14 Ways to Screw Up Your Conversion Rate

There are a million ways to screw up your conversion rate. For now, these are the best 14:

  1. Ad does not match the landing page
  2. Inconsistent design
  3. Too many pop-ups
  4. Site loads slowly
  5. It’s not optimized for mobile
  6. Clustered design
  7. Elements overlap
  8. Too many trust badges
  9. Low quality images
  10. Product description is focused on features
  11. Bad font
  12. #Nofilter
  13. No refund policy
  14. Hidden fees

1. Ad does not match the landing page

And that proved to be a costly mistake for a lot of ecommerce websites.

If people click on your ad it means they liked something about it. Maybe the design, maybe what you are selling or maybe they found a good promotion.

However, if your Landing Page does not match with the ad, they are going to bounce. Nobody likes a broken promise.

In case you are running a 50% off promo in your ads, display that on your Landing Page as well.

If you advertise a free ebook in your ads, make it easy for users to actually find it.

Whatever you are advertising, make sure it’s clearly displayed on your website as well.

2. Inconsistent design

Don’t stop at matching the message between the Landing Page and the ad. Not all people will browse your store further, but some will.

Be sure that your website has the same design all around.

The basics of consistent website design:

  • Use the same color scheme;
  • Keep the same fonts for all headers and text;
  • Match images with one another (and with the overall design);
  • Make sure that the header and footer are exactly the same on all pages (except the checkout).

3. Too many pop-ups

cat pop up image


Or just one pop-up that keeps on popping up.

If that’s annoying to read, think of how your users feel when they see the same pop-up over and over again.

We both know that building a mailing list is important. But at what cost?

Websites have at least 2 of these common pop-ups:

  1. Discount pop-up;
  2. Live chat pop-up;
  3. User feedback pop-up;
  4. Possibly some other pop-ups.

Each one of them is taking its toll on your conversion rate. Users are having troubles in navigating a website if they can’t see its contents. Especially if they use their phones.

4. Site loads slowly

wall clock image

Every 100 milliseconds in load times is costing Amazon money.

But for everyone else, each additional second is reducing your possible revenue exponentially.

Make sure your website loads fast enough. As a benchmark: if your website is taking longer than 2 seconds to load, it’s considered slow.

Use GTmetrix.com, Pingdom Website Speed Test or PageSpeed Insights from Google to discover how to speed up your website. 

5. Unresponsive on mobile

That’s a no brainer, but a lot of people are missing the details here.

Your website might work on your phone. It might even work on your friend’s phone. But there are literally thousands of devices. Each one might have a different screen resolution than others.

Moreover, your users might browse your website via in-app browsers, even on slow connections.

All these things combined turn out to tens of thousands of different possible combinations.

The good news is that Google Analytics will help you discover display errors easier.

If you want to find out more, check out 10 easy ways to increase your mobile conversion rate.

6. Clustered design

conversion rate graph

This graph perfectly exemplifies how the more elements you have, the lower your conversion rate will be.

Let’s take an ecommerce store for example. As every other money making online store, they have at least one category page. This category page contains a bunch of products.

These products can be placed either one on a single column layout, or 2 columns layout, on mobile devices.

Adding one more column in the category page will make the store unusable on phones.

Keep in mind that the easier things are for your users, the more money they will spend with you. A very important aspect you should pay attention to is to give as few options as possible to your users (at the same time). Facebook keeps its users engaged because of their infinite scroll. Youtube uses autoplay to make people binge watch for hours.

Your goal is to get users as fast as possible through your funnel. You want them to fly from the category page directly to the thank you page. If you give your users too many options you make them question whether or not their decision of buying is a good one. And that leads to abandoned carts.

Stick with as few options as possible on the same page. Showcase your products or services in a clean way and people will pay more attention to them. 

This is directly linked with Cognitive Load.

7. Elements overlap

That’s even worse than having too many elements in the viewport. A combination of previously discussed ways to screw up your conversion rate (3, 5 and 6) is even deadlier.

