Your website isn’t converting
You’ve invested in a website for your business and you think you’ve done everything right.
But, for some reason, it’s just not working.
The visitors are coming, but they’re not converting into the sales and enquiries you need.
So what’s the problem?
Why are your visitors abandoning their shopping carts or leaving without getting in touch?
I may have some answers for you.
21 Reasons why your website isn’t converting
This article was created with input from the lovely people of LinkedIn, who responded to my questions on what had stopped them from buying from a website or from getting in touch about the services.
And here’s what they told me…
1. Slow loading
If your website takes too long to load, your would-be visitors might not even be landing on it.
When it comes to website load speeds, the faster the better, but anything up to 3 seconds is usually considered acceptable.
According to NVisage Digital, If that creeps up to 4 seconds — just one second more — you can expect to experience:
- An 11% drop in your page views
- A 7% drop in your conversions
- A 16% drop in customer satisfaction.
And these percentages will keep increasing for each additional second — so it pays to fix any issues.
How to improve your website’s load speed
To check the load speed of your website, head to GTMetrix.com and input your URL.
If improvements can be made, you’ll find details further down the results page.
2. Out-of-date security certificate
A dated security certificate makes your website appear unsafe and unsecure. Not what visitors want to see if they’re planning to spend money with you!
The https security certificate
The https security certificate has been around since 1994. But it didn’t come into common usage until 2010, when Google first started encouraging all website owners to use it.
By 2014, Google was prioritising websites that had it. And by 2018, was penalising websites that didn’t have it.
But, according to my LinkedIn sources, there are still some websites that don’t have it — and that will be costing them sales.
How to check your website’s security certificate
You can check the security certificate of your website by looking at the http part of your URL.
If your URL begins with https, then your security certificate is up to date and you don’t need to do anything.
If you still have http — without the ‘s’ at the end — you need to talk to your domain host about getting it updated.
3. No cookie opt-out
What are cookies used for?
Cookies are text files that store information, like form data and ad tracking. They can automatically sign you into websites, save information about products you looked at and retain any items you might have left in your shopping basket.
While this might seem convenient, many visitors inevitably have privacy concerns and they want the option to opt out of cookies — or at least reject the non-essential ones. If there’s no option to do either, your visitors might not be comfortable engaging with your website.
GDPR and cookie consent
Nowadays, some websites are giving visitors the option to reject non-essential cookies or decline cookies completely. And many visitors are taking one of those options.
How to check your cookie consent/opt outs
You should be able to see what cookie consent/opt-outs you currently have on your site by visiting your site in Private or Incognito mode.
If you find you’re not giving visitors an opt-out, and you want to, your web developer should be able to fix that for you.
Pop-ups are incredibly divisive
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t find pop-ups irritating. And they were mentioned by several of the people who responded to my LinkedIn post, which is why they’re on this list.
The point is, when you’ve just landed on a site and you haven’t seen anything, you’re not in a position to decide if you want to sign up for discounts or marketing emails. So these pop-ups are an unnecessary aggravation.
However, others insist they work and provide data to back up their assertions.
To pop-up or not to pop-up?
If you have pop-ups on your website, you need to make sure they’re working properly and that they’re not going to annoy people too much. I’ve included some advice on this in my article:
If you think your pop-ups are the best they can be, but you’re still not sure if they’re deterring your prospects, it could be a good time to test them.
Try removing them for a while, then put them back and compare the conversion data with and without.
5. Confusing navigation
Visitors won’t buy from your website if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Your website navigation should be intuitive, making it easy for visitors to find what they need. And they should be able to reach any page of your site within 3 clicks.
If your navigation is confusing or doesn’t help visitors locate what they need quickly and easily, they’ll leave your site and look for it elsewhere.
See how visitors are using your site
You can see how visitors are moving through your site — and where they’re leaving it — by looking at Path Exploration (formerly Behaviour Flow) in Google Analytics GA4.
Or by applying apps like Hotjar to your site, which creates heatmaps and real-time video to show how visitors are using your site.
Test your navigation
You can test your navigation with a friend or family member who’s never been on your site before. Give them a list of products/services/information to locate and see how easily they can find each thing.
6. Bad formatting
Bad formatting covers a multitude of problems. They include:
- Long and dense paragraphs of text that are unpleasant to read on a screen
- A busy layout with too much going on and nothing that draws the eye
- Text and other elements overlapping and crashing together
- Non-responsive designs that don’t resize for different devices
- Hidden navigational elements
- Over-long drop-down menus that make it difficult to make a selection
- Inconsistent typefaces and text sizes that are hard to read.
Bad formatting can affect your website’s function, usability and readability. It might make your website and your company look unprofessional. And it might suggest to your visitors that you don’t care that much about them or their experience.
The benefits of good formatting
When your website is well-considered and easy to use, visitors will be more likely to engage with it — and buy from you.
Your website should be functional, intuitive and easy to use. And the copy should be laid out in a way that makes it easy to read and digest.
