5 Overrated & Dangerous Conversion Tactics (and How to Think About Them)

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There are good conversion tactics, and then there are great conversion tactics. We have seen some of the best methods at work helping marketers achieve their goals. However, not all conversion tactics are as good as they seem to be.

Some of these tactics are in practice, partly because of FOMO and partly because of over-enthusiastic marketers who are ready to climb on any bandwagon. We will discuss five overrated CRO tactics, some of which are expensive, some outdated and some which can prove to be stunting.

Also, we will discuss ways to get around these tactics and find a middle path which doesn’t blow your budget and allows you to capitalize on the trends at the same time. So without beating around the proverbial bush, let’s see these tactics in detail.

1. Video Marketing

Video marketing is one of the most effective methods of inbound marketing.


Despite that, it is on the top of my list of overrated marketing tactics (now I know it’s not a traditional conversion tactic, unless you think of it as converting traffic to your site). This is because for every successful video campaign, there are hundreds of unsuccessful videos that are gathering digital dust on YouTube and other video platforms. Most B2B businesses are struggling to gain a sizeable audience despite churning out videos regularly for years.



So when I say it is an overrated conversion tactic, I am speaking of scores of companies that spend a chunk of their budget on videos but don’t get results. Either they don’t have enough followers / subscribers, the video quality is sub-par or they don’t promote it enough. The last one is often the reason behind the failure of video marketing.

And it’s not only me who thinks video marketing is over-rated. A quick search on video marketing stats and you will get a startling number of statistics all pointing out its success. However, a closer look reveals that only a quarter of the companies doing video marketing are successful. The rest find it somewhat successful or not successful at all.

Compared to social media and email marketing, these figures look sad. Here are the findings from a survey by Ascend2 which reveal the actual state of video marketing.


Only 25 percent respondents found it very successful!

My verdict

Videos are not the be-all and end-all of marketing. If you are short on budget, focus on cost-effective marketing methods like email marketing and social media. Alternatively, you could try shorter videos, amateur videos or stop motion videos that are all the rage on Vine or Snapchat.

If you’re going to spend any time making videos, consider making tutorial videos of your products or how to solve a problem in your space. Those tend to do perform best and make the most sense for your customers.

2. Analysis & Testing

If you are dealing with high-traffic websites, multivariate testing or split testing may help you get some concrete answers, but more often than not people get unreliable or false signals from testing, which is worse than not testing at all.

For instance, you changed the color of some elements from green and orange to red and blue and saw a significant lift only to realize that the effect was temporary because you forgot it was July and your visitors were feeling more patriotic than usual.

Analysis and testing tell you if there was a decline or rise, if something worked or not, if the change was shoot-through-the-roof good or stubbornly unimpressive. No offense, but your average marketers are no statisticians and analysis is often done with a single-track mind and end goal.

Here’s a short video where the outspoken optimization expert Craig Sullivan tells us why most A/B tests are bullshit and describes his pain, anguish, and sorrow in colorful French!


You can also check out this 90-slide presentation which is guaranteed to burst any bubble you may have for doing half-baked tests.


Blindly testing your campaigns without considering internal and external factors is dangerous and can do more harm than help. So don’t follow the trends blindly unless you have a team of statisticians, analytical thinkers or people with strong INTP personality.

My verdict

You may test headlines if you are a content company or A/B test Facebook ads or use heatmaps to examine user behavior, but don’t spend too much time and money on A/B testing and controlling each and every aspect of your business unless you have the following:

  • A dedicated person or team focused on testing.
  • People conducting tests that are comfortable with statistics and math (and actually do the required mathematical analysis and document their results).
  • Have properly integrated your testing and analytics tools (and have sanity checked that they are working properly).

3. Testimonials

A lot of marketers move heaven and earth to collect testimonials from customers. However, what they don’t realize is that most people don’t put much stock on testimonials unless they come from trustworthy sources.

So unless you have some big names writing a testimonial for you, don’t waste precious real estate on generic testimonials from people who don’t carry much weight. If you don’t have big names, you could always use company logos as shown in example 2 below.


