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 man and a woman setting up various equipment for live streaming in real time

Today, live video streaming has well established itself as a dominant force in online content. As a powerful tool for engaging an audience, its popularity has led to every major social media platform providing the ability to view and produce live video content. Live streaming is an especially powerful tool for brands and businesses. It allows them to engage their audience in real time. We’ll explain some of the basics of live streaming and how your brand can use it to directly engage with its audience.

The Benefits of Live Streaming

One simple benefit of live streaming is that it’s extremely popular. it’s one of the most popular kinds of video content online with 23.7% of time spent on social media platforms dedicated to watching live streams. The other benefit is that live streaming is the best content for directly engaging with your audience. In all live streams, users can chat and react to the content in real time. In turn, the streamers can immediately respond and engage with their active viewers. This makes live streaming extremely personable compared to other kinds of content, and is why it’s also a popular choice for influencers. The result? Live streaming is one of the best ways for your brand to foster personal connections and communicate directly with its followers.

Streaming Platforms

With streaming’s immense popularity, there are many platforms to choose from. However, like any services, there are some clear leaders. 

Social Media Live Streaming 

Considering how fast they deliver and spread content, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the major social media platforms have their own live streaming services. Facebook LiveInstagram Live, and TikTok Live are all great and popular options for your brand’s live streaming. These allow you to stream directly to the audience you’ve already developed on any of those platforms. Plus, it’s easy to start right away. Streams on these platforms usually have simple production values, with streams coming directly from a mobile device.

Twitch and YouTube Live

The two other dominant streaming platforms are Twitch and YouTube Live. They are by far the most popular. Twitch users watched over 210 million hours in just the third quarter of 2022. It originally was designed for streaming video games, which is still the primary content on the platform. However, over the past years, Twitch and its streamers have diversified to now include more broad cooking and “Just Chatting” categories, the latter being by far the most popular. As a true testament to the variety, the BC Marine Mammal Rescue streamed the Vancouver Aquarium’s otter habitat for multiple years there. YouTube Live streaming is newer but has always been as diverse as YouTube’s on-demand content.

A difference for these platforms compared to social media streaming is production value. Twitch and YouTube streams tend to have more complex video and audio setups. Streams are meant to be horizontal video and rarely, if ever, come from mobile devices. Similarly, some brands and companies even just stream out pre-recorded videos or presentations. On the other hand, that complexity also means these platforms come with various tools like creating clips or countless plugins that social media lacks. Overall, these platforms are better suited for brands planning to make streaming a regular part of their content delivery strategy. 

Tips for Live Streaming

The ability to communicate and engage directly with your audience makes live streaming incredibly exciting for brands, but it can also be a little daunting. Here are some of our tips if you’re looking to start:

  • Engage your audience – The strength of streaming is the live component that allows for engagement, so be engaging. Address feedback, answer questions, laugh at jokes, etc. If people see you are engaging back, they will be more motivated to keep engaging with your brand.
  • Choose who and what to engage with – You can’t and shouldn’t engage with everything. If a stream has a large audience there will be a flood of chat messages, and you will have to be selective where you spend your time. Your audience will understand. Unfortunately, some material might be inflammatory or insulting. Ignore it and remove it. Acknowledging it could only fan the flames.
  • Announce and schedule streams – While many do regularly spend time on social media, many won’t be aware of your streams unless they stumble upon them. Announce planned live streams on your social channels so that followers are aware of when it’s going to happen. You can also provide some hints of the stream’s content, such as QA, announcements, a contest, or a giveaway. On dedicated streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, it’s more typical to have a set schedule and announce streams on other social channels.
  • Spice things up with spontaneity – Spontaneous and sudden streams can also have a charm of their own. If they attract enough audience, they keep your following regularly attentive, checking your other content to see if a live stream is happening.
  • Remember you’re live – Live streams have no edits or cuts. Be attentive to what you’re saying and how. Mistakes are fine and part of the charm but keep them innocuous.
  • Choose the right platform – It’s best to stream where you have the biggest following, especially in the case of social media. However, as already mentioned, if you’re looking to make live streams a prominent part of your brand’s content, look towards Twitch or YouTube.
  • Consider streaming on multiple platforms – You may have a substantial audience on more than one platform. Consider streaming on multiple platforms at once. Various other tools and services help with this, such as OBS. Just remember that when you are streaming on multiple platforms, you need to be attentive to engaging that audience in multiple spaces.

Let the Live Streams Flow

Now that you understand some of the benefits, and fundamentals, and have some extra tips in your toolbox, your brand is ready to go live. If you’re looking for more specific advice, need help with live streaming, or are considering making it part of your brand strategy, contact our marketing team at Rosewood Marketing. Their expertise will help you get those streams flowing.

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.