conversion rate

Nothing is more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. You’ll want to know why, so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Watching your conversion rate drop is not fun. It will make you lose sleep until you know what’s causing it. And maybe worse until you see it climbing back up again.

Fortunately, any drop in conversion rate has an explanation and one or more solutions.

Bringing it back may be just a matter of time, but just waiting is never a good answer. Sudden drops in conversions can be quite frustrating if you do not know where to dig. Do you agree?

It may be some of the obvious culprits that are to blame for your website conversion rate dropping – website redesigns, landing page changes, new offers, pricing, promos, or sales. But if it’s not obvious, keep calm. Go through this checklist and get it taken care of.

 

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

Keep calm and read this post if your conversion rates are dropping.

1. Those Devilish Tracking Codes

It happens. You may believe your analytics tracking codes, also called tags, are working and reporting on your conversions without a hitch. You may find that’s not the case anymore. Incorrectly installed tracking codes could be the cause of your conversion rate dropping.

Maybe they got corrupted when making small tweaks to your site or when implementing a new campaign or when versioning a landing page.

Retrace your steps. Try to remember what you have modified lately. Yes, this is when you’ll realize you should make it a habit to use Google Analytics’ Annotations. This is a great way to easily find the changes you’ve made, changes that may have broken your tracking.

To make sure all of your analytics tracking codes work as they should, we recommend Google Tag Assistant. This is a plugin for your Chrome browser. It will tell you if your tracking is setup properly on any page of your site. Heed the recommendations in the tool. Nothing should be misconfigured.

Here are some places to look:

  • Did you launch any new landing pages? If so, are the tracking codes setup on them?
  • Did you release any new offers? Make sure you’re creating goals in Google Analytics for all of your reports, demos, trials and purchases.
  • Did you add any third-party tools to your site or ecommerce plugins? Make sure they are properly integrated with Google Analytics.

2. Conversion Rate Dropping due to Lack of Browser Compatibility?

Google Analytics has very handy reports to identify where the problem may lie. Check for a significant drop in conversions for a particular browser. Your major browsers include Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox & Edge and on mobile, Android and iOS.

Found it?

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Browser testing: Target Chrome 71.0.3578.98 / Windows 2008 R2.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Now we test the Target website on Chrome 51.0.2704.103 / Windows 2008 R2. Notice the differences.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Finally, Target website tested on Firefox 30.0 / Debian 6.0.

Test your checkout flow, your forms, on-exit intent pop-ups, even your landing pages with that browser. Keep in mind that not all browsers behave in the same way on every operating system. Therefore, you have to check on Windows, Mac and Linux, at the very least. Has some of your website’s CSS or Javascript become obsolete?

Google Analytics has a very handy report for this: Audience > Technology > Browser

Google Analytics browser report.

Google Analytics browser report.

Then select the Ecommerce report. You’ll be able to look for browsers that underperform.

If it’s not a particular browser, check for mobile, tablet, desktop or amp technical bugs or issues. Is an element of your responsive landing page now hidden from view on a mobile device?

3. Don’t Underestimate Website Performance

If your server or your CDN are experiencing glitches, or your website is suffering from a sudden slow down in page load speed, you may not have dropped your organic rankings yet but your customer UX has degraded.

Moreover, your visitors are currently sending those unhappy experience signals to search engines. Ouch!

Check the Search Console coverage report to make sure you didn’t have any 500 internal server error. If so, talk to your hosting company or sys admins to have them resolve it.

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Google Search console coverage report. Is your server or CDN misbehaving? Could this be the cause of your conversion rate dropping?

Now take a look at the Google Analytics speed reports and compare it with the previous period. A slowdown of the average server response time will point to a need for additional server resources or to a software upgrade. If the average page load time is the one that has increased and you are running a CMS like Magento, Shopify or WordPress, start digging into extensions, plugins and image sizes.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

Improve visitor experience by addressing page load speed issues.

I guess, pinpointing why your website conversion rate is dropping can get a bit technical, huh?

4. Have you Forgotten to Optimize for Mobile Devices?

Ok, you already checked that your site was displaying correctly when you checked for technical issues. But, it’s possible that your mobile customers require a different conversion experience than the one you crafted for your desktop users.

Access Google Analytics and compare traffic for devices under Mobile Audience overview year over year. Maybe it’s time to contact our Mobile CRO experts. We wrote the book on it.

 

5. Your Marketing Personas Changed Behaviors

Usually, customer behavior takes quite a long time to reflect negatively on your conversion rates. So, concentrate on other issues unless you’ve noticed your conversion rate dropping for a while.

If the latter is the case, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your marketing personas. Times do change.

6. Conversion Rate Dropping with a Traffic Increase?

A decline in traffic volume can obviously decrease the number of conversions and possibly your online shop conversion rate. But what if there’s an increase in traffic? Yes, even an increase in traffic can badly affect a website’s conversion rates.

First things first. Make sure you identify the traffic source that has experienced a decrease in conversion rate. Is it the same as the one whose traffic volume increased? Remember to check their landing page functionality. If that’s not the problem, review a few of these scenarios.

6.1 Paid Traffic Increase

A lower conversion rate with a paid traffic increase could be pointing to non-relevant campaign targeting or to a lack of understanding what will persuade your visitors to buy or try your products or services.

Maybe you need to put things in perspective and understand that in some occasions such as Black Friday, prospects perform a lot of comparison shopping. Therefore you may experience much higher traffic driven by your social or ppc campaigns but a decline in conversion rates. I bet you are spending more on these campaigns as well, aren’t you?

Optimize your ad copy and landing pages accordingly so your site won’t be left behind in this increased competition and avoid significantly lower conversion rates.

Answer this, have you been running the same campaign for a long time? People are clicking but not converting? Maybe it’s time to change the landing page.

