You’ve written some really compelling copy for your website. Your product images are polished. Your overall site design is professional. And thanks to marketing initiatives like these ones, you’re getting traffic to your site.
So why is it that so few of those visitors are converting into leads and customers?
I hear about issues like this every day. Unfortunately, converting web visitors isn’t as simple as the old mantra says: “If you build it, they will come.” Capturing conversions online takes a truly special combination of factors.
There are many opportunities to make mistakes that cost conversions on your website. If you’re having trouble getting buyers to stick, consider whether you're making any of the following mistakes to cause visitors to leave your website without converting.
16 Reasons People Leave Your Website
1) Your design is outdated.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but we all judge books by their covers. On his blog "Social Triggers," Derek Halpern shared a fascinating study that backs up the impact a site’s design can have on its perceived trustworthiness.
In the study, psychologist and researcher Dr. Elizabeth Sillence asked participants to review websites on the subject of hypertension and then rate whether they trusted or distrusted the website. In a surprising turn of events, the study found that 94% of wary respondents attributed their uneasiness to the website’s design.
Design matters. So if your site still looks like something out of 1996 Geocities, it’s time for a professional facelift. (You can download HubSpot's ultimate guide to redesignin your website here.)
2) Your content is difficult to read.
On a related note, consider that design isn’t just about colors, images and graphics. The fonts you use, as well as the colors of your text and background, can determine how easily people can read and digest the content on your website. If it can’t be easily read, it’s simply not going to convert very well.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about which fonts to use and which to avoid -- except you should never, ever use Comic Sans. Instead, stick to high-contrast color combinations and clean, ornamentation-free serif or sans serif fonts for best results. Here are a few tips and ideas on choosing the right fonts for your marketing.
As for font size, stick to larger fonts to give visitors a better experience whether they're on desktop or using a mobile device. For headlines, use a font size of 22 px or larger. For body copy, stick to 14 px or larger.
3) Your site relies on outdated plugins.
If you’ve got your site’s sales content buried in Flash files, you’re going to be left waiting a long time for users who have neither the time nor the inclination to install updated versions of this outdated plugin. Even YouTube has dropped the Flash object embeds in favor of the more modern HTML5 video player.
Instead, use HTML5 for all of your videos and animations. To give a better experience for users who can't or don't want to watch a video (and to help boost SEO), include a summary, notes, or a transcript of the video.
Remember, though, that plugins and add-ons are deprecated all the time. The fewer bells and whistles your site adds, the less time you’ll have to spend jumping on new technology trends.
4) You're overwhelming people with ads.
If your website is run on an ad-driven model, then removing them from your website entirely may not be an option. But just because you need to have ads doesn’t mean you need to have them everywhere.
Nielsen’s 2014 Trust in Advertising report revealed that survey participants trust nearly all forms of traditional advertising -- including newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboards, radio ads and infomercials -- more than they trust online banner ads. Here's the breakdown on the extent to which those surveyed trust different forms of advertising:
Image Credit: The Nielsen Company
Since trust is a key component to driving conversions, limit the number of ads you use and the locations where they’re displayed. Ads shouldn’t be the first thing visitors see, and they shouldn’t take up more of your site’s real estate than its actual content.
5) The videos on your site auto-play.
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me click a website’s “Back” button faster than a video that auto-plays. Today’s digital-savvy customers prefer to choose how and when they consume online content. Blasting at them without their consent is a quick way to drive potential customers from your website -- without a purchase.
6) Your navigation structure is unclear.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You arrive on a website looking for a specific piece of information, only to get caught in a seemingly endless maze of poorly laid-out navigation options.
Not only is unclear navigation bad for your on-site user experience, it’s bad for your SEO as well.
The golden rule of navigation is this: Think through your site’s setup as if you were your own customer. If you were totally new to your website, how would you expect to find the information organized? What steps would you take to find the information that’ll answer your questions?
Rearrange your navigation to take your user’s needs into account and you'll stop losing potential sales due to bad content organization. If you aren’t confident that you can rearrange your content according to consumer expectations, use a service like UserTesting (or even better, Drunk User Testing) to uncover potential trouble spots.
7) Your registration requirements are obtrusive.
Gated content is great for driving leads into a website sales funnel. But gating everything and protecting it with restrictive registration requirements will kill your conversion rate.
As you create registration opportunities, ask yourself if every field you add is necessary. If you find it hard to cut anything, remember that Expedia earned an extra $12 million by removing one single data field. (And for more tips on how long your landing page forms should be, read this blog post.)
8) Your site lacks personality.
Brand personality matters on your website and in your marketing campaigns.
