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8 Conversion Mistakes Your Site’s Making and How to Fix Them

by Peter Boyle

How would you rate your site’s conversion rate?

Pretty highly I’d bet. After all, if you’re reading this you’re likely something of a CRO nut.

But if you’re completely honest with yourself, can you really say there’s no room for improvement? That you’ve made zero mistakes in optimizing your site for the highest possible conversions?

I thought so.

Don’t blame yourself, there’s a lot to consider when optimizing your site and it’s easy for something to slip under the radar.

Thankfully a lot of the conversion mistakes I see are easily fixed. The question is whether you’re guilty of making one of the common mistakes outlined below. 

1. An Unconvincing Call to Action

It’s taken weeks of split testing to find a killer headline, days to ensure your page has an easily navigable design and hours to tweak your body copy for maximum persuasion.

Your landing page hooks and engages your prospect, it directs their attention to the primary benefits but… it isn’t converting.

There’s one crucial element you’ve overlooked. Your CTA.

CTAs, call to actions or call to value

After all that time spent optimizing your site for maximum engagement and persuasion you’ve chosen one of the most mundane of CTAs.

  • Submit
  • Click
  • Order

For an element that takes up the smallest amount of digital real estate your CTA can have an incredibly profound effect.

For prospects sitting on the fence, a good CTA could mean the difference between making a purchase or walking away and unfortunately, the ever popular three outlined above are more likely to force potential customers away from your site.

How To Fix Your CTAs

I’ve explored this topic before here on The Daily Egg. The problem that many marketers suffer from is taking the term Call to Action too literally.

Sure your prospect has to take an action, but that’s not what they think about.

When you want to get fit, what’s a better motivator:

  • The thought of having a fantastic beach body by summertime
  • The action of daily five mile runs that’s needed to get there

The majority of people don’t run because they enjoy it. They run to feel and look fit and healthy.

Check out the marketing materials for any gym and you’ll notice a lot of the copy is centered around building a better you. They know that focusing on the value and benefits of joining is more likely to convince people to join.

It’s no different with your CTAs. You need to stop thinking about outlining the action, and start focusing on the benefit.

Don’t create a call to action, create a call to value .

2. Poor Design

Designing for higher conversions isn’t necessarily about having a nice looking site. It’s a sad fact that the pursuit of artistic brilliance in site design often leads to a reduction in conversions.

Sure a smaller font may help everything fit perfectly on page, but it also makes it difficult for prospects to identify key benefits. Complimentary color schemes give a sense of cohesion and consistency, but can stop your primary CTAs from standing out.

Remember that as CROs we’re not here to make things look pretty, our job is to increase conversions and drive sales.

I’m not saying that you can’t have a nice looking site and have high conversions, you just need to know what design elements work well to give you that extra lift you’ve been looking for.

How To Design for Higher Conversions

Whilst there’s a huge list of design elements that help contribute to higher conversions there’s one in particular I’d like to focus on here.

Contrast.

A huge contributing factor to increasing conversions is enabling prospects to quickly and easily identify the primary benefits. Complimentary colors may look nice, but they hide key benefits within your main body copy.

To reduce the chance of prospects missing out on key points, make them stand out from the page. Utilize white space and typography for easily scannable text and implement contrasting colors to make buttons and USPs really stand out.

Payman Taei recommends blurring the pages you’re optimizing to quickly check whether key elements actually stand out from the page.

3. An Unclear or Confusing USP

When a user first lands on your site, how easy is it for them to understand what your product does?

Your USP is one of the first items new prospects will see when landing on your site. With the diminishing attention spans and the immediate need to hook interest, a lot of companies try to give a general overview of their services.

Unfortunately all this achieves is an unclear and generic USP much like the one currently used by the Invoice Dude team.

An unclear USP from the invoice dude team

There’s little in there that speaks of benefits or even the basic features of the product. It’s an easily forgettable USP and I doubt that it brings a good return for the company.