Examine each step of your funnel and look for weak points. Arm yourself with Heat Maps. They can definitely help you identify what your visitors are seeing or missing. Engage in split testing and get those conversion rates back up.

6.2 Sudden Surge in Social or Organic Traffic Volume

A spike in social or organic traffic may be attributed to the creation of clickbait blog posts. The problem with these articles, is that while traffic may increase, these visitors tend not to convert – at least not immediately. You will experience a perceived “drop” on conversion rates as a similar number of conversions are being diluted in higher traffic. Social traffic tends to react faster than organic, so look for correlations there first.

6.3 The Attack of the Bots or Ghost Spam

Bots can also generate a sudden growth in direct or referral traffic. It’s quite easy to identify those bots on analytics – unless they were spectacularly well coded. This is rarely the case. Bots don’t have gender, age and they have 100% bounce rate.

They will produce the same effect as any spurt in irrelevant and non-converting traffic: declining conversion rates.

6.4 Are You Emailing Less?

Email is one of the highest converting traffic sources for most businesses. If you have reduced the frequency of email or have changed the kind of email you are sending, this may impact you overall conversion rates.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check.

Nothing more worrisome than your website conversion rate dropping. Evidently, you’ll want to know why so you can fix it. Breathe. Here’s where to check. This image has been designed using resources from Freepik.com.

7. Blame Seasonality for Your Conversion Rate Dropping

Does your conversion tend to drop at this time of the year? Seasonality usually causes a very rapid change in conversion rates and it may be accompanied of lower traffic or not.

If your traffic has not changed, compare with last year’s data and see if you are following trend. We tend to think of seasonal changes as holiday times but professional services like website design tends to drop during those times.

One of the most interesting seasonality drops I have ever seen happens in the wedding services industry every New Year’s eve. I guess one celebration offsets the planning of the other. So, tread carefully when making website changes without considering these seasonal effects or they could play against you.

The same seasonality may affect traffic, therefore always keep track of decreases or increases in seasonal trends.

8. When your Competitors Cause your Conversion Rate to Drop

If your conversion rate is dropping and you cannot find anything wrong with your site or with your actions, you may want to check what your competitors are up to.

Maybe they are running a special discount or a promotion that drives conversions away from you. Monitor their actions and respond accordingly. This may help you address some of the conversion loss.

Of course, lower conversion rates don’t mean as much as Return on Investment (ROI), so don’t leave that metric aside, You may be alarmed because you see your conversion rate dropping but in the end, that’s not what really matters What counts is your bottom line. Looking at a single conversion rate could be narrowing your view of the business, especially on this day and age of omnichannel marketing.

And, if all else fails, you can hire Conversion Sciences for a CRO Audit. Having a pair of expert eyes analyze your site, your 360 degree customer journey and review your conversion rates is always a plus.

What is a conversion rate, and what does it really mean for you as a business owner?

In this guide, we’ll break down the definition of a conversion rate, show you the formula for calculating conversion rates, and help you identify whether your conversion rate is low or high.

At the end of the article, you’ll also find a link to our Conversion Rate Calculator to quickly help you unveil this mystery.

The simplest definition of a conversion rate. Examples, Low and high conversion rats and how to calculate yours.

The simplest definition of a conversion rate.

The Simplest Definition of a Conversion Rate

A conversion rate is the percentage of prospects or leads that take a desired specific action.

The higher the percentage of people that take that action, the higher the rate. Thus, a this metric is a helpful way to gauge how a campaign, website or business is performing. Easy, right?

Let’s say you have people visiting your online shop and you want them to buy your products. The percentage of those visitors who end up buying from you is your online sales conversion rate.

A conversion rate can be calculated for each step in the sales, trial or lead generation process – like clicking on a paid ad, visiting a specific page, signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to a free trial or making a purchase – as well as for the entire customer journey.

You can even compare these conversion rates before and after making changes to the process or by running parallel campaigns. This will shed insightful information because it allows you to assess the sales funnel performance and identify ways to improve it. And this usually results in increased revenues.

What is a good conversion rate? Let’s take a look at some stats on what some studies consider a good landing page or website conversion rate.

What is a good conversion rate?

How do You Calculate a Conversion Rate?

This is calculated by taking the number of desired actions or conversions and dividing it by the total number of people involved, then expressing it as a percentage.

Conversion rate (%) = (Number of Desired Actions/Total Number of People) x 100)

Let’s take a look at some examples and tackle its calculation.

Conversion Rate Examples

Practice makes perfect. Let’s review some simple examples.

Online Store Sales Example

Imagine an ecommerce store that gets 100 visitors daily and 3 of them make a purchase. The online shop sales conversion rate is the number of purchases (3) divided by the number of visitors (100), expressed as a percentage.

(3/100) x 100 = 3% conversion rate

Lead Generation Example for a B2B Company

Now, let’s take a look at another example. Say a B2B company like Polycom, that sells the famous triangular conference room phones online, runs a pay-per-click campaign. They get 1,000 leads to visit their email signup page where 584 of them subscribe to download an industry white paper. We know you can calculate this rate blindfolded.

Correct, it equals the number of subscribers (584) divided by the number of Leads (1,000), expressed as a percentage. An impressive 58.4%

What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Now that you know what is a conversion rate and how to calculate it, the natural question that follows is, “Is this a good conversion rate?”

The shortest answer is that what could be considered a “good” rate is relative.

Conversion rates vary greatly by industry, by campaign type, by geo, language and device used. Conversion rates are not the same for ecommerce sites as they are for B2B sites, or for desktop, tablet or mobile users.

Let’s take a look at some stats on what some studies consider a good landing page or website conversion rate.

Across industries, the average landing page converts at a rate of 2.35%, yet the top 25% are converting at 5.31% or higher. Source: Wordstream

Converting at an 8.9% in the healthcare industry would make you a top performer, while in the travel industry, you’d need to climb all the way to a 19.7% to be at the top of the ladder. Source: Unbounce

Currently, Google Ads campaigns have been reporting average conversion rates of 3.17% on the Search network and 0.46% on the Display network. Source: Search Engine Watch.

