6 Conversion Rate Killing Mistakes

conversion rate killing website mistakes

Conversion rate killing mistakes can doom a website to mediocre profits no matter how much you grow the traffic volume.  In fact, something as simple as a mistaken price on your shopping cart or a miscalculation of shipping charges can immediately alienate people who were ready and willing to make a purchase.  And when you have multiple conversion rate killing mistakes, you may as well burn your marketing dollars because it will probably give you more satisfaction than paying to drive visitors to a site that don’t convert.

But why do the vast majority of website owners obsess over traffic levels, social media, and marketing when the conversion rate is so vital to online success?  The truth?

Because no one really knows if their conversion rate is low, high, or somewhere in between.  You would be surprised how many website owners we come across who don’t know their average conversion rate.  Now they will know average sales volume, customer acquisition costs, average sale, and loads of salient metrics about their site.  But on conversion rate, many don’t bother to calculate it.  Once the sales start rolling in, they start looking for more traffic and pay more attention to sales volume than actual conversion rate.

So before we get to the conversion killing mistakes, let’s first find out if you have a good, bad, or average conversion rate first.  To do so, you just need to know your current average conversion rate (a running average of the past 30 days should be good so long as your traffic volume is above 5k visitors a month.  If not, you may need a bigger sample size).

Got your average conversion rate?  Great!  Now, let’s compare it with the industry standard for your particular niche by going to Adwords Performance Grader.  This will show you the average PPC conversion rate (according to Google Adwords and using a massive sample size for each niche) for each niche.  To save you some time, we have included a graphic with the average PPC conversion rates for the main niches below:

increase conversion rate

See the average PPC conversion rates by industry for 2014 in the chart above. If your site is converting 20% less than the industry standard, then CRO should be able to increase conversion rate enough to deliver a strong ROI.


So how does your site compare?

Well if you are near or even above the average conversion rate, then you’re good and can focus on driving more traffic to your site because your conversions are solid.  However, if your average conversion rate is 20% or lower than the industry standard, then you likely have one or more conversion rate killing mistakes that are killing your online profits.

If your online business does suffer from lower than average conversions for your niche, here are:

6 Conversion Rate Killing Mistakes That You Can Fix Today

#1:  Too Many Point of Purchase Distractions

Providing visitors with choices and options at the point of purchase will typically boost conversion rates–but there is a limit.  In fact, one of the most common conversion rate killing mistakes is to “load up” the POP area with way too many distractions and choices, such as:

  • Featured or Special Promotions
  • Related Products
  • Product/Service Upgrade Options
  • Lead Gen or Non-Monetized CTA
  • Links to Articles/Non-Conversion Oriented Content
  • Calculators or Special UI Features

To be clear, heat mapping consistently shows that you can have all of these items on a sales page or product description and still be effective–but you can’t have them all crowding around the primary point of purchase.  Ideally, you want to design the page so that the visitor ONLY sees the primary CTA at the point of purchase so they just have two options:  Buy/Convert or Not Buy.  Again, the other components can be found on the page, but just space them out so they aren’t crowding your POP and you should see a significant increase in conversions.

#2:  No CTA’s on Non-Converting Content

By “non-converting content”, I am just talking about pages on your site that weren’t specifically designed to prompt visitor action.  The About Us, FAQ, and similar pages on a site would be considered “non-converting” content.

However, every page on your website presents an opportunity to steer prospects towards your sales funnel(s).  That means even a page like your About Us should have CTA’s that direct prospects to your conversion-oriented content.  Specifically, consider using right hand column CTA’s or even bottom of the page CTA’s to give prospects a specific path off of the page and towards your sales funnel.  This one simple step can actually boost conversions by double-digits and really drive up site profitability.

#3:  Weak or Missing Copywriting Tools

website split testing basics

In terms of website split testing basics, the use of heat mapping software to find weak sales tools is the biggest time saver and will ultimately help you optimize sales pages much faster and generate much better results.

Weak copywriting or even the incorrect placement of solid sales tools remains one of the biggest conversion rate killing mistakes on most websites.  The issue tends to be caused by site owners trying to “do too much with too little content” meaning they simply aren’t providing enough information for the visitors to make an informed purchase decision.  In some cases, the problem is simply placing the sales tools in the wrong presentation order but it’s more common for there to be too little content in the first place.

