Top 8 Conversion Optimization Mistakes Website Owners Make
Blog    Ecommerce    Top 8 Conversion Optimization Mistakes Website Owners Make

Why aren't you getting as many sales as you'd hoped?

Are you trying to convert more of your website visitors into paying customers? It's a pretty difficult thing to do. Sometimes you can make simple tweaks that make a big difference, other times you can spend a lot of time on something that doesn't move the needle like you've hoped. Either way, there are a few things you should check off your list first. Make sure you avoid the most common mistakes that website owners make that are costing them customers and sales. Avoiding these simple things can help you increase the effectiveness of your marketing and drive more sales to your business. 


Something is broken.

If you have traffic to your website and aren't making sales, this the very FIRST thing you should test. It may sound obvious, but many site owners overlook this as an option when measuring conversions. Make sure to test your checkout flow on as many devices and browsers as you can. Even if you checkout experience works well for you on your computer at home, your visitor viewing it from an iPhone may have a different experience. If text is jammed together in your layout or your checkout button is not visible on their screen, you are sure to lose the sale.



Hotjar is an extremely useful tool for monitoring how your visitors interact with your website across different devices. You can even record their screens to see how your website looks to them, where their mouse moves and which elements on your site they click on.


You have a funnel. It should flow.

Call it what you will - if you sell anything online, then you have a sales funnel. Even if its short and simple, its still a sales funnel. Your sales funnel should flow and feel intuitive to your visitors, always leading them to the next step you want them to take. Some people like to start with an email list, then nuture the relationship with their prospects before making the hard sell. Others will go straight for the sale by creating attractive landing pages and incentivizing the users to take action right now. The method you should use depends on your industry and how educated your customers already are.


You can, of course, test many different methods to determine the right fit for your business, but ultimately you should be taking your customer on a journey that does a few specific things - gain the customer's trust in your business, educate them on the problem the product you sell solves, educate them on how you solve that problem, tell them about how you've solved that problem for others (social proof :D ) make it as easy as possible for them to purchase. If they make it through each step and still aren't convinced at purchase time, it never hurts to offer a discount or some other incentive to push them over the edge.


Too much text.

Sometimes less is more. Especially when it comes to your marketing language on your website. Some studies show that you have about 10 seconds to capture your visitor's attention with your site before they hit the back button and continue searching for what they're looking for. This means you want to make it absolutely clear what you are selling and how it relates to them - in less than 10 seconds. If you can't grab their attention immediately, it doesn't matter how much time you've spent writing 300 pages on the reason they should buy from you - they'll never see it. 

Most users will skip over big blocks of text and read headlines or snippets of text that have their own line.

Unless its part of your blog, no section of your site (including product descriptions) should have paragraphs. Website visitors generally just skim over your content. You want to design your website copy with this in mind, making sure that even the visitor who skims headlines will get the same story as though they had read all of your copy. 


Too many form fields.

For every form field you require your visitors to fill out, the less visitors will fill it out. I know that's not a cut-and-dry statistic, but it is common sense. There are a lot of variables that go into this. In some insdustries like real estate or healthcare, it can be totally appropriate to ask for a lot of information. In general, though, websites that sell retail products, services, software or lead generation for any other means, the more form fields you have, the less users will convert. You really only want to collect the information you need - especially on the first form they fill out. You can always ask them for more information later as you need it. Many websites will only ask for an email address or phone number. If you can eliminate all form fields for registration by allowing users to register with google, twitter, or facebook, then that's even better. Its worth noting, however, that social media registration may not work well for all indutries, so its worth testing if you are unsure how your audience will react. 


Confusing messaging.

You are closer to your business than anyone else. It's great, but it comes at a cost. You understand your business so well that you take things for granted that your customers may not. When looking at your website, try to remove yourself from the owner persona and place your self into your customers' shoes. Ask yourself two questions - Is it clear what I am buying? Is it easy to buy it? If you answered no to either question that is a very good indication of where you should direct your attention. Show your family and friends the site and ask them the same questions.