Here’s something for you to ponder. If your conversion rates are as high as your competitors, will that stop you from working on increasing them?

Getting your customers over the blue line: the conversion rate formula.

Getting your customers over the blue line: the conversion rate formula.

So, What is a Low Conversion Rate?

In a similar vein, low conversion rates can also vary wildly from one industry to another, and even from one step in your funnel to another.

Are your conversion rates on the low end of the spectrum or very close to zero? Don’t worry. This is just an indication that there is work to be done and changes will be required.

You should also consider that a 1% conversion rate for a high-end, high margin product could equate to significantly more net profit than converting at a 90% on a low-end, low margin product.

If you do notice your business is actually experiencing low conversion rates, you know it’s time for action. Your goal is to have more visitors taking your desired action. That way you can have more leads, more sales, more revenue – and, hopefully, increase your profit margin. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if your business needs help increasing its conversion rates.

Meanwhile, are you anxious to know how your conversion rates are faring? Check out our free online Conversion Rate Calculator.

Discover how to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site. Five factors you MUST look into to improve online conversions right now.

There’s one thing, one thing that’s keeping your visitors from converting on your site.

It may not be the only thing, but it is the primary thing that your online business isn’t delivering the results you expect. It’s where you start when you optimize your website.

So, traffic but not conversions? It’s one of these five things:

  1. The Value Proposition and Messaging isn’t clear.
  2. They perceive risk when considering taking an action.
  3. You aren’t showing up as credible and authoritative.
  4. They want to know if others have benefited from you.
  5. Your design and layout aren’t helping them digest the buffet of content you’re presenting.

Find out what keeps visitors from converting on your site and start testing to increase your conversions right now.

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

Value Proposition & Messaging

Do you think your value proposition is the one thing that keeps visitors from converting on your site? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a value proposition. Your value proposition is composed of all of the things you do to solve a problem and is communicated by:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Content and Copy
  3. Images
  4. Pricing
  5. Shipping policy
  6. Words used in your navigation
  7. Design elements

All of these website elements are used to let your visitors know how you solve a set of problems, and why your solution is the best choice. The one that will save the most time and money, or that will deliver the most satisfaction.

But your value proposition doesn’t have to be communicated through words and images alone. Video, audio and animations are proven ways to communicate your value to a prospect.

And herein lies the rub.

Digital media gives us the amazing ability to put anything onto a landing page that our hearts desire. And if you can do anything, how do you know which is the right element to use? Here lies the conundrum.

How to know if your value proposition is what keeps visitors from converting on your site

A high bounce rate is a sign of three things:

  1. You’re bringing the wrong traffic
  2. Your lead isn’t hitting the mark
  3. You’ve been attacked by bots

If your landing page suffers from a high bounce rate, look at the source of your traffic. Does the page keep the specific offer made in the paid ad, email, or organic search query that enticed the visitors to click on your site? If it’s your homepage, the answer is most certainly, “No.”

If you feel that your traffic is good, and is coming to a relevant page, then we should ask if the lead is hitting the mark. By “lead” I am referring to the headline + hero image.

Often, hero images are wasted on something non-concrete. The headline should act as the caption for the image it accompanies.

Don’t show a city skyline. Don’t show a person smiling at a computer. These things don’t scream for meaningful captions and don’t help conversions either.

You should also look at the words you use in your main navigation. These should communicate what your site is about in the words of the visitor, not just the structure of your website.

Still don’t know what’s keeping them from converting? Ask your visitors

If you still don’t know what is keeping visitors from converting on your site, consider using an exit-intent popup that asks one open-ended question: “What were you looking for when you came to our site?” or “Why didn’t you purchase?”

We are also big fans of putting an open-ended question on your thank-you page or receipt page: “What almost kept you from buying?” or “What almost kept you from signing up?”

Discover How Our Conversion Rate Optimization Analysis Services Work

You May Be Scaring Visitors Away: Use and Misuse of Risk Reversal

In general, more people make decisions based on fear than on opportunity. So, your amazing value proposition is destined to die in the minds of many of your prospects because of fear.

  • What if I don’t like the product?
  • What if my identity gets stolen?
  • Will a pushy salesman call?
  • Will I have to deal with tons of email?

At the heart of it all is, “Will I feel stupid if I take action right now?”

Risk reversal (and most of the following) is a set of tactics that puts the visitor’s fears at rest. It consists of things like:

  • Guarantees
  • Warranties
  • Privacy policies
  • Explicit permissions
  • Return policies

Placing these items in clear view near a call to action can do wonders for your conversion rates.

Don’t put fears into their mind

There is a potential danger. Your risk reversal tactics can actually put fear into their mind.

For example, stating, “We will never spam you.” can actually place the concept in the mind of someone who wasn’t concerned about it. You might say instead, “We respect your privacy.” with a link to your privacy policy.

Traffic but not Conversions? Help Visitors Convert on your Site with Social Proof

Social proof demonstrates that others have had a positive experience with your brand. These take the form of:

  • Testimonials
  • On-site ratings and reviews
  • Third party reviews
  • Case studies
  • Social media shares, likes and comments
  • Comments

If social proof is your one problem that keeps visitors from converting on your site, customers don’t feel that you’re right for someone like them. Make sure you show them that they are in the group of people that benefit from you.

Negative Reviews Help

Ironically, it also serves to answer the question, “Just how bad was a bad experience with this company?” This is why negative reviews have proven to increase conversion rates on eCommerce sites. Cleaning your reviews or only posting good reviews can shoot you in the foot.

Is it Lack of Credibility & Authority What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site?

If you are in an industry with lots of competition, or with “bad actors” who manipulate to get sales, your one problem may be credibility and authority.

