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9 Reasons Your Conversion Rate Is So Low + 1 Nobody Knows About

9 Reasons Your Conversion Rate Is So Low + 1 Nobody Knows About

Does your website suffer from a low conversion rate?

Then, let’s dive right into changing it because we know you want results ASAP.

And that’s also why we’re not going to cover every possible reason under the sun that your site isn’t seeing a 100% conversion rate.

We’re going to cover the only 9 that really matter.

Not 100.

Not 50.


Just 9.

Oh, and one bonus reason that no one EVER mentions in these blog posts – potentially, an absolute game changer.

So…10 reason.

Alright, ready?

Before We Get Started: What Should Your Conversion Rate Be?

Okay, one quick detour before we start diagnosing your low conversions.

After all, if your conversion rate really isn’t “low”, you might be better served by trying to increase the amount of traffic you bring to your site. That would be a much better way of improving your revenue.

While it’s different for every industry, a good conversion rate for a website is between 2-5%. For strictly eCommerce websites, though, conversion rates are a little lower, closer to 1.84-3.71%.

But like I said, it’s worth checking out what conversion rates are broken down by industry. For example, in “Home Furniture”, it’s just 0.5%. For “Beauty and Makeup”, it’s 2.2%. If you sell in “Food and Beverage” it’s 4.4%.

Whatever the case, if you look up your conversion rate and see it’s lagging compared to other businesses in your industry, let’s look at how you can change that ASAP.

9 Reasons You Have a Low Conversion Rate

Alright, ready to finally fix your conversion rate?

Then, let’s look at why it might be so low in the first place.

Below, we’ve identified the top 9 reasons your site isn’t getting the conversions it deserves (plus the bonus reason I mentioned earlier).

1. THE BIG ONE: High Added Costs That Customers Weren’t Expecting

While there could be more than one reason your eCommerce site has a low conversion rate, none of them sting quite as much as a problem with abandoned carts.

That’s because an abandoned cart means a customer was JUST about to make a purchase before they decided to leave your site – possibly never to return.

That hurts.

But there’s good news here.

We know the #1 reason shoppers abandon their carts:


As you can see, 55% report that they abandon their carts when they find out about unexpectedly high costs.

Shipping costs are usually the main culprit.

So, it might be worth experimenting with losing those altogether and simply raising your products’ prices to offer free shipping. That could skyrocket your conversion rates as “free shipping” is the number one reason customers say they made an online purchase in 2020.

Another option is to make it clear on your site that you offer free shipping once a customer’s total purchases reach a certain amount. This takes care of the “surprise” shipping-cost problem AND it’s a great way to increase your average order values – not just your conversion rate.

This goes for any other additional costs your customer may need to incur when they buy from your eCommerce website. Make sure they know about these fees long before they arrive at your checkout page.

2. The Easiest One to Fix: You Don’t Offer Guest Checkout

The second biggest reason shoppers abandon their carts is because the site forced them to create an account. As the chart above shows, 34% of shoppers reported this one as a major sticking point.

This is why guest checkouts have become more popular than ever. They let customers complete their checkouts without going through the process of creating an account with your website.

This means they can complete their transaction faster if they don’t already have an account.

And it turns out this is actually a very big deal.

In psychology, the Zeigarnik Effect explains the natural compulsion to finish tasks we started. If you’ve ever suffered from procrastination, you’ve probably heard that all you have to do is “get started” to finish the entire task.

That’s why a simple checkout can have such a dramatic effect on your conversions. By offering a guest checkout that limits the number of fields they need to complete, customers are more likely to “just get started” and, therefore, actually finish and convert.

Plus, many customers simply don’t like handing over any contact information just to make their purchase.

And don’t forget about impulse shoppers. Studies have shown that 80% of shoppers say they’ve bought something on impulse before, so removing the sign-up process from your checkout could dramatically increase your sales.

Whatever the reason, giving shoppers the option to check out as guests has been an absolute game-changer for companies across every industry, including household names like Nike, Walmart, and Crate & Barrel.

And if you want to try it out for yourself – without spending a single penny – we have an extension that offers guest checkouts and is completely free (we don’t even charge transaction fees).

3. Your Products Are Great – Your Product Pages Aren’t

A common piece of advice for improving your low conversion rates that you’ll hear in eCommerce circles is that “people don’t understand your product.” The idea is that your product descriptions are falling short of convincing people that it’s exactly what they want.

And while this could be the case, it’s the exception – not the rule.

If your website is getting organic traffic, people understand what you’re selling. Even if they get there without branded search queries, they clearly know what to call your products if they’re able to explain it to Google.

So, beefing up your product descriptions to really sell people on their advantages probably won’t move the needle on conversions a whole lot.

Instead, it might be that your product pages are lacking professional-looking, high-resolution images or maybe even the kinds of videos your competitors are using.

