It is a statistical fact that as sales of ice cream increase, more people drown. It happens around the world, year in, year out.
In 2018, BMW commissioned German design agency, Jung von Matt, to build a new, faster, mobile website. Their collective priority was to increase the website’s speed massively, and they subsequently claimed to have seen a massive increase in both visitors and mobile users as a result.
Following the website’s successful launch in 2019, Google published an article on the otherwise excellent ‘Think with Google’ platform. Jörg Poggenpohl, Global Head of Marketing at BMW, explained; “The new mobile site loads 3X faster. The proportion of people clicking from BMW.com to a BMW sales site soared from 8% to 30%. The number of our mobile users has risen by 27%.”
Ice cream and drownings.
It’s the same as ice cream and drownings. The increase in ice cream sales and the number of people who drown are not directly related, yet the increase in both is factually correct. What connects them is that this occurs during the summer when more people buy ice cream and more people go swimming.
BMW is suggesting that a faster website (ice cream sales) has resulted in a 27% increase in mobile users (drownings). The two are not directly related, but the connection is factually correct.
A faster website can’t attract more visitors just because it’s faster.
SEO is the summer.
Poggenpohl also stated: “And SEO [search engine optimisation] now generates 49% more site visits than the old site.”
Ahhh, so that’ll be it. In the ice cream and drowning example, SEO is the summer. It’s the missing piece of data that helps them make sense.
The purpose of optimising a website for search engines is to make it easier for people to find. And, not surprisingly, this typically results in increased visitor numbers. In BMW’s case, more visitors to the main website resulted in more sales. Poggenpohl: “The proportion of people clicking from BMW.com to a BMW sales site soared from 8% to 30%. The number of our mobile users has risen by 27%.”
So far, we have a faster website and some fancy optimising to help people find it. There is no direct connection between the faster website and the volume of visitors it received. The 27% increase in mobile users is the result of more people finding the website, and the latter is the result of SEO.
Google clearly wants to emphasise the point that faster websites are better for visitors, and nobody would deny how vitally important this is.
However, the presentation is pure misdirection and is a perfect example of one global brand (Google) leveraging another global brand (BMW), mixing fact with fiction for the sake of a story. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
Poggenpohl, again: “It’s now clear to me that mobile site speed is critical to success, no matter what kind of business you’re in.” and he would be 100% correct. However, he’s referring to ‘success’ as it relates to keeping visitors engaged, interested and, in BMW’s case, selling more cars as a result.
Speed isn’t everything.
Every business should have a fast, responsive website, but a quicker website won’t magically attract more visitors. And here’s why:
- Nobody instinctively knows that a website is faster until they’ve used it. Faster than what? They would have to be able to compare it to the original website to know the difference.
- A slow website is likely to put people off quickly. It soon becomes frustrating when a poorly performing website prevents easy, quick navigation, but we’re mainly interested in quality, relevant content. Without the latter, it matters not how super-fast the website is – it only means they’ll be able to leave more quickly.
Good SEO will place a website further up the search results and will draw in visitors like a magnet. Highly relevant and engaging content will encourage people to stay and return. A faster website will make the website far easier to navigate around, resulting in an enjoyable and agreeable experience.
You can see the original, full Google/BMW article here: