How page speed impacts your bounce rate, with example of Zalando

Think back to the last time you shopped online. Most likely, this journey began with a search on Google or another search engine. Most likely you clicked on one of the first few options at the top of the results page. How would you have reacted if a lengthy delay had greeted you? Assuming that you had more than one option, I’d imagine you would have left that website in search of another shop.

So, if you are one of those users who gives up in frustration prior to trying another page, you would contribute to the bounce rate. And unless your business occupies a specific niche without much competition, slow loading will rarely encourage users to explore further. In fact, studies show that users visit an average of 5.6 more pages when a site has an average loading time of 2 rather than 8 seconds. When the loading time rises from 2 to 5 seconds, the average bounce rate climbs from 9% to 38%.

Together, these metrics can lead to reduced revenue. If potential customers visit your site only to discover pages loading slowly and navigate away quickly, you’re obviously losing sales opportunities. If those same users then don’t return even if your business fits their interests, poor website performance and a high bounce rate have cost you additional sales.

But let’s start from the beginning…

How is bounce rate calculated?

The good news is that bounce rate calculation is incredibly easy, at least from a mathematics perspective. Simply divide the number of single page visits by the total number of visits and multiply by 100.

Of course, to perform this calculation, you’ll need to know both values, which can be easier said than done. For many businesses out there, it will likely prove easier to utilize an analytics tool that tracks bounce rate rather than attempting to determine it manually.

What is a good bounce rate?

While generally speaking, you’ll always want a lower bounce rate, what qualifies depends on your site and objectives. Some formats and audiences naturally tend to result in higher or lower bounce rates. For example, blogs typically attract users interested in a particular topic. Although you would ideally see visitors to such a page click through to a related topic, many will leave once they have finished the content that originally caught their eye. Meanwhile, ecommerce websites tend to have a lower bounce rate, as users that visit typically explore various products pages.

Start by aiming for a bounce rate of 40% or lower, but understand that you’ll need to base your goal on your industry, purpose, and target audience. Consider the average bounce rate for your type of business and the page format before making a final judgment.

How page speed affects bounce rate

Now that we’ve established how bounce rates work, it’s time to look into one of the key factors that can impact this metric: page speed

If bounce rate provides insight into how well your website fulfills user expectations, it can indicate customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, page loading time directly contributes to the visitor experience. When users have to wait a long time to access the page they’ve navigated to, they’re liable to leave quickly. And if your audience has such an immediate urge to look for another option, they are far more likely to leave without exploring beyond that first page.

loading speed website

Studying the correlation

This shared connection user satisfaction results in a direct correlation between bounce rate in page speed. As your website loads more slowly, your bounce rate will climb. And of course, as performance improves, your average bounce rate will decline.

Let’s look at some real world examples of this correlation in action.

Renault manufactures lower bounce rate and higher conversions

When Renault, one of the largest automakers on the planet, set out to optimize its website performance, the results were dramatic.

By dropping the amount of time needed to load its largest page elements to under 1 second, the company saw its bounce rate drop by 14%. Simultaneously, Renault witnessed a 13% increase in successful conversions, demonstrating how this correlation directly translates to business success.

NDTV keeps its audience tuned in

As a leading new station and website in India, NDTV caters to more than 200 million unique users monthly. With such a massive audience, any disruption to website performance could have a massive ripple effect.

So, the organization prioritized online optimization, resulting in a 55% increase in loading time. Following this incredible improvement, NDTV also experienced a 50% reduction in its bounce rate as people lingered on faster loading pages.

The Economic Times stabilizes its market

Staying in India, the Economic Times reports business-oriented news to over 45 million unique audience members a month. However, its website had suffered responsiveness issues.

By addressing this and improving the average page speed of its website, the newspaper achieved an 80% faster loading time. This led to a 43% drop in its bounce rate, as page speed once again played a role in keeping users around.

The ultimate goal

So, increasing page speed will consistently lead to a corresponding drop in bounce rate. But is there a limit to the relationship between these two metrics?

At this point, the realistic highest page speed that a business can achieve is around a 1 second load time, though some businesses have broken this threshold. However, this is by no means the final ideal.

0.2 seconds represents the standard human reaction time. That means that anything longer than this will be perceived as a delay, no matter how fast it takes place. So, our final goal should be to achieve instantaneous loading, at least in terms of how our users perceive it. And while this objective likely lays several years down the road, it’s essential to keep it in mind so that we remain ambitious in our pursuit of innovation!

Learning from success: Zalando

Using Insights we checked 132 fashion brands in 5 countries in Europe.  One of them is Zalando, a huge shoe and fashion retailer based in Germany. Given its size and industry, the company relies heavily on its website to drive sales and tracks a variety of different factors, including advanced searches, complex logistics, and pricing models. Knowing the importance of website performance in determining long-term success, Zalando prioritized loading speed optimization.

With an average load time of 1.2 seconds, Zalando ranks among the top 10 brands in five countries in terms of page speed on Chrome. This has enabled the company to rank among the top 5 for all relevant performance metrics.

zalando websites health map

Screenshot from Insights, showing Zalando's website performance in 5 European countries.

websites performance ranking germany

Within the German market, Zalando has achieved rank three among the fastest ecommerce sites in the footwear industry.

zalando core web vitals scores

Zalando has achieved remarkable consistency in keeping good websites performance.

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