A rocket launching out of a laptop. A metaphor for speeding up website loading times.

One of the most common frustrations we experience today is watching a website slowly load in. Images pop in late, the page’s structure suddenly reorganizes itself and we’re back at the top, or we may never see the page at all. With the speed of modern data networks, usually a web page loads instantly. However, if a website hasn’t been properly optimized for speed and short loading times, it can suddenly become a snail. That’s not something you want for your business’ website. We discuss some of the best web design practices for ensuring faster load times for your website.

Why Website Speed Matters

Website load speed simply matters because it has a direct impact on your conversion rates. If your website is slower, you are less likely to get sales, orders, new clients, etc. This is the case for both B2C (business to customer) and B2B (business to business) businesses. Studies have shown that for B2B websites, a website that loads in 1 second has 3x the conversion of one that loads in 5 seconds and 5x one that loads in 10 seconds. The difference is similar for e-commerce B2C businesses, where a 1-second website has 2.5x the conversion rate of those loading in 5 seconds.

What is a Good Website Loading Speed?

In the simplest terms, the faster a website loads, the better. However, a website will always take some time to load, even if a fraction of a second. It might be easier to determine when the average becomes frustrated and gives up. Studies’ have found that its best to remain within 2.5 seconds, and the longest ideal time for a webpage to load is 4 seconds. After that, the conversion rate drops to half of what it was at 1 second.  

Determining Your Website’s Loading Time

To optimize your website’s loading time, you need to determine its speed. For a proper test, you need to consider different network speeds, device types, and that each page will have a different speed. Thankfully, Google has developed a free tool for the job: PageSpeed. Just by entering your business’ URL, PageSpeed will run a full a diagnostic on your website’s loading times. The test can also be run for a mobile device or computer, helping you determine if a certain version of your website has a speed issue.

Putting Your Website in High Gear

Once you determine your website could be faster, you will need to start optimizing. Here are some of the essential practices for speeding up your website’s load times:

Reducing Image Sizes

One of the main factors that affect a website’s load time is file sizes. A user’s device needs to download these files from a website to display them in their browser. Text is overall fast for a device to load. However, images, if not optimized, can be large and slow down your website considerably. Best practice is to keep the largest dimension of a website at 1200px or below. If you’ve used raw or stock photos, these tend to be 3 or 4 times bigger and just as hefty. File format is also important. JPEGs and PNGs can be relatively small in file size, but a WEBP is overall a more optimized format for website loading times.

Embedding Videos Rather than Hosting

Pictures can be large files; videos can be huge. That’s why a best practice for website speed is to upload a video to another service like YouTube or Vimeo. These allow you to embed a video on your site, making it part of the page’s display while keeping it hosted on these other services. Devices will retrieve the video from these faster sites while also keeping your site’s load size and time down.

Preventing Long Pages

An essential practice for website speed optimization is limiting the size of web pages. For example, if someone browses a store’s inventory, the page should not try to load all 250 products at once. That will slow the page down. Instead, make sure your website uses pagination or progressive loading for larger sections of your site. These smaller sections will take less load time and have less impact on a browser.

Look at Apps, Widgets, Plugins, etc.

Apps, widgets, and plugins often provide essential functionality to a business’ website. However, by adding that additional functionality, they can also increase a website’s load time. Monitor how these apps affect your site’s performance and weigh the importance of their functionality against their speed impact. Also, keep these add-ons updated with regular website maintenance. This will keep the tools optimized while also preventing any security vulnerabilities that could develop in older versions.

Some of Our Favourite Optimization Tools for Website Speed

Along with Google’s PageSpeed, our web team has two favourite tools for optimizing a website’s load time:

  • WP Rocket: This WordPress tool manages the website’s cache, cleans up the database, removes unused CSS, and defers JavaScript to prioritize a page’s content.
  • Shortpixel: This convenient tool will convert and deliver images on a website into WEBP format.

Don’t Wait on Improving Your Website’s Load Times

Now you know some of the essential best practices for improving and optimizing a website’s load times. We recommend optimizing your site right away. That swift website speed will provide your users with an optimal experience on all their devices. In turn, that improves your business’ conversion rate. If you want help optimizing or maintaining your website’s speed, contact our web design team.

