Conversion Optimization

Why is my conversion rate dropping? And how to fix it

10 most-likely reasons why your website's conversion rate is dropping - and what can you do to fix it.

Why is my conversion rate dropping? And how to fix it

The average conversion rate for the eCommerce industry dropped from 2.31% to 2.12% during April 2020 to April 2021 period.

average eCommerce conversion rate data
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This may be a result of the present market changes due to the pandemic. But your retail conversion rate can drop due to gaps on your eCommerce website.

It’s crucial to keep an eye on your online conversion rates. This is because they can directly affect your eComm store’s profitability as well as its ability to grow.

There are many variables that affect conversion rates. That’s why discussing what is a good eCommerce conversion rate isn’t always helpful.

Check out this data on average eCommerce conversion rates by industry from Growcode. The numbers will hugely differ based on which niche you specialize in.

average eCommerce conversion rate by industry
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Similarly, it differs based on the device—as indicated by Kibo.

average eCommerce conversion rate by device
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Hence eCommerce conversion rate benchmarks can be a good starting point. But eventually, you’ll need to start looking at internal data rather than external data.

Sometimes, these are obvious ones. Your conversion rate can drop if you made a recent change to the website, landing page, pricing, discounts, etc. So, it’s advisable to check the last few activities you did on the website. It can do the trick in some cases.

But in other cases, where the reasons are not as straightforward, you need to look into other factors that could be holding off your sales.

In this post, we’ve compiled 10 reasons why your eCommerce conversion rate might be dropping and how you can solve it.

10 easily overlooked factors that harm eCommerce conversion rates

1. Your CTAs: Are they clear and convincing? 

Your website’s call-to-action buttons let your audience know what action you’d like them to take when they visit your website.

As an eCommerce store owner, you’re already aware of how crucial CTAs are for your site conversion rates. In fact, the conversion rates vary as per the location of the page the CTAs are used in. Check this out: 

  • Sidebar: 0.5-1.5%
  • Generic, bottom of the post: 0.5-1.5%
  • Exit-intent pop-ups: 1-8%
  • Sliders and bars: 1-5%
  • Gated resources: 10-25%
  • Feature sections: 3-9%
  • Navigation bar: varies

If you start to notice a decline in your conversion rate, one of the first things you need to do is check your call-to-action buttons

There are a lot of factors that affect the success rate of CTAs. Here are some of the crucial ones:

a) Size - Big and eye-catching works better since they hold the shopper’s attention.

b) Color - Research says that orange, blue, red, and green always work.

CTA button color to improve eCommerce conversion rates
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c) Placement - Your CTAs should always be above the fold. If it’s on a product page, using multiple CTAs help—since these pages are generally long and detailed. A sticky CTA also works as it stays in the minds of the visitors as they scroll through the page.

Check out how AO.com uses a big, sticky CTA on its product page.

Example of sticky CTA to improve online conversion rates

d) Copy - Clarity is key here. Use trigger words such as get, now, free, and your. Specify the exact benefit the customer will get by clicking on the CTA. Use urgency but don’t overdo it. 2–4 words are the ideal length to use in CTAs.

Here’s a list of the most popular words along with how many times they’ve been used in CTAs.

CTA trigger words to improve eCommerce conversion rates
Source

e) Mobile CTAs - Make sure your mobile CTAs pass the thumb test

f) Information around the CTA - The CTA is an extremely conversion-prone zone. You’d want to add as much relevant information as possible around them. For example, size charts, delivery and returns details, stock indicators, and countdown timers. 

How to solve

Here are some best practices for creating compelling CTAs:

a) Be specific. Don’t confuse your customers with multiple CTAs. Keep their focus on the particular action you want them to take.

Check out how The North Face keeps the primary CTA bolded and the second CTA less prominent. 

example of displaying multiple CTA


b) Use action words. Instead of saying If you click here, you can read our e-book say Download our free e-book.

c) Use first and second-person terms. People respond better to Join our team than Prospective employees should apply here.

d) And make them look pretty, like Spotify

spotify cta ecommerce conversions

e) Use scarcity and urgency principles to make your CTAs more persuasive.

