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You've spent lots of time and money building what you believe is a great website. You've got products or services to sell. You've got some traffic. Now all you need is customers.

There's only one problem: you're not converting that traffic into customers at nearly the rate you thought you would.

Few people selling online are skilled and fortunate enough to convert traffic into customers right off the bat. Earning sales and producing high conversions usually takes a lot of hard work.

In most cases, boosting conversions is just as much about avoiding mistakes as it is about implementing new things. In my experience, these are the 5 most common mistakes that are responsible for poor conversions:

  • Poor copy. Nothing will turn a potential customer away quicker than confusion. To prevent this, you want to focus on making sure that your copy is well-written and understandable. You especially want to ensure that copy related to product and service descriptions, pricing and terms is crystal clear.
  • Missing details. Your copy doesn't only need to be clear, you need to provide the right copy to earn a sale. Are there common questions a prospective customer might have before making a purchasing decision? Provide some FAQs. Are you selling something that might have a unique return policy? Make sure the prospective customer doesn't have to dig through the fine print to read about it.
  • Confidence-killers. A lot of consumers are still weary of spending money online. That means that confidence and trust are often the biggest barriers to completing a sale. To boost the confidence of prospective customers, be sure you're doing everything possible to reassure them that their transaction is secure and that they can trust you. At the very least, this means using a secure (SSL) server to process payments. In some cases, highlighting your participation in programs like the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe can also have a positive effect.
  • No contact information. There are plenty of reasons a potential customer might want to reach you. Not making your contact information, including email adresses and phone numbers, readily available can easily cost you a sale.
  • Poor usability. The obvious: consumers won't buy from you if you making buying difficult. And poor usability is a great way to make things difficult. This is where analytics data can be especially useful. If lots of potential customers are cutting out at the same page on your website, you may want to explore whether the form and/or functionality of the page is to blame.
  • Pricing gaps. If a potential customer thinks that you're selling a product for $50 but learns that the actual cost is, say, $75 once he gets to the payment page, you shouldn't be surprised to find that they'll put the wallet down and go somewhere else. To ensure this doesn't happen, be as transparent about pricing as possible and try to make sure that the difference between the price the customer first sees and the price he sees at payment time is what would normally be expected factoring in any additional costs such as shipping and taxes.

Have some usual suspects of your own? I'd be interested in hearing them so leave any that you think belong on this list in the comments.

Photo credit: atomicjeep via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2485 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Would recommend multivariate testing copy (on call to action buttons, pages etc), have used Google's (free!) Website Optimizer and it's definitely worth trying out. Watching conversion increase and learn why is a thrill!

about 8 years ago

Damian Kimmelman

Damian Kimmelman, Director at We Are VI Ltd.

I'd also recommend a consistent spend on a Social Media Strategy that enables you to develop a close relationship with your best customers and allows you understand the motivations of your vocal and unhappy customers. This way you can understand both ends of the spectrum and gear the site toward your best customers and also understand better what was wrong with your detractors experience.



about 8 years ago



I have no experience with Truste but had my site certified by eTrust (etrust.org). Noticed a slight increase in conversions, but not what I would call dramatic, had good customer feedback though.

about 8 years ago



I would question the value of trustmarks. I can see the value of things like etrust, however verisign seems to be overused and only indicate that the site is using an SSL from them, in reality what makes a verisign SSL cert any better than a Comodo one? Since I dont know, I dont expect my customers will.

about 8 years ago


Dan W, Digital Marketing / Ecommerce / Optimisation Professional at Personal

User testing, user testing, user testing. And if all else fails / budgets don't allow for user testing, do a competitor review - preferably by looking at websites that have done user testing.

Search for 'cbbc iplayer' for more on cimex's work on user testing.

about 8 years ago



Totally agree, user testing is paramount, unfortunately Ive seen companies disregard user feedback with comments such as "well they just dont get what we're trying to do..."

about 8 years ago

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