You can also get complete strangers of all ages to give you their feedback by using a tool like UserTesting. You can list your site and you pay for people to use it and record audio of their thoughts as they use the site. You can assign certain tasks for them to accomplish or questions to answer. However you go about it, make sure to get as many perspectives on your website as possible so you can pipoint problems in your user experience that you might not have noticed before. 


You have no traffic.

Traffic is an absolute necessity for an online business. Just because your website is "live" and people can visit it - they won't just start pouring in. If you don't have people coming to your website, you can never hope to sell anything online.


The good news is there are lots of ways to get traffic!

Unless you have a reputable brand with a lot of direct traffic, the majority of your traffic will come from other websites initially. If you have some money on hand, you can pay for ads through Google Adwords or Facebook Ads. These can be great ways to drive traffic to your website and are very effective for targeting the right audience. Just be careful and learn as much as you can. Its very easy to lose money with cost-per-click marketing if you don't set everything up properly. If you have a list of email addresses of people you could sell to, you could send out emails for bursts of traffic. If you know someone else with a website similar to yours, try exchanging links on each others' sites. This will also create good quality backlinks to help with your search engine prescence. Make sure you use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor the traffic on your website.


Attracting the wrong audience.

If you're getting plenty of traffic to your website, it conveys your message well, your checkout process is solid, and you're still not making sales, that is an indication of targeting the wrong audience. Traffic, although necessary, isn't worth anything unless it's the right traffic. If you were selling women's clothing, for instance, you would probably have an easier time selling it to a room full of women than a room full of men. The same goes for web traffic. The best kind of traffic is the kind comprised of people extremely likely to buy from you. This is called your "Target Audience". You may have multiple products each with a different target audience. Then the goal is to use your funnel to get the right traffic to the right products. Your audience is always dependent on the sources of your traffic. If you get most of your traffic from backlinks on other sites, then your audience will be made up of visitors to those sites. If you get most of your traffic from organic search, then your audience will be made up of people searching for your products or similar ones. If you are running ads with google or facebook, they both have very advanced targeting features you can use. Most notably, Facebook's "Lookalike Audiences". Look alike audience let you take an email list (like a list of people who have previously purchased your products) and upload it as a custom audience inside of facebook. Then you can create a lookalike audience based on that list. Facebook will cross-reference data points of all the people on your list and find similarities. Then it will create a new audience of people who share those data points, giving you a much larger list of targeted audience members. 


More than one call to action.

 So the "call to action" (CTA) is basically just a term for what you want your visitor to do next. That could be something like "Buy Now," "Sign Up," "Learn More," "Click Here," or whatever it is you want your visitor to do. It's easy to determine what your call to action should be, but harder to recognize the "hidden CTAs" that might be lurking on your page.




 Take this example for instance. I've identified 7 calls to action all above the fold on a single page. As a user, I'm not sure which thing the really want me to do. I could search hotels if I wanted, or check out the deal of the day, or I could see what's on clearance, or see what deals are in new york - oh! and what about saving $32 by checking out those secet prices???? There's a lot of options here. Chances are, they have separate conversion funnels set up for each scenario, but its completely unclear which action the user should take to get what they want. 




See, in this example, its much clearer what I should do. "Find a Hotel". This not only points me in the direction the site wants me to go, but it also tells me right away if I can do what I want here. If I want to find a hotel, I'm in the right place. I see there is more on the page to look at if I scroll down, but I have no doubt where the site owner expects me to go. Having a single, clear call to action helps your customer buy from you more easily, reducing friction and increasing the liklihood making more sales. 


 Ok so is that all I have to do?

Nope. Not even close. There are so many variables when optimizing a website for conversions that you just need to test and measure everything. No one will be able to give you a secret formula, but you can learn from looking at other websites in your industry that do well. Chances are they're connecting with a similar audience to you can you can learn from what they do well and use that as inpiration for your own site. Whatever you do, the first thing to do is start from your homepage or landing page and figure out where your users are dropping off. Then focus your attention there and move on to the next stage in your funnel.

Read more related articles...