The design of your website is one of the first things that communicate credibility. But be careful. A fancy, overly-designed site may communicate the wrong idea to visitors. It may convey that you’re expensive or too big for your prospects.

Credibility can be established by emphasizing things about your company, and by borrowing credibility from other sources such as, your clients. your payment methods, you media appearances and the like.

Brand Credibility

You gain credibility by building confidence with your brand and value proposition. How long have you been in business? How many customers have you served? How many products have you sold? How many dollars have you saved?

Brand credibility generally takes the form of implied proof.

Borrowed Credibility

Your website or landing page can borrow credibility and authority from third-party sources. Placing symbols and logos on your website borrows from these credible sources. Ask yourself:

  • Have you been interviewed or reviewed in well-know publications?
  • Have you been interviewed on broadcast media outlets?
  • What associations are you a member of?
  • What awards have you been nominated for or won?
  • Has your business been rated by consumer organizations like Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau?
  • Have your products been reported on by analysts such as Forrester?

Place proof of your associations on your site’s landing pages to borrow authority and credibility from them.

User Interface & User Experience: Factors that Keep Visitors from Converting on your Site

Nothing works if your visitors eyes aren’t guided through your pages.

No value proposition, no risk reversal, no social proof, no credibility stands a chance if the layout and user experience don’t help the reader understand where they’ve landed or where to go from there.

Long load time equals poor experience

The first thing to look at is site performance. If your pages load slowly, you visitors may be bouncing away. If any element requires a loading icon of any sort, you are probably providing a poor user experience.

Clutter means bad visual hierarchy

When a visitor looks at a page, it should be very obvious what is most important element and what can be looked at later. This is called a visual hierarchy.

For example, we like to make call to action buttons highly visible, so that it is clear to the reader that they are being asked to do something.

Designers use their knowledge of whitespace, negative space, font, font size, color, and placement to design an experience that is easy for the visitors’ eyes to digest.

Don’t add surprises

A good user experience has little place for novelty. Arbitrarily adding animations, fades, parallax images or scroll-triggered effects are generally unnecessary, can cause technical glitches and may actually hurt conversion rates.

How to Know “what” is Hurting your Conversion Rate

We recommend this process to determine the primary problem that keeps visitors from converting on your website.

1. Gather all of your conversion optimization ideas

Begin recording all of the ideas you have for improving the site in the spreadsheet. Sources for these ideas:

  1. Ask your team
  2. Read your customer reviews
  3. Read your customer surveys
  4. Pull from your marketing reports
  5. Read your live chat transcripts
  6. Generate heatmap reports for your key pages
  7. Watch recorded sessions

Don’t be surprised to have dozens of ideas for a website or landing page.

2. Categorize each of your ideas

The ROI Prioritized Hypothesis List spreadsheet has a column for classifying each idea.

  1. Messaging
  2. Layout/UX
  3. Social Proof
  4. Risk Reversal
  5. Credibility

There will also be some things that you just want to fix.

3. Count your conversion optimization ideas

Count out how many ideas you have for each category. The category with the most ideas is probably the one problem you should address first. We use a pie chart to illustrate the different issues.

What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site? This site's one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

This site’s one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

4. Start working

Begin working on the ideas in the category with the most ideas.

This is a great time to start AB testing to see which of your ideas really are important to your visitors.

Your search traffic will demonstrate their approval through more sales, more leads and higher conversion rates overall.

This sounds like a lot of work

It is a lot of work. But you could consider hiring us to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site and we will test our way to your success.

You can request a free consultation with us.

This article is an updated and revised version of our original article published on Search Engine Land.

Brian Massey

Discover how AI marketing tools truly work and find the answer to the question: Can they really increase your website’s conversion rates?

Do you know how machine learning is impacting conversion rate optimization for marketers? We all know what the acronym “AI” stands for: “As If”. Data scientists are telling us that by using AI, they’ll will be able to create a predictive model of the visitors to your website that will tell you exactly who is ready to buy.

I say, “As if.”

We may marvel that such things can be done, but we also recognize that these things require a great deal of data and the skills of some serious brainiacs to get a machine to tell us something we don’t already know.

The truth is, you are probably already using “AI”, or more accurately, machine learning in your marketing. It’s hiding in the tools we use, like monsters under our bed. Machine learning and the more sciencey-sounding AI will change the way you take products to market, but your human mind will still be needed and loved.

Unless you resist – “as if.”

 

Augmenting Our Brains: AI-powered conversion optimization

Things like AI-driven predictive models are exciting, because our job as marketers is to predict the future. We’re like that exotic fortune teller gazing into an empty tea cup or a crystal ball.

We say things like, “If you give me a budget, I’ll generate six times that amount in revenue.” This is is like saying, “If you put a chicken foot under your pillow, you will find true love.” As if.

But this is what we do, and the data on which we base our predictions is often no more valid than the layout of tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Our brains are wired to find patterns in anything, even when a pattern isn’t really there.

If I came into your office and said, “The last three leads we generated were all visiting the website using a Firefox browser,” your brain would jump to the conclusion, “If I can get more Firefox users to visit our website, I’ll generate tons of leads.”

Do AI marketing tools impact your website conversion rates?

Do AI marketing tools impact your website conversion rates?

Purveyors of AI, or more accurately Machine Learning (ML), would tell us that the machine doesn’t make mistakes like this. Our 100% genuine intelligence just doesn’t stack up to their Artificial Intelligence.

The problem is that machines will make exactly the same mistake if we don’t give them lots of data.

Just as machines need data, we know that we need more data before we start an ad campaign targeting Firefox users. We’ll ask our analytics person to pull together all website visits for the last year, and calculate the conversion rate for each. This increases the size of our dataset from three to many.

If this analysis goes the way of most analyses, we’ll find that there’s not a meaningful difference in conversion rates among browsers. Most experiments end up being inconclusive. That’s just the way it is.

