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Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 at 1:32 pm

How To Find the Root Causes of Low Conversion Rate

By Natalie Hart
December 28th, 2009

Conversion Rate Marketing_ Improve your website conversion rate with OnTarget by FutureNowWe get questions all the time from visitors, clients, and blog readers about what to do: How do I improve my conversion rate?  What’s the best analytics program?  Who should I hire to build my new site?  When is the best time to optimize? And much of the inspiration for our blog posts come from these very questions.

Monday, I got a call from my colleague, Marijayne Bushey, who told me about a great question she got via our Comments box.  The question read:

..I am looking for someone to help me understand why I am seeing only 0.02% conversion rate–is it a product, traffic, or usability issue, and what I can do to improve it? Please let me know if you provide service like this…

This is a great question because it recognizes that there may be multiple reasons for why a conversion rate is so low.  Remember, your website and marketing campaigns are a complex web of technology, products/services, information, colors, placement, copy, imagery, branding, etc all rolled into one big experience for your visitors, so chances are it’s a combination of these three factors (and others) that account for the reasons why visitors do or do not take a desired action. Thus, the real question is what factors contribute to the low conversion rate more than others, and deserve priority when it comes to fixing problems… and yes, we do offer a subscription service aimed directly at answering these questions, and making recommendations to help you drive increases in your bottom line.

Is it Product?  Maybe.  If you’re in an over-saturated marketplace and you don’t have anything that you offer that competitors don’t offer (a Unique Value Proposition, or UVP), then it might be the product itself. If this is the problem there’s little you can do to fix it short of offering the best (i.e. lowest) price or having an EXTREMELY loyal visitor following.

Is it Traffic?  Possibly.  For this one, there’s an easy way to investigate; and there’s often a quick-and-dirty triage for the problem too.  First, go into your analytics report.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use Google Analytics as the example.  (If you don’t have an analytics program, go immediately to Google Analytics, get an account, and tag your site!)  Go into Google Analytics and click, “view report’ then select “traffic sources.”  You’ll see an overview of your traffic. Select the largest  piece of your traffic pie, for instance “Search Engine.”  Now, it’s time to do some digging!  Look at your top three sources. Chances are, they make up a considerable amount of your overall traffic.  Click into each and look at your keywords, bounce rates etc.  As a rule of thumb, if there’s a larger than 80% bounce rate, you’re not driving qualified traffic to your site and you need to spend time on your traffic to make sure that you’re driving the appropriate traffic. Don’t forget to check scent on these pages, too!

Is it usability?  At FutureNow, we take this question one step further, and ask not only whether your site is usable, but if it is persuasive.  This is often the biggest reason behind low conversion rates, but also the most difficult to tease apart because there are so many possible ways that visitors can interact with your site, and such a large breadth of areas to consider.

The bottom line here is that the number of factors that together contribute to your conversation rate, and the interplay between them, make it silly to try to provide an answer to the qustion on a one-off basis.  It must be teased apart over time, within the context of a continuous optimization program where you can test and observe results over time as a means of gleaning the information you need to make informed conclusions.  Our extensive experience in the field, and exclusive optimization tool are two very good reasons why you should talk to us, and consider hiring us.  We can help you narrow down where the real conversion-inhibiting issues exist, and help you prioritize your efforts in fixing those areas, so you can address the ones that will give you the largest return first!

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Comments (40)

  1. 0.02%, Is a very low conversion rate, chances are there are many, many things wrong with his website for it to be that low. Not just one issue.

  2. I tend to agree that 0.02 is very low but it does depend on many factors.
    Most importantly in my opinion is “are you trying to sell something that people actually want?” – you can have great site design, and fantastic seo but if you’re site is selling black&white televisions your conversions will most likely not be good!
    Also look at which keywords are driving traffic – are they browse or buy keywords? Traffic is no good unless it is targetted.
    If the traffic is coming from buy keywords then I would look at site design – is it obvious to the visitor what you want them to do? If it isn’t this will kill conversions.

  3. To optimise conversions you should employ a web analytics provider such as clicktale to show you how your customers enagage eith your site. From the results fo the aggregate behaviours, real time videos and heatmaps you can mend any deficiencies and make it easier for visitors to your site to become buyers.

  4. How about accessibility?
    If the websites are not accessible, how visitors can find the site.

    And, ensure you have a clear Returns Policy…your customer knows what they can do if they are not satisfied with the product…

  5. Its very common sense thing,what more important is the service when the market is too saturated.

  6. Without doubt you cannot jump to conclusions… test and observe over time is the legitimate way.

  7. Thanks for your post. I like your post.

  8. Thanks for this advice! My conversion rate is about 10% on a lucky month :(

  9. 0.02, i think you better check accessibility of your website, do it cost a lot of to to load your sites?
    Really number of factors that together contribute to your low conversation rate.

  10. Hi Natalie !

    One plus point is that the original questioner is looking to “improve his conversion rate”.

