CMOs know that website performance in turn drives marketing performance. While marketers
control some of the factors that sharpen the online experience—accurate content and prudent
use of banner ads, for example—the more technical factors are in the hands of colleagues in IT.
Ideally, Marketing and IT collaborate to deliver excellence. Doing that means knowing what visitors like, and don’t.
The purpose of this research, conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Neustar is to understand the online experience from the customer’s point of view. What expectations do
consumers have for the reliability of the website, security of information they share, and
availability of information? What is the tolerance or tipping point for problems like unavailable
sites, slow-loading pages, or inscrutable navigation?
We surveyed 761 consumers in the United States between the ages of 18 and 65+. On average,
respondents spend 59 hours per week online mostly doing email, shopping, and social
networking. Some respondents do more advanced activities such as posting blogs and creating
The findings reveal that consumers expect a high level of website performance—and their
frustrations are aimed at marketers and engineers alike.
Perceptions about a website’s security can decide whether consumers stay or go. As
shown in Figure 1, 78 percent of respondents say slow load times cause
them to worry about security. However, just over half of respondents (54 percent
of respondents) are concerned about the reliability of slow loading web pages. The
findings in this research also reveal that 69 percent of respondents have left a
website because of security concerns. Other concerns, but to a lesser extent, are
annoyance with feature ads that interfere with content (55 percent of respondents)
and feature ads that redirect them to different sites (52 percent of respondents).
Seventy-one percent of respondents say that data breaches negatively impacted their perception of company’s brands. On average, respondents have received two notifications from
organizations telling them that their personal information was lost, stolen or compromised. Even after more than a year, 24 percent of respondents say they still do not perceive those companies’ brands in a positive light.
Overall, fifty-five percent of respondents believe security is important to the perception of a
company’s brand and 50 percent say the same about privacy (protection of identity and other
personal information). Not surprising, respondents overwhelmingly expect financial sites to be
secure (95 percent of respondents).
A bad experience is measured in dollars, not just performance metrics. Sixty-one percent of
respondents say they would be willing to give a website that goes offline only two chances before giving up. Consumers are most likely to discontinue using unavailable sites in financial services (80 percent of respondents) and retail (59 percent).
They are also willing to wait no more than an average of 10 seconds to wait for a website to load.
In fact, seventy-eight percent of respondents are very concerned about the security of web pages that load longer than expected. Forty-one percent of respondents say response time is most important when making a payment (at checkout) and navigating to other web pages within the site (23 percent).