In this scenario, we “wasted” an hour of our data scientist’s time, an hour of our time, and another twenty minutes explaining to our boss why we were so unproductive today.

“What if,” the AI crowd says, “you could get a machine to sort through your data looking for clues and figuring out who’s more likely buy. You don’t have to waste your time. Let the machine do it.”

This is an exciting proposition. The machine wouldn’t just look at the browser. It would look at the time of day, day of week, and week of the year that visitors converted. It could consider the device being used, screen size and operating system. It could add in the source of the visit, the number of times a visitor has been to the website, and whether the visitor has bought before.

After crunching through all of your analytics data, the machine would give you a percentage chance that the next visitor to your website will convert. And here comes a person with a Safari browser on a Mac computer at 3:30pm EST on a warm Tuesday afternoon who’s never been to the site before.

The machine might spit out, “There is a 51% chance this person will complete the lead form.” Actually, the machine will just say, “0.51”. Machines are so boring.

It’s amazing that a machine can so accurately predict a human being’s behavior. This is incredible.

But, is 51% good? And if this is true, what should my website do differently to make this Safari visitor more likely to buy? Do I reduce the price by 49%? Do I flatter this visitor for being above average? Do I ignore them?

This is “the rub” with machine learning. The machine can’t tell us what to do with the data it gives us. There are systems that will tell us if a visitor is “at the top of the funnel” or “in the consideration phase.” Still, what do we do with that? A price-sensitive buyer may want to see a discount when “at the top” of their purchase process. A relational buyer may not care about discounts until they’re “at the bottom,” ready to buy.

The machine won’t tell us, “Target Internet Explorer visitors coming late at night on a Windows computer during the springtime months with a picture of a cat.” It spits out the probability for each visit: “0.51, 0.34, 0.71, 0.92”.

Wait! A 92% probability? Is that important!? Well, no. They’re probably going to buy no matter what we do. “As if.”

AI-Driven Results

Scoring customers in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform has required that marketers hand-code the algorithm. We decide which actions indicate that a prospect is moving closer to buying. We decide how to value each action. It can work, but it isn’t rocket science – or AI.

Alternatively, we can dump sales data into a machine learning algorithm and let it calculate the probability that each prospect will turn into a customer. The sales force can focus on those high-probability clients and disregard the low-scoring leads. It’s using past performance to predict the future, and should be more accurate than arbitrary assignment of values to actions.

This is how machine learning is entering your life as a marketer.

Can AI Marketing Tools Increase Your Website’s Conversion Rates?

Amazon famously introduced product suggestions to the eCommerce world. “People who bought this also bought that and that and that.”

It’s not an easy problem to solve. There are a lot of variables to crunch and it has to be done quickly. This is a prime area for AI.

Mailchimp launched a similar tool to add product suggestions to the emails of its eCommerce clients. Every time you send an email to someone, Mailchimp will include a few product suggestions at the bottom of the email. The machine learning algorithm will compute the probability that one or more products will appeal to a subscriber, based on the behavior of all email recipients. Those products with the highest probability get added to the email. This prompts the visitor to buy.

As if.

It’s hard to know how well the machine has learned what your visitors buy collectively. This is the limitation of AI. We can’t really see what is inside the box. All we get is a number.

If you implement a suggestion engine on your website, we recommend running an A/B test to measure its effectiveness. This is done by adding the “Also bought” suggestions for half the visitors and hiding it for the other half. This will give us some conclusive data about how the suggestion AI is performing. Is it increasing the order size on average, or reducing it?

If your website has a glorious design and drives huge traffic but you’re still not getting enough leads, you need to get serious about conversion rate optimization and these 46 conversion rate optimization hacks will help you get there.
Conversion rate optimization is a systematic process of increasing the percentage of your website’s visitors that take the desired action on a certain page. This includes optimizing the landing pages and the website overall, using real-time analytics, tested design, and psychological elements, in order to turn your website visitors into customers.
Don’t make a rookie mistake! Not every one of these “hacks” will work for your website.

How to  Apply Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

There is a very defined process for applying conversion optimization hacks. It goes something like this.

List Relevant Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

List all of the hacks below that apply to your website. I recommend downloading the Conversion Sciences Hypothesis List Spreadsheet.
Toss out the ones that you’ve already tried or tested (delete them from your spreadsheet).

Do Your First Ranking of Conversion Optimization Hypotheses

Rate each of the remaining ones by level of effort (LOE), expected impact, and traffic affected. Our spreadsheet will calculate a weight for each idea.
Those that lie at the top of your list are ready to be researched.

Fix the Conversion Optimization Hacks that are Broken

Is it clear that some of these conversion rate optimization hacks needs immediate attention?
For example Hack 1: Increase Your Page Speed may be near the top of the list. It can have a high impact (based on other studies), and it affects all traffic.
To collect more data, you could look at your bounce rate. A high bounce rate may indicate a slow website, especially on mobile. You could also visit WebPageTest.org and get a grade on your page speed.
If the data says your site is slow, this would be a hack worth fixing. It will have a high value for “proof” in the spreadsheet.
If the data says your site is loading quickly, then you have low evidence and this idea may drop to the bottom of the ranking. Move on.
Other candidates for “just fix it” include

  • Technical problems on any page
  • Bad layouts due to responsive web design
  • #8 Remove CAPTCHA from forms. Don’t has your customers to manage your spam problem.
  • #16 Let Customers Checkout as Guests
  • #21 and #24 Reduce Form Fields

Research Your Top Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

Find ways to research each of the hacks that are at the top of your list.
For example, if hack #16: Let Customers Checkout as Guests is high on your list, you could look at analytics to see if the “Login or Create an Account” page is a big source of abandonment. If it is, it gets more proof points.  If not, maybe it isn’t a problem.
You would also implement an exit-intent popup for this “Login or Create an Account” that asked, “What kept you from buying today?” If lots of visitors admit that they didn’t want to create an account, this idea would get more proof points.

