In this competitive digital age, one of the most telling benchmarks of a website’s success is its conversion rate, followed by search engine ranking and site traffic. These last two metrics are confluent factors that should, theoretically, increase your overall conversions.
But what if your site ranks well, drives sufficient traffic, and still doesn’t convert as well as it should? You’re probably thinking, “Is that even possible?” Yes, it is. According to eConsultancy, only 2% of ecommerce businesses and digital marketers are “very satisfied” with their conversions.
In other words, it’s difficult to persuade users to take that desired next step, be it submitting their contact info, making a purchase, or even clicking a button. If this is the case for your website, there might be some fundamental problems at play.
The good news is, if you’re experiencing these issues, someone else in your niche probably is as well. To help you out, we’ve compiled 6 telltale factors all non-converting websites have in common:
- Misleading or Poorly Written Website Copy
Your website copy affects the user’s perception of your brand and product. To avoid turning potential customers away, there are some hard-and-fast rules to keep in mind when writing for the internet:
Stick to concise, scannable paragraphs: Bite-size paragraphs are less intimidating than dense swaths of text. Users want skimmable copy that’s easy to digest.
Conversational tone: For most websites, the goal is to make your writing friendly and inviting. This will retain your audience, not scare them away.
Basic vocabulary: Avoid using jargon and overly technical terms; these will increase your bounce rate. Simple words make for simple text and a happier user experience.
Write magnetic headlines: A lot of study goes into headlines. They need to be short, catchy, and somewhat clickbait-y. These stats will give you a good idea of what works:
- Numbered list headlines have a better click-through rate
- Headlines with five to nine words perform the best
- Call-to-Action headlines are more compelling. Something like this will catch a reader’s attention: “12 Blog Improvements Guaranteed to Increase Your Traffic”
A lot of entrepreneurs and webmasters try to write their own copy. The reality of the situation is that, at some point, your content needs will be superseded by other pressing matters related to running your website.
In turn, your site content runs the risk of sounding rushed and unpolished. That’s why many companies, marketers, and webmasters outsource their content to professional website copywriters. Not only are these writers affordable, they know how to blend brevity and persuasion in a way that will maximize usability and conversions.
Case in point: Jared M. Spool’s famous $300 Million Dollar Button anecdote. Spool helped a major ecommerce company sort out a copy issue with their checkout process that was confusing and turning away both first-time and returning customers.
Users filled their shopping carts and proceeded to checkout, where they were then presented an email and password field, along with ‘Login’, ‘Register’, and ‘Forgot Password’ buttons.
The goal was to expedite the checkout process for returning customers, and to give first-time customers the opportunity to register and checkout faster on their second purchase.
It had the opposite effect. First-time customers were hesitant to click ‘Register’ because they weren’t sure what registering required, and other first-timers clicked ‘Login’, as they were uncertain if they had an existing account. Return customers consistently forgot their login information, making the ‘Forgot Password’ system a hassle.
Spool observed the site’s analytics and found these staggering figures:
- 45 percent of all users had multiple accounts
- There were 160,000 ‘Forgot Password’ requests a day, and
- 75 percent of those requests did not result in a purchase
Spool’s solution? Change the ‘Register’ button copy to ‘Continue’, with a disclaimer below it stating that creating an account was not required to make a purchase.
The next month, conversions increased by 45 percent, resulting in $300 million dollars in annual sales.
- Your Pages Aren’t Optimized for Mobile
A study carried out by Outer Box Design claims that mobile is on the rise in the ecommerce sphere: they found that “62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months,” and “One third of all ecommerce purchases during the 2015 holiday season were made on a smartphone.”
So how can you enhance your mobile experience to maximize conversions? You need to convert your important web pages to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
The benefits include:
- Shorter load times: The greatest benefit of utilizing AMP pages is faster load times. Users don’t like to wait, so the faster you provide the desired page, the better the user experience.
- Better search ranking: Google prefers sites that satisfy the user, and loading time is one of the factors it considers in its algorithm. By providing faster load times, you will also improve your placement in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
- Lightning bolt emblem: AMP pages are marked by a distinct lightning bolt in the SERPs. This helps users identify which sites will provide the best experience, making them more likely to click on your page.
By improving the overall mobile user experience, you will maximize your outreach. Examples of pages you should consider converting to AMP pages include product description pages, customer review pages, and your homepage.
These go-to pages need to be accessible, easily navigable, and they need short load times in order to appease user expectations.
- Your CAPTCHA Is Killing Conversions
As you may already know, CAPTCHAs are computer programs that can discern bots from humans to prevent spam. While they do a great job protecting your website registration, they also decrease your conversions.
