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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 27, 2010

Study: Consumers abandon slow loading websites

A recent roll-out from Google makes it more important than ever to have a quickly loading website. The Google addition ranks websites from search queries based on page load time. That, along with more metrics showing that consumers click away from slow-loading sites should be a wake-up call for marketers.

by Kristina Knight

A recent study showed that British consumers waited an average of 2.5 days (per year) for retail websites to load. While that seems to point to patience on behalf of the consumer, it actually doesn't because most consumers forced to wait for a page to load end up clicking away. How long will a consumer wait for pages to load? An Akamai study indicated that 40% of online shoppers will wait no longer than three seconds for a website to load.

The new study, from tag/pixel solution TagMan, shows that traffic is lost for every second a page doesn't load. But, while many marketers or content publishers assume the content is slowing load time, the TagMan study says slow page-loads can actually be caused by third-party tracking tags - the code used to track online campaign performance. The TagMan study indicates that conversion pages may have as many as 20 tags; at least one website had 40 tags in place.

"The slowest‐loading assets on site pages in our study were tracking tags, taking as long as 250ms to fully load. Based on our experience, a delay of around one second causes approximately 10% of users to abandon the page, suggesting that four tags on the page could cost sites 10% of their potential visitors. While the figures depend on how important the users feel the page content was, such an adverse affect on user experience causes a significant loss of revenue for online retailers," said Jon Baron, TagMan general manager.

Tag placement can also impact traffic and load times as well. In fact, the study found that pixels or tags loaded within iFrames were more accurate when placed at the top of a page than at the bottom. By moving a Google Analytics tag from page bottom to page top, one website increased traffic by 20%, and by moving iFrame container tags from bottom to top marketers can increase the accuracy of metrics and tracking information.

Tags: ecommerce, etail, page load times, page-load, TagMan, website ranking

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