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Inbound Accountable Marketing Metrics for Website Success

WHAT MAKES A WEBSITE GREAT?  And more importantly to the insurance industry, financial services, retail, what makes a website rank?  It used to be that when you were writnig a website redesign strategy, great content and design alone were enough.  Today, new factors determine a website's success.  Now, great high ranking websites have:

  1. Strong performance
  2. Mobile optimization
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. SSL security enabled

We use HubSpot's Website Grader tool because it allows our clients to get a breakdown of where their site is strong and where it needs improvement during a web design, across those four areas.  HubSpot Research has analyzed the results of over 26,000 submissions to benchmark how websites are doing today.

THE AVERAGE GRADE FOR WEBSITES IS 60 OUT OF 100.  That's a D-.  Where are websites falling down? Across the board, we see gaps in all four attributes.  On average the websites analyzed using the HubSpot Grader:

  • Take 3.9 seconds to load.
  • Have a page size of 1.4 MB.  Sites in the bottom 25th percentile average 3.4 MB in size, which is almost 1.5 MB larger than our recommended 2 MB.
  • Have 61 page requests.

PERFORMANCE - Overall, websites are scoring just 18.5 points out of 30 in performance.  To inbound marketing consultants like Henderson Robb Marketing, performance means how quickly a website loads content for each visitor.  Many websites have factors that slow them down.  

85% of websites have render blocking - a solid number but it can be improved.  

Not sure what render blocking is?  Picture driving on a one lane highway.  If there's construction, or something that's blocking traffic in your lane, the obstruction has to be cleared before you can move on. This is similar to how a browser loads a web page.  If the browser encounters an external script (such as a Twitter module or a third party service that the website is using), that script must first make a request, load, and finish before the browser can continue to load other assets on the page.  

To speed up inbound accountable marketing performance within the context of render blocking, we have two recommendations:

  1. Defer any non-critical 3rd party scripts t load after all your core website content.  This may extend your Time to Load (TTL) metric, but it will make for a faster rendering experience.
  2. Remove or make scripts asynchronous so they load in conjunction with the rest of your page.

Just 68% of websites have compression.

This can cover two elements: 1. Size of images, which typically are the #1 source of slow-loading pages and 2. the variable weight of the remaining java script and css resources on the page (WebSite Grader requires that at least 50% of a website's JS/CSS resources have been compressed.

When an image is compressed, say that image of the shiny, happy people you use to reflect who your ideal customer is, that same 4MB image could become 2.4MB and save the browser from loading that additional 1.6MB.  Further, if your website is image heavy, consider image re sizing to speed up performance.  Using the same example above, if the browser only needs to load the 500x500 image, it would save even more space and load more quickly.

Only 45% of websites have browser caching.

Browser caching is a way of storing some commonly used website files locally, so the browser does not have to re-download them every time it accesses that website.  JavaScript, CSS, and image files can be cached and thus save the browser from loading those resources when the visitor comes back to that site.  Websites that experience a lot of return visitors should have browser caching as a best practice.

2% of websites have redirects.

Since so few sites have redirects, this performance component isn't a problem today.  Redirects can cause load time problems when a browser begins to download content from "page 1" then encounters the redirect and has to load content from "page 2".

PAGE LOAD SPEEDS THAT MATTER FOR INBOUND ACCOUNTABLE MARKETING™

Speed to load is the key performance component we look at for websites today.  The websites we see on average take 3.9 seconds to load on average.  All websites we design aim to load in 3 seconds or less. Speed is important because studies indicate that 40% of web users expect a load time of 3 seconds or less.  Otherwise they will abandon your site completely.  Consumers who stick around end up developing a negative brand perception for businesses with slow websites.  79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.  Slow sites affect a business' bottom line.  It's definitely possible to increase speeds so if your site is slooooooow, maybe we should talk.  

WHAT WOULD WE DO TO FIX YOUR PERFORMANCE SCORE

We can do the following to ensure that the load time of your website isn't compromised:

  1. Compress and re size images as much as possible.
  2. Reduce, or remove, any non-asynchronous requests.  Everything should load as quickly as possible, and anything that is blocking this from happening would be removed or deferred.
  3. We recommend CSS spiriting as an extremely effective method for loading images.
  4. We minify all your code, especially JavaScript.
  5. If you have long pages, we defer loading some content until the user begins scrolling.
  6. We think strategically about the order assets are loading in.  Your main CTA should not be the last on your page because the user will have likely moved beyond that CTA by the time it displays.

The majority of websites we would have used HubSpot's Grader for five years ago would have received high marks, but today are clearly behind the curve.  The website design we do for our clients, and its corresponding user experience, operates on a sliding scale that evolves over time.  Technology has changed so much, that what didn't matter yesterday makes all the difference today.

What does this mean for Inbound Accountable Marketers now?  Web sites should undergo iterative improvements over time, rather than a carte blanche redesign every couple of years.  The model of setting and forgetting your website simply isn't practical given the pace of technical change and the fierce competition websites encounter to rank highly in search.  Let's talk about ongoing improvements to your website that will keep your insurance company, retail business or financial services organization ahead of the curve and help your website make the grade.

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Posted by Peter Henderson on November 18, 2015 07:00:AM

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