If you really want to hook prospects and persuade them into giving you a chance, you need to get specific. Your USP should highlight the primary reason why a user would want to buy your product or service.

Crafting a Clear, Compelling USP

Joseph Putnam offers some great advice on crafting a great USP over on KISSmetrics. One quote that should really be taken to heart is;

When you attempt to be known for everything, you don’t become known for anything.

Joseph goes on to highlight the benefits of taking a stand and becoming known for one thing in particular.

The key to a compelling USP is specificity. Drill down to the specifics, highlight the primary benefit of your service or outline what makes you unique.

Stand out by focusing on the value you provide and I guarantee you’ll see a decent lift in conversions.

Check out Joseph’s full article on crafting a specific and compelling USP right here.

4. Information Overload

We’ve all had trouble deciding what to get at a fast food restaurant. Even after a ten minute wait you get to the counter and have no idea what it is you want to buy.

It’s a minor inconvenience at your local McDonalds, but this indecisiveness can actually cause e-commerce prospects to leave your site.

With too many options, the cost of making the right selection can often be overwhelming and actually cause your prospects to exit your site.

You need to keep to the golden rule of one page, one offer.

A Smarter Application of Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law states that the more options we have, the longer it takes to make a decision.

There’s an abundance of advice out there which uses this law as reason to cut everything on your pages down to the bare minimum. One link, one CTA, one USP and so on.

It’s good advice that helps keep your pages focused.

However, Kathryn Aragon has taken a slightly different (and in my mind superior) approach to the application of Hick’s Law.

After researching a heat map of the Crazy Egg site Kathryn noticed that audience members were clicking everywhere.

A heat map of Crazy Egg showing the clicking habits of its audience.

Instead of limiting useful clicks to one area or button, Kathryn advises using multiple links on a page.

There’s still only one desired action (i.e. purchasing product Y or redirecting to the next stage in your funnel), there’s just numerous ways to achieve it.

It’s an interesting take on Hick’s Law which is definitely worth some further exploration.

5. No Social Proof

There are actually people out there who don’t include social proof on their site. Crazy, right!

Social proof is one of the absolute must haves of any landing page or product promotion. You can sit there all day and tell me how great your product is, but I’m not likely to believe you.

Why? Because you stand to gain from my purchase. You’re not impartial.

Social proof is an absolute must for establishing trust. They add that much needed impartial viewpoint and opinion many potential customers are looking for.

How to Properly Implement Social Proof

Social proof can take many different forms. You can use written testimonials, trusted seals, recognized logos, video testimonials or product reviews.

You need to figure out which form of social proof is best for your product/service. For instance product reviews would be ideal for a sneaker manufacturer whilst a consultation service would likely be better off using a case study.

There’s nothing to limit you to one form of social proof. As long as it’s relevant to your product/service you can include numerous forms of social proof.

Sid Bharath has created a great run down of the most effective forms of social proof and how best to implement them for your product. 

6. Mobile Optimization

Mobile users are slowly taking over their desktop counterparts and you need to optimize your site for mobile conversions. 

With an increasing number of people using their phones and tablets to consume content and make purchases it stands to reason that we should be focusing more of our attention on optimizing the mobile experience.

Yet despite the growing popularity of mobile browsing very few sites spend time to optimize their mobile experience.

I’ve visited many sites which, despite working well on a desktop, become a frustrating mess when on iPad or iPhone.

Links are too small to click, scrolling doesn’t work on touch screens and dumbed down version of content that omitting key information are repeat offenders.

Optimizing for mobile isn’t easy, but with the growing trend of mobile users it’s an area you need to invest in or risk losing many of your prospects.

The Key to Mobile CRO

Mobile optimization is a completely different beast to desktop optimization. It’s easy to rely on a responsive theme to handle the conversion between platforms for you, but there’s more to optimization than simple design preference.

Instead of relying on a responsive design consider the following.

  • GPS data can make local marketing far more effective.
  • With the difficulty of reading vast amounts of text video plays a far more important role.
  • Image sliders simply don’t work
  • Are your forms suited for mobile browsers?

