Unexpected Consequences of Peak Web Traffic Part 1: Top 5 Risks

For most websites, more traffic is considered to be positive news as it indicates there will be more sales and more revenue.

Marketing teams often use traffic levels as an early success indicator for campaign performance. However, there is such a thing as too much web traffic, or more accurately, too much web traffic at once.

IT teams have a good understanding of the capacity limits of their platforms, but often the rest of the business is unaware of the detrimental knock-on effects a sudden influx of traffic can cause.

Here are TrafficDefender’s top five risks associated with peak web traffic:

1. Poor performance and outages affect core business goals

Every website has a capacity limit. In other words, how many visitors can it handle concurrently before everything starts to slow down or even crash?

A crashed website will lose sales. But some of the commercial consequences of a slowed down website include:

  • Increased abandonment rates: Google says 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • Poor user experience: Businesses spend significant money on improving customer experience. This is wasted if the website fails to deliver content and functionality in a timely fashion, especially at exceptionally busy times.
  • Lost trust and loyalty: If a website is busy, that means customer interest and demand are peaking. There’s no worse time to disappoint customers and send them away to competitors, perhaps forever, as this will ultimately impact metrics like loyalty and lifetime order value.

2. Unanticipated bugs and anomalies on the platform

An overflow of traffic not only causes slowdowns and crashes, but it can also cause much less predictable problems.

Core functionality can be affected, such as items disappearing from customer shopping carts as they try to checkout, payment gateways failing to load properly, or other third-party services falling out of sync with the rest of the site.

These can often be even more frustrating to users than the site simply not responding at all. Bugs are also harder to predict and solve tactically if they emerge during a sale event likely to cause such levels of traffic.

3. Forced tactical action with unwanted consequences

Following on from the previous point, IT teams may be forced to act quickly in response to a traffic-related website crash.

Many assume they can quickly add more capacity perhaps using cloud infrastructure, but this is costly and can have unintended results. In other cases, retailers may be forced to remove certain functionality just to keep the website running, or remove rich content that was carefully designed to maximise sales.

Businesses that mitigate the effects of overwhelming traffic strategically ahead of time, rather than applying quick fixes tactically, will get much better and more predictable results.

4. Increased bot traffic

As overall internet traffic has increased year on year, so too has bot traffic. According to bot management leaders Netacea, up to 50% of a typical website’s traffic is made up of bots.

Events likely to push genuine users to a website, such as sales, new releases or ticket drops, are prime targets for price scrapers and scalper bots to swoop in and make a profit.

Whether these bots are useful or malicious, the targeted website still needs to deal with each request – using up resources and pushing it ever closer to full capacity.

5. Negative PR and social media sentiment

Contrary to the old saying, not all publicity is good publicity. Almost weekly, stories of crashed websites and poor shopping experiences are featured on news websites and in social media. This negative coverage knocks consumer confidence in the associated brands.

Be prepared for any level of traffic

All these unexpected consequences can be prevented by placing a virtual waiting room in front of your website.

The virtual waiting room will be invisible to visitors, who can browse as normal under typical circumstances. However, should traffic levels rise to dangerous levels, new visitors will be diverted to an online queue to safeguard the website against all these risks.

Find out how TrafficDefender can help or book a demo of our virtual waiting room solution today.

Next week: Adapting amid the pandemic

In next week’s post, we will look at how the pandemic had unpredictable consequences on the web, adding additional pressure to online businesses.

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