13 Reasons Your CRO is Failing

by Sharon Hurley Hall

Last updated on January 9th, 2018

Scratching your head over low conversion rates? If you’re not getting the results you expect or need from your conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies, you could be facing one of the problems on this list.

1. No Goals

Sometimes you can get so gung-ho about conversions that you forget to set goals. With conversion optimization it’s essential to know what you want to achieve so you know when you have achieved it. While in the long run, you’re improving conversions to sell more products and services, not every goal is about immediate sales. You might want to:

  • get more signups for your email newsletter
  • attract more people to your customer education resources
  • improve lead generation.

Knowing upfront what you want to achieve means you will be better able to measure success.

Learn more: Tracking Conversions – 4 Steps To Attainable Conversion Goals

2. Who’s Your Audience?

Knowing your audience goes hand in hand with goal setting. If you don’t have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what they want, you won’t be able to deliver on their expectations and your conversions will tank. Most analytics tools will give you a demographic breakdown of your customers, and may indicate their interests as well.  Use this data to create customer personas, because you’ll have to adapt your goals and CRO strategies for each persona you want to target.

Learn more: 3 Questions You Need To Answer About Your Target Audience

3. Asking the Wrong Questions

Before you can optimize, you need to know what’s going wrong. That’s why all good CRO starts with asking the right questions. These include:

  • why questions – Why are your customers leaving products in shopping carts and never returning? Why are people failing to sign up for your email list? Why are your product pages not converting?
  • what factor or factors are stopping your customers from taking or completing the desired action?
  • what is working and how can we replicate it?

Learn more: Creating an Effective Conversion Optimization Process (Infographic)

4. Avoiding Analytics

If you’re not using analytics tools, you’ll never know what’s happening on your pages. Mapping how people are interacting with your website and, in particular, the actions they take as they move through the site, will help you understand your audience and form hypotheses about where the conversion gaps are. Use Google Analytics, heatmap analytics, click tracking – whatever will give you the insight you need.

Learn more: How to Take Conversions to the Next Level with Analytics

Goals, audience, hypotheses and analytics will help you to identify some common failure points, which might include the following:

5. Endless Forms

For many marketers, the more information you can collect, the better. That often results in lengthy forms which most people don’t want to fill out. It’s well known that most people hate forms, and the longer they are, the more they hate them. It’s even worse if you’re trying to complete a form on a mobile device.

When it comes to forms, short is beautiful, so test the number of fields carefully. Determine what fields you absolutely need to conduct business and what can be sacrificed. Tips to optimize your forms include labeling fields so people know what information they need to enter and collecting only the minimum information you need.

Learn more: 3 Practical Ways to Optimize Your Web Forms For Maximum Conversion

6. Boring Headlines

Unless you grab them by the metaphorical jugular, most people don’t read past the headline. The right headline will get attention, make people want to read on and will make them want to share your page or site with others. Check your analytics and heatmap data to see whether your headlines are really working. If not, you’ve got to get more appealing and more magnetic to retain readers’ interest, while still telling them what to expect. Two cool tools for finding headlines that work are Buzzsumo and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.

Learn more: Your Expert Guide to Writing Awesomely Effective Headlines

7. Dull Copywriting

Good copywriting isn’t just an art; it’s a science. Knowing how to weave features and benefits into a story that appeals to your target market and persuades them to buy takes some skill. Again, analytics and heatmaps will show you where you are losing people, so you can figure out what to change.

Learn more: Quick Tips for Copywriting that Actually Converts

8. There’s No Trust

It’s easy to get so focused on what you want to achieve that you forget what your audience needs. That’s a mistake, because you don’t just want a one-time sale; you want an ongoing relationship so customers come back to you time and again. In other words, you need to build trust. That includes:

  • using the trust seals that are proven to increase conversions
  • ensuring that your website, landing pages and social media profiles all look like they belong to the same company.
  • making the payment methods your customers want available (and reassuring them about your privacy and security procedures)
  • showcasing the appropriate industry or federal accreditations
  • using social proof – if there are other happy buyers, that’s a big mark in your favor.

Learn more: 5 Ways to Build Social Proof and Increase Your Conversion Rate

9. You Have No Giveaways

You know how when you go into the ice cream shop they let you taste any flavor you want before you buy anything? That’s because if you taste something and you like it you’re more likely to make a purchase. It’s the same with conversion optimization. Giving something valuable away can seriously increase conversions (Unbounce got a 700% bump) and bring in a lot more leads. Free information on your blog, as well as webinars, videos, ebooks, white papers and so on help to reinforce your brand, build authority and attract your audience.

Learn more: Increase Lead Conversions with Giveaways

10. Sucky, Unclear Offers and CTAs

If people don’t know what the offer is when they read your page, it won’t convert. And if they don’t know how to access the offer, your page won’t convert either. To get the most from your CRO efforts, the offer has to be unambiguous. On the CrazyEgg home page, it’s clear that you get a free trial and can see your site’s heatmap right away, while Hubspot tells you what you will learn from their free resources.

Seal the deal with a call to action (CTA) that is easy to understand and interact with, clear about the action that you want people to take, appropriate to the context, easily visible and encouraging so that people will act promptly.

Learn more: Call-to-Action Best Practices

11. No SEO

As Rand Fishkin points out, some people worry about SEO messing up CRO and vice versa, but the truth is that they go hand in hand. Well optimized landing pages will rank well in search results, attracting new potential customers. So to get the most from your conversion strategy, think about optimizing page titles and descriptions, using friendly URLs, and creating speedy, mobile-friendly pages.

Learn more: SEO: For Conversions, Every Page is a Landing Page

12. Ignoring User Experience

More than ever, it’s all about the user- about making it easy for people to find the information they need and complete any necessary actions quickly. After all, attention spans are getting shorter and user experience is now a Google ranking signal. (In other words, get it wrong and you’ll miss out on organic search traffic.) Think about navigation, search, images, design, buttons – everything that will affect how users interact with your site.

Learn more: How Good UX Leads to Conversions

13. Not Enough Testing

The Golden Rule of conversion optimization is test, test, and test again. It’s the only way to be sure of what’s working and what’s not. Some of the most successful companies run dozens of tests daily on every element of their sites. That might be overkill for some, but the point is to check that you are reaching your goals. It’s an ongoing CRO task. One tip: avoid testing too many elements at once, or you won’t know what’s responsible for any uptick in conversions. Otherwise, keep testing and measuring till you achieve the desired conversion rate.

Learn more: A 45 Point Checklist for Optimizing Conversions

These 13 points will help you troubleshoot a failing CRO strategy. What other common points of failure have you found?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.

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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.


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