Check the formatting on your website and make sure your:
- Paragraphs are short and manageable, with plenty of white space between them
- Site is responsive and resizes correctly on different devices, with no crashing or overlapping elements
- Navigation is clear and easy to find
- Website’s processes display and perform correctly
- Typography is well-considered and consistent with text at a readable size.
7. Fake scarcity
Scarcity marketing is where your website is offering something on the basis that it’s only available for a limited time or that you only have limited stock. This is a recognised and well-used technique for closing the sale quickly. But it can go awry if your offer isn’t genuine.
For example, if your visitor refreshes the page and the timer/stock countdown resets itself. Or if your visitor returns to the site at a later time to find the exact same offer counting down — like it never ended.
Nobody wants to feel they’ve been misled or lied to. And faking scarcity is a surefire way to lose prospects and destroy their trust in your brand.
Limited offers can work
The scarcity technique can work well — but only when it’s legitimate and you follow through on what you set out in the beginning.
So make sure:
- Countdown timers are genuine and can’t be reset
- You do only have limited stock
- You cancel the offer at the end of the time period
- The price increases, or goes back to what it was, when the offer ends.
8. Poor user experience (UX)
If your website gives a poor user experience, your visitors will be less likely to want to engage with it and your conversions may be suffering as a result.
Poor UX is a general term and could include many of the more specific examples in this list. So for this one, let’s focus specifically on poor UX at the point of conversion.
This might include:
- An overly complicated process with too many steps
- Requiring a ridiculously complex and sophisticated password
- Dark UX: deliberate attempts to try and trick or mislead visitors
- Poor performance such as delayed response or clunky operation
- A broken or defective processes.
How to check your UX
If you think poor UX might be the reason your website isn’t converting, you need to investigate what the problems are. You can do that yourself, to a point, by asking friends or family to test it.
But it would make more sense to bring in an expert who knows where the potential problems might be and what to look for. An outsider will also look at your site more objectively and won’t hold back when it comes to giving their verdict.
If you need help, my website audit service could help you.
9. Poor quality images
Poor quality images won’t inspire confidence in your products or your business. And that could even be costing you business.
Images can be poor quality for all kinds of reasons. Here are some:
- Amateurish photography or photo editing
- Bad cutouts where the background has been removed
- Watermarked stock images that haven’t been paid for
- Images that are too small or have low resolution
- Inconsistent image sizes or styling
- Photography with poor lighting
- Missing images.
Check your images
Do the images on your website have any of the problems above?
If you want to be taken seriously and give visitors the confidence to buy from/work with you, your site needs to look professional.
Hiring a professional photographer might cost more, but the results could pay for themselves.
10. Missing product information
Visitors need product information to know if a product is right for them and to see how it compares with other similar products they’re looking at.
If this vital product information is missing, they won’t be able to choose your product — and they won’t convert.
Deciding what product information to display
Important information might include your product’s:
- Manufacturing materials
- Features (for comparison)
If you’re not sure what information your visitors need to see, you can check your product’s sales literature — or, even better, check your competitors’ websites.
11. Lack of social proof
What is social proof?
Social proof includes things like product reviews, testimonials and case studies. Anything where a former client or customer has given feedback on your product or their experience of hiring/working with you.
If you don’t have social proof when all your competitors do, it will make you look less credible and visitors might think it’s because you’re too inexperienced or you have something to hide.
How to get social proof
The only way to get social proof is to ask your clients or customers for it.
And it might feel awkward asking them, but you know what happens if you don’t ask!
To make it easy for your clients, give several options of places to leave reviews (e.g. LinkedIn, Google, Trustpilot) so they can choose the one that’s most convenient for them — and provide direct link.
To get a more individual and non-generic review, give your clients some guidance in the form of a framework with questions to answer.
My article: Creating a project wrap-up form goes into more detail on this.
12. Typos and errors
Typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can create a bad impression, making your business look sloppy and unprofessional. Some visitors will conclude that if you’re careless about your own website, you might be careless about your customer service, too. And that could be a reason they don’t buy from you.
How to fix your mistakes
Using spelling and grammar checkers will only get you so far. These tools sometimes give the wrong advice — and there are still errors they won’t pick up.
If you’re not confident about the quality of your copy, a human proofreader or copy editor is best. These professionals understand context and nuance better than a machine ever will and they’ll be able to give your copy the attention it really needs.
13. Unrelatable messaging
People are more likely to buy from websites where the messaging is relatable and makes them them feel seen and understood. This kind of messaging gives them the confidence to know that what’s being sold is for them.
The opposite of that is messaging that doesn’t hit the mark. Messaging that:
- Is presumptuous — and gets it wrong
- Makes people feel excluded
- Isn’t speaking the right language
- Fails to connect with the audience.
Be inclusive with your messaging
Hitting those pain points is important — and you want to be specific. But, in any situation, not everyone is going to have exactly the same problem or feel exactly the same way about it, so you need to be careful.
Do your research to find out exactly who you’re talking to — and leave no stone unturned. Then craft messaging that works for those people and makes them feel included and understood.
