Category : CRO
How does page load speed affect bounce rate?
I’ve read many articles stating a link between faster page loading and better user engagement, but with limited evidence. So I looked at hard data from 1,840 websites and found that there’s really no correlation between page load speed and bounce rate in Google Analytics. The oft quoted statistic on page load speed is from Amazon, where each 100ms of extra loading delay supposed to cost Amazon $160m. Except that the research is from 2006, when Amazon’s pages were very static, and users had different expectations from pages – plus the conclusions may not apply to different kinds of sites. More recently in 2013, Intuit presented results at the Velocity conference of how reducing page load speed from 15 seconds to 2 seconds had increased customer conversion by: +3% conversions for every second reduced from 15 seconds to 7 seconds +2% conversions for every second reduced from seconds 7 to 5 +1% conversions for every second reduced from seconds 4 to 2 So reducing load speed from 15 seconds to 7 seconds was worth an extra 24% conversion, but only another 8% to bring 7 seconds down to 2 seconds. Does page speed affect bounce rate? We collected data from 1,840 Google Analytics web properties, where both the full page load time (the delay between the first request and all the items on the page are loaded) and the bounce rate were within normal range. We then applied a Spearman’s Rank Correlation test to see if being a higher ranked site for speed (lower page load time) made a site more likely to be a higher ranked site for bounce rate (lower bounce rate). What we found is almost no correlation (0.18) between page load speed and bounce rate. This same result was found if we looked at the correlation (0.22) between bounce rate and the delay before page content starts appearing (time to DOM ready) So what explains the lack of a link? I have three theories 1. Users care more about content than speed Many of the smaller websites we sampled for this research operate in niche industries or locations, where they may be the only source of information on a given topic. As a user, if I already know the target site is my best source for a topic, then I’ll be very patient while the content loads. One situation where users are not patient is when arriving from Google Search, and they know they can go and find a similar source of information in two clicks (one back to Google, and then out to another site). So we see a very high correlation between bounce rate and the volume of traffic from Google Search. This also means that what should concern you is speed relative to your search competitors, so you could be benchmarking your site speed against a group of similar websites, to measure whether you are above or below average. [subscribe] 2. Bounce rate is most affected by first impressions As a user landing on your site I am going to make some critical decisions within the first 3 seconds: would I trust this site, is this the product or content I was expecting, and is it going to be easy to find what I need. If your page can address these questions quickly – by good design and fast loading of the title, main image etc – then you buy some more time before my attention wanders to the other content. In 2009, Google tried an experiment to show 30 search results to users instead of 10, but found the users clicking on the results dropped by 20%. They attributed this to the half a second extra it took to load the pages. But the precise issue was likely that it took half a second to load the first search result. Since users of Google mainly click on the first 3 results, the important metric is how long it took to load those – not the full page load. 3. Full page load speed is increasingly hard to measure Many websites already use lazy loading of images and other non-blocking loading techniques to make sure the bare bones of a page is fast to load, especially on a mobile device, before the chunkier content (like images and videos) are loaded. This means the time when a page is ready for the user to interact is not a hard line. SpeedCurve, a tool focussed entirely on web page speed performance, has a more accurate way of tracking when the page is ‘visually complete’ based on actual filmstrips on the page loading. But in their demo of The Guardian page speed, the page is not visually complete until a video advert has rendered in the bottom right of the screen – and personally I’d be happy to use the page before then. What you can do with Google Analytics is send custom timing events, maybe after the key product image on a page has loaded, so you can measure speed as relevant to your own site. But doesn’t speed still affect my Google rankings? Yes, slightly. But when Google incorporated speed as a ranking signal in 2010, their head of SEO explained it was likely to penalise only 1% of websites which were really slow. And my guess is in 7 years Google has increase the sophistication with which it measures ‘speed’. So overall you shouldn’t worry about page load times on their own. A big increase may still signal a problem, but you should be focussing on conversion rates or page engagement as a safer metric. If you do want to measure speed, try to define a custom speed measurement for the content of your site – and Littledata’s analytics experts can work with you to set that custom reporting up.
