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How to Diagnose and Repair 'Conversion Rate' Problems on Your Website

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You've put tremendous effort into building your website and selecting the products and services you'll offer your prospective customers. But what happens if people don't visit your site? Or, worse yet, what happens if they show up but fail to make any purchases?


If you aren't seeing the results you initially hoped for, you might have a rate problem -- meaning you're not converting online visitors into paying customers. The following scenarios can help you diagnose your website's issues and determine how to fix them to improve your overall success:

Scenario 1: No traffic and no conversions. For conversions to occur on your website, you need two things: defined target actions and website users to fulfill these goals. With either element missing, on-site conversions simply can't happen.

So if your conversion rate seems low, your first stop should be your account. There, you'll be able to determine whether you have enough traffic to bring about conversions in the first place.

Related: Is Your Website Ready for Cyber Monday?

Consider that websites tend to average a 1 percent to 5 percent conversion rate. That means for every 100 people who visit your website, between one and five people can be expected to carry out your defined conversion action -- whether that's purchasing your product, opting in to your email newsletter or downloading a particular file.  

If your website receives thousands of visitors each day, these low average conversion rates won't present much of a problem. But if you're seeing only 10 visitors a day, it could take you a week or more to have a single conversion.

So, if your traffic is low and you aren't seeing the conversion rate you want, the first course of action must be drawing more visitors to your site. You can do this using a number of different promotional techniques, whether you prefer (PPC) advertising, (SEO), or another strategy.

Scenario 2: High and low conversions. Suppose your website does receive a steady flow of traffic, but you still aren't seeing the number of conversions you'd like. In this case, it's back to your Google Analytics account to check your website's bounce rate.

Bounce rate refers to the number of people who arrive on your website and leave before clicking through to visit any other page on your site. A high bounce rate indicates that people aren't immediately finding what they're looking for on your site and leave before they have the opportunity to engage further with your products or services.

Related: 3 Simple Tools for Building a Website Fast

This can occur for a variety of reasons, including these problems:

  • Your website is broken or inaccessible to some browsers, preventing visitors from accessing any of your content.
  • The design of your website is dated, leading to low visitor confidence in your brand.
  • The information visitors expected to find immediately is buried in the content of your web pages.
  • The features and benefits of your product, service or brand aren't immediately apparent to new visitors.

Diagnosing the specific problems affecting your website's conversion rate can be tricky, but many webmasters will benefit from "heat mapping" software, such as the program offered by Crazy Egg (plans start at $9 a month). Heat mapping software enables you to track visitor eye movements across your site to see when potential customers depart.

Scenario 3: High engagement and low conversions. What if you have plenty of visitors actively engaging with your content, but they just aren't taking your defined conversion action? Typically, this problem stems from one of two weaknesses:

  • Visitors can't figure out how to take your target action, or
  • Visitors don't know why they should take your target action.

Regardless of which is the problem, your best tool in this scenario is the split test. Split testing allows you to serve up different variations of individual pages on your website to try to identify elements that may be inhibiting conversion rates.

As an example, if you're concerned that website visitors aren't seeing your opt-in form, you could run an A/B style split test that randomly presents viewers with one of two different page versions. Each features your opt-in form, just in different locations on your site. By measuring the conversion rate for each page version, you could conclusively identify the more effective option and get more of your already engaged visitors to take action.

Finally, be aware that these aren't the only factors that could be influencing your website's conversion rate. Understanding customer psychology and behavior can be challenging. But the specific tools and testing procedures described above should provide enough information to minimize weaknesses and improve your company's online results.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Your Website into a Sales Machine

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