You may also want to run A/B or multivariate tests to see what works for each of the parameters. 

Tools such as Google Optimize and CRO360 compare and test out CTAs. For example, you can run a test where some customers see Know More while others look at Learn More on your website. The test will tell you which CTA performed better.

2. Social proof: Are you testing the different types enough?

When people purchase products from eCommerce websites, they’re taking a risk that their product will arrive in good condition. This uncertainty is one of the main reasons why consumers abandon their carts at checkout, especially when shopping internationally.

You can ease this hesitation and help increase your eCommerce conversions by using social proof to establish trust.

We conducted a poll on our LinkedIn page recently asking our customers how much they depended on online reviews for their purchases. Guess what? 81% of them declared they depended on customer reviews all the time before making a purchase. That’s how important social proof is. 

example of social proof poll


There are several types of social proof you can leverage for your eComm store:

a) Customer reviews - 92% of online shoppers look at reviews before they make a purchase. Include customer reviews on your product pages to show potential customers that other people have had a good experience with your brand and your products. The probability of sale for a product with more than 5 reviews is 270% greater than one without it. 

b) Customer testimonials - These are different than product reviews since they’re presented in a call-out format. Testimonials from your existing customers act as the face of your business. Video testimonials are even more powerful.

Check out how Magic Flask tries out a unique video testimonial format by recording the tester’s actual reactions to the drinks.


c) Influencer recommendations - 89% of marketers believe that the ROI from influencer marketing channels is better than others. Leveraging influencers from your own niche can bring you more effective results. 

d) Trust badges - 48% of shoppers feel reassured with trust badges on an eCommerce store. Norton is one of the most popular trust seals to use, but you can test out whichever works for you.

trust badges can help improve conversion rates
Source

e) Fear of missing out (FOMO) - Add an element of FOMO to your social proof by showing real-time statistics on your website. This will encourage your website visitors to convert because they don’t want to miss out on what other people are gaining.

f) User-generated content (UGC) - Don’t limit your customers to just testimonials. Since most of your customers are on social media, UGC can be a great way to boost your brand and improve the conversion rate of your eCommerce site. 

Examples of how to use social proof for eCommerce conversion rate optimization 

a) Include reviews smartly like Patagonia

Patagonia makes sure they take their customers’ trust seriously. They don’t try and gather hundreds of useless reviews but just important ones—that too from real customers. They let quality rule over quantity. 

The box on the right to every review shares the buyer details assuring the customers they are from verified purchasers only. 

They also give the option of sorting the reviews based on various product criteria such as size and dimensions—super helpful for the customer.

example of customer reviews from Patagonia

b) Use FOMO like a pro like Red Chilli Ghana

Red Chilli Ghana’s promotional approach of offering the first 100 customers 50% off, a free drink, and a cupcake is an effective one. 

You can choose how much merchandise to offer depending on your business. But implementing this approach can help build an urgency—especially when it means competing with other shoppers. The sheer fact that other customers are going to compete is social proof enough to drive your customers to purchase.

example of FOMO to boost eCommerce conversion rates


Hey, you’ll love this: How to use "out of stock" products as a conversion driver

Providing real-time information will help you achieve a high conversion rate because it’ll allow shoppers to see that other people have made purchases from your website or tried your services first. Add social proof to your site and see how your conversion rates shoot up.

3. Your site load time: Is it properly optimized?

Nothing will make your website visitors leave your eCommerce site faster than frustrating website issues. If your website takes a long time to load, contains broken links, or has a confusing layout, consumers will leave—leading to low eCommerce conversion rates. 

Website load time is one of the most important eCommerce conversion factors. Let’s look at ways we can optimize it even better.