How to improve your landing pages using Google Analytics
Landing page optimisation is one part of a broader digital marketing process called conversion optimisation, or conversion rate optimisation (CRO), with the goal of improving the percentage of visitors to a website that becomes sales leads/or customers. Let's see how to improve your landing page performance. There are some things to check when you want to improve the conversion rate of a particular page. In order to get the best data, we use Google Analytics and Hotjar. I will start with Hotjar because it is faster! With Hotjar you will understand what users want, care about and interact with on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour. This is shown with nice videos of a user's journey leading to conversion. With Hotjar, you can see what confuses people, what is not clear and if for your customer point-of-view is clear on your landing page. And now the hard and exciting part: Analyse the data collected in Google Analytics. If you think that the home page is a landing page please read this before you go further: Website Homepage vs Landing page - what's the difference? and this: Don’t obsess over your homepage – its importance will decrease over time! When a visitor clicks on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, they're taken to a landing page — a web page whose sole purpose of existence is to entice people to take an action. If done well, it could be the most effective marketing weapon in your arsenal. The correct analysis of data can save you a lot of money or even your business. If your visitors donʼt know what to do when they land on your landing page, then you are throwing your advertising money out the window. Your call-to-action (CTA) is the primary conversion goal of a visitor to your landing page. Next, I give you some examples of common actions that you might want a customer to do on your landing page: purchasing a product subscribing to a newsletter calling you on the phone downloading an ebook or whitepaper watching a demo requesting information Let's find out, step-by-step if your landing page is a winner using this checklist. Click on them to find out how to analyse and interpret data CTA(s) clear and unambiguous Do what you say and say what you do Don't be like Trump. Leave the Amazing! Awesome! words elsewhere Less is more Keep it where it can be seen Know your clients Twice is better Design matters Choose what matters the most CTA(s) clear and unambiguous Google Analytics report: "Landing pages" with a second dimension added to the report: "Second page" If you are offering an app access go with "Get Started" or "Create account" and don't say “Get your free ebook” or “go” or “submit”. Do what you say and say what you do Google Analytics report: "Landing pages" with a second dimension added to the report: "Second page" analyses the bounce rate on the call-to-action link. Donʼt promise one thing and then deliver something else or even worse nothing at all (a 404 page). To follow the same example, if you have an app and say "30 days free trial" don't let people click 'try for 30 days' and on the next page provide a PayPal form to charge them for a month period. Don't be like Trump. Leave the Amazing! Awesome! words elsewhere Google Analytics report: "Pages" see how many FAQ and Terms pageview you have. Resist the temptation to include bloated adjectives. Such claims are likely to make people think you are overselling and trying too hard. Less is more Google Analytics report: "Top Events" with a second dimension added to the report: "Page" analyses the clicks on your call-to-action versus other clicks in page or scroll actions. Make space for your call-to-action. Let them breathe visually. Using more whitespace will allow your button or statement to stand out on the page. Colour choice is important here also; create a high contrast between the call-to-action and surrounding elements to assert it’s dominance. Keep it where it can be seen Google Analytics report: "Top Events" analyse the scroll tracking. See how far your visitors are scrolling down If you have a long page, donʼt put the call-to-action below the fold. Take into consideration, the different screen sizes and adapt your landing pages for the most common. Most of the users will not scroll far down the page so be sure to put your value proposition and your call-to-action as a first-seen element in the page. Know your clients Google Analytics report: "Demographics - Language" Speak your client's language. Provide different landing pages based on country. Advertise differently based on specific demographics. However good your product or service is, the simple truth is that no one will buy it if they don't want it or believe they don't need it. And you won't persuade anyone that they want or need to buy what you're offering unless you clearly understand what it is your customers really want. Twice is better Google Analytics report: Combine "Top Events" (for scroll tracking) and "All Pages" for the propotion of sessions with FAQ/Terms pageviews Not all customers are ready to engage right away and might need some supporting information to ease their worries or answer their questions. If you are asking someone to buy something, a sensible secondary call-to-action can be to download a product brochure. This keeps them in your realm of inﬂuence (as opposed to leaving to do research elsewhere) and builds conﬁdence. Ensure that the safety net CTA doesnʼt compete in size and visual dominance – often a simple text link is adequate, beneath the main big action button. If you are asking someone to purchase online, offering a phone number for phone orders can make a potential customer more likely to convert if thatʼs their preferred contact method. Design matters Google Analytics report: "Source/medium" shows the bounce rate for each campaign Carry your primary call-to-action throughout the entire acquisition and conversion experience, from audience acquisition ads (PPC, email, banner, social media link) through your landing page and on to the ﬁnal destination page. Choose what represents you the most (maybe some colours or even the call-to-action itself), you should be able to look at the page and have your eye immediately drawn to the action area. Be audience appropriate Google Analytics report: there is no report in Analytics for this. Just remember your experience when reading an email or a Facebook comment Previously, I said to speak the customers' language. Now I'm saying to take care what they can interpret. Reading a statement is different from hearing it. So don't be too pushy, don't use a lot of exclamation signs, don't use a lot of caps lock wording and be a friend when they say what they feel when they see the call-to-action. I recommend reading this blog post from January: How to improve your conversion rate optimisation and this one: Conversion friendly experiences: reducing landing page friction with psychology. These two are related and complementary to the actions you're trying to take. In the next couple of weeks I will go deeper in each section and show you how good and bad engagement looks like for a landing page. Have any questions? Get in touch with our experts! Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.