AB Test the Most Promising Ones

The most promising ideas that don’t fall into the “fix it” category get an AB test. This will tell you which conversion rate optimization hacks will improve the site and by how much. It is the best data you can collect.
Have a look at Website Builder’s  “46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks” infographic below and for a list of effective hacks for increasing your conversion rates.

46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

About the Author

Josh Wardini - 46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at websitebuilder.org. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies.

Here are 3 conversion optimization examples of how to kill the “slider”.

This is not a post about how carousels kill conversions.  They can, but it’s not about that.

This post is about doing what’s best for the people who want to buy from you on your site.

Every CRO and savvy eCommerce manager I have ever met hates carousels.  In fact, we’ve never actually blogged about it because EVERYONE ELSE already did.  Bringing up carousel flaws would be akin to bringing up the Hindenburg’s.

What we at Inflow will do, however, is document the death of the carousel. But before we do, let’s talk about its birth.

Blame Yahoo! if you want

It seems like the carousel has been around forever, at least in Internet terms. Broad adoption started in the summer of 2009 after Yahoo introduced it on its homepage.

Blame Yahoo if you want

If your site still has a rotating carousel, perhaps you still have a Nokia phone?  You can check your email on it, you know!

From that point on, every website felt free to:

  • Whisk away copy while it was still being read
  • Randomly change calls to actions
  • Remove control from the user actions
  • Create “banner-blindness”
  • Periodically attract attention no matter how irrelevant to the viewer.
  • Slow page load time with multiple big images

So, for some, it might not be a surprise that there is a better way to structure an eCommerce homepage.

The death of the (unnecessary) carousel

In our 2018 Best in Class Comparative Matrix for eCommerce, we saw only 6 out of 10 sites still used the homepage hero carousel.  That number is less than half of what it was 2 years earlier.

The reason why is simple: it was never the best option for most of the sites that did it, and that statement is still pretty much true.

Optimization Away from Carousels

So, how does a site transform its homepage from having a carousel? Here are three conversion optimization examples for removing carousels.

Zappos.com

Before

A year ago, Zappos was sporting a left category nav, hero carousel and a couple of static promo areas to the right.  That made it jam-packed with options.

Zappos

After

Zappos simplified things by ditching the carousel, the left nav on the homepage and instead focusing the homepage on the things customers want most.  They are still testing this bad boy with over 5 major variants identified, so check back in February to see the winning combination. ;)

So apparently, Zappos.com never needed a slider. Note that they kept the slides, but moved 2 of them to the bottom of the site in favor of stuff users most want (a lot of which was not even on the homepage of this eCommerce behemoth just a year ago).

There’s a big lesson here for those willing to learn it and kill their carousel.

Zappos

UnderArmour.com

Before

Under Armour had a carousel last year, alternating between two and three slides.

Under Armour

After

Over the past year, they have MADE ONLY ONE CHANGE on their homepage.  That was to ditch the carousel.


Underarmour

Williams Sonoma

Before

Williams Sonoma made some minor navigation changes over the past year and added lazy-load to the homepage, which widened it a bit.

Williams Sonoma

After

For the most part, the only significant change to the homepage was REMOVING THE CAROUSEL.

Williams Sonoma

Take-Away

If you were to take the lead from these 3 best in class sites, you would blindly get rid of your eCommerce site’s carousel.  But wait!!!

You can see below that there are still 6 out of 20 Best-in-Class eCommerce sites that are standing by their carousel. You bet they have tested their homepage over the past year.

eCommerce sites carousel use

eCommerce sites carousel use

So Why?

The answer is that the carousel, as they have it, is right for them and their audience.  For now, at least, until something tests better.

This is why we test.

keith-haganAbout the author: Keith Hagan is an award-winning conversion optimization expert and Director of Conversion Services at Inflow. Keith’s insights have been featured in well-known publications, such as Moz, HuffPo, Forbes and more.

It can be dangerous to delay asking for the sale on your website. Optimizing for buyer intent helps you ask at the right time.

You should hire me.
I’m good at what I do, have helped some pretty awesome companies achieve killer results, and I reckon I could help you achieve similar levels of success.
If you’ve got copywriting or PPC optimization needs, I’m your man. Click here to pay your deposit now and secure my revenue increasing services!

Crappy pitch, right? Even overlooking the dreadfully generic benefit, poor copy, and woeful CTA there’s still something important missing.

An omission which would stop you from reaching out and laying down that deposit I so desperately want.

That something is your complete lack of knowledge and trust in me.

99% of the people who read this will never have heard of me. They’ll have no idea who I am, only a vague idea of what I do, and absolutely no inkling as to whether or not I’m good at it (save for my poorly worded benefit brag).

This is first contact for you and I. And for a first contact, that pitch is far too aggressive.

Unfortunately, this is the exact approach I see countless brands across the globe making day after day. They think all they need is a hard pitch, a well optimised landing page, and some relevant traffic.

But that’s not how sales are made.

No one makes big purchase decisions based on impulse. It might work for low cost items, but for big-ticket products or high end services you’ve got to foster a little trust before a pitch will be effective.

You’ve got to establish yourself as an authority; a provider of the highest quality. Only then will a hard pitch for high-priced products work.

This is the element missing from so many campaigns. It’s the element that not only makes the sale, but keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again.

It’s a shame that more business don’t focus on building relationships. And if I had to hazard a guess why, it’s because very few understand that…

Not all your Leads are Ready to Purchase

In fact, very few are at the point where they’re ready to open their wallet.

If you’ve spent any time in marketing and sales you’ll have heard the statistics. It takes anywhere between 6 and 12 touchpoints with customers to make a sale. You’ve probably also seen countless images like the below.