Portent studied over 10 websites and 26,000 landing pages over a period of a month to find out how site speed affected retail conversion rates. This is what they found: 

  • A load time of 0–4 seconds was ideal for conversion rates
  • The first 5 seconds were the most crucial and had the highest impact on web conversion rates
  • For every additional load time—between 0–5 seconds—the conversion rate drops at an average of 4.42%

How to solve

a) Check your site navigation - You need to look at site navigation to understand how your customers engage with the website. A good navigation has:

  • Clear categories
  • Smooth filtering & sorting
  • Effective search function

Look at this example of the Adidas website below:

example of site navigation from adidas


Shoppers can easily sort through multiple parameters: price, sizes, categories, and brands, making it easy for them to shop what they want.

Chewy’s website has defined product categories that make navigation easier for shoppers and the overall experience seamless.

example of smooth navigation from chewy


Analyze how users interact with your site to dial back the conversion rates.

For instance, on Google Analytics, if you see the shoppers bouncing off a particular webpage, you can consider revamping the design or copy of the page.

If you see customers abandoning their orders at the billing stage, you can introduce discounts and deals, engage in sending them cart recovery emails, and make the checkout experience seamless to drive more sales.

b) Check for browser compatibility - If your customers are using older versions of browsers, then they may face compatibility issues. This will prevent them to load several aspects of the website. It’s possible that your site takes longer to load on Safari as compared to Google Chrome. Or the fact that average redirection and server connection time is more on one browser as compared to another. These factors affect customers’ experiences which can lead to a higher bounce rate than usual.

To solve this, look at Google Analytics. 

Go to Audience > Technology > Browser for an eCommerce report which will show which browsers are underperforming.

Test the checkout flow, forms, exit-intent popups, and landing page on the browser. In many cases, the problem could also be an internal bug or glitch on your tablet or laptop. Consider getting that checked before making a decision to change anything else on the website.

c) Minify codes - Minifying or compressing files that contain codes such as Javascript, HTML, and CSS can help reduce the time in transferring them from servers to browsers

d) Reduce server response time - By choosing a faster hosting provider and optimizing your content management system (CMS), it’s possible to reduce your server response time.

e) Defer below the fold content - A smart trick you can do is delay the load time for images and content that are below the fold. By loading images and content of the accessible part of the screen, it’s possible to reduce the first-server request and boost overall load time.

Check your website frequently to make sure that it’s working properly. Keep an eye out for Google Page Speed Insights data. The field data is the one that should be of interest to you.

This forms part of Google’s core web vitals update. The 4 factors you need to consider are:

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP) - When the browser renders initial information such as texts and images
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - The experience metric that measures the time taken to load the largest piece of information on your site
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - A ranking factor that measures the unexpected shifts to multiple locations on the site during page load—often due to poor coding
  • First Input Delay (FID) - The factor which measures the response time when a user interacts with a piece of information for the first time
example of google page speed insights data for improving eCommerce conversion rates

Be sure to conduct A/B testing before and after you make any changes to your website.

4. Mobile-friendliness: Have you kept an eye on responsiveness?

79% of smartphone users make a purchase online using mobile devices. If your website is not mobile responsive, you’re ignoring your mobile users and missing out on several customers who would otherwise convert.

As an eCommerce founder, you must already be focusing on responsive design. It makes customers’ experiences seamless—increasing chances of their conversions.

To check how your website scores on mobile-friendliness, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Here are the important data you’d want to gather from the tool:

  • If your site is mobile-friendly
  • How your site looks on mobile devices
  • If there are any mobile usability issues

How to solve

a) Add digital wallets to your store - Around 19% customers abandon their carts due to security concerns or sharing payment details. Adding digital payment options such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Android Pay can help reassure customers and offer them a secure payment experience.

