Rant Alert ** Are page load times on Unbounce killing your conversion rates?


#1

It’s a no-brainer that page load times have a direct impact on conversion rates.

Typically on this community I’ve seen Unbounce experts and reps use Pingdom as the benchmark for page load times or they use a browser extension on their local machine (running on what I assume is a superfast office leased line and a fast desktop machine). Those tests are meaningless.

Any page load speed test you do needs to be factor in user location, user bandwidth, and user’s browser (e.g. test mobile).

I tested this theory out recently by comparing Pingdom load times to more realistic tests and I was horrified at the performance in simulated real world tests. See the screenshots below. This is all for the same page hosted on Unbounce. These tests were all taken with minutes of each other.

Pingdom:1.32 seconds
vs
GTMetrics: 12.1 seconds
vs
Webpagetest.org: 8.65 seconds  

The latter two allow me to specify both the location and download speed for a user and I chose 5 Mbps which is a reasonable benchmark.

For a page size of 200-400 KB + including ALL html, scripts and images, it’s shocking to see such high load times. I can only assume this is because of multiple unnecessary scripts that are loaded and I cannot remove, having scripts in multiple files across different domains, etc. I have no control over these issues because none of these are custom scripts. And I am unable to act on any of the recommendations of these websites because it’s up to Unbounce. Having CDNs deliver images and JS is almost pointless when all the other best practice recommendations are not being met.

What makes it worse is my actual landing page is less than 100 KB including the images and custom scripts I added. Everything else is force loaded by Unbounce and doesn’t affect the page’s functionality or look in any way, as far as I am concerned. E.g. Unbounce support tells me jQuery is needed for Unbounce to function and I don’t understand why because my page doesn’t need it to function. It’s not easy designing a good looking functional page within 50-100 KB fully loaded and it’s incredibly frustrating to see the size double because of force loaded stuff I don’t need or want.

I thought I should share this with the community. If enough people are seeing similar results, maybe someone needs to do something.

***I would suggest everyone test their pages using more accurate conditions right now ** and post their screenshots here. ****Basically at least two websites that let you (i) ****specify **location (ii) simulate download speed, and (iii) simulate a browser version 



Finally, a word from a developer I used on some projects. This affects page render times, if not page load times. Both of which impact conversion rates.

"You drag a block of content into position and, behind the scenes, the editor has unnecessarily wrapped that simple block of text in a 10+ layer deep nest of tags. Now your simple

tag which should exist no more than maybe one level deep from the body tag (html > body > main > h1) becomes something like this: 

html > body > div#lp-pom-root > div.lp-positioned-content > div#lp-pom-text-187 > h1 > span > span > span > strong > span > span

This is an actual example from one of your pages."


#2

Unable to edit the above so adding updates here- 

Why doesn’t Unbounce automatically do the following? Aren’t these no-brainers? I don’t think they’d affect the page functionality at all. They can only help by reducing page load and render times.

  1. Add image attributes to the html
  2. enable browser caching
  3. Specify a Vary: Accept-Encoding header? 
    4. Defer parsing of JavaScript?
  4. Enable gzip compression
  5.  Minify HTML, CSS and JS

#3

I have not experienced this problem, Sidney. Our pages load very quickly.


#4

I agree. There is much to be desired in this area.


#5

Roy,

If you don’t mind, can you test your Unbounce page on webpagetest.org using “cable 5/1 mbps” and Gtmetrix.com using throttling at “cable 5/1 mbps” and let me know what results you get?


#6

Sidney, I would retest your page again. I think there was some anomalies in your original tests.

I was trying to find ways to help you, so I found your page on Google (hope you don’t mind). There’s nothing major you can do to get faster load times since your page is already so minimal.

But when I run your page on Webpagetest.org, it fully render in 2.700s. 


#7

Sure (on “cable” webpagetest) Tested landing page with 12 images and standard form:

Start render: 1.49 s, loaded; 3.24, reload: 1.73s

  • https takes about 1 sec longer for full load.
    Biggest bottleneck is Google analytics.

-Roy


#8

Thanks, Roy. 


#9

Phillip,

You’re absolutely right. I tested and retested multiple times after my original post above and it appears that  using the Firefox or IE options on these websites, the results are far worse for me. Chrome seems much better. Though even on Chrome I get about 1.7 to 1.9 seconds which seems really high for a page that is < 100 KB (not including Unbounce auto-added scripts). I’d love to get that down to sub 1 second on mobile.


#10

Makes me wonder how reliable the FF/IE tests are, there shouldn’t be such a huge difference.I still get 8-10 seconds when using the FF or IE options - after multiple tests on different days and different times.


#11

Hi guys, not experienced any real problems on this front but I do love the ideas and certainly there’s some areas that it would be great to see added. Browser caching would be awesome. We can already minify our own css and js in essence by just linking to the minified libraries. Gzip is an interesting idea but how complicated that is to setup depends on the way they are using their cdn (amazon I think atm),

Be interesting to see my page speeds now and do some tests. Some good ideas but nothing that makes me panic or worry at the moment.

Cheers

Stuart


#12

Hey there,

my conversions have suddenly stopped. I’ve been killing myself trying to figure out why. I’ve come to the realization that the load times are very likely the cause. When i first launched everything was going well. After stopping traffic to the landing page and resuming again a couple days later…got nothing. Clicks from facebook ran up the budget but no results.  I wonder if when using sub-domains and multiple pages on the sub-domain could that bog down the page? 

I need to know what I can do or who I need to consult to speed up my page ASAP. Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Amir 


#13

Amir,

Have your conversions suddenly stopped just today? That’s happening on my Adwords campaign too. Zero conversions today vs the last 30 days.

Although why do you think your load times are worse after you relaunched vs before?


#14

Hi Amir,

I’m wondering the same as Sydney, what’s the indication that it’s load times that have resulted in zero conversions? If it’s all Adwords based and your Unbounce pages are working fine then personally my next step would be to drop a call to the guys at Google
Google. Has your clicks, impressions and ctr dropped, what’s your impression share, that kind of thing. Especially if it’s pages that have been converting well historically. Also delving into analytics would give some further insights.

Just a few ideas on where to start. I hope you get it sorted we’ve all had this happen but in my experience it could be any number of factors not just page Load times.

Fingers crossed for you.

Cheers

Stuart.


#15

I’ve been struggling with no conversions for a couple weeks now. Had multiple phone calls with Facebook discussing ads, clicks, impressions, ways of bidding etc. All that is going alright. Just simply not getting the leads all of a sudden. Over 95% of the users are on mobile devices. I ran speed test with pingdom and webpagetest.org - pingdom does not give the option to test from mobile 3g. But it timed in under 2 seconds. When running it with wepagetest.org from mobile 3g , load time is between 8-10 seconds. Thats horrible. From cable is 2.9 .

In the beginning my conversion rate was roughly 8% (which I’m old is not bad). CPA was $12. now I’m lucky if I get 1%.

I’ve talked to go daddy as well and upgraded my hosting.

I’m hoping there’s someone that can help.

Thanks,
Amir


#16

Hi Amir, would you mind sharing the link to your lp, I know it might skew your stats by 1 or 2 but I’d really like to help only it’s like finding a needle in a haystack…without being allowed in the haystack.

If 95% of your traffic is from mobile have you checked to make sure your lp renders correctly on multiple devices?

If your not happy sharing url publicly feel free to Pm me.

Cheers

Stuart.


#17

Thanks Stuart. Where do I dm you?


#18

Feel free to drop me an email stuart@digitalenrich.com and I’ll have a look over the weekend.