Think outside the box and look at all of the CRO opportunities mobile browsing provides.

If you’re not sure where to start check out Sharon Hurley Hall’s fantastic list with the key benefits from five mobile marketing studies

7. Forms That Are Just Too Long

What do you really need to know about those who sign up to your list?

Name, email, D.O.B, country, favorite food, shoe size?

A huge majority of the forms out there have far too many fields. Sure more data helps to segment your list, but ask yourself if they help segment it in a meaningful way.

Would a SaaS company need the age range of their prospects or would they be better served asking for job role? Would either actually help them increase the sales of their product?

Too many or fields not only puts prospects off providing their information, but also makes mobile navigation a complete nightmare.

Finding the Right Form Fields to Increase Conversions

A general rule of thumb with form fields is to only ask for the bare minimum you actually need.

There have been numerous studies into the effects of form length on conversions and they all unanimously agree that shorter forms bring higher conversions. Here’s a quick excerpt from a study done by Neil Patel on Quicksprout.

A study on form fields and conversions from Quicksprout.com

Remember to KISS (keep it simple, stupid!).

But Not So Fast!

Remember that this advice is still a rule of thumb. In general long forms with too many fields tend to kill conversions. However, for some businesses that’s a good thing!

If you’re doing serious SaaS lead generation, your goal is to obtain marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Not tons of unqualified leads with little to no information about the prospects. It’s best to get more information out of your forms so that you can identify that the leads are in fact a real MQLs. This saves your sales team from wasting time on unqualified leads and improves the sales process (meaning higher revenues).

Secondly, there have been studies done in the past where more form fields have actually had higher conversion rates. The lesson: don’t apply rules of thumb with out testing them first!

For a  great run down of the best practices for higher converting forms check out these ten form conversion tweaks by Sherice Jacob. 

8. Not Running Proper Tests

I get it, testing is exciting. When you first put a test into action and see that initial lift in conversions it’s easy to call all of the changes you’ve made a success. You call it a day and set off to the pub for a celebratory pint.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Sure your goal was to see an increase in conversions, but you can’t rush declaring your changes a success.

You could have actually lowered the conversion rate of the element you’re testing but are seeing an overall increase thanks to another contributing element such as a backlink and testimonial from an authority site.

There are a myriad reasons why you could have seen a good lift, many of which aren’t necessarily linked to your tests.

Calling your tests before they reach maturity is one of the biggest errors in split testing , don’t fall victim to it.

How to Get Results You Can be Confident In

Calling tests prematurely is unfortunately only one of many testing problems I often encounter.

For you to have data that you can trust at any level it needs to have matured to a 95% statistical confidence level. This means you’re going to need a few thousand people to have reacted to your tests and for it to have run over a full week as a minimum.

You’ve also got to make sure that you’re only ever testing one element at any one time. If you jump in and test headline copy along with CTA and USP copy and see a lift, how can you determine which change was responsible?

Be smart with your testing and don’t jump to conclusions on premature results.

For an in depth look at five schoolboy errors often made when testing, check out this article by your’s truly.

Recognizing optimization mistakes and the need to have them corrected is the first, most important step in creating a high converting website.

However, simply implementing a few of these changes isn’t going to see your conversions shoot through the roof.

Sure they’ll help, but you need to optimise your for your audience. Don’t rely on these generalised statements to increase your conversions.

Keep on testing, identify how you can apply the above eight fixes to appeal to your audience and you’ll be seeing great lifts in no time at all.

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Peter Boyle

Pete Boyle is a conversion focused copywriter and marketing consultant. He helps brands increase their revenue through compelling copy and smart email campaigns. Click here to connect with Pete or download one of his free marketing guides.

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  1. Mustafa says:
    September 1, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Thanks a lot Peter, that one was a very useful article and I have to say I made some of those mistakes but I sure you it will be fixed, so, thanks again with regards.

    • September 2, 2015 at 4:21 am

      No problems Mustafa.

      I’m just happy the article has helped!

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