It’s not just that these images and videos will help your customers imagine the benefits of using your products.

It’s that these high-quality assets also speak well of your business. They will inspire confidence in your shoppers. And this confidence can make all the difference when it comes time for them to click that “buy” button.

4. The Problem Is Your Traffic (But Not for the Reason You Think)

Here’s another reason you’ll hear about all the time if you look into low conversions.

Yes, if you’re not getting enough of “the right” traffic, it’s impossible to reach an acceptable conversion rate.

But this post isn’t about the obvious, overplayed reasons, so let’s dig into this one a bit more.

For paid ads, the problem of not getting “qualified traffic” is a relatively simple one to solve. You’re either not budgeting for sufficient clicks or your ads aren’t sealing the deal. If it’s the former, you need to up your ad spend or adjust your expectations accordingly.

What to Do About Organic Traffic That Isn’t Converting

But what if it’s that all-important organic traffic that isn’t carrying its weight?

The obvious solution is to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. Obviously, if you’re trying to sell “televisions”, you shouldn’t be targeting “microwaves.”

Everyone knows that, so we’re not going to spend any more time on that concept.

Targeting the right keywords is important, but usually, unless you have one of the top three ranks, you’re only getting a small percentage of the traffic.

Even worse, a lot of that traffic may only be visiting your site AFTER they first visited one of the top three (or maybe all of them).

In other words, you’re not their first choice. They’re just looking for the best possible deal. And if you offer it, great. You get the conversion.

But if you don’t, that customer is going back to Google for more options.

Those top results simply don’t have this kind of problem because most customers who click on them and find what they need will also end up converting.

The point is that Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) isn’t always the answer to slowed sales.

Maybe what you should be doing is investing in SEO services that will push your eCommerce store higher up the rankings. You’ll see more traffic, which will mean more sales even if your conversion rate doesn’t change. You’ll also see BETTER traffic, too – the kind that’s more likely to convert.

So, yes. Traffic could be the reason for your low conversions, but not because you’re not targeting the right keywords. It’s because you’re not ranking high enough for them.

5. Bad UX Is Sabotaging Your Conversions

But abandoned carts aren’t the only reason most eCommerce companies see low conversions.

Other problems can keep customers from ever getting to carts in the first place.

The first of these reasons is that your eCommerce website isn’t making a great first impression.

Bad UX can cover everything from a website that doesn’t make a good first impression to frustrating navigation features that don’t lead your visitors anywhere but lost.

Good website UX, on the other hand, takes the entirety of your visitor’s journey into consideration – from the moment they arrive on your site to the “Thank You” page they see after buying.

Hiring an eCommerce UX expert is definitely the fastest way to see an improvement in your conversion rate.

However, there are some more budget-friendly options you can pursue, too.

For example, Google’s Core Web Vitals Report is completely free if you’re using Search Console. These reports tell you how well Google thinks you’re doing as far as page speed and user experience go. Improving either of these two factors will lead to better traffic and conversions.

You can also use affordable SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush that come packed with all kinds of reports that will show you if visitors are having an easy time finding their way around your site or not.

6. Your Site Isn’t REALLY Mobile-Friendly

By now, everyone in eCommerce knows your website has to be mobile-friendly if you want a chance at ANY conversions – much less really impressive numbers.

It’s arguably one of the most important ranking factors in Google, so if your site ignores mobile users, Google is going to ignore your site.

Fortunately, Google once again makes it REALLY easy to check if your site passes its mobile tests. You can literally just Google it:

With that being said, you can pass the test above without actually offering the kind of mobile experience that will really skyrocket conversions.

The best way to test for this is to literally just “shop” your own website from your mobile devices and see if you run into problems that might hurt conversions.

And if your site uses popups, make sure those are mobile-friendly, too. A lot of business owners go to great lengths to make their sites mobile-friendly only to forget about their popups, which then chase customers away.

7. Customers Don’t Want to Be Your First Buyers

Another way to improve your eCommerce website’s product pages that ACTUALLY works is to leverage the power of social proof.

In short, “social proof” refers to images and videos that don’t just show your product. They show your product actually being used and enjoyed by “real” people.

So, we’re not talking stock images here. We’re talking about user-generated content from “normal” people that shows them excited about your product (and, by extension, happy they bought it).

One really easy way to do this is through social media. If you can build up a following, you can incentivize customers to send in images or videos of them loving your products and then share those – not just on social media but on your eCommerce website, too.

The reason why social proof is so powerful is probably obvious: customers want to avoid risks. They don’t want to feel like the first person who’s ever bought your product. They want to know others have and that those people are sure glad they did.

Think of it this way: would you rather walk into an empty restaurant or one that has a line out the door? The second one, right? Because you can clearly see a lot of people already love it.