Check out these CAPTCHA stats published by Stanford University:
- Audio CAPTCHAs have a 50 percent give-up rate
- Only 71 percent of the time will three users agree on the translation of a CAPTCHA
- Some captcha schemes are harder for humans than others: Three humans agreed on 95 percent of authorize image CAPTCHA images, but only 35 percent of mail.ru image CAPTCHAs.
In other words, CAPTCHAs clearly dissuade users from converting, either because they cannot correctly translate the CAPTCHA, or because they don’t have the patience to deal with it.
Another study, published on Moz by Casey Henry, produced some interesting results about the effects of CAPTCHA on conversions. Henry’s study analyzed 50 different websites over a period of six months, with only half of those applying CAPTCHAS.
This is what he found:
Sites with CAPTCHAs off
- 2,134 total conversions
- 91 SPAM conversions
- 0 failed conversions
Sites with CAPTCHAs on
- 2,156 total conversions
- 11 SPAM conversions
- 159 failed conversions
While it’s impossible to determine how many of these failed conversions were bots, the point here is that more conversions were lost when CAPTCHAs were enforced. Depending on the size and scope of your website, these figures could significantly affect your conversion rate.
So are there any CAPTCHA alternatives? Yes. Below are some companies that implement different techniques to trick bots without wrecking your user experience:
- Sweet Captcha is an “action-based” CAPTCHA model that asks users to perform extremely easy tasks. Their brand promise is that their CAPTCHA will increase conversions by as much as 33 percent!
- Infobip’s Text Message Verification relies on SMS messaging to verify your identity.
- Dex Media’s Honeypot Method focuses on deceptive CSS coding to trick bots. Essentially, the user fills in the required submission form without encountering any CAPTCHA interruptions.
As always, the goal is to give the user the most seamless experience possible. Experiment with these methods and see which one boosts your conversions the best.
- Lack of About Us Page and Legal Policies
One factor that comes into play with conversions is user trust, and one of the best ways to gain their trust is to create a believable, well-structured About Us page.
According to a study conducted by Blue Acorn, “visitors to an About Us page were five times more likely to make a purchase than those that didn’t. They also spent an average of 22.5% more on their purchases.”
To make a legitimate About Us page, here are some things to include:
- Brief Company Timeline
- General company description
- Contact Us section, including phone number and email
- Live Chat option, if possible
- Office location(s)
- Partnership opportunities
These basic components will give your About Us page a logical structure that informs users about your website, and they will feel more ‘at ease’ when navigating it.
Other important web pages you should strongly consider are a terms and conditions and a return and refund policy. Having these policies available for users protects you from potential legal claims and liabilities, and builds trust with your target audience.
- Lack of SSL Certifications
As mentioned earlier, internet privacy is a top concern for your users. That’s why many webmasters in the ecommerce sphere choose to encrypt their pages with Secure Sockets Layer technology.
This security measure prevents hackers and identity thieves from stealing personal information, and is proven to increase conversions. Blue Fountain Media discovered that its form submissions increased by 42% when they included a Verisign trust seal beside the form fields.
Another stat published by GlobalSign revealed that 84 percent of surveyed users “would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an unsecure connection.”
Now that you know including an SSL Certificate is a must, here are the most common and trusted seals:
Each trust seal guarantees that you abide by specific security standards. For example, a Verisign seal means your legal policies are up to date. Look into each seal and see which one suits your purposes.
Visibility and Placement
It’s hard to say exactly where you should place your SSL seals. For example, a client of Wider Funnel found that including a McAfee Security badge to its checkout page actually decreased conversions by 1.6 percent. However, as users pointed out in the comments, this had more to do with poor placement than it did with user security:
The consensus was that the badge was too close to the checkout button, placing too much prominence on the badge itself.
Of course, the only way to determine optimum placement for your trust seals is to A/B test your pages. Try different combinations until you find a placement that truly benefits your conversions.
- No Social Proof Means You’re Not Being Transparent
At its core, social proof is the psychology of persuasion. Essentially, it holds that users value the opinion and experience of a crowd rather than that of the individual. Bazaar Voice found that “products with 20+ reviews have a 83.85 higher conversion than those products without reviews.”
So what does this mean for you? Your website needs to post reviews from your clients — and not just the good ones. According to Vendasta, “95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores.”
By giving users a balanced perspective, you are helping them make an informed decision that they are less likely to regret.
No matter how good your product is, or how consistently positive your reviews are, it’s crucial that you provide a testimonial disclaimer stating that the user’s experience may not be the same as that described in a review or endorsement. That way, users won’t feel deceived in the event that their expectations are not met.
While some of these factors may seem like matters of little consequence, they each have a profound effect on conversions. Again, the best course of action is to A/B test specific pages to see what works. As you make the right changes, you’ll notice a positive shift in your conversion rate.