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

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 eCommerce 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

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 super common mistakes that could harm your eCommerce conversion rates

1. Your CTA's could be a little off

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: 

average CTA conversion rates by location

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

c) Placement (Sticky CTAs as well as CTAs that are above the fold work well)

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

Example of sticky CTA to improve online conversion rates

d) Copy (Clarity is the key here. Use trigger words and specify the exact benefit)

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

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)

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. 

Pro Tip: Use tools such as Google Optimize and CRO360. You can run tests between different CTAs and you’ll know which ones perform better.

2. You're probably underutilizing social proof

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 eCommerce store:

a) Customer reviews - 92% of online shoppers look at reviews before they make a purchase. Plus, the probability of sale for a product with more than 5 reviews is 270% greater than one without it. 

b) Customer testimonials - 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.

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

e) Fear of missing out (FOMO) - Add an element of FOMO to your social proof by showing real-time statistics on your website.

f) User-generated content (UGC) - 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 value quality over quantity and show the important reviews, with an option of filtering through size, dimensions, etc.

example of customer reviews from Patagonia

b) Use FOMO like a pro like Loft Outlet

example of FOMO triggers from Loft Outlet

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.

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.

Hey, you’ll love this: How to use "out of stock" products as a conversion driver
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3. Your website could be lagging (happens more often than we’d like)

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

Example: Adidas

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
Pro Tip: Use Google Analytics to analyze how users interact with your site so you know which pages have room for improvement.

b) Check for browser compatibility - It’s possible that your site takes longer on one browser than the other, or that users with older versions of browsers may not be able to access all features. 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.

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.

Pro Tip: Make Google Page Speed Insights your best friend. The data will help you keep your website running smoothly.
example of google page speed insights data for improving eCommerce conversion rates

4. Your website may not be the best on mobile

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.

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.

Example: 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

macy mobile friendly
Fun fact: 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.
mobile friendly macy website

5. Your checkout process might be complicated

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.

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
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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 - 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

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.

Pro Tip: Have between 4 to 6 steps in your checkout process to truly see results.

6. Your site search could be a bit unintuitive

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

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 - 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. 

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. 

However, since search engines don’t see your images but match the results to queries, your image alt texts are super important. Here, 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.

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

7. You're probably not keeping it real with shipping costs

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

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. 

Pro Tip: Offer free shipping for a value that is between your desired average order value and the actual average order value.

8. Your email campaigns could be uninspiring (too salesy)

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

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

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

The real culprits, more often than not, are 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.

BTW: Engage can help you personalize the email copy for *each* customer. (Some brands that are using Engage - drive upwards of 30% of their revenue from email marketing.) Take a peek!

9. Your exit-intent popups could be too intrusive

Here’s the deal: 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

How to solve

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

a) Target the right audience - 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 - 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.

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

10. Your A/B testing may not be on point

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

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

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%.

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

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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