14. Too much choice
It might seem that offering lots of choice is a good thing.
But pages and pages of products can end up overwhelming and bogging down your visitors to the point that they get tired of looking and leave without buying.
Let your visitors narrow it down
If you have a lot of stock to sell, the best thing you can do is apply filters so visitors can focus their search.
For example, if you’re selling dresses you might allow visitors to filter on the basis of:
15. Problems with the Call to Action (CTA)
The CTA is the action you want your visitors to take, whether that’s subscribing to your email list, buying your product or enquiring about your services.
It could be in the form of a ‘buy now’ button, a phone number, a sign up box or a contact form.
Problems might include that the CTA is:
- Linking to the wrong page
- Broken or malfunctioning.
CTAs are usually at the point of conversion, so if they’re not working it’s no wonder your site isn’t converting.
Check your CTAs
Make sure your CTAs are:
- Placed at all the necessary points on your website
- Clear and obvious, so visitors know what to do
- Unambiguous, so visitors know exactly what to expect
- Working properly and following through correctly.
Test your CTAs regularly, especially sign-up boxes and forms. Sometimes browser and platform updates can cause them to stop working.
16. Too many hoops to jump through
This refers to the number of steps a visitor has to go through, from the point they decide to convert to actually converting.
Several members of my LinkedIn community raised this issue. One had been on a website where she had to go through six click-throughs before she was able to buy a product. She’d decided not to buy way before the sixth, but kept clicking out of curiosity, to see how deep the rabbit hole went.
Examples of too many hoops
Too many hoops could be multiple screens of:
- Data entry, asking for more and more information
- Special offers, tempting visitors to buy more
- Policy and agreement confirmations
- Add-ons and additions, not included in the original price.
The more click-throughs a visitor has to go through, the more likely they’ll abandon the process before the end.
Make it smooth
For a high conversion rate, your process should be as short and frictionless as possible.
Evaluate your conversion processes. Look at how many steps each one has and how many hoops you’re expecting visitors to jump through. If there are more than a couple, you need to look for ways to cut them down.
Some ideas on how to do this:
- Only ask for the information you need at the point of conversion
- Include an optional ‘View Special Offers’ button
- Amalgamate your policies and agreements
- Display add-ons on the product page.
17. Requiring too much information
With so many scams and horror stories circulating these days, people are naturally wary of divulging too much personal information.
So if you’re asking visitors to supply more information than you really need — and making it a condition to convert them — some visitors might not be happy to give it.
Only ask for what you need
When requesting information, ask for the bare minimum you need to deliver your service. These should be your required fields.
For example, if you have an email address, additional information, like a phone number for text notifications, could be given optionally.
18. Lack of contact information
If the only means of contacting you is the contact form on your website, visitors will understandably be cautious. Because what if there’s a problem? What if they want to speak to someone? What if they want to email you and keep a record of your communications?
A lack of contact information can be a deal-breaker and scupper any chance of a conversion.
It should be obvious what the advice is here. As a minimum you need a phone number and an email address, but a postal address will add credibility, too.
19. Limited payment options
One of my LinkedIn commenters didn’t buy from a website because there were limited ways to pay and her preferred option wasn’t included.
Reassess your website’s payment options
The payment methods you have on your website are a judgement call. But with new technologies and new ways to pay coming out all the time, you might want to review the options you’re giving every once in a while.
If something new has come out and it’s popular, it might be advantageous to add it.
20. Nasty surprises at the checkout
If your visitor is at the checkout, the conversion is almost in the bag. But then you hit them with something unexpected and they abandon the purchase.
Maybe the, as yet unmentioned, delivery charge seems astronomical. Maybe the product is incomplete and won’t work without appendages (sold separately). Maybe unexpected fees have been added and the product is no longer such an attractive proposition.
Your website visitors won’t like nasty surprises. Leaving vital information and additions like these until the last minute can come across as sneaky and destroy trust in your brand.
Visitors like to know where they stand, so it always pays to be upfront and transparent — particularly when it comes to costs.
21. Poor response
One of the LinkedIn commenters who answered my question told me they didn’t buy from a website because they had a poor response from the business.
This is entirely avoidable.
You should reply to everyone who enquires about working with you — even if it’s a ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
When you respond:
- Be friendly, polite and enthusiastic
- Answer any questions you’re asked
- Ask any questions you need to give your answers
- Make the person feel their enquiry is important
- Make them feel they’re being listened to and understood.
If the project isn’t a good fit for you, you could advise the enquirer on how to better their search. Or recommend someone you know who would be a better match.
Consider changing your approach
If you find you’re consistently getting the wrong kinds of enquiries from the wrong kinds of people, you need to look at the messaging on your website and fix it.
This may not be something you can do yourself because you’re too close to your business. But a professional copywriter who offers critiques will look at your website more objectively and should be able to point you in a better direction.
About the author
I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Leicester, UK.
I specialise in writing effective SEO copy and content that helps websites and blogs attract the right people and convert visitors into sales.