Business goals are often explicitly defined: 10 million euros in revenue by 2022! Five per cent more traffic in the third quarter! An important key performance indicator (KPI) for achieving business goals is the conversion rate AKA the measurement that compares the amount of traffic and the amount of traffic that completes a certain goal you’ve set, like signing up for a subscription, newsletters, or even completing a purchase.
Page loading times are the biggest influence in e-commerce for a user’s conversion rate. In our latest Handelskraft series, »Conversion optimisation – Tips for a better user experience and more success in e-commerce,« we’d like to show you what’s possible when trying to increase conversion rates and reaching business goals. Part 1 starts with a foundation for effective conversion optimisation, which is best based on professional support in three major areas, conducting user research, commissioning a UX audit, and testing user behaviour.
Conversion optimisation: USER RESEARCH
No optimisation is possible without researching your user group: Who’s looking at the site? When are they visiting? What do visitors want? To improve the user experience, user research not only needs to analyse the collected user data but also needs to conduct user surveys on the website. Concrete focus groups help to reveal specific weaknesses. Well-structured user research not only reveals problems at the feature level of the website or app, but it can also reveal optimisation needs at a strategic level and in terms of service and product quality.
Conversion optimisation: UX AUDIT
The UX audit is an interdisciplinary scan of an online product by renowned experts. In this expert evaluation, a lot of information from user research will flow into it. At the end of a professional UX audit, there’s a very concrete list of optimisation potentials and their urgency. The UX-Audit works out vulnerabilities of a website, for example, a scrolling map visualises how far users scroll down and whether users can see the information relevant to conversions quickly enough.
Conversion optimisation: TESTING
User research and UX audits result in concrete calls for action, but new design solutions are only then developed in the UX team. But how do users react to new solutions? To prevent a negative impact on the conversion rate, the new optimisations should be pre-tested by the target audience. Usability tests are particularly useful when redesigning a website. On the other hand, optimisations on the existing page are based on A/B tests. A variant of a website is thereby tested against the »original« (currently existing website).
Conversion optimisation and loading times as a ranking factor
Slow loading times are the biggest conversion killer. Patience is a virtue, but not in the age of high-speed Internet. After all, nobody likes to stand in line while shopping and wait. The conversion rate can fall by up to seven per cent per second during page load time.
It’s even more important for online shop operators to devote themselves to page load times, especially as the Google crawler has begun to make load times the ranking factor as of 2018. A logical consequence of user behaviour in the mobile-first age. In short: If you load faster, the higher up you’ll be in search results.
In fact, mobile traffic has outpaced desktop device traffic since November 2016. Although Google itself strives to load every page within 0.5 seconds, in e-commerce, however, two seconds count as the threshold of what’s acceptable. After only three seconds, 40 per cent of visitors leave the website which is a real challenge for developers, because category or product detail pages often have to transmit larger amounts of data due to necessary media content or complex scripts.
Homepages such as landing pages should be among the pages that load very fast. This is where a customer first comes in contact with a shop and decides whether or not to accept the offer, within milliseconds. If they’re interested, their willingness to wait for a few hundredths of a second longer increases. But if the content can’t be sufficiently streamlined, at least the perceived load time can be reduced. For this purpose, the most important elements such as navigation, call-to-actions, and main picture should be loaded in front of all other page elements so that the user understands the message: It’s doing something.
Conversion optimisation: end devices and habits
Other important factors to optimize page loading times are the devices, browsers, and operating systems that users use to access the store. As far as terminals are concerned, the share of mobile buyers is increasing rapidly. 44.3 per cent of all users shopping mobile, with millennials, the number is even at 73 per cent, and it is rising.
Accordingly, the importance of a special content marketing strategy for mobile commerce is hard to underestimate. This should focus on both the information needs and the user habits of the mobile user in the page architecture. From a performance point of view, in addition to a responsive design, a separate mobile variant has to be created in which the page load time is drastically reduced since not all data for the individual viewports has to be loaded, but tailored to mobile devices.
Just as more and more people are surfing with mobile devices, so has the question of which browser are used, much changed. The undisputed market leader is now Google Chrome, trusted by more than 67 per cent of all users in Germany. Through a browser-specific optimisation content can be retrieved and processed faster, that is, the user can be displayed earlier.
Despite the market power of Google, it makes sense to support different browsers in 2019, especially Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft Edge, and even the Internet Explorer. Because Internet Explorer users tend to be much older and accordingly relatively wealthy. And Apple users have, statistically, the most valuable shopping carts.
Whether Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Windows, iOS, or Android: It’s important to know its target audience and to optimise it according to customer needs, both with regard to the browsers and the operating systems.
Conversion optimisation in detail
To bridge the time to the second part of the article series, take a look at our updated »SEO in the Mobile Era« white paper. In addition to loading time and search engine optimisation, we’ll show how to improve how high you can rank on the results page.
The white paper is available here.