Top 5 Google Analytics metrics Shopify stores can use to improve conversion
Stop using vanity metrics to measure your website's performance! The pros are using 5 detailed metrics in the customer conversion journey to measure and improve. Pageviews or time-on-site are bad ways to measure visitor engagement. Your visitors could view a lot of pages, yet be unable to find the right product, or seem to spend a long time on site, but be confused about the shipping rates. Here are the 5 better metrics, and how they help you improve your Shopify store: 1. Product list click-through rate Of the products viewed in a list or category page, how many click through to see the product details? Products need good images, naming and pricing to even get considered by your visitors. If a product has a low click-through rate, relative to other products in the list, then you know either the image, title or price is wrong. Like-wise, products with very high list click-through, but low purchases, may be hidden gems that you could promote on your homepage and recommended lists to increase revenue. If traffic from a particular campaign or keyword has a low click-through rate overall, then the marketing message may be a bad match with the products offered – similar to having a high bounce rate. 2. Add-to-cart rate Of the product details viewed, how many products were added to the cart? If visitors to your store normally land straight on the product details page, or you have a low number of SKUs, then the add-to-cart rate is more useful. A low add-to-cart rate could be caused by uncompetitive pricing, a weak product description, or issues with the detailed features of the product. Obviously, it will also drop if you have limited variants (sizes or colours) in stock. Again, it’s worth looking at whether particular marketing campaigns have lower add-to-cart rates, as it means that particular audience just isn’t interested in your product. 3. Cart to Checkout rate Number of checkout processes started, divided by the number of sessions where a product is added to cart A low rate may indicate that customers are shopping around for products – they add to cart, but then go to check a similar product on another site. It could also mean customers are unclear about shipping or return options before they decide to pay. Is the rate especially low for customers from a particular country, or products with unusual shipping costs? 4. Checkout conversion rate Number of visitors paying for their cart, divided by those that start the process Shopify provides a standard checkout process, optimised for ease of transaction, but the conversion rate can still vary between sites, depending on payment options and desire. Put simply: if your product is a must-have, customers will jump through any hoops to complete the checkout. Yet for impulse purchases, or luxury items, any tiny flaws in the checkout experience will reduce conversion. Is the checkout conversion worse for particular geographies? It could be that shipping or payment options are worrying users. Does using an order coupon or voucher at checkout increase the conversion rate? With Littledata’s app you can split out the checkout steps to decide if the issue is shipping or payment. 5. Refund rate Percent of transactions refunded Refunds are a growing issue for all ecommerce but especially fashion retail. You legally have to honour refunds, but are you taking them into account in your marketing analysis? If your refund rate is high, and you base your return on advertising spend on gross sales (before refunds), then you risk burning cash on promoting to customers who just return the product. The refund rate is also essential for merchandising: aside from quality issues, was an often-refunded product badly described or promoted on the site, leading to false expectations? Conclusion If you’re not finding it easy to get a clear picture of these 5 steps, we're in the process of developing Littledata’s new Shopify app. You can join the list to be the first to get a free trial! We ensure all of the above metrics are accurate in Google Analytics, and the outliers can then be analysed in our Pro reports. You can also benchmark your store performance against stores in similar sectors, to decide if there are tweaks to the store template or promotions you need to make. Have more questions? Comment below or get in touch with our lovely team of Google Analytics experts! Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.
