Performance digital marketing starts with a website that performs. For most websites, especially mobile sites, the most critical problem is that your website takes too long to load and it’s hurting your brand.
Most Internet users expect a Web page to load in less than two seconds (40 percent abandon sites that take more than three), yet most websites don’t even come close to hitting that mark. Think your website is innocent of angering visitors? Go to Web Page Test or Google PageSpeed Insights and see how well your website truly performs. Take a good look at how long your page took to load and then think about another statistic: During the first second of delay, your conversion rate drops by more than 7 percent, with the percentage growing exponentially for every additional second you make someone wait.
Your most important task in digital marketing this year, unless you have mobile and desktop sites loading in less than two seconds, is to optimize your page load times for both mobile and desktop. Fast websites lead to better interactions with the brand and do not lose visitors who refuse to wait for sites to load, which leads to more conversions. Effectively, if you make your website load faster, you will increase revenue with minimal costs. Fortunately, starting a page load time management program isn’t too difficult!
To start, create a baseline report using free tools that will diagnose most of the problems that your site has and even supply you with advice on how to fix each issue. Some of these tools are YSlow, Google PageSpeed Insights, WEBPAGETEST, and Chrome developer tools. Going through these reports, you can easily identify common themes that span across multiple aspects of the page:
- Tag Manager: If you have multiple analytics, media vendor, and any other non-essential tags/scripts on your page, you should definitely look into utilizing a tag manager such as Google Tag Manager (free!), Brighttag, or TagMan to list a few.
- Using Local Storage: Properly caching static assets with reasonable expiration dates, setting e-tags, and storing scripts within the local storage cache are great ways to reduce page load time on subsequent pages and return visits.
- Image Management: Using image sprites, compressing images, and serving images that are properly scaled for the dimensions of the page.
- Hosting: Using a content delivery network is practically mandatory. If you’re using common scripts such as jQuery, then let Google or Baidu host them for you.
This is far from a comprehensive list, but focusing on optimizing the elements talked about in this article will get you ever closer to your end page load time goal of less than one second!