This is not even uncommon. Multiple websites, even big ones, have had problems with their live chat bubbles overlapping with other elements.

It’s even ironic how something that’s supposed to help made things actually worse.

To overcome this, test any and all elements that stay fixed on your website:

  • Sticky headers;
  • Live chat bubbles;
  • Sticky Add to Cart buttons;
  • Anything else that is unscrollable.

8. Too many trust badges

trust badge images


Especially on product pages, homepage, category page or anywhere else besides the Cart and Checkout pages.

Trying too hard to look trustable makes you look scammy. If you display trust badges on almost all the pages on your website, people will start wondering why you do it.

It’s like you are shouting at them to trust you. It just doesn’t work.

The only thing accomplished by this practice is making users think of what you are trying to hide.

9. Low Quality Images

pixelated man low quality

What’s important is that low quality images are a sure way to screw up your conversion rate. You are running a website that people can only see on their screens, there (currently) is absolutely no way for them to interact in a physical way with it.

Moreover, a picture is worth a thousand words, the better your images, the more words you can skip, the less time it takes a person to understand your message, the faster they go to checkout.

There is no better example than in the ecommerce world. Whatever you are trying to sell to your customers has to be clearly depicted in an image.

Be it a t-shirt, a toy or a hamburger. If your product image is clean and HD, you’ll have a better chance at turning them from simple visitors to paying customers.

10. Product description is focused only on features

features vs benefits

Features are an important part of any product description. They help your more analytical users grasp the most important aspects of your products. But benefits sell.

Benefits tell users why they should buy from you, they hit the emotional chord and make it sound like a symphony (only if done right).

Make sure you display your product features, but give your customers a reason to actually buy it.

If you are selling bed sheets, talk about how soft they feel. How easy it is to wash and dry them. How the cotton from which they are made off has been organically grown. Something to spike up their interest.

11. Bad fonts

bad fonts
Source: https://fonts.google.com/

Different fonts may even have different meanings. They directly affect how users are reading your content (dooh).

The 4 above examples have exactly the same text, however, some are easier to read than others.

When you pick a font for your website you have to be sure that it’s readable. The easier it is for your users to read your words, the bigger the conversion rate. See the previous points.

12. #Nofilter

This one is for ecommerce stores. If your store has more than 20 products, it needs filters.

You don’t want people to aimlessly look for something on your website. You want them to know that they are a few taps away from getting what they want. See again Clustered design.

The best way to do this is by allowing them to filter out the products you have. Filters can be set up by color, dimension, way of using or anything else. But they have to be used.

13. No refund policy

People are more likely to buy from you if they have a way to get their money back.

In the EU, it’s mandatory for all store owners to accept returns, for no reason, for up to 14 days. However, such a small number of shops are displaying this on their websites.

Place this information on your product page, right besides the Add to Cart button.

If someone starts asking questions to themselves like:

  • What if the size is not good?
  • What if the quality is mediocre?
  • What if the product is not like in the image?

Then you need to answer them.

The only way to do it fast enough is by displaying the returns/refunds information right besides the magic button (Add to Cart).

14. Hidden fees

What can possibly be worse than this?

Someone decides to buy a $50 bed sheet from you. They already know that you offer free shipping, because that’s what’s said in the sticky bar on top of your website.

One page leads to another and they reach the Credit Card info page.

Oh no! The $50 transformed in $75. Why is that? Well, you know that there are some handling fees or whatever. But did your customer know?

The next thing they will do is click the “x” button in their browser and you are $50 short.

Always be honest with your customers and display any and all additional fees that you charge.

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. Let me know down in the comments what’s your way of screwing up your conversion rate and what you did to solve it.

PS: Treat your customers as you want to be treated.

By Dan Cucolea

I am a conversion rate optimization specialist at Ontrack Digital.
I am a Spreadsheets Wizard who can translate any data into a lovely graph that even has a story behind it.

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