Why failing to keep track of tags could cost you sales

Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon
Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon

Tagging is on the rise but this is bringing with it a set of problems that need to be resolved, writes Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon.

Consumers flock to retail websites during the holiday season, but as adverts and tags increase to take advantage of growing traffic, webpages are loading slower. Slower pages drive fewer conversions, lower customer satisfaction and cause revenue loss, but there are ways to improve all three.

Advances in analytics, ad serving, tag management, image serving and a host of ad technologies provide precise ad targeting and an increasingly curated ad experience for the consumer. But to accommodate this, websites are often required to increase elements or tags on websites.

With 57% of users abandoning a page if it doesn’t load in three seconds or less, and 67% of UK consumers citing slow loading times as the primary reason for quitting an online purchase, not keeping track of tags can cost you sales.

Evidon analysed the top fifty UK ecommerce sites and found average page loads to be 2.26 seconds with an average of 44.7 tracking elements per page. In 1995, websites had, on average, 2.3 tags per page. Jump to 2010 and websites average 75 tags per page, making top ecommerce sites slower today than two years ago.

A one second delay results in a 7% loss in conversions, so if a website typically earns £100,000 per day, it could face annual revenue loss of £2.5 million. A recent QuBit study estimated that UK online retailers could be losing out on £1.73 bn in sales each year due to slow page loads.

Latent tags can also derail a carefully planned page viewing strategy. Well-designed webpages are arranged so customers view areas in a particular order. If important elements are slow to load, customers can have difficulty navigating and miss the key message. Problems with site navigation were the second most common reason for not completing a purchase, often caused by elements not loading promptly.

Social widgets can also cause problems. Evidon data from our Ghostery panel shows social widgets were in the top five slowest tags across 90% of top ecommerce and retail sites tested in November with load times of 14 to 18 seconds for some. 

While latency can vary widely based on how a page is designed, customers are less likely to "like" your content when the button loads after 14 seconds and websites are less likely to capture the data associated with each widget.

The good news is that improving tag performance and data quality produces measurable results.  Amazon found that for every 100 milliseconds of improved speed, they gained a 1% increase in revenue. So how does a company make online shopping safer, easier to navigate and faster?

First, you need to reveal the 'invisible web' of trackers to implement a successful tag management strategy. Regular full site tag audits should also be undertaken to appropriately weigh the utility and performance of companies discovered. After you know who is on your site and how they got there, make sure none of the discovered elements are prohibitively slowing down your site.  

Examine when each element is programmed to load, and address any inefficiencies in tag structure, as well as any navigational problems caused by slow loading elements. Finally, establish good relationships with your approved vendors, and be aware of any consumer data they might collect to secure your website against data leakage.

Following these steps will secure your site by eliminating unknown or unwanted trackers, as well as solidifying the relationships you have with current vendors. Your site will be easier to navigate by restructuring any highly latent tags and images will load on your pages in the order you want. Finally, your site will be faster, which can only be a good thing in today’s time-poor society.

Amy King, vice president of product marketing, Evidon

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