An article by Darrell Wilkins on 21 Jan 2022
Summary: Making assumptions about who is using your website can lead to incorrect design and optimisation decisions. Good research and Real User Monitoring will give you invaluable insights that positively affect conversions.
Not everyone experiences the internet in the same way. They use different devices (mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop) on varying connections (from patchy 3G to the gigabit fibre of expensive city offices).
Despite this, many B2B marketers think of their prospects as a homogenous group with access to the latest devices. Or these organisations' websites are designed for their own devices with no regard for what actual users need.
If this is the way you think about your website, sections of your audience could be experiencing a slow, frustrating experience. And as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123%.
You're alienating these people — and missing out on potential sales.
To make sure this doesn't happen to your firm, you have to understand how your FinTech's unique users are experiencing your content so you can create a website that serves them properly.
Why You're (Almost Certainly) Wrong About Your Audience
Maybe you realise not all of your users have access to the newest iPhone and 5G internet. But why should you care? After all, c-suite decision-makers do have the latest technology and their experience of your site is top-notch.
Here is the thing, c-suite executives are not your only target audience; they may not even be your primary website audience. Consider the following enterprise B2B sales statistics from Google:
- 89% of potential customers use the internet during B2B research. Meaning prospects are online looking at your website to assess your FinTech.
- These B2B researchers are not in the c-suite, but they influence purchasing decisions. Non-c-suite prospects are looking at your website and their research about you affects vendor selection. While 64% of the c-suite have final sign-off, so do almost a quarter (24%) of the non-c-suite. What's more, the latter has the most influence; 81% of non-c-suiters have a say in purchase decisions.
- Half of B2B researchers are millennials. The people with the most influence and the most information about your FinTech are young. They're less likely to have the latest and best tech gear than the established c-suiters.
This research suggests you shouldn't only be trying to convince the c-suite to choose your services. You also need to win over the young researchers reporting to and influencing the decisions of the c-suite. To do that, you'll need to consider how your website performs on a diverse array of devices and connections.
It is dangerous to make assumptions about your target audience. Always conduct your own research as well. Conduct your own research to understand who is actually using your site.
How Website Performance and Your Audience Are Distributed
Website performance is a distribution. There's not one statistic that encompasses your site's performance. There's a range. For example, some users experience a page load time of one second, while others experience a page load time of eight seconds — and everything in between.
When you're working on your website, think about all of the ways your users can be distributed across different variables. Some distributions to consider include:
- Screen size. We had a client who was blown away when we told them over 50% of their traffic comes from mobile. They'd never even looked at their mobile site. Instead, they developed everything on giant 24" monitors and £3,000 laptops.
- Device performance. The most popular mobile phones are cheap low-end Android devices. Their performance is wildly different from the latest iPhone and the site experience users will have on them will be very different.
- Connection speed. As mentioned, some users do research in their offices on high-speed internet. Others do it on the train, commuting to and from work. Or in a rural area with a 3G connection.
- Demographic. All sorts of demographics matter when it comes to website performance. For example: If your audience is c-suite executives, they are much more likely to be over 40. As we age, our eyesight worsens. So something as seemingly trivial as the font size you select for mobile can dictate whether that person engages with your content — or not.
- Geographic. The internet blurs borders. You can now have customers in all parts of the world. But remember, technological infrastructure isn't equal in all parts of the world. You may need to localise your site.
Each of these distributions combines in complex permutations to affect how different users experience your website. You need to research your audience to figure out where they fall in these ranges. Then, develop and optimise your website to suit their needs.
Figuring Out Your True Audience
We keep saying that you need to do research about your target audience to properly optimise your website for them. But how?
Lab testing using tools like Lighthouse is a good starting point. They'll simulate a device on which a given webpage might be running and give you some data about that page's performance.
But lab testing is ultimately a simulation. Not to mention it's influenced by the device you're running the test on. To truly understand how people use your site, you need to conduct continuous real user monitoring (RUM).
RUM tells you how your website performs in the real world. You put a tiny bit of code on each page, then use a tool like SpeedCurve to aggregate data from the actual people visiting your site.
You'll quickly see how users can have wildly different experiences on the same page depending on their devices, networks, and so forth. With your RUM data, you can make informed decisions about website optimisation based on both performance and audience distributions.
One warning: Usage statistics from RUM are not static.
Take mobile usage for instance. 40% of your users might be viewing your content on mobile right now. But is this percentage lower than it was a few months ago? How about compared to last year? Instead of only looking at a snapshot in time, consider the larger trend. If mobile usage is steadily increasing, it's best to optimise your site for mobile. That way, you're always ahead of the trend instead of trying to play catch-up.
You Can Achieve High-Performance for All of Your Users
Website performance matters. High-performance means:
- More sales
- More conversions
- Better SEO performance
- Improved user experience
- Happier customers
But remember: High-performance doesn't just matter to the c-suite. To attain a true high-performance website, you need to optimise it for real-world users — whatever your research tells you that means for your FinTech.
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