Source: 1 and 2

You can also convert testimonials to success stories to make them work as shown in the GoDaddy example below.


Also, don’t blindly fall for the recent fad of video testimonials. They are nice and a tad better than text-based testimonials but not all of them are created equal and hence don’t bring the effect desired.

My verdict

Testimonials are so yesterday and video testimonials are good only if you know how to get them right. The ideal way out is to use social proof. All that can be said about social proof is said in this awesome article by Neil Patel and if you are not using them, do it already.

4. Labels & Badges

Do people really think when someone is shopping or browsing online they go:

“Privacy label – check

Anti-virus symbol – check

SSL Security badge – check

BBB Accredited – check

Media award – check?

Okay all checked, now I will make a purchase”.

Having labels and badges strategically placed on specific pages and shamelessly flaunting them are two different things. Square2Marketing uses badges on their home page twice, first the white sober labels and then again colorful ones at the very bottom near the contact details.




The only word that comes to mind is overkill.

Labels and badges may help enhance your reputation and trustworthiness to some extent, but if your products or offering sucks, it is not going to bring conversions. What’s more, it can further serve as distraction taking your customers’ attention away from CTA.

Believe it or not, removing a trust seal helped a company to boost signups and a survey by Baymard Institute revealed that 49% respondents didn’t know or care about trust seals.


This illustration (created by yours truly) says it all. But if you really want the answer in so many words, here it is – don’t fool yourself by pinning your hopes on false and overrated conversion techniques.

[tweet]Labels and badges are like good hair; they may help you grab an eyeball or two, but won’t land you a life partner.[/tweet]


My verdict

Don’t use too many trust seals and badges on the homepage. Strategically place your badges. For instance, place a payment security certificate on the payment page or hacker protection certificate, when you are asking for confidential details. Finally, this is actually one of the good things to test. Test to see if your trust seals and badges are helping or hurting your efforts.

5. Personalization

Here’s a question: Would you buy from A because they sent you an email with your name on it or from B because they have some really nice deals and their products are great?

I am a huge fan of email marketing, but there are some emails that really make me sigh and wonder. Here are two examples from my inbox. While the first one uses my name, it still doesn’t come across as personal whereas the second one comes across as genuine even without using my name.


Here is another example of irrelevant personalization that makes me want to scream. I have been using the services of ICICI Bank for some years now. I think of myself as one of the most advanced digital users they could have as I have used all the latest digital methods to do banking.

So imagine my frustration when they not only send me an email every few days – their subject line contains my name and account number! This goes to my earlier point: Don’t let people at your company use marketing tools if they don’t really know when they are doing. It’s like giving a child a loaded gun.

Samsung found a happy medium by bundling relevant products in “Collections” to serve a common problem. For instance, their “Go with Galaxy” is catered to people who are constantly on the move and offers products like the S2 smartwatch, Samsung Pay mobile wallet and Level U Pro cordless headphones.

Personalization does not have to rely on in-depth knowledge of each buyer’s exact preferences, but can instead “solve a human problem” says Marc Mathieu, the CMO of Samsung North America.

My verdict

When done right with context and ethics in mind, personalization may be good (even great), rest all the times it is creepy and doesn’t bring home conversions. That’s why it is not only wiser but also safer to stay away from irrelevant personalization.

My Two Cents

Every business is unique and every marketer is too. Find out what you and your team are good at and perfect the art of that unique talent. If you are good at numbers, go ahead and do analysis and testing, but if your expertise lies in guerrilla marketing or your business demands creative, innovative solutions, numbers are not going to help you.

These conversion tactics are good by themselves and they do work to shift the needle a bit, but if you want to significantly move the needle, you need to know what applies to your business, which tactic will work for you the most and most importantly, where will your money be best spent.

About the Author: Harsh Agrawal, a blog scientist and CEO of ShoutDreams Media, started his entrepreneurship journey in 2008. His superpower is his passion for blogging & interest in understanding customer psychology. He is a speaker and spoke at numerous event such as WordCamp, IBM Business Connect, Socialathon to name a few. His award-winning blog has more than 832K subscribers and receives 1 million Pageviews per month.

* Featured image source

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