For example, when you land on H&M’s checkout page, you can clearly see what payment options you have.

example of payment options for mobile responsiveness

b) Leverage autocomplete - Typing on a mobile device can be annoying. Your customers won’t want to keep typing to find what they’re looking for. Using autocomplete can make their search easier and they’re more likely to convert.

c) Limit your text - Shorter screens increase text fatigue. That’s why you should try replacing the texts in areas such as product descriptions with relevant visuals. Be it images of customers using the product or icons to explain benefits. 

d) Avoid adding all pages - For the sake of simplicity, stick to including only the most important pages on your mobile site. You can avoid the clutter and your customers can stick to exploring only the most important pages. 

e) Reduce popups - Popups, especially on mobile devices, can be extremely intrusive. Use it only if it’s absolutely necessary. If you have to have one, make sure it’s small and easy to close. 

example of a non-intrusive mobile popup

Example: Macy’s

Check out this example of Macy’s below. Macy's webpage is optimized for mobile users and does not have usability issues reported from the users. As a result, their eCommerce business grew by a whopping 53% in 2020.

macy mobile friendly
mobile friendly macy website

5. Checkout process: Is it too complicated for the customer?

Baymard’s research suggests about two-thirds of visitors abandon their cart because of the complicated checkout process.

Make sure your checkout page is optimized so that customers can check out quickly and with ease. Remember, too many steps will deter buyers, and this will decrease your website checkout rate.

Hey, you’ll love this: How do I increase my website’s checkout rate? (27 brilliant insights)

Typically, the ideal checkout process for a customer looks like this: 

Shopping cart > billing details > shipping info > preview order > payment > confirmation 

But can this be made even simpler to create a frictionless checkout process for the customer? 

Smashing Magazine found that a 5-step checkout process was the most common among eCommerce store owners.

example of a simple checkout process for better conversions

How to solve

a) Offer guest checkout - Nothing makes a customer drop off from a checkout page faster than forcing them to sign up. Offering them to checkout as a guest makes it more accessible and faster for them. 

This is what Crate&Barrel does—that makes for a lightning-speed checkout experience.

example of guest checkout by crate & barrel

b) Autofill and validate addresses - You can use several tools to autofill and validate addresses during checkout. This will not only ensure the accuracy of the address but also save the user’s time to fill it up. 

c) Use a progress indicator - Showing the progress bar while checkout is a great way to motivate customers to complete the process rather than abandon it. It tells them how many more steps are there and how much longer it may take.

example of a progress bar
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d) Allow order preview or summary - It’s a must to offer customers a complete preview of their order before the final payment. This can include the product, payment, and shipping information. 

Bellroy nails this by offering a lucid preview page neatly segregated to include all the essential information. 

example of an order summary page from bellroy


Look at this example where checking out looks like a breeze:

ease checkout for conversions

If your goal is to have as many people as possible purchase products from your eCommerce website, then you should make this process as easy as possible.

6. Site search: Is it confusing for the customer?

Consider millennials: short attention span, high expectations. They shop on the go with their ever-present smartphones. If they’ve to spend several frustrating minutes searching your site for that product they saw on Instagram, they’re gone.

The solution? Enable voice and image search. 

How to use voice search to increase your eCommerce conversion rates

Around 70% of customers still don’t use voice search to buy products. That’s an opportunity waiting to be utilized right there. 

pie chart showing percentage of customers using voice search
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Here are a few ideas on how you can leverage voice search to boost your retail conversion rates:

a) Identify your customer’s questions - Most voice queries fall under any one or more of the 5Ws and how questions: 

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When 
  • Why
  • How

b) Update your content as per voice search - You can customize your content to rank as featured snippets on Google for voice search. Try adding the questions your customers are asking to your blog content and product information pages. 

c) Claim your business listings - Ensure you claim your business listings on Google, Apple, and Bing. This will help you to voice search technology to map user’s locations to relevant search results—including those with your business.

How to use image search to improve your eCommerce conversion rates

There are 2 main aspects to consider when it comes to image search: 

  • The quality of your images
  • Your image alt text

This may require a bit of backend work. 

You’ll need to ensure that your images are of high quality and shows the product from all angles. Suppose if you sell backpacks, make sure you share pictures that show the strap, design, and pockets from all sides. This helps provide various data points to match the search queries to your images. 

Since search engines don’t see your images but match the results to queries, your image alt texts are super important. Coming back to the backpack example, you can use an alt text such as black waterproof backpack for men for outdoor. This will help the search engines cover multiple bases from the queries and show your product image as a result. 