Customer touchpoints

Customer touchpoints

Source

There’s an element of truth to these beliefs. The view of a wholly linear sales funnel might be outdated, but the principle stands.

People don’t trust you enough to purchase after a single interaction.

Check the modern consumer’s browsing habits and you’ll see what I mean. Modern users jump from site-to-site, they use various devices, abandon, reengage, and complete purchase journeys at completely random times.

It’s honestly a bit of a mess. But figuring out how to make the most of the modern consumers scatterbrained approach to online purchases doesn’t have to be. And it all begins with…

Ignore the Concept of Touchpoints

When you follow the old linear journey and the belief that you must have X touchpoint for the sale it blinkers your focus.

The thought of there being a set number of touchpoints to make users purchase is absolute bullshit. I don’t walk into a store 6 times and on the 7th feel as though I must buy something simply because I’ve hit my touchpoint limit.

The same is true for the online purchase journey. People don’t buy based on the number of touchpoints alone. They purchase based on value.

Let’s put this in real terms, I recently assisted a client in optimising their PPC campaigns. When I took over, all campaigns targeted industry related keywords before directing users to the primary landing page.

If we imagine the client was in the real estate space, that meant searches like the below all directed to the same page:

  • What are the house sale processes in [area]
  • the best real estate broker in [area]
  • what’s in [neighborhood] for [kids/elderly/students]

The client believed that if customers stopped by his site often enough, they were eventually bound to hire him. He thought this repeated hard pitch was guaranteed to wear his customers down until they bent to his will.

It didn’t work well for him because, whilst he had a frequently visited site, it offered no value.

If he had instead offered something of value related to the user’s search, then people would have remembered him. Something like:

  • An eBook/guide explaining the house sale process
  • A sales page explaining why he was the best
  • A neighborhood guide that detailed all relevant areas

Taking this approach gives people what they want. It offers the value they’re searching for and would raise him in their estimation.

You have to shift focus to the customer. You have to examine the reason the user comes to your page/site, understand the problem they’re facing, and optimize to address that problem.

As Brian mentions in this piece:

A landing page has two very focused jobs:

  1. Keep the promise made in the ad, email or link that brings visitors to the page. We call this the Offer.
  2. Get the visitor to take action on the offer.

The offer is what I want to bring attention to here. People at different stages of the customer journey need different things from you.

Your traffic generation makes a promise that attracts them, your pages need to reflect and deliver on that promise.

So the first step is to stop directing users with different needs to a single hard sales page. You first need to optimize each page for buyer intent.

What Do I Mean Buyer Intent?

I’m sure you’re aware of the different stages of awareness and how they impact the length and detail of your landing pages.

If you’re not, I’ll offer a very quick explanation. Basically, the less aware someone is of your brand, the longer your landing page usually is.

Someone who’s having their first contact with your brand will need more information before they take any action.

On the other hand, someone who knows your brand well, understands the products you offer, the benefits, and maybe has bought something from you before won’t need as much information. All they need is the bare essentials of the product and offer.

The guys at Copyhackers put a great image together explaining this.

Awareness and Long PagesIt’s some killer advice. But, it’s excluded something something the marketing community has generally overlooked.

Buyer Intent

Length of page is great when considering the stages of awareness, but it doesn’t take buyer intent into consideration. Not all people buy products for the same reason.

Some products and services are indeed universal and customers from all walks of life purchase for the same reason. In those cases, you only have to consider the stage of awareness.

Take the below, once again from Copyhackers, as a perfect demonstration of a universal buyer intent.

Copyhackers address "Universal" buyer intent.

Copyhackers address “Universal” buyer intent.

The above would resonate with all people suffering from substance abuse. It’s a perfectly optimized page for those seeking help because intent, in this case, wouldn’t deviate between different people.

But in cases where buyer intent will differ, you have to consider what the user’s intent is and optimize accordingly.

I’ve chosen an extremely obvious example to highlight this in Upwork. Upwork is a great place to hire cheap freelance work (and a terrible place to offer freelance services).

The site ranks well for all terms relating to freelancing on both the client and freelancer side.

However, they have two distinct sides to the site. One is optimised for those who are looking to hire a freelancer, the other is for those looking for work.

Upwork optimized each of these pages for different buyer intent.

Upwork optimized each of these pages for different buyer intent. 

Both are optimized for different intent. They’re focused on a service which overlaps, but are completely different in their approach because they’re trying to convert two distinct groups of people.

I know this example is something of a copout because, whilst the services overlap, they have very different demographics with different goals.

However, it proves the point that the same service can have different pages targeting different buyer intent. Each one is aimed at providing a high level of value to its respective audience.

Optimizing for buyer intent in this way should be a common practice in every business’s marketing.

For example, eCommerce product pages should be optimised not just for the product, but also for who might be shopping. A woman shopping for jewelry herself will need different information than her partner who’s buying it as a gift.

Unbounce have good examples of this. They’ve built campaigns (from the look of it both PPC and SEO campaigns) that direct users to pages that mirror explicit needs and the search terms users are using.

For example, a search for “consulting landing page builder” directs to the below page which is set up to sell their consulting specific landing page templates.

This page is targeted specifically to consultanta building landing pages

This page is targeted specifically to consultanta building landing pages

Pop in a similar search for “SaaS landing pages” and you get the below.

This page is similar to the previous, but targeted at SaaS businesses.

This page is similar to the previous, but targeted at SaaS businesses.

Both are specific to the search term and offer the answer the user is looking for.

The service wouldn’t change as the end goal is still to get the user to sign up for an Unbounce account where, if I’m not mistaken, they’d get access to all of the free templates outlined on both pages.

The difference is simply in focusing on the need of the customer. If you want to implement something similar to the above, here’s what you need to do.

Focus on the Immediate Value

I’m a huge proponent of the one page, one purpose rule.

