Incentive Networks provides a private-label, merchant-funded loyalty marketing platform for roughly 400 partners utilizing 3,500 retailers who use it to create a customized online shopping environment, offer discounts to valued customers, and monitor transactions on partners’ sites. Incentive Networks is a contributing division of a corporation that generated $193 million in 2007, and has had 20 successful operating quarters.
Concerns Over Website Performance
Three years ago, Incentive Networks was concerned when its websites were taking as long as 30 seconds to download, potentially impacting user experience and costing the company thousands of dollars a day. The company had internal checks on performance but not proper insight into how the actual customer was being impacted. It selected AlertSite, a SmartBear business, to diagnose the issue.
Providing a High Performance and Reliable Web Platform
Incentive Networks provides a loyalty marketing platform for roughly 400 partners utilizing 3,500 retailers. Partners use Incentive Networks’ platform to generate revenue by creating a customized online shopping environment, offering discounts to valued customers, and monitoring transactions on retailers sites. Like any Web-based business, Incentive Networks’ priority is to provide a high-performance, reliable platform with an expected 100 percent uptime. Near-perfect performance translates to exceptional user experience and maximum profitability for retailers. Incentive Networks’ IT leaders became concerned with high load times within their internal content management system. They noticed that their “first byte download times” were approaching 30 seconds. The problem? There was no way to rapidly identify the root cause of this delay without pouring over millions of lines of code. They needed to move quickly to find and fix the problem, because any performance degradation could potentially indicate a problem that could lead to downtime. It had to be fixed, and fixed fast.
Incentive Networks Chooses AlertSite
Drew Schulz, CTO of Incentive Networks, wanted to find a way to troubleshoot the problem as fast as possible. He tested AlertSite. AlertSite enabled Schulz to see what his partners’ customers were experiencing on their sites—from the landing page all the way through to the completion of a transaction. Schulz used the AlertSite transaction monitoring system to build a script that simulated what actual users would be doing on Incentive Networks’ websites. This included loading pages, displaying merchandise, browsing categories, and so on. Within just a few hours, Schulz had built a comprehensive performance measurement script. He was able to configure a dashboard in the AlertSite system that would show him everything he needed to know and pinpoint the problem he was trying to isolate. Schulz created script for several of his partners’ sites and programmed the system to issue daily reports as well as real-time alerts. It wasn’t long before he discovered several potential weak points that could be the source of the performance bottleneck, his team had identified earlier. During this process, Schulz also integrated his existing Google Analytics accounts with the AlertSite dashboard. This allowed them to align AlertSite data to visitor behavior, such as number of visitors, page views, average time on page, session time, bounce rate, transactions, and order value of items purchased. A few days later, once customized to his liking, Schulz passed the data gathered from AlertSite’s monitoring and reporting to his IT development team. The IT team rapidly identified the crucial points in their code that could be suspect, and began remediation to eliminate the cause of the initial slow first byte performance.
Improved Load Times and Saving Money with AlertSite
Since implementing AlertSite, Incentive Networks was able to reduce the load time for each page to 500 milliseconds, bringing the first byte download down to 200 milliseconds. Incentive Networks stands to lose up to $1,300 for every hour of downtime, but thanks to the real-time alerts, they have been able to maintain 99.9 percent uptime since implementation. Customer perception is also very important to Incentive Networks and the alerting systems gave them the ability to measure and monitor all sites with the highest level of accuracy and deliver a positive customer experience. Incentive Networks’ use of Google Analytics within the AlertSite dashboard provided a full view of how website performance influenced customer activity. This relationship between high performance and high functionality ensured Incentive Networks’ sites were working to their full potential. In addition to improving user experience, AlertSite has provided more value for Incentive Networks’ partners. Using AlertSite, Incentive Networks was able to send individual reports to partners on the download time of their websites, revealing the other side of the performance equation. Their partners appreciate this added value because the performance metrics allow them to see which problems can be solved by Incentive Networks and which are caused internally.
“If our site goes down, we lose money and more importantly, we lose the trust of our customers and partners. AlertSite has helped us achieve faster response time and 99.9 percent uptime, and deliver a truly reliable user experience.”
— Drew Schulz, CTO
Benefits Experienced by Incentive Networks
- Reduced load time. Thanks to AlertSite, Schulz was able to reduce the load time for each page to 500 milliseconds, bringing the first byte download down to 200 milliseconds.
- Increased reliability. Every hour of downtime could cost Incentive Networks approximately $1,300 in revenue an hour. Real-time alerts monitor all sites with the highest level of accuracy and have ensured 99.9 percent uptime.
- Improved user experience. Since utilizing AlertSite, Incentive Networks has ensured that customers experience little to no downtime at any point during their shopping experience.
- Powerful analytics. Integrating Google Analytics with the AlertSite dashboard provided a fuller view of how website performance influenced customer activity.
- More value for partners. Incentive Networks was able to send individual reports to partners outlining the performance of their websites and the causes behind both their success and problem areas.