When it comes to the online presence of financial services companies, little is more essential than a good website. While much has been said about web design and good copywriting, fewer people talk about hosting and code optimization to ensure visitors to your site have an optimal and fast experience.
With customer acquisition being as expensive as it is, every tenth of a percent a marketer can improve conversion is well worth their time. And so while website speed is generally an IT subject, it would pay off for a marketer to look into the specifics.
Recall a website that after clicking a link loaded instantly. It surprised you and probably made you feel better about the company you were visiting. We see that in the numbers too. The speed of loading of a website has a big influence on conversion rates, general customer experience on your site and even natural search rankings to some degree.
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When it comes to hosting, a website server generally comes in 4 flavours; Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting. Shared hosting is generally only useful for smaller, non-critical websites, while cloud hosting is usually not a preferred option from an IT perspective, for a regular website. So depending on the use-case, financial services companies typically need a VPS or Dedicated host, with the dedicated host being the more expensive option. For small to mid-sized companies, a good VPS will typically do. Although at the top of the range in terms of cost, Rackspace is an excellent choice for any size company in our opinion.
The computer that hosts your website (the server) is physically located somewhere. If your server is located in Amsterdam, it might not have the fastest connection to users located in China. So just having a good server is only part of the equation, we need to think about the geographical spread of users and realize that not everyone is on super-fast broadband.
This is where a Content Delivery Network (CDN) comes into play. Put ‘on top’ of your web server, these CDNs have servers all over the world close to every user and so they can serve content much faster. These are typically just dumb copies of the website as you have it on your server, updating at a regular time interval or when you make changes on your website. CloudFlare is a good and free (!) option used by a large portion of the internet.
Consider that in a study for Amazon, every 100 millisecond delay in page rendering time resulted in a 1% loss of sales, and that there are plenty of similar findings from other companies. Together, a well coded website, a good server and a CDN on top will deliver your website fast enough so as not to lose valuable potential customers through delays. It might be worth hassling your IT department a bit more.