Example: How Neiman Marcus championed customer needs with a new visual search feature

Chain store Neiman Marcus upgraded to a visual search-friendly space by launching their new feature Snap. Find. Shop. With this, customers could search for their products by entering a 3D image. 

Met with insane customer demand, they extended this feature to all their products. 

Check out the launch video of this feature here.


7. Free shipping: Are you using it wisely?

Let’s face it: We all know how much of a needle-mover free shipping is for customers. 

Your customers are ready to take multiple actions to get free shipping. 

actions customers are ready to take to receive free shipping
Source

In spite of knowing this, many still see negligible conversions from it. Here’s why:

  • You’re probably using it as a surprise for customers. This makes the customer unsure about the shipping cost and abandon.
  • In case you’re charging for it, your delivery still doesn’t match up to the charge. It’s a bad deal for the customer.

Here’s what you can do to counter this: 

a) Offer multiple shipping options - Include regular shipping as well as paid options that offer faster delivery

b) Display the shipping cost before the checkout page - The product page is the best place to mention the shipping cost. You can repeat it again on the add-to-cart page. 

Don’t overlook the conversion rate optimization (CRO) aspect here. The placement of your shipping offer can impact your eCommerce conversion rates hugely.

Example: Placing a free shipping message below the add-to-cart button increases conversion by 19%

GrowthRock carried out a study where they experimented with the free shipping message placement. 

When the message was displayed on the promo bar, it didn’t get much result due to banner blindness and competing messages. Upon placing it below the add-to-cart button, there was a 19% increase in conversions. 

8. Your email campaigns: Are they yielding good results?

Email marketing is one of the most effective methods of connecting with your target audience and encouraging them to visit your website. For every dollar spent on email marketing, the average eCommerce business sees as much as $38 in return, which is a 3,800% return on investment (ROI).

If you’ve been sending email newsletters less frequently, or your email content is not engaging, then your website traffic and conversion rates will decrease.

How to solve

If your conversion rate is dropping, that is a sign that you need to step up your email marketing. Right from the welcome email series to the sales emails, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

a) Personalize your email campaigns

No one likes to read a generic copy that doesn’t resonate with them.

Segment your target audience and look into their buyer personas to understand how you can personalize a campaign that might get them to click.

You can also separate your email subscribers into lists based on their interests, previous purchases, location, or other demographics.

Look at this example of Grammarly which sends a personalized weekly update adding value to the customer while contributing to their brand recall.

personalized ecommerce marketing


Another simple but great example came from one of our employees at ConvertCart. He regularly orders from Starbucks on an India-based delivery app - Swiggy. After a few days of ordering, an email popped up in his inbox. The results? He ordered again, this time a lot more than usual.

Personalize email campaigns like Starbucks and Swiggy


It’s really interesting to see how two minor factors - the subject line & the exclusive coupon - can make a massive impact on conversions. Additionally, your customers will get closer to the brand as you keep impressing them with more personalized communications.

b) Make your content stand out

If your copy doesn’t engage in a few seconds, you’ve lost a potential customer. But a compelling copy is one part; you must also pay heed to design and formatting, and keep it as clean and simple as possible. Take this beautiful example of Lush that makes you want to stop and take notice.

email marketing for combating low conversions


c) Keep a tab on the frequency and relevancy

Are you bombarding users with emails? How many times a week are you sending out these emails? Is what you are sending relevant?

These are some questions you need to ask yourself if you’ve opted for email marketing and if you see people disengaging.

The real culprit, more often than not, is irrelevant emails.

If you treat your audience as one big list with no segregation based on what they like, where they live, age group, and behavior patterns, the email campaigns aren’t going to resonate with them, and in all likelihood, they won’t click.

Make sure that your email copy is designed with your target audience in mind. Whether it's educational content, discounts, or coupons, you should always provide value to your readers.

You can use email personalization software such as Engage by ConvertCart to ensure email send optimization, personalize email copy for every user, and customize your email workflow based on shopper behavior.

When you consider these best practices, you will definitely see more conversions from your email subscribers.

