Why should business owners care about net neutrality?

by Al Loise

Apr 24, 2014

An article today (April 24, 2014) published in the New York Times focused on recent statements by the FCC hinting at allowing companies like Amazon, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers(like Comcast and Verizon) premiums for special, express lanes to send and load their content quicker than other websites and publishers. This is contrary to the general understanding of an “open web”-allowing user’s equal access to any legal content on the web and equal access by any publisher or website.

 

Admittedly, upon first glance, this sounds great to the average consumer who has ever tried to watch their Netflix cue on a Friday evening. However, for business owners who have developed their website to drive revenue or leads, this is potentially a death blow.

 

Any knowledgeable internet marketer knows the impact a slow loading site or a convoluted check out process can have on a business website. Statistics show that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of consumers abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. In addition, web retailers need to be firmly cognizant of the “two clicks or less” rule when designing their site’s check out process. Quick loading webpages and sites that are easy to navigate and easy to make a purchase make a huge positive impact on not just your website’s bounce rate, but also your conversion rate, your organic rankings (as Google counts site speed as ranking factor), and ultimately your bottom line. With the current net neutrality rules in place, webmasters and site owners are all on equal footing from a service provider standpoint: it becomes the user experience, the content and other site factors that will help set you apart.

 

However, if Amazon, Google and other large companies are allowed to get quick express lanes for their sites, can you imagine being a small ecommerce retailer trying to compete? Internet commerce currently allows for innovative business models and creative niche products and companies to enter the market and compete with equal access to the web (of course, excluding marketing budgets and other institutional advantages that money and resources can bring). If a consumer wants to buy a pair of Nike Airs on a Friday evening online, will they make their purchase on Amazon, or a small online retailer who can’t pay the premium tariffs that Amazon could to deliver and load their site quickly? Will the typical consumer wait for that additional time to make that purchase with the small online retailer? Knowing how much a role site speed and user experience plays a role in customer satisfaction and conversion rate, the answer is incredibly clear.

 

Here at Vayu, we work with a large variety of internet retailers who compete with the Amazons and Walmarts of the world on a daily basis, both directly and indirectly. Even though most of our clients don’t have the budgets or resources of an Amazon or Walmart, smart online marketing strategies and tactics allow for our clients to get a piece of the pie. If the current net neutrality rules were lifted, would they still be able to?


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