I intended to write about the renewed importance of service videos on a dealership’s website. A resource I had lined up changed my topic in about 15 seconds. You might ask how that happened, and the answer is simple: the website didn’t load fast enough.
Funny enough, the page I waited for was a Think With Google report about the value of Youtube video ads. The page continues to have a spinny circle over a blank white screen. That led me to research how long a customer will wait for a website to load before leaving and not returning. It’s not long.
According to a MachMetrics report from last year, it’s all about the load time on mobile. The average page takes 22 seconds to fully load despite the enormous upgrade to mobile phone capabilities. But the more surprising statistic is that 53% of users will leave a website if the content they seek takes longer than three seconds to load.
You can debate how accurate that stat is, or fume about how impatient some people can be. The fact remains that surfers demand speed. If you think of your own expectations when browsing the World Wide Web, you’re likely to find the same trend. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, you tap your toe, then tap the back button to find a new page.
But what can you do about it?
If your web pages are slow to load, the best thing you can do is have the important information load first. In advertising, it’s called ‘above the fold’. It refers to the first thing a reader would see in a newspaper before they unfolded it. On websites, it’s the content that displays before the reader has to scroll down.
You need a hook above the fold. It’s the first part of the page to show up, and it has to have some type of valuable content for readers to consume. It gives your website a little longer to load while holding attention. Every page needs to be optimized on mobile and desktop for this.
MachMetrics shows that the average automotive site size is 2.1MB. That’s rather substantial and a big reason pages take a long time to load. Your designer should be able to demonstrate aptitude for their job if you request that all web page sizes are reduced. Ideally, keep them under 1.3MB for faster loading.
This can be done by reducing image sizes especially. Use JPG, PNG, and GIF images that offer great quality with small file sizes. Reduce the image size so it will appear clearly on the screen but isn’t compressed.
Recently, Ryan Gerardi explored video hosting on AutoConversion.net. Because video takes up tons of space on a server, most automotive web service providers don’t want to host those files. However, you can control the user experience if you control the hosting. That includes load times as well as ad placement.
Youtube hosting is free, and a great way to get started with video on your website. But when your goal is to do video better with more intentional analytics and better load times, a provider like Flick Fusion should be on the agenda.
The bottom line: your website load time is more important than you think. The average automotive site takes 9 seconds to load. Over half of shoppers leave if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Can you afford for more than half of your potential clients to never walk through the digital door?