Whatever you’re selling, your landing page should only have one purpose. Anything more and you’ll just end up confusing yourself, and your customers.

However, buyer intent will dictate that immediate conversion goal. Let’s again imagine that my goal is to understand landing pages and that I’m a complete newbie to marketing.

My first search might be “what is a landing page?”, with that search I’d find the below ads.

There is one ad for "What is a landing page?" on the results page.

There is one ad for “What is a landing page?” on the results page.

One ad from Wix,which leads to this page.

Thsi page does not tell the reader what a landing page is.

Thsi page does not tell the reader what a landing page is.

The intent for me was to educate myself on the basics of landing pages. Does this page do that?

No (the dictionary response did a better job)! Again, it’s focused only on the sale and getting people to sign up.

It tells me that I can try a free landing page and create a stunning site, but doesn’t answer the question I asked. If I were truly seeking for information on landing pages, I’d bounce almost immediately and forget Wix within minutes.

What they should have done was provide something that educated me on the basics of landing pages.

That could be a comprehensive beginner’s guide blog post or even an eBook/guide behind an email gate.

The value for people at the highest level of awareness is not being answered here. And there’s a huge gap that could be filled.

What about those later in the purchase journey for landing page services searching “how to create a highly optimised landing page

Search results for “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

Search results for “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

There’s a couple of potentials in here. The WordStream result is the highest relevant result so we’ll use that in this example. If I click though, I find the below.

This page is highly relevant to the search term “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

This page is highly relevant to the search term “how to create a highly optimised landing page”

Does this answer the question I asked and is it targeted at those with an intent to learn more about the perfect landing page?

Hells yeah it is.

It’s exactly what I’d need at this stage. I’m looking for information on what makes a great landing page, and that’s exactly what I’m being offered. If this were a real search, I’d likely stop my search here to see what this guide is all about.

If they’d linked to the main WordStream page and tried to sell me their service I’d leave because I’m not interested in purchasing just yet. But no, they perfectly answered my question and offered the value I need.

Whether you’re running PPC campaigns or are optimising your SEO to bring in relevant traffic, ask yourself about the user’s intent. Ask yourself what’s the most valuable thing you can offer them right then and there. What’s the offer they won’t be able to refuse?

Stop thinking about the sale, and start thinking about the value.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll create more valuable touchpoint that create a longer lasting positive image of your brand. And once that touchpoint is down, you need to focus on the next step.

Build a Solid Follow Up Based on Previous Action

We all know email as the ROI king. As such, much of the follow-up information out there is focused on how to build relevant email sequences.

It’s all great advice and can really help in driving revenue numbers up. However, it’s also something that’s been covered time and time again.

So rather than flog a dead horse, I’m going to link to a great post on some awesome email campaigns from Jacob and move on to something that’s not covered as often.

What I want to cover is a tactic I recently stumbled across from Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer. It’s a relatively simple idea (as all great ideas are) that details how to offer value through some smart retargeting. A strategy which helped Ezra sell 84,000 units in three months.

Here’s the image of the sequence in action (and a link to a podcast where he explains it)

How to add value through retargeting.

How to add value through retargeting.

What I love about the sequence is how it’s focused on value which is in direct contrast to how most advertisers run their business.

If you check out a store, you’re usually just then served the same ad across either the display network or through Facebook ads.

The same ad the visitor abandoned is offered through retargeting.

The same ad the visitor abandoned is offered through retargeting.

Source

An example of a "hard sell" retargeting ad.

An example of a “hard sell” retargeting ad.

There’s that hard sell mentality of “well, they looked at the product so shove it down their throats until they buy”.

But with Ezra’s method you’re focusing on providing a more logical user journey packed full of value.

You can see how the initial video ad kicks things off. Ezra explains that he breaks things down by the engagement.

If they watch less than 25% then they’re not retargeted and tagged as a poor lead.

Between 25-75%, he’ll retarget them with more value building content. Something to establish the brand and product in a favorable light.

Over 75% consumed indicates a highly interested user, and so they’re sent to a long form sales page.

Ezra only pushes the sale on those who are most interested and most likely to convert. For those who aren’t ready, he focuses on the value they need to make an informed purchase decision.

This pre-sell engagement tracking and retargeting is an incredible way to build value with your customers and, for Ezra, led to $18,000,000 in sales form a single page.

It’s also not just a viable method for eCommerce. If we look once again at the WordStream example above we can apply the same processes.

They could track all users to that landing page (which I’m sure they are) and track how many make it through to the “thanks for downloading” page. Those who don’t might benefit from a retargeting campaign that either linked back to that page, or one with more information that offers the same download.

For those that download, you could retarget with the next logical step in their customer journey.

After downloading the basics of landing pages, you could retargeted with an eBook or article on the best landing page services for beginner CROs and copywriters through Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, and of course the follow-up email campaign.

You could also see if user’s are ready for the hard sell at that point.

This multi-touch campaign focuses on value. It provides the user with multiple touchpoints but, unlike most campaigns, doesn’t feed everyone you’ve contacted to your sales page.

Instead, it offers them the next logical step ensuring they take it with your brand. You’re still hitting those multiple touchpoints, but you’re packing each one with value which builds more trust in you and your brand.

Multiple Touchpoints Build Trust, But Only if Optimised into a Comprehensive Customer Journey

Each step you optimize needs to be focused on the immediate value the consumer is most looking for. However, you also need to keep your eye on the overall conversion goal.

As a starting point I’d recommend starting as close to the money as possible. Look at how you can optimize the sale and work backwards. Doing so brings more immediate gains, but it also means that with each subsequent optimization you’re simply adding more fuel to the fire.

You’re not optimising a stage for which there is no logical follow up established.

So stop focusing only on grabbing the sale. Look at the immediate value you can offer and build it into your wider conversion funnel. Do that, and you’ll see more people buying from you and becoming long term advocates of your brand.