Online shoppers are an impatient lot. Our own customer research shows that 10% of traffic is lost for every extra second a site takes to load â€• and some studies say that even a millisecond delay can cost thousands if not millions in lost sales. Yet many of the top online stores have slow page-load times that exceed three seconds. On top of potential lost sales, Google now factors page load times into its algorithm, so the slower your site loads the lower your natural search ranking, hurting site performance even more.
Consequently, optimizing every aspect of your ecommerce program is absolutely essential. Hereâ€™s a short list of tips that can help, based on the findings of 100+ top eCommerce sites that are currently optimizing 50 million conversions per month.
1. Start at the top
Since weâ€™ve already established the importance of a fast-loading page, you now have some decisions to make as to what should load first. The answer is surprisingly basic.Â Work your way from the top down, loading items above the fold first, demonstrating to your visitor that you value his/her time. Itâ€™s a simple truth that if a site looks fast on first glance, people are more likely to hang around long enough to complete a transaction.
2. Utilize a tag management system
While site design, server speed and Internet bandwidth all play a well-known role in site load speed, the unknown culprit is a tiny piece of code known as tags or pixels. Essential to tracking website performance, there are tags for display ads, paid search, SEO, retargeting, affiliates, site analytics and more. In fact, according to polling weâ€™ve done with clients, the average eCommerce website has more than 20 different tags, with many of these on the same page.
Analysts like Forrester are now recommending tag management systems to mitigate the page weight related issues created by all your tags. Even better are so-called â€śsmart tag loadingâ€ť systems that enable online marketers to deploy tags as they are needed rather than firing off all of them at once. For example, why deploy an affiliate tag when the visitor is known to have come from paid search? Smart tag loading systems will also provide the option for asynchronous loading, greatly accelerating the tag deployment process.
3. Clean up and organize your online store
Just like in the real world, a messy storefront will cost you customers, a loss that will be compounded if the mess carries over to the inside of the store. Both your landing page and subsequent pages need to be carefully organized with idiot-proof navigational paths. Avoid the â€śand another thingâ€ť syndrome after the initial site launch or makeover, substitute new for old rather than trying to cram in more.
4. Adhere to privacy and opt-in/out standards
All website owners have obligations to comply with applicable privacy guidelines and legislation â€• but adhering to these standards also helps improve your page load speeds. For example, when a visitor has opted out of certain campaigns, the tags associated with those campaigns will only add page weight if theyâ€™re still activated.
When you offer consumers specific opt-out options based on how data will be collected, you offer tremendous benefits to your customers from a privacy perspective, and also improve your page speed.
Keeping these tips in mind as you strive to improve performance of your site can help in many ways. Not only do you streamline site performance and allow your customers to understand your privacy policies, but by using a universal container for all your marketing campaign tags you can also gain a full view of the customerâ€™s path to conversion.