It is always time to talk about site speed, especially from mobile and especially now, in view of the announced start of the Google Page Experience update, which from 2021 will reward sites that offer better performances (which translate into positive experiences for users). A recent study by Deloitte offers us some further ideas and gives us the concrete results of the interventions on this front, revealing us that it is enough to improve the performances even slightly to obtain excellent feedbacks on conversions.

Speed is increasingly important for all sites

The report, brought to us by Searchengineland, starts from a few assumptions: for some years now the speed of the pages is a ranking factor on Google, the focus on the topic continues to grow, some predictions claim that l’m-Commerce (mobile sales) will double from 2019-2023 to represent three quarters of total e-commerce sales, and, on the practical front, taking care of performance can have a significant impact on conversions and revenues for brands in all sectors.

Deloitte uses the expression dominant digital touchpoint to refer to the predominance of mobile device use nowadays, a real “mobile-first world“, and so the experience of the user browsing from smartphones is increasingly synonymous with brand experience, but mobile often increases website traffic but brings even less conversions than the desktop.

Deloitte study: milliseconds generate millions

In order to develop its study, the international consulting company has created a methodology developed to measure the performances of the mobile site: it first analyzed 70 brands, selecting the 37 that have passed a long process of “analysis, technical and qualitative audits“; then developed a KPI framework and mapped conversion paths, identifying four key speed parameters, and then developed a statistical model to measure their impact.

Data on site speed were measured with Google Lighthouse “and aggregated with web analytics brand data”.

Analysis of four vertical typologies

Deloitte examined four vertical sectors: retail, travel, luxury (clothing) and lead-generation and measured conversions in each case; in this context, conversion is “the number of users who made transactions, added to the cart, clicked contact us or completed a form, in the case of lead-generation“.

Speed and conversions are closely correlated

The analysis confirmed that the speed of the page is directly related to a greater engagement and a better progression of the funnel: in detail, the fastest mobile sites have obtained a greater number of page views, higher conversions and a higher average value of orders per customer in each of the verticals measured.

Small speed improvements, big result improvements for the site

In practical terms, an improvement of just 0.1 seconds in site speed determines:

  • Retail conversions increased by 8.4% and the average order value increased by 9.2%.
  • Travel conversions increase by 10.1% and the average order value increases by 1.9%.
  • Luxury brand page views increase by 8.6% per session.
  • Improvement of the 8.3% of the bounce rate of the lead-generation pages.

The relationship between users and speed in sectors

Deloitte also analyzed the characteristics of the sectors when it comes to speed.

  • Users of online shopping sites are the most sensitive to speed in the pre-checkout phase of their journey. Moreover, for eCommerce sites it is more important to focus on the loading speed of product pages than that of the home page, “because many people who visit the home page are already loyal to the brand, while those who go directly to the product page could come from an ad” and potentially can bounce if the page does not load fast enough.
  • The travel industry is where conversion rates are most influenced by site speed improvements.
  • In the luxury sector, consumers are the most attentive to speed in the final stages of the conversion journey. An improvement in this aspect determines longer sessions and facilitates mobile user conversion opportunities.
  • For lead generation, user engagement and conversion probabilities are strongly affected by site speed.

Mobile sites slower than desktop ones

These elements, however, seem to be still underestimated by site owners: another American study – conducted by Milestone – has in fact revealed that the mobile speed is still far behind the desktop one.

The company, which used Google page speed metrics, examined thousands of sites in 11 vertical sectors, discovering “mobile page loading is 2.6 times slower – from 2.9 seconds to 7.9 seconds – than desktop pages”.

Again there are big differences between sectors and speed varies significantly: financial services and technology are the fastest, while construction sites have the slowest loading times.

The study concludes that “most mobile sites tested are very slow, with an average moving speed score of 40.1 and an average speed index of 7.9 seconds”. The same Milestone then performed an analysis of the performance of AMP pages, revealing that they are positively related to better positioning and visibility in search results, and that “non-amp pages have a slower loading of 108%” compared to the accelerated ones.

A new challenge for sites: speed and experiences on full throttle

As Deloitte’s study points out in the conclusions, the increased expectations of customers and the increasing use of smartphones are amplifying the need for speed, the need to cure mobile speed. In this context, it is intended to widen “the competitive gap between brands that offer an ‘excellent mobile experience and those that do not”.

In addition, based on these analyses it is not enough to “be the fastest in your niche or category”, because brands and retailers are now competing “with the best digital experience a consumer has ever had”.

Optimizing the site’s performances is a priority

This factor has a direct impact on the user’s experience and plays a vital role in the success of any digital initiative, making itself felt on e-commerce and other trading sites. 70% of consumers admit that the speed of the page affects their willingness to buy from an online retailer and delays and latency are the main reason why users decide to leave mobile sites, with 10% indicating in slow loadings the motivation not to complete the purchase.

Therefore, now more than ever, speed must be a priority throughout the organization and management of the company: every brand should adopt a “mobile-first” mentality, introducing the right processes and allocating resources to constantly monitor and optimize the speed of site pages.

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