In less time than it takes to blink you will lose a potential online customer onlineUsers are even less tolerant of slow pages than just a few years ago.

In less time than it takes to blink you will lose a potential online customer online.

New research from Google, Microsoft and retailing king Walmart show how slow loading sites and pages can cost online retailers dearly.

The results of the research published in The New York Times shows that online shoppers will only wait about 250 milliseconds before abandoning a page, purchase, site or video.

That’s actually a lot less than the blink of an eye.

Time is Money

Walmart, which did its own testing, discovered that:

A 100 millisecond delay = 1% drop in revenue

1s improvement =  Up to 2% increase in CVR

For sites that turn over tens of millions of dollars, that equates to $100,000’s a year.

For stores like Walmart it probably equals millions.

“The simple equation is that speed equals sales. Consumers will buy more from faster website, and they'll abandon slower websites in favour of alternatives,”

Eric Schurr, SVP, Compuware

While the correlation between sales and speed is not new (See Slow Sites Kill Sales), the recent findings have huge implications not just for web pages, but also for video, mobile phone sites and apps.

Vexing Video

If a video takes too long to load or stalls during playback, it will be abandoned.

This is a bit of a paradox for sites using video. On the one hand we know video helps conversion, but on the other hand video files are by nature larger and slower to load.

So they have the potential to both boost conversions and kill conversions at the same time. (Welcome to the frustrating world of online marketing.)

Great Mobile Expectations

The same is true for mobile sites.

“Some 71% of consumers expect websites to load as quickly on their mobile devices as they load at home.”

CNBC

As seemlingly impossible as that expectation might be, it means online business owners need to seriously consider the implications of speed on their bottom-line.

Speed Marketing

In many cases improving speeds will be more effective at increasing sales and revenue than many online marketing campaigns such as online advertising.

And if that’s the case, then maybe speed improvement should be seen as a marketing expense and not a technical development cost.

What You Can Do

There are many things that site owners can do to speed up their sites including using a Content Distribution network (CDN), reducing the amount of unnecessary fluff and third party applications on a site, optimised code, images, script, optimised server performance the list goes on.

The first thing to do is to find out how fast or slow your site actually is. Google Webmaster Tool and Analytics will do that, and is a good place to start.

For more detailed analysis there are plenty of other tools to help you analyse your site performance from browser add-ons to website testing sites.

Once you know, then you can work out the likely ROI of investing in speed improvements for your site.

Update: Free Google Analytics Dashboard for You to Use

Here's a custom dashboard you can use to see the perfomance of your site in Google Analytics. Just click the link, then save it to whatever site profile you want.

Dashboard courtesy of Justin Cutroni.

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