While your marketing team/agency was figuring out how many puppies, bikini clad women or hashtags to incorporate into your upcoming Super Bowl ad/commercial, I sure hope someone has been planning for the increased attention your homepage or landing pages expect to get. There is a great chance marketing hasn’t thought this through, especially this year as some Super Bowl ad spots have only recently been sold. I really hope whoever is spending $4.4M for 30s of air time with less than a full month to prepare doesn’t blame IT when the flood of traffic hits and bounces.
Here are a few tips to help cover your own ass and in a language marketing will understand:
1. Slim your pages down.
Looking back at performance test results from David Jones last year, the top performance ads all kept their content optimized in terms of size (page weight). The smaller the web page, in terms of byte count, the faster it can be delivered. Faster delivery results in:
- Better end user experience
- Higher likelihood to share positive experiences in social
- Higher conversion rates
- Better omni-channel experience (across phones/tablets/desktop browsers)
- Better ROI. You’ll keep costs down with Service Providers and CDNs.
2. Optimize your 3rd party services and simplify your pages.
Same story here; looking at lessons learned from last year, the top-performing ads tend to use less 3rd party services. Telling your marketing dept to stop using that Facebook commenting plugin or less analytics/tracking tools is gonna be a tough pill to swallow but they need to question the priority of each of those services. When your pages are shouldering the biggest load they’ve seen all year, it might not be the time for complex service calls. Their favorite trends in parallax scrolling, Instagram feeds or some other web 2.0 functionality requires great preparation and just because you can implement it doesn’t mean you should.
Also, careful with those tied-in social and interactive elements. We’ve seen load-balancing and DNS propagation issues in a few cases and increasingly-so as ads are asking people to submit pictures/stories/tweets or whatever.
The best NFL teams have the best practices. Just like the NFL, the separation between Super Bowl champs and The Tennessee Titans (sorry but they had a rough year) are hidden within the fundamentals of the game. We saw last year that the biggest faults were from classic and sometimes obvious problems.
Having trouble selling the idea? Ask them how much they spent on SEO and SEM this year. How does it compare to their testing spend? They understand that certain color sign-up buttons with certain keywords above-the-fold yield better conversion rates and have dedicated resources in this area, but are they contributing to your performance testing or quality assurance efforts? It might be time to get their department cost center number for some chargebacks, proactively addressing performance problems will help make sure conversion rates stay strong.
4. Track everything.
Do this, but do it delicately. This includes measuring the entire digital experience. Whether it be via Google Analytics, or your favorite marketing automation tools like Marketo or gathering metrics on every single user transaction. Sampling performance metrics will lose out on key elements marketing cares about like entry page performance, exit page performance, what a good experience looks like, etc. Careful though as many of these tracking plugins could violate tip #2 above and introduce detrimental performance dependencies.
One last thing – keep a lookout for a post from David Jones again this year reviewing the site performance of all the major advertisers. Should be some great new lessons to learn.