Include Product Reviews EVERYWHERE

This is why social proof has become more important than customer reviews. They seem much more legitimate than the anonymous people leaving reviews for your products. Who knows if they’re real? Social proof solves that problem.

And yet, I still encourage you to ask customers for reviews and then display them EVERYWHERE on your website. Take all those great quotes that praise your products and add them to every corner of every page of your site. You want visitors to be reminded over and over that your products do not disappoint.

8. You’re Letting Customers Just Leave

Alright, a hard truth: no matter what you do, many shoppers are simply going to leave your website without purchasing.

There are plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with your site, too.

Maybe they need to leave for work or go to bed.

Maybe someone called them.

Whatever the case, once they leave your site, they might not come back.

And there goes that potential conversion.

That’s why every eCommerce company should be investing in exit-intent popups.

In short, these are popups that are triggered when the software recognizes that the visitor is moving their cursor to leave your site.

It’s one last shot at trying to save the conversion.

If the customer put items in their cart, showing them this cart and reminding them they hadn’t checked out yet is an easy way to potentially seal the deal.

Depending on what you sell, you could also offer the user a free eBook – something that won’t cost you any money but could keep them on the site long enough to make the sale. If nothing else, you can grab the customer’s email that way and try to convert them later.

But many companies are willing to offer discounts or other deals in order to at least get some profit out of a customer who was otherwise about to give them none.

They use exit-intent popups that offer things like 10% off or free shipping. They might encourage the shopper with some kind of free gift if they stay on the site and complete a purchase.

While popup ads often get a bad name, this version is a no-brainer when you consider that the shopper had made it clear they weren’t going to spend any money with you. If the popup annoys them, at least it can’t hurt a nonexistent sale.

9. You Don’t Retarget or Remarket

Of course, even an amazing deal presented through an exit-intent popup won’t always save a conversion.

In that case, there’s still one really powerful tactic you can use to bring that low conversion rate to a place of prominence: retargeting (or remarketing) ads.

These are VERY SPECIFIC paid ads that offer absolutely incredible conversion rates.

That’s because they only retarget customers who were previously on your website and showed interest in your products. These ads then run whenever that customer visits another site that shows them.

If you’ve ever shopped for a product before and then noticed you kept seeing ads for it all over the Internet, that wasn’t a consequence. The site you were on used retargeting ads.

These ads are such a great investment because, like other CPC ads, you only pay when someone clicks to buy.

But, unlike typical CPC ads, retargeting ads will only show to customers who had actually clicked on your site and showed interest in a particular product, which will significantly improve your conversion rate and resulting ROI.

Just because a customer exits your site doesn’t mean you should give up.

With retargeting ads, you can still get the conversion long after they’ve left.

Bonus Reason: PayPal Is Taking Credit for Conversions

Okay, to be fair, this last one is actually a reason that your Google Analytics is reporting conversions incorrectly. This is still a huge problem, though, because if you don’t know it exists, you’re liable to make some very costly decisions about your marketing channels.

Despite this, very few business owners know about this conversion-rate-killer, even though it could cause them to change up their ad spend or even fire their marketing agency.

Seriously, if it’s happening to your site, that’ll make this whole article worth reading.

Alright, let’s look at the actual problem.

When you use PayPal as a payment processer on your site (which you totally should), customers who select it will be taken to the PayPal site to sign in to their account and pay.

Once they do that, they’ll then be sent back to your site to an Order Confirmation Page, a Thank You Page, etc.

The point is that once PayPal returns them to your site, that payment processor is now considered the “Referral Source” in Google Analytics and will, therefore, get credit for the conversion.

So, all that hard work you’ve spent on SEO or the money you invested into PPC will still get the credit for traffic – GREAT! – but you’ll see your conversion drop dramatically for those traffic sources – NOT great!

Chances are that if this is happening on your website, you’ve already noticed. Again, your conversion rate probably took a huge hit for at least one of your channels.

However, if you’re curious, log into your Google Analytics, head to Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels>Referral, and then check for PayPal. 

If you see that PayPal is being reported as a referral source, you’ll want to tell Google Analytics to block the site from that kind of reporting going forward. By doing so, Google will give credit to the rightful traffic source.

This is extremely easy to do, but if you’re looking for a concise guide to the problem and the solution, check out this article on “How to Add PayPal Referral to Your GA Exclusion List.”

Don’t Settle for Low Conversion Rates

While it might take some time to run through this list and diagnose the real reason (or reasons) behind your site’s poor conversion rate, the outcome will definitely be worth it.

Improving your conversion rate by even 5% could completely change your eCommerce company’s trajectory.

That’s why you shouldn’t settle for a low conversion rate. Even after you apply the above advice to improve it, don’t settle. Keep exploring these strategies and there never needs to be a limit to how higher your conversion rate can go.

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