Conversion friendly experiences: reducing landing page friction with psychology
The primary concern of all PPC specialists is how to take all the traffic their ads and content generate and turn it into converting users. If you are taking the time and energy to allocate a budget and strategy for your PPC ad campaigns, literally throwing money at the problem, then you should at least be capitalising on as many conversions as possible. So what is the difference between traffic and conversions? What is it that bridges the gap between the two? Simple: the user’s experience on your page. That’s all there is to it. Optimising your landing page experiences to better fit the user’s needs and to generate a sense of delight in them is how you close the distance between traffic and conversions. There’s countless different tactics and styles of landing page optimisation that different PPC agencies employ. But, for the most part, they all circulate around the same basic concept: using consumer behaviour and basic psychology to increase the “delight factor” of a user’s experience on your landing page. The more delighted a user is with your page and your content, the more naturally they will be inclined to convert on your site. A more user-centric experience is what psychology based CRO is aiming for. Starting from the source Reverse engineering the problem’s of your campaigns is just as important as reverse engineering your goals. Just like when establishing a content marketing strategy, a landing page optimisation strategy requires you to first establish your goal (higher CRO), and then work backwards to identify the tangible changes you need to implement. To better understand how your paid ad campaigns and landing pages are performing as a unit, you need to make sure you are monitoring the right KPIs. Better yet, understanding what each KPI signifies about your user’s experience is an even deeper and more useful insight regarding your psychological research. VTC vs CTC For simplicity’s sake, let’s narrow down the field of analysis to just the advertisement and the landing page. For the first, you’re going to want to be looking at click-through conversions and view-through conversions. Now, VTC is harder to monitor because it records whenever a user sees your ad (an impression) but doesn’t click on it. Later that user revisits your page via a different route and converts on your page. If you were looking only at CTC, this conversion actually wouldn’t be given any credit. But for the most part what either form of conversion metric is doing is looking at how successful your ad is at getting the user to click through to your landing page. Conversion rate, bounce rate, exit rate Once you’ve determined the success of your ad in regards to getting them to your site, it’s time to check out how your pages themselves are performing. This is the where the fault between traffic and conversions splits open. This is where conversion rate and bounce rate come into the picture. The conversion rate is pretty self-explanatory, but the bounce rate needs a bit more nuanced definition because of its relation to exit rate, which can get confusing. Basically, the exit rate of your page examines how frequently a user clicks through your ad to your landing page and leave that specific page via regular means of navigation. They might have gone to a different content page of your domain, they may have left altogether. The bounce rate shows you how often users are leaving your page by means of the back button or closing the browser entirely. While they both monitor the departures from your landing page, one gives a very different picture from the other. You can check out the infographic below by ion interactive for basic schematics and values of the five major landing page KPIs. Asking “why they aren’t” instead of “why they are” With your performance data in hand, you now need to look one step further into the reasons behind your lack of conversions and high bounce rate. Start, as always, by reverse engineering the problem. Ask why users aren’t converting on your site and fix the wrongs of your page before you celebrate the rights. There are three major psychological reasons for a user to be displeased or distrusting of a landing page. Identifying this friction points within your landing page content will help you tailor your pages to user’s preferences and increase the “delight factor.” Lack of information The first psychological red flag for a first-time visitor is a lack of information. This can be a very significant and harmful deterrent. Not supplying the user with adequate information instantly puts them into a sceptical state. The human mind does not like uncertainty. We are famous for “catastrophizing” the unknown because our minds are programmed to fill empty spaces. We subconsciously prefer to imagine the worst case scenario rather than a complete up-in-the-air unknown. When confronted with a lack of information, users often make one of two assumptions: either your site lacks the expert level content they are looking for and your business is not a well-informed authority on the matter; or - even worse - your landing page is a scam and is actually just click-bait looking for meaningless traffic. Don’t let a lack of information put a Vader style force-choke-hold on your conversion rate. Trust leaps The biggest hindrance to a landing page is the inability to generate trust in the user. Creating genuine trust leaps between the first-time visitor and the uncertainty of a business proposition is, at the same time. the sole purpose of landing pages and their toughest obstacle. Trust leaps, however, are a three step process that takes more than just the necessary and adequate information to complete the cycle. The common progression of a trust leap, beginning to end, is “trusting the idea” - “trusting the institution” - and, finally, “trusting the individual.” Too many landing pages over-prioritize the first two of the steps and for that reason fail to convert at a satisfying rate. Making sure you are transparent and authentic in your presentation through and through is key when it comes to user experience. These days, with digital media so entrenched in our culture, we all have a strong nose for spam and we are quick to jump ship if we feel we are in shady territory. Analysis paralysis Lastly, even if you are able to build a successful trust leap with the user, there are still psychological roadblocks that can stop them from converting. You may be so eager to impress and delight your visitor that you provide them with all the different options and services you make available to them. This may seem like a transparent and efficient way to market your services. But what it really does is throws your user into pits of analysis paralysis. While you want to provide all the necessary information you can, too much info can