Need to Convince Your CEO to Invest in Site Speed? Here’s How

Hey, our website is really slow, we need to address it.

You've probably read all kinds of alarming site speed stats–like the study from Google that showed 53% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Or, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% for every additional second of load time. Yikes.

Two workers in an office discussing in front of a laptop

However, few realize that site speed affects more than just your user experience. From an operational perspective, it's also essential to employee effectiveness (and therefore satisfaction), recruitment, and brand reputation. 

Any CEO is ultimately responsible for maintaining a successful business, and that means keeping key leads–including the CMO, CTO, and their staff–happy. Yet, when site speed is an issue, it can lead to frustration, poor performance, and low morale across the company. It doesn't take long before these negative feelings affect recruitment and retention efforts. And, when great employees aren't empowered to do exceptional work, they go elsewhere.

Bring Site Speed to the Forefront

Brand perception is influenced by more than the color of your logo, your font face, or your mission statement. People notice whether or not you respect their time and attention. Whether you like it or not, site speed is everyone's business. If you want to move the needle, it will require buy-in and engagement from all stakeholders, and a culture shift between engineering, operations, and marketing teams.

Objection 1: Site speed is too low level for a CEO

This isn’t the problem to bring to me, this is too technical and too low level for me to be thinking about.

Try this response:

Maybe you’re right, but whatever falls between the clearly delineated areas of responsibility bubbles up to the CEO. If someone else isn’t responsible, then you’re responsible. And right now, no one is responsible.

We can’t think of a fast website as just another technical task. User experience (UX) affects every interaction a customer has with our brand. From the ads, we run to our shipping times, to our ESR policies and return processes. 

Our website is our global flagship. Web performance is as integral to the customer experience as any other brand touchpoint. We can’t delight our customers if we’ve already frustrated them. 

It's time to empower our teams to take control of this and build it into the fabric of our company, just like any other cultural element.

Objection 2: Site speed is a tech problem

I think this is a tech team problem, they manage the website. Why are you bringing it to me?

Try this response:

You're right, this is a tech problem—but it's more a symptom than a problem. A symptom of teams not taking responsibility and speed not being considered integral to the big-picture customer experience. We’re currently racing with a flat tire.

Tech also doesn't necessarily get to prioritize what they work on, they serve the other departments. So, we can either allow our engineers to work on what they feel is necessary, which may not be seen as mission-critical by the rest of the business, or we can help other teams see that this is a revenue initiative—one that impacts profitability and our position in the market.

Site speed affects every department: Sales, marketing, engineering, and even customer service. A slow website  ISN’T a tech problem, it’s a business problem. In that light,  you’re the perfect person for this conversation.

Objection 3: Talk to the marketing team

The website is a marketing issue, why doesn't marketing fix it?

Try this response:

Marketing's effectiveness is currently restricted by the slow speed of our website and landing pages. The ability to launch beautiful, engaging  campaigns with high performance requires a focus on site speed. They're pitching world-class campaigns, but keep hearing from engineering that it's too ambitious, our stack can't handle it, and so our best marketers are not able to do the work they are hired to do. The same can be said for conversion and UX in our e-commerce team.

Consider this: if we're spending $10 million a year on our marketing team and efforts, and can make that 5% more effective, we need to try that. We're not talking about just making the website faster; we're talking about creating the conditions for richer, more exciting experiences that deliver the promise set up in our ads, and don't slow down our website. Plus, experiences our wider teams can feel proud of. Greater impact will attract and retain greater talent.

Objection 4: We don’t have time for this, it isn’t a priority

We already have our strategic initiatives set out for this year. We can't add more to the list.

Try this response:

I understand that there are a lot of moving parts on the roadmap and it can be hard to make room for another initiative. However, web performance makes every other initiative more impactful. 

It's not just about making the site look faster and perform better, but also making us an attractive workplace, one where staff work on technically challenging problems. Site speed improvements also allow us to say yes to more ambitious marketing campaigns and deploy best-in-class UX.

There are direct and indirect costs associated with this initiative, but it's not just about ROI. There are also opportunity costs and efficiency costs that come into play. The value of a more effective marketing team or engineers who stick around for longer cannot be measured by the ROI alone. Ultimately, we need to consider all factors in order to make an informed decision.

Objection 5: Okay, make a case for it

Presuming you’ve sold me on the value of it, that’s still a far stretch from showing me how we fix it. What would you do?

Try this response:

I would start by figuring out how big of a problem this is in the market. First, we must benchmark our performance against our competitors.

We should loop in stakeholders from ecommerce, marketing, engineering, and operations to create a cross-functional communication channel. This way, we can devise the right tooling and processes so that when we deploy a new campaign, tag, or feature, the website doesn’t get any slower.

From there, I suggest we analyze the traffic on our site to figure out where users are frustrated with the experience. We can slice it into which sections are fast and slow compared to our competition, then dive deeper into why they may be slow. Is there a lot of Javascript loading, audio, or video files? What about third-party plugins? Heavy images?  Then, we can learn how to measure site speed the right way, and see the impact this has on traffic, retention, conversions, and user experience.

Once we’ve identified the areas of improvement, it’s time to stop the bleeding, and start leading the pack.

Bring a solution, not a problem

No CEO wants to hear: “We have a problem, we don’t know what to do.” Impress leadership by bringing them a solution. Explain how you plan to solve the traffic and performance issues you have identified, including specific steps and tactics.

Start to build buzz internally about site speed. Discuss it with key stakeholders so everyone is on board. take time to explain how this will benefit the whole organization. It's more than just revenue and out-pacing your competitors (though those metrics matter, too). A slow website is not just an inconvenience, it can also lead to employee dissatisfaction, ineffective marketing campaigns, retention issues, and more.

Finally, factor in the cost of any extra resource needed for this solution–such as working with a web performance consultant

Understanding site speed as a holistic issue, rather than a simple technical problem, is the best way to embed it into your organization's culture. If you’re ready to take the next steps, contact SpeedSense today.

Team of three working at a desk

Make a business case for speed

Running a fast website requires buy-in from marketing, technology, ecommerce, and leadership teams. Prepare for the hurdles you may encounter from the stakeholders beyond your team.