Conversion Rate Optimization: Signs You’re Doing it Wrong


email laptop

As a marketer, you no doubt understand that without conversion rate optimization (CRO), you could have all the traffic in the world, and still risk not turning a profit. You probably know the things you should do – various best practices, split-testing – to convince your traffic to convert. You’re likely doing these things, and if you’re not – you should start now. But, if you’re working on CRO and not seeing the results you want, you could be using the wrong approach. Check these signs against your strategy to see if you’re on the right track.


You’re Relying Solely on “Best Practices”

CRO best practices often tell you to change the color of your button to make it stand out against the rest of your color scheme. They tell you to focus on drawing attention to the call to action – making it bigger, changing its color, and the like. While it’s true these making these minor tweaks can make a small difference in your conversion rate, they’re not doing anything to remove the larger, actual barriers to conversion.

  • Is your website loading quickly? A one-second delay in page loading time can result in a 7% decrease in conversions. If your website earns 100,000 a day, that delay could cost you $2.5 million annually in lost sales revenue.
  • Do your users trust your website? If you’re not sure, survey them to find out. If the answer is a resounding no, take steps to increase user trust. That’s another piece in and of itself, so I won’t get into it too much here, but you can add customer reviews, add trust symbols – Verisign, press logos, award badges – and make sure your contact information is easy to locate.
  • Are there too many steps in your conversion process? If it takes too long or is too complex, most people won’t go all the way through it. Go through and see if there’s anything you can do to eliminate steps and simplify the overall process.
  • Is your copy confusing? Have someone who’s never read it before read it and see if they understand what you’re trying to say. Better yet if they fit the profile of your ideal customer. Your copy can be long – this post is around the 2,000-word mark – users will scroll and read, if the content is engaging and provides value. If it’s garbage and fluffy, long-form content could be hurting you.
  • Is your call to action still obscured by unnecessary copy, images, and links?
  • Are your tags and AdWords campaigns leading your traffic to believe you offer something you don’t?


You’re Not “Friendly” Enough

Are you:

  • Browser Friendly? Are you optimized for the browsers your users are using the most? Check your site in all the main browsers and make sure it’s a stellar arrival for everyone.
  • User Friendly? Is it fast to load? Clear, and easy to understand?
  • Click Friendly? How many clicks does it take to get users where you want them to go? Keep it simple and don’t make them click 75 times.
  • Privacy Friendly? Do what you can to alleviate user fear that their information isn’t secure. Using SSL is a good place to start.
  • Mobile Friendly? Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic, so if your users don’t have a good experience on their smartphones and tablets, you can bet that’s negatively affecting your conversions.
  • Language Friendly? English is not the only language people speak in the United States. In fact, there are more Spanish-speaking internet users in the USA than the entire internet population in the UK. Ignoring this fact could be costing you conversions.
  • Rating and Review Friendly? Do you have a system that allows people to leave ratings and reviews? Are you leaving the negative ones in place, but responding to them to help resolve the issues where possible?
  • Video Friendly? Including a video on your landing page is a good idea, if you use YouTube or a similar platform that doesn’t require the user to install plugins or additional software. The use of video can facilitate an emotional connection that helps drive conversions.


You’re Ignoring All Other Metrics

While you definitely what to focus efforts on getting users to convert – that is what CRO is all about – it’s not the only thing that matters. Conversion is a process. It’s up to you to show them the benefits and remove the barriers in the way of them converting, but ultimately they customer is the one who makes the final jump. Not all of them will, and you don’t want all of them to.

You’re not trying to manipulate your audience into purchasing your products and services if they are not right for them. You want to instead convert engaged users who will love what your business has to offer, and then talk about it will their friends. This helps your business grow. If you’re converting any person – you could harm your reputation because you end up with a bunch of unhappy one-off customers who didn’t get their needs met.

So yeah, conversion rate matters, but you should be paying attention to engagement metrics, too. Take a look at the following metrics alongside conversion rates, to get an idea of how engaged your audience is.

  • Visitor Recency: This tells you how long visitors are going between visits.
  • Visitor Loyalty: This tells you how frequently visitors are stopping by.

Don’t be afraid to make use of surveys to get feedback directly from your customers. Look at the satisfaction rates and determine the Net Promoter Score. Simply ask your customers:

On a scale of zero to 10, where zero is not at all, and 10 is definitely, how likely are you to recommend this company to your friends and family?