So what sales tools am I talking about and what you should include on most sales pages or product descriptions?  Here’s a brief overview:

  • Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary CTA’s
  • Value Proposition
  • Identify Problem
  • Present Your Product/Service as Solution
  • Scarcity Element
  • Credibility Tools (testimonials, media mentions, endorsements, etc.)
  • Primary Benefits and USP’s
  • Product or Service Primary Features

In all, there can be more than a dozen distinct sales tools included on any given landing page or product description.  Now you don’t need every one for every product or service and things like price point, offer details, and target audience all help determine which tools are necessary to maximize conversions.

To help fix conversion rate killing mistakes like weak or missing copywriting tools, consider using heat mapping analysis tools like Clicktale or Crazy Egg.  They can show you which tools are working and which are being skimmed or skipped by visitors.

So if you see a copywriting tool appear as blue or green in the heat mapping, then that copywriting tool needs some work.  As you can see in the screenshot, heat mapping makes it very easy to find weak copywriting tools on existing content.

#4:  Confusion in Shopping Cart/Order Processing

Perhaps the most devastating conversion rate killing mistakes are those found in the shopping cart or order processing platform.  This is because the visitors who make it to your shopping cart are insanely close to completing a transaction but a simple mistake can quickly derail everything and cost you dearly right at the finish line.  Here are just a few of the conversion rate killing mistakes to avoid in the shopping cart/order processing area:

  • Incorrect Pricing (when compared to sales page or product description)
  • Problems Calculating Shipping Charges
  • Too Many Hoops or Steps to Complete Purchase
  • Not Enough Payment Options
  • Hidden or Sneaky Fees Applied Right at the End of the Transaction

If you are getting a solid percentage of visitors to click on the Buy Now button on your sales page but few actual purchases, then it’s likely your problem is in the shopping cart or order processing system.  Simply fix any of the conversion rate killing mistakes listed above and you should see an immediate bounce in overall conversions.

#5:  Requesting Too Much Information on Your Sign Up Forms

Believe it or not, simply asking for too much information on a sign up form is indeed one of the most common conversion rate killing mistakes for lead gen sites.  While it is a great idea to gather as much information as possible on a prospect and thus pre-qualify the lead, many visitors are very aware of identify theft and are naturally wary of sign up forms that ask for a lot of information.

To both qualify your leads and maximize sign up rates, consider using a stratified sign up form.  This just means that instead of collecting all of the information on one huge intimidating form, you split the data collection up.  On page 1, simply collect name and email information to maximize your initial data capture.  Then, send them to a second form with the more detailed questions.

This way, if the prospect feels intimidated by the additional information you are requesting, then you still have their name and email information to use for future email marketing campaigns.  And for those that complete the second page and provide the additional information, you get a highly qualified lead and all the information you desire.

With just a little effort and the right software, you can quickly solve conversion rate killing mistakes on sign up forms and thus immediately boost overall sign up rates.

#6:  CMS is Too Restrictive

A CMS, or Content Management System, is a platform like Aweber, Get Response, etc. that essentially collects information and helps distribute materials to people who sign up to your system.  In some cases, however, the CMS is simply too rigid and selecting the wrong platform can be one of the most difficult conversion rate killing mistakes to fix.  Here are a few of the potential problems that can be caused by a restrictive CMS:

  • Forces Visitors to Create an Account Before Can Make a Purchase
  • Dictates One or More Stages of Your Sales Funnel
  • Requires Too Much Information Before Sign Up Can Be Completed

For lead gen sites, CMS platform restrictions will not significantly harm conversions in most cases.  But for sites selling directly and with a separate CMS and payment processing platform/shopping cart, the restrictions can create conversion rate killing mistakes that honestly can’t be fixed without replacing the CMS.

So how do you know if the CMS is causing fatal conversion rate problems?  A very high abandonment rate is probably the quickest way to see if your site may have fatal CMS issues.  If you see a high abandonment rate, we recommend using heat mapping to study the entire sales funnel to isolate the specific conversion rate killing mistakes that need fixed.


Concluding Thoughts on Fixing Conversion Rate Killing Mistakes

Look, no website has a “perfect” conversion rate.  However, if your website is performing 20% or lower than the industry standard PPC conversion rate for your niche, then you are probably losing a lot of potential sales or conversions.  Unfortunately, the conversion rate killing mistakes listed above are by no means exhaustive but they are the most common problems facing most website owners.

Regardless of whether you want to optimize a landing page or an entire website for higher conversions, the key is traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics and heat mapping software.  These tools will help you quickly zero-in on the conversion rate killing mistakes so you can fix them and instantly boost your conversions and overall online profits!







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Jon Kreps is a conversion rate optimization expert specializing in boosting online sales and profits by up to 100% or more by fixing the problems that are suppressing conversions.

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