    So don’t use language like “fixing broken stuff” because that sounds like you just fix the problems and then drive off to help another “broken down” website.

    Couch your answers in terms of “improvement”, “getting better” and the client starts to see it as a journey of improvement rather than a one-off fix.

  11. yes i agree with john! in online business there’s no fixing stuff, you have to give it a solid start with keeping all the things in mind beforehand

  12. thanks for the post.. very useful for me and my business…

  13. Does the same logic apply to AdSense conversion rate? How does traffic relates to Bounce Rate? I always thought Bounce Rate is more dependent on your content?

  14. no freind, adsense is alot different

  15. One reason for low conversion can also be due to site performance. A site taking a long time to load may not see the light of day as users tend to just click away before even reading anything.

  16. I used to love the Grok. The constant advertising you are doing in the posts is irritating. I do not want to read a weekly “we’re Number 1″ from you. Please drop the advertising.

  17. Thanks for the post about conversion rate improvements. Very helpful.

  18. [...] Source:How To Find the Root Causes of Low Conversion Rate Share and Enjoy: [...]

  19. You have just put into words for me exactly where i am with my site,so many things to do,where to start?Might have to give you guys a ring.Cheers Ron.

  20. Sometimes, the traffic you drive, is not compatible with the program!

    What I have in mind? For example some affiliates want only US traffic, but your site is mostly driving Non-US traffic.

  21. Thanks for the tips. There are a lot of things to consider, bounce rate being one of the major ones. Also, the ctr I find is very dependent on placement and color schemes.

  22. For any inbound links you should use the Google URL builder. Then in Analytics you can segment your traffic for each campaign and see why and what went wrong. Remember, any Analytics package will not tell you why a use did something it will just tell you the whats!

  23. One of the most important things connected to the conversion is the landing page. The page where your customers meet you for the first time. We all know that first impression is the key one. It is good to have a great copy, some promotion and compelling action buttons.

  24. I was hoping to read an article with some thought and new/profound answers as to why conversion might be too low. Instead I read through this puff piece and was disappointed. Your article basically says, “Yep, your question is your answer, it might be your product, or your traffic, or your usability. But we can’t tell you anything more without you contracting our services.”

    Your answer for product is to reduce the price. Lame. Your answer for traffic is to check the sources. Duh. Then you mention 80% bounce is a rule of thumb!!?? If my landing page had a 50% bounce I’d be alarmed. At 80% I’d have people jumping off of cliffs. Anything over 50% bounce and you should contact a landing page optimization resource immediately.

    Finally you say, usability, and further pursuasiveness, is the main reason why conversion is typically low. You give no explanation as to why usability/pursuasiveness is the main reason except to say that visitors cn take many paths through your site.

    Argh! If you are going to write something, tell me something. Don’t just tease me and tell me to contract your services if I want to have expert advice.

  25. Jeff – well said, there were no secret tips here. However, I did appreciate the post – identifying the problems are a huge part of the battle.

  26. I experienced the conversation rate goes down significantly when I changed the domain owner..

    sometime conversion rate goes down if you cant get your targeted visitor.. or you get visitor if your site is optimized for different keyword and providing different content or products

  27. sorry.. I’ve made a silly mistake.. its conversion.. not coversation

  28. very informative post, thanks for sharing

  29. I do not see only one issue here, 0.02%, Is a very low conversion rate, chances are there are many, many things wrong with his website for it to be that low.

  30. I had a similar issue with a site selling services to developers. I ran a simple, voluntary survey that helped me discover the low conversion rate was due to unqualified, non-developers being misled to the site. I patterned my survey after 4Q.

  31. [...] full post on Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc Enjoyed this article?WebsiteWordpress [...]

  32. Wow if they are getting a .02% conversion rate it is pretty obvious they are selling the wrong product and pitching it to the wrong market.

  33. market saturation is the first cause of loss in conversion.

  34. do check your colors and check whether your content is above the fold. (:

  35. Does the same logic apply to AdSense conversion rate? How does traffic relates to Bounce Rate? I always thought Bounce Rate is more dependent on your content? Thanks

  36. Thanks for the post about conversion rate improvements. Very helpful.
    But I think adsense is different one..
    You are telling about very low conversion rate. I think, there may be lots of other issues too for this conversion rate and you just can not point to only one issue?

  37. @Mitko You are right. But has alexa rank 14807 in US traffic

  38. I think that the problem of low conversation rate is a problem of our less human personal contacts today. We arrange to much things via internet or mobile phone.

  39. From the results fo the aggregate behaviours, real time videos and heatmaps you can mend any deficiencies and make it easier for visitors to your site to become buyers.

  40. [...] of the site; however, just because the traffic is the there doesn’t necessarily mean that it converts well. Other factors may play a role in whether or not the conversion rate is good, such as sales copy, [...]

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Natalie is a Persuasion Analyst with FutureNow.

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