Must watch website metrics to avoid holiday season crashes
With the holiday season upon us and gift buyers out in full force, more people than ever are turning to online shopping. But many businesses saw their websites crash during periods of increased online shopping due to the COVID-19 lockdown. With more people than ever choosing delivery over department stores, watch these important website metrics so you can prepare your website for the extra traffic and prevent lost revenue.
Metrics to watch this season
You don’t want to discover too late that your website can’t handle holiday traffic. Launching a web development project to fix the problem in the middle of the season puts you at risk of losing more business, and the stakes are especially high during, considering how much just 30–60 minutes of downtime could potentially cost you sales and revenue.
Websites can crash for many reasons including code errors, plugin problems, high traffic volumes and server errors. When these website crashes happen during the holidays, that seemingly minor inconvenience can cost you in the form of lost sales and revenue, damage to your company's reputation, lowered customer satisfaction and negative reviews.
Metrics to watch this season
Here are some of the key metrics to monitor to ensure you’re delivering the best possible digital experience to your customers.
1. Website uptime
Ideally, you want your website to have 100% uptime. However, 99.98%–99.999% is more typical and considered good for most ecommerce businesses. Even if you have excellent uptime most of the year, the influx of people purchasing gifts can cause traffic overloads. Consider your usual traffic volume and expect it to grow with the holiday shopping season that falls mid pandemic.
Conducting load testing is a sure way to make sure that your hosting can handle the expected increase in traffic.
Use proper website planning practices to prepare such as creating a backup host in case of extended crashes. You can also use a content delivery network to deliver static files through a web server closer to the visitor’s location.
2. Page load time
Over 50% of visitors will abandon a web page that doesn’t load within three seconds, which means that every second really does count. A difference of a single second can more than double your bounce rate, which means losing customers. Longer loading speeds contribute to:
- Poor customer satisfaction
- Fewer sales
- Fewer conversions
If your ecommerce website doesn’t load in two seconds or less, determine what may be slowing it down. Look at items such as large image files or old infrastructure. Take extra precautions to ensure that customers can access your site for quick purchases during the holidays.
3. Error rate
Error pages can be a side effect of high traffic volumes or broken links; it’s no good either way. You want your customers to be able to easily access your ecommerce site without having to reload or wait for your site to become available again. Before the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, run tests on your website to check its performance under different loads.
Broken links will throw 404 errors, which can also impact your website’s SEO and lower your position in search engine rankings. Most importantly, if product pages are broken, it means shoppers can’t make purchases. Find, remove and replace broken links to avoid a negative user experience.
Common errors due to traffic overload include:
- 502 Service Temporarily Overloaded
- 500 Internal Server Error
- 503 Service Unavailable
4. Conversion rate
A high conversion rate means that visitors are taking your desired action. In ecommerce, that equates to purchasing your product. Overall, the results of a holiday shopping season can be one of the most significant indicators that your website is user-friendly and you’ve marketed your brand to the right people. Conversion rates will indicate how well you’ve targeted your audience, how intuitive your buying experience is and whether your website planning projects worked.
If you see low conversion rates during the shopping frenzy, consider these possible causes:
- Slow loading speeds
- Checkout issues
- Broken forms
- Marketing that attracts the wrong audience
5. Bounce rate
Unlike conversion rates, a high bounce rate does not bode well during the holidays (or ever). It tells you that something about your site is driving users away and preventing them from making a purchase. The following causes could contribute to a high bounce rate:
- Improper keyword use
- Poor targeting and design
- Slow loading speeds
- Pop-up ads
Take this opportunity to conduct web development projects that improve your content, keywords and marketing tactics to ensure you bring in high-value traffic and customers who are most likely to convert. That may mean something as simple as removing pop-ups and creating a higher-quality call to action on your landing page.
How to use these website performance metrics to prevent crashes
Avoiding website crashes means doing proper website planning. Conducting your web development projects before the busiest time of the year gives you the information and resources you need to keep crashes from happening.
When you consider all your ecommerce performance metrics together, you may notice that they create a chain reaction. For example, slow loading speeds contribute to high bounce rates and lower revenue. When you pay attention to each of them individually, you can improve them collectively.
Want help assessing your digital experience? Our ecommerce consultants know exactly what to do. Get in touch to learn how they can troubleshoot your digital commerce problems.
Sarah Wood is a freelance content marketing writer specializing in tech, health, and fintech, helping companies create content and expand their reach.