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Fastly Blog

Smart marketers should be prioritizing performance to improve conversions

Some of you may remember that Apple’s App Store went down in March 2015, right before the Apple Watch event. Users trying to access the site received a message stating Apple was “busy updating the Apple Store for you, and will be back soon.” The Independent suggested that while Apple could likely update its Apple Store without taking it down, “the removal of the store helps create buzz ahead of events.”

This may not be a smart decision, however, given that 46% of users won’t return to a poorly performing website, and 79% of users who are dissatisfied with a website's performance are less likely to purchase from that website in the future.

Apple has the brand power to overcome the disadvantages of their App Store being briefly unavailable, but most ecommerce companies suffer when their site performance is slow or if their website is down.

A number of studies and statistics show the effect of site speed and performance on customer conversion, user experience, and sales:

The bottom line? Performance of your website and mobile app has a dramatic impact on whether users will stick around to check out your products and shop. Site speed is also a factor Google uses to determine site rankings, so it’s important for search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing as well. If your customers and site visitors aren’t getting the best website and mobile app experience possible, then you are losing potential customers and driving away current ones.

As a digital marketer, you work hard creating quality content and experiences to engage your customers — plus, you need to make sure your content is delivered to customers at the right time, in real time. That’s where performance tools that developers use can come into play. You may not know that the software your developers use can affect the success of your marketing activities. It’s within both teams’ interests to collaborate to ensure good performance.

In a recent article on the DevOpsSummit blog, Mehdi Daoudi, CEO of web performance monitoring solution Catchpoint Systems, explains further: “Web performance should be seen as a business differentiator, and therefore an integral part of the marketing agenda. You may have heard of the four Ps of the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion). Performance is now the fifth P.”

Why marketers should care about CDNs

Since page speed and performance is crucial to the end-user experience, your development team should be using a content delivery network (CDN). There are two main reasons why you should care about CDNs:

1. CDNs help improve customer conversions

A CDN can optimize page load times and reduce latency for your website, which will in turn contribute to greater lead conversions. For example, studies show that slow load times are the number-one reason that over 70% of online shoppers abandon carts, with “two-thirds of UK shoppers and more than half of those in the US saying that site slowness is the top reason they’d abandon a purchase,” according to one study.

Online mobile payment company Stripe was able to use a CDN to improve load times of their checkout form, dropping load times by 80%. “For someone on a slow mobile connection, that’s the difference between an abysmal experience and a good one,” says Marc Hedlund, VP of Engineering.

We’ve designed Fastly’s CDN to give your dev team total control over how they serve content, allowing you to rest assured that online shoppers can view — and, more importantly, purchase — your products successfully. Fastly’s CDN caches your content on edge servers, which means that when a user clicks around on your site, their request only has to travel as far as the server geographically closest to them, not all the way back to your origin server (which might be pretty far from where your users are based). Your content will therefore be delivered to users as quickly as possible, ensuring a positive experience and increasing the chance they will return to your website in the future.

2. Data from CDNs can actually inform your marketing strategy

Omnichannel retail is becoming the status quo; shoppers research items online and on mobile before going to the physical store to shop. According to Adweek, 81% of shoppers research online before buying, but 54% of online shoppers want to actually see the product before they purchase. Given this trend, you need to determine how successful your online marketing efforts are (emails, promos, ads, and social media) in terms of correlating with in-store sales.

A CDN can help inform your online marketing strategy, giving your team visibility into how your online marketing is supporting in-store sales. With Fastly’s GeoIP / Geography Detection, for example, you could compare pageviews of a specific item and show correlation between researching online and buying in-store. You can use our technology to geo-fence for 75 miles around the store, and look at pageview analytics for a specific item. Then, you can compare and contrast the in-store sales to that of the pageviews online to determine if there's a relationship between a shopper viewing online and then purchasing in stores, and adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.

Performance monitoring tools also help

If you're the type of marketer who’s constantly running campaigns and A/B testing, you should be keeping an eye out for how your work is affecting your website’s performance.

Web performance monitoring tools like Catchpoint can let you monitor all of the elements you might be working on across your website and mobile applications. The type of analytics and data that these performance monitoring tools offer go beyond tools you might already be using like Google Analytics or Optimizely, allowing you to test and gain analytics for every aspect of your site’s infrastructure, including analytics such as connect times, DNS response, trace route, etc. With synthetic monitoring, sites can be tested from a “clean lab” environment, which is especially useful when trying to determine how a new feature added to a page (such as an ad or tracking pixel) will affect the performance of your entire site, and thus determine if it will really offer a positive ROI. And with Real User Measurement (RUM) tools, you can better understand the behavior of your users (such as how much time they spend on certain pages), allowing you to optimize the different paths that they take through the site.

These tools can give you deeper understanding with regards to how your users are interacting with your site, which can inform business decisions around how you present content to them. Here’s an in-depth explanation of why performance monitoring is essential to your company.

Marketers also often add “third-party” elements to their website or mobile app — things like social media plugins, video plugins, tracking tags, and advertisements. But this type of third-party content can often decrease your site’s performance. This is another good example of why performance monitoring is important — so that the plugins and add-ons you’re using on your website don’t cause your site to crash. If you’re interested in learning more, check out companies like Tealium, which will load third-party tags asynchronously and will alert your team if they’re not loading properly.

Develop a “culture of performance” at your company

Almost every team at your company is a stakeholder in website performance. As Catchpoint CEO Mehdi Daoudi explains in his blog post “Creating a culture of performance,” companies need to be thinking about performance with every business decision.

“Your team should constantly be measuring and re-measuring performance, detecting more areas for improvement, and updating goals. There should also be an unending level of scrutiny to any changes made to your online presence,” he explains.

With that in mind, you should be asking yourself:

  • Are your marketing campaigns affecting how long it takes for your site/app to load?
  • Have you adopted any third-party tools or software that might be affecting your performance?
  • Do you have an open dialogue with your developers/IT team about what you’re working on, what they’re working on, and how to align goals?

Mehdi’s blog post lays out a solid plan for collaborating across teams to make sure that your website and mobile apps are performing as well as they possibly can.

“Creating and maintaining a performance culture takes time and effort,” Mehdi says. “But the payoff is worth it.”

Performance Edge Intelligence

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Author

Anna MacLachlan | Content Marketing Manager

Anna MacLachlan is Fastly’s Content Marketing Manager, where she talks to brands and partners to tell stories about scale, security, and performance. She received her MA in Comparative Literature from NYU and loves megafauna and mountains.

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Hannah Levy | Senior Content Marketing Manager

Hannah Levy leads content marketing at Fastly, where she loves to tell stories about web performance, drink endless cups of coffee, and play with the office dogs.

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