At ad:tech New York, REI's internet marketing program manager said that conversions drop 7 percent for every second of load time.

Brafton has long reported that site speed is key to creating a positive user experience and SEO, and insight from this week’s ad:tech New York indicates that it’s ultimately critical to online conversions. Jonathan Colman, internet marketing program manager of REI, shared the scoop on load times and lost internet marketing oppotunities.

According to Colman, customers expect websites to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load. (This mirrors Brafton’s report that web experience is key to mobile audiences, with three-quarters of on-the-go internet users saying they’re unwilling to wait more than five seconds for a page to load.) Colman said for every one second of load time, conversions drop by 7 percent.

Plus, further fueling the flame that site speed is essential for SEO, he referenced Google’s claim that speed is used as an organic ranking factor for the top 1 percent of competitive queries.

Colman said four key benefits that come directly or indirectly from improving site speed are:

  1. Optimizing cache  
  2. Minimizing round-trip times
  3. Minimizing payload size
  4. Optimizing browser rendering (On this note, he pointed out that high-quality coding definitely impacts user experience – marketers and webmasters should work hand-in-hand on this. He hinted that CSS expression and even specifying a character set will have an impact on site speed.)
REI's ad:tech presentation.

After REI worked on reducing its page load times, Colman says there is a 50 percent decrease in the amount of time it takes Google to crawl an average page since. There is also a corresponding 100 percent increase in the total amount of pages Google crawls for the site per day.

Overall, he says better site speed has helped fuel “significant increases in average conversions.”

Marketers trying to gauge (and improve) their sites’ load times may try Google’s Page Speed Online Tool, which Brafton reported was released last spring.


Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.