Closely inspect these 7 conversion-killing crimes to learn if your site is guilty, or what to absolutely avoid in order to turn these into conversion rate optimization tips. Gaining qualified traffic to your website is only half the journey. The other, most important half is transforming that traffic into paying customers. To be profitable, conversion is imperative. You must make every visitor count if you want your marketing dollars to go a long way.
There's a myriad of crimes against conversion that I frequently encounter. They destroy profitability and only repel visitors. Are you guilty of making these dreadful errors?
Here are the top seven conversion-killing crimes that you should avoid committing at all costs (and what to do instead).
Crime 1: Awful Words and Phrases
Words matter. It only takes a few seconds for visitors to make their mind up about your brand. Those moments mean the difference between exit and conversion. If you are scattering meaningless and sometimes awfully negative words throughout your website — you can kiss any chance of sales goodbye.
Visitors scan before they read. Numerous studies have found the most subtle of variations in text can actually have huge psychological impact. When the variations are positively-focused, they lead to improved conversion rates.
However, if you are using these vague, “scammy,” dull, and/or pessimistic words or phrases in your sales copy — replace them immediately!
- Submit (to what???)
- Learn More (“Discover”)
- Synergy (cringe!)
- Spam (negative signals)
- Best of Breed (bigger cringe!)
- Click Here (be descriptive instead)
- Save Time & Money (not exactly a unique sales proposition)
- No Hidden Fees (now I believe there are!)
- We (make your sales copy about them — use “You”)
- Your (in CTAs, use “My”)
Also, be careful using the word “free,” as visitors can become dubious when this word is overused. Sometimes it works, often it does not.
Crime 2: Shockingly bad web design
Yes, it still exists all around us…the appalling side of the internet. Although on this occasion, I am not talking about the Dark Web. I am referring to frightful websites that should be banned for committing crimes against web design!
Unfortunately (and somewhat astonishingly), there are many websites that seem to have become trapped in time — which from certain examples, I estimate to be somewhere back in the 90s. Bad website design instantly tells visitors you don't mean business. After all, if you don't care about your own credibility, you are probably not going to care about theirs (which is exactly what they will be thinking).
Such crimes may include: lack of mobile functionality, high-contrasting colors, multiple calls-to-action, no information hierarchy, complete overload, and design over function.
Don't try to be too clever and follow all the latest design trends, either. Clean, minimalistic web design is often a safe bet to ensure visitors turn into customers. It takes much less planning, too.
Remember these points:
- White space
- Simple navigation
- Personal About Us page
- Contact information
- Call to action
- Search function
- Informational footers
- Styled buttons
- Custom imagery / iconography
- Attractive typography
Just make sure your navigation is 100 percent efficient. Your visitors want to get to places in one to three clicks, at all times.
When it comes to usability, always keep your own opinions out of the equation – that includes everybody in your company. The chances are that you are so ingrained in your own website that decisions on design are biased by familiarity.
Gain real feedback by installing user surveys and use heat map tools, like HotJar. Test user behavior on a deeper level using Visual Website Optimizer or just hire CRO specialists to do it all for you.
Most of the points in this article relate in some way to web design, so ensure you have your foundations right first in terms of core design, then work on the rest.
Crime 3: Sliding Banners
There is plenty of evidence against sliders (or carousels, as they are known). Seriously, these website additions are some of the worst conversion-killers around! They have their uses for informative websites and blogs, but not if conversion is your ultimate goal.
It is a better idea to use static banners. However, when there is too much debate in your large company over what should be shown; apply dynamic personalization to aid continuity and display an image with a CTA that is pertinent to the website from which your visitors have arrived.
Cleverly, this means you can present variations of pages for each of your campaigns, just like you would display different landing pages for traffic from ads. Promote or apply unique URLs for each marketing campaign and also ensure you use canonical tags to declare any duplicate content (and stay in Google's good books).
If your budget permits, there are many marketing automation tools that enable personalized banners and more, targeting visitors based on their past behavior and how they arrived.
Crime 4: Making Buying Difficult
The goal of any website is to provide a seamless experience for visitors so 1) They enjoy it and 2) They buy from you
This means removing any barriers and other distractions that conflict with those points. It is common sense — yet the internet is filled to the brim with websites that do not offer such experiences.
Some typical examples of painful obstacles:
- Annoying ads
- Intrusive pop-ups (which you definitely need to remove now, for SEO)
- Irrelevant content
- Forcing visitors to register and confirm their details via email before purchasing
- Not using cookies to remember their details
- Taking visitors back to the beginning of a blank transaction form if they make an error
- Forcing CAPTCHA (…and asking if they are human, to really make them love you)
- Making them click through 10 unnecessary pages before arriving at their destination
- Dysfunctional search bars
- Omission of common payment platforms
- Unclear call-to-action
- Multi-colored CTAs
- Incorrect implementation of translated pages
In general, people hate buying on brand websites. Nobody wants to fill in yet another form and give their credit card to yet another company with bad cybersecurity. It's much better to be on retailer platforms and use connectors between brand site and retail outlet. Here's how to do that: Why your shopping cart is always empty.
Crime 5: Unclear Call To Action
Too many business owners believe their website is brilliant purely because it is theirs and they like the layout. Test, test, and test some more until your users prove it is good website by taking the desired action.
It could be said that 9 times out of 10, people do not visit your website simply to admire its design perfection. 96 percent do not visit to buy, either. It is your job to convince them otherwise via a website that is built to convert traffic into sales.
A clear CTA tells visitors exactly what to do when they land on your website. That could mean buying a product, hiring your services, enquiring for additional info through a form, or subscribing to your newsletter — to name a few.
If you are telling your visitors to take 101 diverse actions through 101 different colored buttons, none of them are going to end up taking any action at all.
Crime 6: Sluggish load times
Nothing kills conversion more than slow websites. A slow-loading site is highly irritating. In a time where immediacy is expected, you simply cannot afford to present a slow site to your visitors. They will leave.
Research conducted by Bing and Google found that users get distracted and have much less chance of converting when met with slow load times.
To regularly test your website speed and keep you out of conversion-killer prison, manually check on a variety of devices and use tools like Google Page & Speed Checker, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. Slow site speed can arise from use of too many plug-ins and scripts. A couple of advanced tools for analyzing scripts are GTmetrix and HTTP Headers. Also, shared hosting is a culprit of cumbersome load times — ideally, you want a VPS or dedicated server. The price tags are indeed worth it!
Crime 7: No Trust Signals
Trust is increasingly important in today's world of hacking, scams, and fakery. People are more aware now than ever before. Do your visitors trust your website?
An SSL certificate is a major trust signal. With the highest-level version (extended validation SSL), you must proceed through a stringent validation process before you earn the green bar and padlock, seen on all reputable e-commerce stores.
Although I do not own an e-commerce store, I have still bought an SSL for my domain and you should for your brand. Google have recently made changes to the way Chrome browser labels non-HTTPs sites that transmit passwords and/or ask for credit card details.
Social proofing is another massive indicator of trust:
- Testimonials (especially videos)
- Case studies
- Partner + client logos
- Press coverage
- Years served
- Social Media profiles + comments
- Total customers
- Customer feedback stats
If that wasn't enough to convince you: Nielsen reports the most significant form of advertising is recommendations from friends and family. Word of mouth is immensely powerful for marketing. Eighty-three percent of consumers across 60 countries trust such recommendations over any other form of advertising. You need to gain the complete trust of your visitors, clients, and/or customers at every touchpoint throughout the buyer journey.
Add security signals and social proof to your website ASAP to avoid killing your conversions!