A person holding a smart phone receiving SMS marketing

Alongside social media and email, SMS is one of the best marketing tools businesses should be using today. While SMS lacks the visuals of other marketing techniques, it leverages a powerful and wide-reaching network for immediate communication with your customers and audience. That means SMS is one of the most powerful tools for growing your business’ reach and retention. We’ll explain in more detail why your business should be sending your customers texts.

SMS is a Powerful Marketing Channel

SMS or texting is simply one of the best ways to communicate with your customers and clients. Over 5 billion people in the world have mobile phones and another billion at least have access to one. In Canada, over 88% of the population has their own smartphone and over 45% check their phone at least every half-hour. Plus, unlike apps or other communication methods, phone users rarely silent or mute their text notifications. This combination means SMS offers a reliable marketing and communication channel with an incomparable reach.

Customers Like SMS

A powerful communication method means little if people don’t like using it. Thankfully, that’s not the case for SMS. Instead, customers prefer SMS communication to other methods, particularly phone calls. That’s not just for friends and family either. Over 93% of customers want businesses to communicate to them through SMS texts. That preference and the direct contact to users’ phones has incredible results, with SMS messages averaging at staggering 98% open and 45% response rates. This makes it both an extremely efficient and cost-effective marketing channel.

The Convenience of Automatic Updates 

There are numerous platforms for SMS messaging like Klaviyo that include automations. These can be used to update customers about their packages, orders, or appointments. Automatic cart reminders or new product/service announcements through SMS are also perfect for helping to drive sales and foster retention. The immediacy of these updates is convenient for customers and their automation requires little-to-no input from your business to send. SMS updates can be tied directly into your ecommerce platform just like emails. This will easily allow you to send updates on either or even both powerful marketing channels.

Customer Service

Over the past decade of long holds and confusing phone menus, people have developed a distaste for customer service call centers. As a result, chat and text forms of customer service have become their preference. These don’t require customers waiting on hold and can be done at the same time as work or another task. As a result, SMS offers customers more flexibility and they feel their personal schedule is respected. SMS customer service is also beneficial for businesses who can automate simple requests or questions. This allows staff to address more complicated issues more quickly. This is especially useful in SMS, because people and your business can communicate with each other without relying on cellular data.

Getting Feedback

Texting is convenient, which is why we all tend to communicate with our friends and family through SMS. That’s the same reason why SMS is great for businesses to collect feedback from their customers. Simple messages that ask customers to rank a previous product or to answer a poll require only a numerical response, which customers can send in a second. In turn, your business collects valuable customer feedback. The same convenience is also great for getting customer confirmations or any other quick responses.

Perfect for Simple and Direct Communication

SMS is not as versatile as some other marketing channels. It can’t include high resolution images, easy to click buttons, or lengthy text. While that can be a limitation of SMS generally, it’s also a key factor for its marketing success. Its simplicity and concision make it perfect for quick and direct communication that can still impact its audience. Not every message you send customers or audience needs to be lengthy to generate buzz and sales. Ads are also sometimes only a sentence or two, and yet can still generate impressive returnsfor your business.

The Power of SMS is Right at Your Fingertips

You should now have a good sense of why SMS is a powerful marketing tool for any business. It leverages the power of a wide communication network that can be found at nearly everyone’s fingertips. Using SMS will help your business grow its reach while providing customers with convenience. If you’re ready to start incorporating SMS into your digital marketing strategy, looking to optimize your messaging, or want to learn more, be sure to contact our marketing team at Rosewood.

Woman with gray hair having a personalized customer experience on her computer thanks to help from AI

We’re continuing to see the many powerful applications for AI. Along with potentially useful creative tools, AI excels at data collection and parsing. Now, we’re seeing that algorithmic power combine with marketing expertise to create a personalized and relevant customer experiences for small businesses. Rosewood will explain what personalization and relevance in marketing are, and how AI is a powerful tool for a marketing team to create personally relevant marketing for any customer or client experiences.

