internet users are getting more impatient by the day and if they can’t find what they’re looking for immediately – yes IMMEDIATELY – they will leave your website and go straight to a competitor. If your website takes longer than a few seconds to load it doesn’t matter how optimized your landing page is for conversions, you’re going to lose a big chunk of your traffic before they can even see what you’re all about.

Fortunately for us Google analytics is pretty telling as far as how fast your website is. You can easily find out how fast your website is loading for all visitors in your Google Analytics profile by going to Content > Site Speeds > Overview

google-analytics-site-speed

 

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Here are a couple great examples of site speed problem areas:

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google-analytics-long-load-time

This particular client had a couple days in a row of ridiculously long load times – way longer than it takes for most users to leave the page and find an alternative. I called the clients web host and asked if anything happened on that day that might have caused the load times – it turns out they were upgrading the server so there was some weirdness for a couple days. Without checking Google analytics I would have never known about this. Now in the future if we do any site upgrades I know that we should pause any paid marketing efforts because the traffic will likely be wasted.

android-slow-load-times

Another great thing about the site speed report in Google Analytics is the device and browser segmentation. Your website might load great on desktop computers but does it load fast on different browsers and mobile devices?

It looks like this clients website has some trouble loading on Android devices and Safari web browsers. The average load time for these are far higher than the rest and indicates some sort of problem with the page rendering on those particular browsers and devices. This could be due to any number of things and will likely take some trial and error to figure out what’s going on. Try minimizing heavy elements like javascript, flash, and interactive design. I also recommend optimizing all of your images and having a [good] developer go over your landing pages with a fine-tooth comb to make it as light as possible. If you’re using full resolution HD photos all over your page of course it’s going to take a long time to load!

Don’t make the classic mistake of thinking “it loads fine for me so it should load fine for everyone else.” I’ve had clients with websites that load lightning fast for them (and myself) but some users in various parts of the world we’re experiencing load times over 10-20 seconds. That’s an eternity in Internet time. The truth is that nobody will wait around that long, I don’t care how cool your product or service is.

If you notice that your page speed load times are inconsistent in different areas of the world or country look into getting a content discovery network (CDN). Basically a CDN lets you strategically place the large and hard to load files on servers around the world instead of everything being centralized in one place. With a CDN no user should ever be across the world from where your content is being loaded and load times should improve dramatically across the board.

If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what’s causing your site to load slowly there’s one more Google Analytics report you can make use of: Speed Suggestions. To access the Speed Suggestions report go to Content > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions. 

page-speed-suggestions-google-analytics

The way the report works is pretty straightforward – you’re given a list of URLs and blue hyperlinks to the right with the number of problems found on that page. This is definitely worth looking through even if your site is decently fast – sometimes optimizing a bloated javascript file or large image can make all the difference. (and Google kinda knows what they’re talking about…)

google-site-speed-suggestions-and-insights

 

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A couple notes on this report:

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  • You can select either Desktop or Mobile segments for optimization from the top right – USE THIS FEATURE!
  • The left hand side will list all of the different potential problems and reasons for slow load times – have your developer work down this list as much as possible to ensure there are absolutely no problems with your page.
  • The blue “Measure Sitespeed” button will create a report that gives you an idea of just how much faster these optimizations will make. This is useful if any of the outstanding items are difficult to implement and you need to decide whether it’s worth the effort/time/hassle/money to fix.

optimized-pagespeed-load-time-report

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Take advantage of the Site Speed reports in Google analytics and fix any problem areas on your website/landing pages. This is easily one of the most prominent hidden conversion killers but can be easily fixed.

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