overload the user. As much as we all would like to believe the opposite, absolute freedom of choice is one of the quickest ways to drive a person crazy. An old idiom comes to mind when discussing the issue: “When given too many options to choose from, the exit becomes the only clear choice.” Keep your landing pages simple and specified. In almost all cases, you should limit each landing page to a single CTA and a single goal. Make the decision to convert an easy one. Fixing the common problems with transparent solutions So how do you make converting on your page such an easy decision? By removing any obstacles that may be obscuring your message or deterring your viewer. The checklist is simple and straightforward. You want to lower friction between your page and the user by filling in any gaps of information that they need and eliminating any superfluous or extraneous information that may distract them from converting. After you start to lower the friction and build a more user-centric landing page experience, you can consider the more nuanced forms of data presentation that you are employing. For example, many sites love to compare their prices and performance to their competitors on their page. Comparison pricing If you have the lowest prices in the business, why not advertise by putting your low price right next to the jacked up prices of your competitors - right? This may seem like a good idea, at first. But it can actually put the idea of comparison shopping into the minds of users that previously might not have even been considering your competition. On top of that, bragging about your drastically lower prices has been shown to actually inspire a sense of hesitancy in users. They tend to believe that if you are advertising your low price as your main selling point, then your services might not be top notch and it may be worth their while spending a pretty penny on a service that is worthwhile. Don’t overthink your landing page presentations. You’re taking the time to develop trust with your first-time users, so trust them to make the comparisons on their own. Don’t impose market statistics on them as if you are in court arguing your dominance in the field. Let them come to their own decision organically - that’s where “delight” comes from. Urgency with solutions If you are looking to break down roadblocks to ease the user’s conversion path you will also be working towards speeding up and optimising that conversion path as well. True landing page streamlining requires removing inefficiencies and implementing optimizers to replace them. Many PPC management services love to inject a sense of urgency into their CTAs in order to emotionally evoke a higher conversion tendency in their audience. While this is a good idea in and of itself, and a strong “click now!” or “don’t miss out!” CTA can really close a conversion out, urgency only works to emotionally evoke readers when used correctly. Studies show that when given “urgent” warnings, subjects were actually not necessarily more eager to act. What the results showed was that when they were not given any information on how to remedy the urgent situation, test subjects were actually more likely to rationalise themselves as exempt from the urgency and were actually less eager to act! On the other hand, those subjects that were given information regarding the urgent situation (or at least most of them) followed the information provided to them and acted immediately. Remember that we do not like the unknown, so if you are trying to change the mentality of a user with urgency, you must be specific with the reasons why it is urgent and the actions necessary to remedy the situation. Like in the above graphic: if not here, then where? If not now, then when? And if not us, then who?! Put a face to the service Unless you are a snake-haired Greek gorgon who goes by the name of Medusa, matching a face to your service will always help your brand appear more trustworthy. If your landing page doesn’t have any pictures of your business teams or employees and lacks any personable touch, users might start sniffing out your pages for spam. At the very least you should have an employee directory page somewhere within your pagination - which should be streamlined and flat for easy user experience (but that’s another point of discussion, you can check out this post for internal linking strategy if you’re interested). Having a brief personal bio for each of your employees brings an approachability to your page that is sometimes lost in the online retail world. (Also, as a bonus, it will show your employees that they matter to you and aren’t just cogs in a system.) If you really want to wow the users clicking to your landing page, you can go one step further than an employee directory page and introduce employee testimonial videos or team introductions for your possible clients. Our eyes have a natural inclination to pay attention to motion, then image, then text last. So using video on your landing page (above the fold!) is a huge way to increase engagement, even if it isn’t focused on building trust. The trick is not to appear authentic, but be authentic. Users today are well informed and ready for your business, your job isn’t to finagle them into converting, but to get them to embrace you as a trusted authority - the conversions will follow. Focusing on the inputs not the outputs Using psychology in your CRO campaigns means looking one step deeper than the behaviour of users on your landing pages. It means looking into the reasons and emotions behind those behaviours. Too many conversion campaigns these days over emphasise the importance of hitting their quotas and monthly growth percentages. “Don’t make your goals, your goals, make the habits that lead to your goals, your goals.” Focusing on the inputs that will build trust and lower friction on your page instead of making all of your decisions based on minor bumps in your CR% is a simple re-allotment of your priorities and focus, but will make huge and long-lasting changes in the way you develop and design your pages. Happy users are converting users, that transitive step is a natural and quick one. So don’t focus so much on turning your users into business opportunities. Focus on delighting them and making them happy. And making them happy starts with knowing how they tick. Team Bio About Sean Martin - I am a Content Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting, a digital marketing agency in Southern California. We specialise in integrating SEO, PPC, Social, and Content into our online marketing campaigns. Check out my posts on the DC blog to see how we are innovating and changing the game.
Subscribe to Littledata news
Insights from the experts in ecommerce analytics
Try the top-rated Google Analytics app for Shopify stores
Get a 30-day free trial of Littledata for Google Analytics or Segment