Will Your Marketing Campaigns Hurt Your Business This Holiday Season?
Test and Monitor | Posted November 05, 2012

The holiday season is right around the corner, and the stakes are higher than ever - between $92-$96 billion in online sales is up for grabs this upcoming season in the US alone! 

With the added pressure to meet your 2012 revenue goals, I'm sure that your Q4 marketing campaigns are well under way and that you'll continuously measure key business performance indicators like click-throughs, page views and conversion rates.

Unfortunately, one area that's often overlooked in marketing plans is your organization's ability to properly support the influx of Web visitors responding to your promotional campaigns. Lack of readiness and delivering poor website experience when visitors come flocking is a costly mistake that you simply can't afford. Here are some key stats that illustrate how website performance directly impacts current and future revenue:

  1. Visitors’ expectations are high speed matters and every second counts. According to Forrester Research, the average online shopper expects your web pages to load in 2 seconds or less; after 3 seconds, up to 40% of shoppers will abandon your site. In addition, 74% of mobile users will bounce after waiting 5 sec for their site to load, says Equation Research.

  2. This Holiday Season your visitors expect the same level of performance, regardless of Web traffic volume. In fact, according to a 2010 study by Equation Research, at peak Web traffic times, more than 75% of customers left for a competitor’s site rather than suffer delay.

  3. When your website is slow, your customers are lost to your competition42% of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty, according to Akamai Sponsored Research.

  4. Once a customer leaves your website, how are you going to bring them back? Another Akamai report says that 75% of online shoppers who experience a site that freezes, crashes, is slow to render, or involves a convoluted checkout process would no longer buy from that site.

  5. A slow website will also impact your future revenue. Just consider that repeat customers spend 67% more and are more profitable than first-time buyers, according to Bain & Company.

It's frightening to think that a successful marketing campaign could actually hurt your business and benefit your competitors. The best way to protect your revenue and ensure optimal website performance this holiday season is to incorporate load testing and Web performance monitoring initiatives right into your marketing plans -- in cooperation with your IT, development and QA counterparts. Here's how it all should work:

 

1) Load test your applications before the beginning of this holiday season.

Load testing is the process of putting demand on your website and measuring its response under normal and anticipated peak traffic conditions. That way you can identify the maximum operating capacity of your website and identify and fix bottlenecks and other technical glitches before you launch your holiday campaigns.

Your load testing plan should define key transactions to validate (e.g. shopping carts, payment processing functions, Database record retrievals, etc.) and incorporate the Web intelligence that you already have from tools like Google Analytics or Omniture to define realistic load testing scenarios (estimated peak of online visitors, percentage of mobile users, browser types, targeted countries, etc.). 

2) Monitor your website on a 24x7 basis this holiday season.

synthetic robotWeb performance monitoring is the process of proactively monitoring your Web applications using "synthetic robots" that periodically interact with your website and critical business functions (shopping carts, payment processing, etc.) on a 24x7 basis, so you can immediately identify problems and slow Web response time. With proactive website monitoring capabilities in place, you can accurately assess your website performance as experienced by your customers and resolve problems before they're impacted. Remember, when a customer calls, it is too late—get alerted and react at the first sign of website slowdowns.

3) Plan a joint Load Testing/Web Performance Monitoring strategy.

Look for an integrated load testing/Web Monitoring solution that lets you reuse your load testing scripts to monitor your website on an on-going basis as well. Also, look for point-and-click solutions that don’t require programming skills. You will save a lot of time, and it is much easier to get started.

 

Remember, the start of this holiday shopping season is already here! So what are you waiting for? Talk to your IT, QA and development counterparts today, and learn more about how SmartBear solutions can help ensure that your successful marketing campaigns will not benefit your competitors this holiday season!

 

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