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The Forgotten Factor in Conversion Rate Optimization

By Alex Painter

Alex Painter

Alex Painter - 27 February 2019

Any marketing campaign is only as strong as its weakest link.

No matter how effective ads, emails, and landing pages are, they depend on the rest of the conversion funnel for success.

And one often-overlooked factor in conversion rate optimization is speed.

As prospects transition from one step to the next, some will inevitably drop out. Some will change their mind. Others will be distracted or put off by a lengthy form. But some drop out because they’re tired of waiting for the next page to load. And that’s something we should be able to avoid.

Speed matters. According to Google’s DoubleClick, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This highlights the importance of a fast home page or landing page, but it’s easy to forget that the same kind of optimization needs to be applied to every step in the process, from landing page to checkout.

There are two parts to this.

1 Identifying conversion funnel bottlenecks

There are a number of things you can do to pinpoint the pages in the conversion funnel that could be causing problems.

The first is to ensure you have some form of active or synthetic monitoring for key user journeys. This will alert you to changes in performance and availability—has the checkout page gone down, for example, or is the ‘buy now’ button missing?

Synthetic user journey monitoring

Synthetic monitoring gives you an objective view of how each step in the user journey is performing

This is critical, but it doesn’t tell you how people are actually experiencing your site.

For this, you need a real user monitoring solution—something that enables you to identify which pages are performing poorly for which users—and how this is impacting KPIs such as conversion.

Slowest pages identified in real user monitoring

Real user monitoring enables you to pick out the slowest pages for different user groups

For example, one common theme in real user monitoring solutions such as Real Customer Insights is the difference between performance on Android and iOS devices, with Android often lagging behind. This often happens on feature-rich pages that depend heavily on JavaScript, with the result that a significant minority of potential customers are effectively frozen out of the buying process.

2 Fixing the bottlenecks

Once you’ve identified the problem pages, the next step is to find the most effective ways to optimize them. This will require more in-depth analysis through a tool such as Performance Analyzer, which gives you videos and filmstrips that tell you more about the end-user experience, alongside an object-level view of how each page loads. This will help you work with your developers to identify the causes of any performance problems.

There are three important things to consider when doing this.

One is to prioritize those changes that will deliver the greatest performance return for the minimum investment in time and effort. Take care of the big wins first—the low-hanging fruit that will have the biggest impact.

The second, related, point is to focus on the user groups that matter most. If poor performance is causing conversion to lag on mobile more than on desktop, look for optimizations that are likely to deliver for mobile users first.

Finally, it’s a good idea to look at performance holistically. For example, one performance issue may be masking another, so that if you fix the first, you will see no benefit until you also fix the second.

For this reason, it’s important for ecommerce and marketing professionals to work closely with their colleagues in development in order to deliver a website that really delivers on the needs of the business.

Conversion funnel optimization through better, faster user experiencessome techniques that everyone should be using... but no one is

To learn about some little-used but powerful performance optimization techniques dedicated to improving conversion rates, join our free webinar, Conversion Rate Optimization through Web Performance.