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BizReport : Ecommerce : December 11, 2013

Report reveals impact of slow load times on brand perception

Brand perception is based on far more than a flashy logo or a smart marketing strategy, according to a pioneering neuroscientific study into the behavior and perceptions of mobile shoppers. Page load time also plays an important role in defining a consumer's brand perception.

by Helen Leggatt

For all the creative and strategic work that goes on behind the scenes to build brand perception among consumers, there's one element that's often overlooked and which can ultimately lead to negativity - slow load times.

Radware's latest report, "Mobile Web Stress: The Impact of Network Speed on Emotional Engagement and Brand Perception", found that even slightly slower connection speeds result in significant user frustration and decreased engagement. Even a 500ms connection speed delay can result in up to a 26% increase in peak frustration and up to an 8% decrease in engagement.

And while that frustration is immediate, there are long-term effects, too. The study used electroencephalography (EEG) and eye-tracking technologies combined with Implicit Response Testing to examine how, on a moment-by-moment basis, positive and negative emotions are triggered. It found that slow load times impact long-term brand perception and makes it unlikely that a frustrated customer with return.

Furthermore, the damage done to brand perception is far reaching and a poor user experience can translate directly to negative impact on purchase intent across a brand's other channels and touchpoints.

"A consumer's online shopping experience has a major impact on their feelings about a retailer, and because these feeling are happening at a non-conscious, pre-cognitive level, they are beyond the control of site owners," said Tammy Everts, web performance evangelist, Radware, in a blog post. "A slow site and poor user interface can be detrimental - potentially negating other, more expensive, branding efforts."

Analysis of page load times among the UK's top 230 retail websites (Hitwise/Retail Week) by ecommerce specialist Summit found that the vast majority had page load times that fail to meet the industry's 3-second benchmark.

The research revealed that, for retailers turning over £10 million (US$16 million) online, the lack of speed could cost them as much as £1 million (US$1.6 million) In 2013, slow load times cost UK retailers £8.5 billion (US$14 billion).

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: brand marketing, connection speed, page loading, web experience, website design

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