Anyone who rates from zero to six is considered a detractor. Anyone who rates at a seven or an eight is considered passive – these are the customers who could easily be swayed to either a detractor or a promoter status. The ones who rate you a nine or 10 are your promoters – the ones you definitely want to keep happy.

Now, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters and you’ll get your net promoter score. It can be anywhere from -100 (if you have nothing but detractors) to 100 (if you have nothing but promoters.)

The NPS will give you an indication of the overall perception of the brand, so it is an important metric. If customer satisfaction is low and you have a low NPS, chances are people aren’t getting good information about your company. This will obviously negatively affect conversion rates, and you’ll need to develop a strategy to address this issue before you can go back to focusing on CRO.


You’re Only Focused on Your Landing Page

The landing page matters, but it’s the first step in the conversion process. Your customer’s journey isn’t necessarily linear, and wherever those customers touch on your website as part of conversion, you should be focused. Each touch point is a chance for retargeting.

If your data indicates a high bounce rate rom your landing page, your conversion rate data may be skewed, suggesting that your marketing efforts may not be working as well as you want. This isn’t necessarily the case, because chances are your customers will have multiple points of entry.

There’s no need to push your customers through a landing page that forces them to sign up, then bombard them with exit-intent popups, offer popups and in-your-face calls to action. The reality is, most users will come to your landing page, click away, and then end up back on your blog or home page a week or so later. Working your marketing efforts to include a lot of off site work, too. Users will come to you when they are ready – so trying to stop them from leaving isn’t the answer.


You Think It’s All About Keywords

Keywords matter, of course, but it’s not like they used to. Keyword research is getting complex as search engines have shifted to a more natural approach. Now, we’re focused on user intent, rather than throwing basic keywords in there, so you have to take a step back and think about keyword intent, or what it is your audience is looking for.

The keywords you need to use depending on the type of conversion you’re after. Keyword intent can be broken down into basic categories: informational, navigational, and transactional. If you want more mobile searches to find your store, it’s best to use navigational language. If you want more people to download your content, use informational keywords. If you want to increase sales, which is usually the case, you’ll be targeting the transactional search terms.


You’ve Replicated a Site You Deem Successful

If you’ve mimicked a successful site in terms of layout, color scheme, and wording, and expect your conversion rate to go up, you could be in for a disappointment. It’s about more than making your website look more modern or cleaner.

The problem with this approach is, you may see an increase or you may not, because this approach isn’t based on data from your audience. If you do see an increase, it’s likely because at some point over the replication, you inadvertently removed at least one barrier to conversion.

If you rip off someone else’s website design, you’re not really accomplishing thing. Your changes are only cosmetic, and that’s only a small part of CRO. These changes don’t address the underlying issues that could be hurting your conversion rate, such as using the wrong keywords, or user concerns about security and privacy.

The only way you can be sure you’re addressing all the barriers to conversion is to rely on what the data shows you – looking at both your website analytics, user testing, and consumer feedback surveys.


You’ve Adjusted Your Strategy and Don’t See Results

Okay, so you’ve paid attention to the data and made changes, but you still don’t see the results you’re looking for. CRO isn’t going to happen overnight – and a single change, or even a collection of multiple changes – may not be the full answer.

Give it time. Keep looking at the data and see what it tells you. If ample time has passed and you should have seen results by now, start again. Compare the data from before the changes were made to after the changes were made. It will give you a good idea of where you need to start to get things moving on the right track.

If you’re using split-testing, be sure you’re split-testing one thing at a time since making too many changes at once can make it hard to isolate the change that contributed to the difference in conversion rate.


Focus on the User Experience

While the average conversion rate varies depending on industry, the global average conversion rate in the third quarter of 2016 was only 2.50%. That means out of every 1000 shoppers, around 25 of them actually made a purchase. That sounds depressing, but just gives us more reason to focus good CRO. Most websites have conversion rates under 5%, so even a small increase in conversion rate can make a big difference to your profit margins.

If you find you’ve been approaching CRO the wrong way, it’s okay. There’s always time to make it better, one test and implementation at a time. And if after that you’re not seeing results, it’s time to dig deeper to make sure there is nothing else wrong. Refer to the first point about best practices, and go through all of those before you deem your CRO strategy a failure.

Photo credit: iStock

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *