To be successful in today’s fast moving and end-user focused environment, marketers need a fast, secure, flexible solution that can deliver content in real time. Fastly’s platform speeds up websites and mobile apps by pushing content closer to your users, providing improved and secure experiences across the world. The key to smart marketing is prioritizing performance to improve conversions.
Fastly Solution Overview
Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) that gives businesses complete control over how they serve content, unprecedented access to real-time performance analytics and the ability to cache unpredictably changing content (like sports scores or stock prices) at the edge.
Fastly customers make digital content such as streamable videos, product pages, articles, etc. available through their websites and their Internet-accessible (hosted) application programming interfaces (APIs). A customer can create content (customer-generated content) such as a new product page or video, as can a customer's end users (like user-generated comments). Fastly's CDN then makes the transmission of that content more efficient by temporarily storing copies at intermediate locations closest to the end user. The process of storing these copies is known as “caching,” removing outdated content is called “purging,” and the server locations in which they are stored are referred to as “PoPs.”
Fastly places clusters of cache servers in key geographic location, each of which is referred to as a point of presence (PoP). Each POP contains a cluster of Fastly cache servers. When end users request a customer's content objects, Fastly delivers them from whichever of the cache locations are closest to each end user.
Fastly powers tens of thousands of websites for companies ranging in size from small and mid-size business to departments of large enterprises, across a range of industries (including digital publishing, e-commerce, online video & audio, SaaS, and travel & hospitality). Current customers include Twitter, Hearst, Stripe, GitHub, BuzzFeed, KAYAK, Dollar Shave Club and About.com.
Why marketers should care about CDNs
The development team is relied upon to build things that scale and last, while marketing wants the next big thing – and needed it yesterday. Page speed and performance are crucial to the end-user experience; therefore development teams should be using a content delivery network (CDN). There are two main reasons why marketers and IT should care about CDNs:
- CDNs help improve customer conversions
Studies show that slow load times are the number-one reason that over 70% of online shoppers abandon carts. According to one study, “two-thirds of UK shoppers and more than half of those in the US saying that site slowness is the top reason they’d abandon a purchase”. A CDN can optimize page load times and reduce latency for your website, which will in turn contribute to greater lead conversions. Improved load times could mean the difference between an abysmal and good user experience when on a slow mobile connection.
Fastly designed its CDN to give development teams total control over how they serve content, allowing them to rest assured that online shoppers can view — and, more importantly, purchase — products successfully. Fastly’s CDN caches content on edge servers, which means that when a user clicks around on your site, their request only has to travel as far as the server geographically closest to them, not all the way back to the origin server (which might be pretty far from where your users are based). A recent survey found that 33% of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company online if they experience site poor performance and that 46% will go to competitor websites. In order to ensure a positive experience and greatly increase the chance the customer will return to your website in the future, content must be delivered to users as quickly as possible.
- Data from CDNs can actually inform your marketing strategy
Omnichannel retail is becoming the status quo; shoppers research items online and on mobile before going to the physical store to shop. According to Adweek, 81% of shoppers research online before buying, but 54% of online shoppers want to actually see the product before they purchase. Given this trend, marketers need to determine how successful online marketing efforts are (emails, promos, ads and social media) in terms of correlating with in-store sales.
A CDN can help inform online marketing strategies, giving teams visibility into how online marketing is supporting in-store sales, and making proximity-marketing campaigns possible. With Fastly’s GeoIP / Geography Detection, marketers are able to compare page views of a specific item and show correlation between researching online and buying in-store. For example, digital marketers can use Fastly technology to geo-fence for a certain number of miles around the store, and look at page view analytics for a specific item. In-store sales can be compared and contrasted with online page views to determine if there's a relationship between a shopper viewing online and then purchasing in stores, and marketers can adjust promotional efforts accordingly.
Beaconing applications are used to collect data about consumer behavior and target customers based on preferences, proximity, etc. to increase engagement — vital elements of a modern marketing strategy. Using a CDN with edge caches to terminate tracking beacons closer to the consumer can accelerate application deployment and simplify the collection of crucial marketing data.
Performance monitoring tools also help
If you're the type of marketer who’s constantly running campaigns and A/B testing, you should be keeping an eye out for how your work is affecting your website’s performance.
Web performance monitoring tools can allow marketers to monitor all of the elements across website and mobile applications. These tools allow you to test and gain analytics for every aspect of a site’s infrastructure, including data such as connect times, DNS response, trace route, etc. With synthetic monitoring, sites can be tested from a “clean lab” environment, which is especially useful when trying to determine how a new feature added to a page (such as an ad or tracking pixel) will affect the performance of your entire site, and thus determine if it will really offer a positive ROI. A modern CDN can accelerate and streamline A/B testing, allowing marketers to view results in real time while maintaining optimal site performance.
Marketers also often add “third-party” elements to their website or mobile app — things like social media plugins, video plugins, tracking tags, and advertisements. But this type of third-party content can often decrease a site’s performance. This is another good example of why performance monitoring is important — so that the plugins and add-ons being used on the website don’t cause it to load slowly or crash.
Content-delivery network case study – Stripe
Stripe is a payments platform that processes billions of dollars a year for hundreds of thousands of companies, from newly-launched start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Because accepting money is the lifeblood of any business, Stripe needed an effective way to serve their static assets quickly while maintaining security for their users. In choosing a CDN, Stripe sought a partner that could help them maintain high reliability while also optimizing for performance. Stripe turned to Fastly, which they found extremely easy to configure and provided superb customer support.
Fastly’s ability to accelerate dynamic content and cache static assets helped reduce the load time for Stripe Checkout (an embeddable payment form for desktop, tablet and mobile devices) by over 80%. This translated to significant benefits for Stripe’s users: for an end-customer on a mobile connection, it’s the difference between an abysmal purchase experience and a good one. Businesses use Stripe in a variety of ways, but across the board their satisfaction with Stripe is higher — and the experience they provide to their own customers is superior — when performance is substantially better.