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Case Study: Website Performance's Impact On ROI

4 min read

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We've explained website optimization in a general way, explored some examples of areas of optimization, and discussed the benefits of optimization at a high level in this article. Let's take a look at some real-world data to prove our point.

For business confidentiality reasons, we've omitted the client name and identifying details from this article. They are a B2B services provider whose website primarily focuses on lead generation.

Background

Our client's services became particularly appealing for many businesses in March 2020, as COVID's first wave profoundly modified our way of life. They were able to pivot to serve the explosive demand for PPE products. During this time, lead generation was incredibly affordable through paid search advertising.

As society adjusted to our 'new normal' (we shudder to use the term), two things happened that negatively affected our advertising efforts. First demand cratered, as previously overwhelmed supply chains caught up with COVID realities. Second, competitors who were not previously advertising had every incentive to catch up. The search advertising landscape became more competitive across every vertical as more businesses moved online. By mid-2021, lead costs had skyrocketed while lead volume worsened, a losing combination.

The situation

Over time, our advertising department realized that website speed might be impacting performance.

We noticed that since integrating HubSpot's on our landing pages, PageSpeed scores had dropped from an acceptable range to 24/100 on mobile devices. Our hypothesis was that slow load times impacted both quality scores, flagging our most popular keywords and overall conversion rates. We could test this hypothesis by improving the PageSpeed score.

Our process

We knew that the website had previously performed well in PageSpeed tests. The only speed-related variable to change over the past several months was the HubSpot integration. HubSpot's tracking script loads several additional scripts that significantly slow down web pages. It is not possible to reduce the impact of these scripts directly. Instead, we chose to bypass HubSpot by introducing Integromat.

Integromat is a Zapier-like tool that glues web services together with workflows. For our scenario, we integrated Netlify forms with Hubspot using Integromat. Netlify's free form handling service could now post lead data directly to Hubspot without a bulky third-party script.

We improved our score from 24/100 on mobile to 72/100 - a definite improvement, though still less than ideal.

Before and after having a Hubspot chat on website

Immediate Impact

We noticed an immediate uptick in some performance metrics without significantly altering campaigns, keywords, ads, or targeting settings. Our click-through rate improved by 14%, and our search placements improved. In the thirty days before making PageSpeed improvements, we had a top-of-page rate (at which our ads appear anywhere in the top set of results) of 79%. After optimization, our top of page rate improved to 84%. Our absolute top of page rate, which measures how often we have the very top position, improved from 62% to 72% over the same period.

Appearing as the very first result significantly more often had a massive effect on conversion rate. The previous thirty days had generated 17 quote form submissions. After optimization, we generated 23 — a 35% improvement in lead generation.

Increase in performance metrics

Next Steps

We wanted to push performance even further, but we knew that the HubSpot integration meant that we could not improve it further.

Instead, we created a marketing micro-site. Our team identified an open-source HTML template that looked similar to the main website, then edited it to conform with brand guidelines more closely. Each page provided product information and CTAs. Each was linking to the main website's quote form. We kept integrations to a minimum to focus on speed. Using this technique, we improved mobile PageSpeed scores on our landing pages from 72/100 to over 90/100 on average.

Mobile website page score after optimization

Impact

Upon further improving average PageSpeed, we saw a more significant increase in advertising performance. We can guarantee the previous performance boost was due to improved website performance as little more than regular campaign maintenance occurred during that period. But the microsite introduced significant changes to the marketing funnel that may muddy the cause of our results. Nonetheless, we can confidently say that improved PageSpeed was one of the essential factors in improving performance.

Upon launching the microsite, our cost efficiency improved. Our click-through rate continued to improve, increasing by 2%. Our cost per click declined by 23%. Most importantly, we further enhanced lead generation. Through the past 20 days since implementing the microsite, we've seen thirty-five leads from advertising. Comparing this to the previous period (after initial optimization but before the microsite), we generated 26 leads. This amounts to a 35% increase in lead generation at the same cost per lead, allowing us to scale the campaign effectively.

Lower cost-per-click and increased lead generation

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