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How fast is ‘fast enough’?

Customer experience has been billed as the single biggest focus for businesses this year by the likes of Adobe, Gartner, and about a billion digital consumers. And the speed of our websites and applications is a core experience metric that many big companies focus on.

And why wouldn’t you? It’s widely accepted that digital assets need to load in three seconds or less, otherwise 40% of your audience will abandon.

Following this theory, US telco T-Mobile and Dynatrace recently conducted a study into the importance of site and application speed, and the impact on consumer satisfaction and conversions. The data was vast, involving every session for 379k unique site visitors and looked at various business transactions.

Here’s some of what the report found:

Visitors that completed orders experienced pages 50% faster than visitors who didn’t.

1.23 seconds doesn’t sound like a deal breaker but T-Mobile’s research found that it’s the difference between abandonment and conversion. The visitors who experienced good performance were more likely to complete orders (at 2.40 secs) than those who didn’t complete a transaction at 3.63 secs.

You can also see in the chart below that the converting customers (orange dots) all hovered in the 1 second to 5 second range.


Visitors were half as likely to convert when five or more pages were slow.

The report found that visitors who experience five pages loading slower than five seconds were half as likely to convert than the visitors experiencing no pages slower than five seconds. The comparison on conversion rate was 18% vs 38%.


First impressions are the most important

T-Mobile’s analysis found that visitors viewing pages earlier in the transaction journey (i.e. Home page and Log-in page) were more sensitive to performance issues than when viewing later pages, such as Purchase pages. This makes sense: the deeper a customer goes in a transaction, the more committed she is to completing it and, therefore, the more patient she is. Slow pages early on and people find it easier to abandon.

You can see here the data for the Home page and Log-in page. Conversion rates decrease consistently to the 6-7 second time mark, as page speed slows:


Speed matters most on product pages.

Poor performing product pages, regardless of when they appeared in the customer journey, had a significant impact on the visitor abandoning the transaction.

T-Mobile found that conversions drop 60% when Product pages take longer than 10 seconds to load – from 25% conversion for a page load of 0-1 second to a 10% conversion rate at 10+ seconds.


Speed is crucial across the entire site.

Even when T-Mobile removed the Product pages from the data, conversion rates were still impacted significantly by response times. The data shows that across the board consumers who averaged a 0-1 second response time were converting at a rate of 40% compared with a conversion rate of 29% for those experiencing pages taking 10+ seconds to load.


The customer journey is complex, and one size never fits all. Your company’s budget to improve digital experience is not bottomless, so you need to prioritize effort based on impact to digital outcomes like conversion, cost to serve and engagement. Dissecting case studies like this makes it possible for marketers to understand how other companies are getting their heads around the user experience metrics that matter most and gives us a benchmark to target.

How is your organization planning to make the most of customer interactions across digital channels?