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Mobile Web site response times not meeting user expectations: Gomez study

This was one of the key findings of Gomez’s mobile Web performance benchmarks for January 2010. Mobile Marketer interviewed Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, Lexington, MA.

Here is what he had to say:

What is this month’s data showing at a high level — what common thread (if any) is running throughout the airlines, banks, retail and search companies mobile Web performance?
Response times (i.e. speed of page downloads) for mobile Web sites is still an area for improvement and optimization. 

For example, Forrester Consulting recently noted two seconds (down from four seconds just three years ago) to be the new threshold customers are willing to wait before growing frustrated, abandoning a site and going to a competitor. 

Users expect mobile Web sites to download on mobile devices as quickly, or even more quickly than they do on desktop PC’s. 

Of all the companies profiled across the industries, Amazon and Best Buy got closest to this two second threshold.

As in past months, Google and Amazon are the performance leaders in mobile search and there continues to be an extremely wide discrepancy between these top performers and lower performers (for example, and eBay) in this industry.  

In mobile airlines, Continental and JetBlue continue to lead the pack in response time and consistency, although Southwest and USAirways are the No. 1 and  No. 2 availability leaders (in fact, USAirways moved up considerably to displace JetBlue, December’s No. 2 availability performer, and also improved their response time performance). 

In mobile banking, Bank of America and Wells Fargo remained the performance leaders, although availability and response times dipped slightly for both of them. 

In retail, Walmart, Newegg, Best Buy, QVC and Amazon were the top performers, which is a particularly noteworthy accomplishment for Newegg, whose mobile Web performance lagged somewhat during the 2009 online holiday shopping season.

How will this effect banks/airlines/search companies’ interactions with customers and end-users?
Users expect the mobile Web to deliver highly convenient, anytime-anywhere Web access. 

Within this context, users expect to be able to conduct mobile Web searches and even complete mobile Web transactions in the time it takes to hail a cab or wait at a cross-walk. 

The huge discrepancy in mobile search performance means that certain mobile search companies are at risk of alienating and losing users as well as leaving behind important user segments around the world. 

The good news is that today’s tools are available in an easy-to-use, SaaS model, making them affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes.

In addition, the banks should not consider themselves immune to the impact of poor mobile Web performance. 

For example, another recent study just determined that 57 percent of online stock traders will switch to a competitive brokerage as a result of poor Web performance. 

Such a finding was surprising for the financial services industry, since switches to a competitor often entail the inconvenience of opening new accounts. 

But apparently, this inconvenience will not deter users from switching if their own bank fails at keeping them connected to their finances 24×7.

Recommendations from Gomez (based on the data)?
If a company is going to have a mobile Web presence, they need to make sure it’s consistently snappy for all users, whether they’re across the street or across the world. 

Every day users are growing less and less tolerant of poor Web performance, and in this economic climate businesses can’t give their customers any reason to click over to a competitor. 

This rule applies even during periods of peak traffic, when the business impact of poor performance is even more costly. 

Similarly, 35 percent of consumers who book travel online make a significant percentage of their travel bookings during peak times, and 53 percent report they would abandon a travel Website at peak traffic times and book somewhere else after only one or two bad experiences. 

In short, there’s a lot of money to be lost from poor mobile Web performance; fortunately, businesses still have an opportunity to get ahead of performance issues and address them in preparation for key revenue opportunities that lie ahead (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and summer travel, for example).