One of the most important aspects of e-commerce is conversion optimization. There are some commonly discussed factors that affect conversion rates, including page design, page layout, the text and images on the page, checkout process, and so on. For example, If it’s not clear to a page visitor what action they should take next or if too many options are presented, the visitor may leave the website. But many times there is a significant blind spot in most discussions about conversion optimization.
The blind spot: page load time.
Page load time has a huge impact on conversion optimization.
Independent of all previously listed factors, website speed improvements will improve conversion rates even if the page still has other areas that need to be optimized. Page speed affects both conversion rate and SEO. Thus, improving loading times can help increase both total traffic and the conversion rate for a page.
Page load time might be one of the most overlooked areas of conversion optimization, yet also one of the most direct ways to improve your own website’s conversion rates.
What is conversion rate?
The conversion rate is the percentage of total visitors to the webpage who convert.
As an example, If 100 users visit the page advertising pink jeans, and 2 users actually click the ‘buy’ button, then the conversion rate is 2%. Conversion rate optimization is the practice of pushing this figure as high as possible.
Note that conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process, because unless a page’s conversion rate is 100%, which is highly unlikely, it can in theory always be optimized further.
What is page load time?
Page load time is defined as:
the average time (in seconds) that it takes for a webpage to load, from the initiation of the page view, e.g. click on a page link, to the page has completed loading in the browser
Or simpler: Page load time is how long it takes for a webpage to show up on your screen.
That is of course a very rough definition, and there is tons of additional information about page loading that could be mentioned. Page load information and measurements can be a very technical field, full of data and advanced jargong.
One aspect to consider though, is that although the full page load time may be lengthy, according to speed tracking tools, the page may have full functionality within just a few seconds. One important measure is therefore what is often called “First contentful view”, which is the moment when all the over-the-fold images are visible in the browser’s viewport. This can be seen as the moment where the visitor can start interacting with the website.
As long as the page feels fast to the user, then you’ll have the conversion upside that you’re looking for. Generally speaking, however, page speed and user experience speed - how fast it feels - are positively correlated.
The bottom line is this: Your site needs to load fast in order to get more conversions.
How does page load time affect conversions?
Conversion optimization could actually more appropriately be called “user optimization.” Since the better a website is for the user, the better it will generate conversions. It’s just that simple.
So, to get specific, the faster a website loads, the easier it is for the user, and therefore more enjoyable and conversion-ready.
In summary here are the two simple facts:
- A page that loads slowly will have lower conversion rates.
- A page that loads quickly will have higher conversion rates.
Many companies have investigated the effect and relationship related to the above facts, and below we list a few studies:
- Walmart found that for every 1 second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%.2
- WordStream improved page speed and got a 15% boost in conversion rates.1
- COOK increased conversions 7% by reducing page load time by 0.85 seconds. 3
- Amazon found that every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales.4
These seemingly small increases in conversion have a huge impact on how much revenue a site generates. If an e-commerce site produces 10 million dollars in sales per year, and if the conversion rate increases by 2% after the website’s load time improves by a second (as in the Walmart case study), that’s a $200,000 increase in revenue!
You can try the effect on your own site with our calculator below. The calculations are based on the same 2% increase in conversion per second of reduced loading time, as in the case of Walmart. And be sure to contact us and we will help you get started to improve your conversions!