The Millward Brown agency found that “there is a relationship between the way brands express themselves in different countries and the strength of the consumer relationships they generate.” Below is a chart of the specific words used to describe personality correlated with different countries around the globe:
Image Credit: Millward Brown
While the personality traits that are considered "ideal" vary from country to country, simply having an established personality is an essential part of a business’s success. If your website reads like anybody could have written it, you’re going to have a problem connecting with potential customers. Your sales will suffer without that connection.
(Want more tips on creating a brand identity? Read this blog post.)
9) Your site is slow to load.
Research from KISSmetrics reports that load times matter when it comes to website performance. Here are some key stats from their analysis:
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
- 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
- Even a one-second delay (or three seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%.
If you’ve put off optimizing your site’s load performance, put it at the top of your to-do list. Learn how to improve page load time here.
10) Your gated offers aren’t relevant or appealing.
Crafting a compelling offer is one thing, but is it relevant to your audience? If so, are you showing it off in a way that's appealing to visitors? If you see traffic patterns that indicate visitors are arriving on your landing pages and bouncing, there’s a good chance they aren’t connecting with the offer you’re pitching.
High-converting landing pages include a strong call-to-action that makes it clear to the visitor what the next step is -- and what to expect by taking that step. Read this blog post for tips on creating persuasive landing page content. You might also consider split testing your landing pages to see what resonates with your specific audience.
11) Your product's benefits aren't clear.
If you aren't sharing your product's features with your customers clearly on your website, then you certainly won't compel them to move down the sales funnel.
Consider the classic case of the original Apple iPod. Here are two different ways the iPod could've been featured on their website:
Image Credit: Help Scout
Apple’s early buyers didn’t care about 1GB or MP3s -- they cared about the ability to take thousands of songs with them wherever they went.
This is what’s referred to as selling benefits, rather than features. It’s a critically important concept to understand (and implement) as you attempt to diagnose conversion problems on your website.
12) You never give a call-to-action.
While this might seem like a no-brainer, research by Small Business Trends suggests that 80% of small B2B business websites lacked a call-to-action as recently as 2013. Crazy, right? They weren’t losing out on sales because their calls-to-action were poorly written. They missed out because they simply failed to ask for the sale.
Your customers won’t take action if you don’t prompt them to, so end every sales page, blog post, product page, and so on with a compelling and relevant call-to-action that'll encourage visitors to take action.
13) Your content or products don’t live up to your landing page’s promises.
In a post on the Crazy Egg blog, Cody Ray Miller writes about his experience visiting the website www.nissan.com. You might think that link would take you to the Nissan Motors website, right? But instead, it takes you to a computer parts website run by a family with the last name Nissan.
If you were looking for information about cars and landed on that website, would you stick around?
Of course not. And yet, that’s exactly what happens when you overpromise on your landing pages. Viewers get all hyped up, thinking they’ve found the perfect solution to their needs. When they arrive on your site and see find that the information there isn’t what they were expecting, their first click will probably be the “Back” button.
Don't over-promise and under-deliver or you'll see low conversion rates and get a reputation for baiting-and-switching your visitors.
14) Your site isn’t responsive.
Google's major mobile algorithm update is here, so if your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices, you'll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings.
That's not all, though: According to research gathered by Mobify, “30% of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if the experience is not optimized for mobile.”
Transitioning to a responsive design can be a pain in the butt, but can you really afford to miss out on all that traffic and all those sales? Learn how to make your website responsive here.
15) You're not using exit intent technology.
Remember all those visitors hitting the “Back” button I mentioned earlier? There's hope for regaining their attention using exit intent technology programs. These are tools that track visitor mouse movement. If it appears the visitor is about to bounce, that visitor will be presents with a message or offer in a last-ditch effort to help them stay on the page.
In one instance, a company using this software to present a 10% off coupon to exiting visitors improved its overall conversion rate by 13%, resulting in 2,423 conversions that would have otherwise been lost that month. That's pretty powerful. Companies like Picreel offer exit intent technology that'll help you capture visitors before they leave your website.
16) Your site's been hacked.
The thought of your site being hacked without you even knowing might sound crazy. But according to Forbes contributor James Lyne, an estimated 30,000 sites are compromised every day. Many times, these hacks are sophisticated enough that the signs go unnoticed by all but the most observant of webmasters.
If you don’t have the time to pore over your code each day, consider a monitoring program like Sucuri to maintain that all important user trust that’s necessary for website sales and conversions.
By addressing these issues on your website, you should be see major gains in your website's performance. But these aren’t the only factors that can affect your ability to convert visitors into customers. If you have another tip on an issue you discovered that was causing visitors to leave your site without buying, leave a note describing both the challenge you faced and how you resolved it in the comments section below.
Originally published May 25, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated May 29 2018