9. Exit-intent popups: Are they mapped to user behavior?

Cash in on the pivotal moment. As your visitors leave the website, hold their attention with an irresistible popup banner, which can be a discount, promo code, product demo, or just about anything else.

Why? Because exit-intent popups work really well.

Your customers only take a minute to slide off to another website with lucrative deals and discounts. You need to engage them and tell them why they should stay. Popups can do that for you.

While many marketers hesitate to include exit-intent popups because they believe that popups are annoying to customers, the data shows the opposite. When used effectively, popups can help you see a 5-10% increase in conversions.

Look at this handsome banner by JarJackets which is so fun and engaging that anyone would look to subscribe:

exit intent pop up for ecommerce conversion


Take a leaf out of this banner from Le Creuset which has a truly persuasive copy (and free shipping!):

macy know what's cooking


The attention span of web users is less than 9 seconds. And even lesser for exit-intent popups which interrupt while they’re leaving the site. You need to win them over in the short window.

How to solve

Here are some best practices for using exit-intent popups for your website:

a) Target the right audience - Not all visitors browsing the website are looking to buy. Some are with an intent to purchase while others could be browsing through. Segment your visitors and target those with a high chance of converting. Lock them in with discounts, coupons, and other attractive deals, every time they leave the website.‍

b) Make a contextual offer - Always make sure the popups are targeted to the right set of audiences. For instance, you run an eCommerce business that sells clothing for kids, men, and women. On the page where men’s products are listed, showing a sale on kids’ clothing is not going to be effective. ‍

c) Use images as a hook - Engaging photos will draw the eye and help increase interest. And then entice them to stay on your website and convert by offering a discount code, coupon, free shipping, or a free download.‍

d) Write a compelling copy - Make it short, crisp, and worthy. Be clear about how it is adding value to the customers. Fine-tune your CTAs to resonate with an audience who will instantly click on them. You can employ psychological hacks such as FOMO or a sense of urgency to keep them engaged, drive more sales, and shoot up the conversion rates.‍

e) Address potential concerns - Show a 100% satisfaction guarantee or some other reassurance for your website visitors to increase trust.

When it comes to exit-intent popups, keep one thing in mind: they can’t hurt! While there are countless upsides to using exit-intent popups, there are practically no disadvantages.

Remember, the people who view these popups were about to leave your website anyway. It doesn’t hurt anything to try to reach out to them one more time before they leave.

10. A/B testing: Are you doing it enough?

The final step is testing. If you want to get accurate data from your conversion funnel and customer behavior.

And nothing better than A/B testing to do that. It’s still one of the most popular ways to improve your conversion rates—as you can see below.

ab testing to improve eCommerce conversion rates
Source


How to use A/B testing to improve eCommerce conversion rates

To get the best results, you’ll have to know which elements to test. Start with the most impactful elements and go down in priority.

a) Copy - Headlines are one of the most important aspects of your web pages. Check for user interactions with headlines to identify the most impactful ones. Another element to test is CTAs and anchor texts. You can also test content lengths and reactions to persuasion. 

b) Visuals - Images, audio, and video all are important elements that impact conversion. Try testing video testimonials to text ones. Or infographic lengths. Check whether product videos or stock images get you more conversions.

c) Email subject lines - These directly impact your open rates. Your aim should be to beat the average percentage of 25–47%. Try testing various formats such as power words, statements, questions, and emojis.

d) Product descriptions - Ideally, your product description length should be guided by the awareness level of your customers. Check this insightful chart by Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.

product description length for improving eCommerce conversions
Source

e) Landing pages - As you know, these are the pages that directly drive sales. You can use heat maps to check which part of your landing pages people are clicking on. This is valuable data to have before finalizing an A/B testing hypothesis. You should try reaching beyond the average landing page conversion rate of 2.35%.

Ready to increase your eCommerce conversion rate? Just put these tips into practice, and you will see an improvement in your site’s conversion rates.

If you're looking for an in-depth analysis of your website from the best in the eCommerce industry, Sign up for a website audit today!

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