Personalization, Relevancy, and AI in Marketing

Personalization has been a major tool in marketing for over a decade. It emphasizes marketing that communicates personally to the individual members of your audience over broader, more general marketing campaigns that lack a specific target. While this might include one-off custom communications or exchanges, it can also be automated. For example, emails or messages can automatically address receivers by their first names. 

Overall, customers have come to expect personalized experiences that respect their individuality and interests. At least 71% of customers expect a personalized experience, and a greater 76% are frustrated when they don’t have one. Personalization has also demonstrated an average 10-15% revenue lift, which increases to 25% for direct to consumer businesses. These individualized experiences create stronger personal connections, which lead to more customers and clients returning for more purchases and services. This is where small businesses can excel over larger companies that typically provide more generalized customer experiences.

Thanks to AI, more complex and valuable data can be gathered from users to create even more personalized marketing that is relevant to customers’ interests and experiences. This is why relevancy has become an essential marketing criterion alongside personalization. These algorithms and AI automations can consider browsing history, page time, social media data, and more. Marketers can then use this information and tell these programs how to generate product recommendations, personalized notifications, curated packages, communications, and more. These AI help your business understand the true, individual interests of each of your customers so that any marketing that reaches them is relevant.  

Where AI Can Help with Personalization and Relevancy

As we’ve covered before, AI is a general term. It’s recently become the common title for various programs which can learn from data to accomplish more complex tasks. For personalized and relevant marketing, these AI can sift through an overwhelming amount of user information that would take far more time for a human. That’s why AI is a powerful tool for small businesses who usually won’t be able to dedicate a person to poring through this information. Instead, AI is a valuable tool for your marketing team to build effective strategies for relevant marketing campaigns. We’ll go over some of the most effective uses of AI in personalized marketing.

E-Commerce Tracking

When customers are on your website or digital store, AI software can track what they browse and for how long. It will also track any purchases, wishlisting, shares, etc. This tracking isn’t especially new, but more developments in machine learning allow AI to start grouping and interpreting the data. All that behavioral information from many customers, allows an AI to develop customer groups and profiles according to their interests and various other demographics like age and area. These can then be used for a plethora of personalized and relevant marketing strategies.

Relevant Email Marketing

With this detailed profile generation, AI can then begin to automatically message subscribed customers about product recommendations or send communications that are more relevant to their interests. This will still require a human to create and design the message and templates. However, the AI can take over the busy work of adding appropriate products and sending the emails off. 

Your marketing team can also use these AI-generated profiles to analyze your audience and segment your email recipients to start creating emails more relevant to each group’s interests. This will lead to more opens and clicks, since they will better grab your audience’s attention. Again, AI can’t quite handle the creation process itself. Human expertise is still necessary for effective personalized marketing.

Personalized Website Customer Experiences

By tracking their ecommerce behavior, AI incorporated into your site can start to tailor customers’ website experience to be more relevant. Products listed on the front page or recommended to them at other browsing stages can be specified to their personal interests. This keeps them in your store and more likely to purchase, since they will continue to see what is relevant to their interests in your business.

Personalized Chatbots

Customer service is an important part of your daily, individualized marketing, and instant messaging through your website, social media, and SMS has become a fundamental customer service tool. Those messages can also be overwhelming and chatbots can help manage the flood. However, they are also often robotic and simple. Current advances in AI famously happening with Chat-GPT and Google Bard are allowing chat bots to accomplish more complex tasks and communications. They can address the customer by name, and even potentially pull up their profile’s information. They aren’t quite at the level of replacing a human’s social finesse or able to handle more complex inquiries. However, they have made great strides where simple interactions can be accomplished entirely automatically for a pleasant and personalized customer experience.

Don’t Forget About Human Expertise

AI technology is currently surging in its development and it’s still hard to see where it will end up in the coming months and years. It’s already showing it’s a powerful tool for personalized marketing, but don’t let it completely override the human touch of your business either. Ultimately, personalized connections are human ones, and customers want that human connection with your business. Similarly, AI is still limited in its abilities. Analyzing information, writing messages, creating visual content, and more still require human ingenuity and expertise. If you want to talk more about how you can strategize and incorporate AI into your digital marketingecommerce, or web design, be sure to contact Rosewood Marketing.