10 Little Known Factors that Affect Your Conversion Rate

If you’ve been working on increasing your conversion rate, you already know to test major changes like the placement of product photos and copy, headlines, call-to-action buttons and so forth. But if you aren’t seeing the gains you’d hoped for, there still may be some underlying issues nibbling away at your conversion rate. Here are 10 little-known factors that could be eating away at your successes – and how to fix them immediately.

1. Using a CAPTCHA

captcha hell

Everyone hates spam, and CAPTCHAs, those combinations of squiggly letters and numbers entered to help prove you’re a human. Unfortunately, CAPTCHAS have become the standard way of fighting automated form submissions. An interesting study done last year by SEOMoz shows that with form CAPTCHA turned off – a few spam mails get through, but no conversions are lost in the process. Conversely, turning the CAPTCHA back on resulted in nearly 160 failed conversions.

If you’re using a CAPTCHA on your forms to help fight spam, try disabling it temporarily to see if your conversion rate increases. There is also an alternative to CAPTCHA on the market called NuCAPTCHA which is a promising way to fight spam and prevent conversions from slipping through your form.

2. Using the Standard Call to Action Text

standard call to action text

You’ve probably already tested changing your call to action text from something like “Buy” to “Add to Cart” or changing “Get a Quote” to “Find Out More”. Small changes like these can significantly improve conversion rates. But you can still go deeper. For instance, did you know that Dell made an extra $25 million in sales just by changing three little words? They changed their original call to action – the very common and popular “Learn More” to something more interactive – “Help Me Choose”.

These three small words represented a significant shift in understanding where the user was in the buying process. They were already certain they wanted to buy a computer, so they didn’t need to “learn more” They were more compelled to move forward toward choosing the RIGHT computer, so “help me choose” made perfect sense.

How can you use your call to action button text to propel users forward through the conversion process?

3. Not Changing Your Call to Action Based on the User’s Behavior

call to action user behavior

This tactic is a little more advanced, but still very do-able in terms of salvaging a stagnate conversion rate. Consider that perhaps the user isn’t quite ready to take action just yet. Maybe they have unanswered questions or are “just looking”. You may think in these cases that they’re just not going to convert – but this is precisely when you look at their behavior and ask “how can I still help?”

Is there something else you could use to make them feel more comfortable about taking that first step?

Could you give away free introductory training on how to use your product? A free seminar on ways that people can use your services for their business? A coupon that they could use for a future purchase?

Above all else, don’t wait until the prospect decides to exit the page before you spring a notification on them. There’s nothing people hate more than trying to close a site, only to be greeted by a dialog box that screams “STOP! We have a special offer just for you! Click OK to close this window or CANCEL to stay on the current page.”

Wait, what?

It’s the digital equivalent of having a screaming toddler clinging to your ankles as you attempt to leave the toy aisle.

4. Not Showing Policies Up Front

999 day guarantee

No one likes to find out after they purchased, that returns are only honored if you return the package unused, unopened and untouched. Show your returns/refunds policy, guarantee and privacy policy up front. Not only does it demonstrate that you have nothing to hide, but it also gives the visitor a clear idea of your company’s rules before they decide to take action.

If you really want to shine, include your contact phone number, a real name and address on your pages. Don’t force the user to wade through the endless muck that is the “Customer Service Helpdesk” if you can keep from it. Back up your policies with trust seals such as Verisign and Hackersafe for even more credibility and security.

5. Not Giving Customers Shopping Cart Convenience

save shopping cart items

Many customers will fill a shopping cart with products, then stop to think about their purchase for a couple of days, or wait until that next paycheck comes in. When they come back, there’s nothing worse than seeing their cart empty. With cookies having wide acceptance online, there’s no reason not to let customers shop at length on your site.

Let guest shoppers fill their cart and keep it for a set period of time without needing to register or buy. Better yet, if you can tie this convenience in with “social recommendations”, as in “83% of customers would recommend this product to a friend” as well as reviews, ratings and the ability to send the page to their email address, you practically have a customer for life.

What you’re doing here is removing every possible obstacle you can, while laying the convenience and flexibility on thick. Since people can’t touch, try on or try out a product online, giving them as many rational reasons to back up their online purchase as possible will reinforce what a smart decision they made doing business with you.

6. Not Tracking Your Changes

internet marketing ROI

You don’t need a fancy system to test, measure and evaluate how changes affect your conversion rate. But you do need to be able to know how each change you make affects the whole of the site. For example, increasing the size of the product images on your site may cause you to lose traffic on account of a longer loading time. But it may also give those customers who were “just browsing” a more detailed look at the product, and more of a motivation to buy.

In cases like these, what you lose in sheer traffic, you gain in conversions, making what seemed like a disappointing result into a definite plus for overall sales. Even something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet can help you identify which changes in the “testing chain” resulted in an improved conversion rate overall.

7. Not Paying Attention to Font Size or Style

font typeface bad choices

Font style seems more like a designer’s preference than something that would cause your conversions to dip, but it’s definitely worth looking at. It used to be that if the font size was too small, users would simply leave and take their business elsewhere. Today, most modern browsers let their users adjust the text size accordingly – although many people have no idea that this is even possible. What’s more, reading fonts with “feet” on the edges of the letters (such as Times New Roman and Courier) tire the eyes more quickly on screen, making Arial or Verdana (fonts without “feet” on them) a better choice.

8. Inviting the Use of Coupon Codes – Without Any Coupons

enter billing information

There’s nothing more distracting than going to complete an order and suddenly seeing a form field for a coupon or promotional code. Subconsciously, your reader is thinking that someone, somewhere may be getting a better deal than them – and nobody likes paying full price for anything! So they stop right in the middle of the ordering process and go hunt for coupon codes.

To prevent this, don’t just show coupon codes at the front of your page, but fill one in for the customer at checkout. Even if it’s something small – shoppers will appreciate the discount or freebie and will continue ordering without feeling interrupted.

9. Choosing the Wrong Background Color

world worst website

Color psychology absolutely plays a role in how we perceive websites and the impression we get about them within the first few seconds. While most sites err on the side of caution and choose a typical blue background and white content area – this popular choice also makes it harder for your own site to stand out from the crowd. In recent years, there’s been a surge of bold, bright hues and simple, direct statements that shout out amid the din of “me too” color schemes.

10. Not Using Natural Language

madlib style contact form

Along with a more rewarding, interactive shopping experience, forms have also come a long way in recent years. They’re no longer about boring text fields and grey buttons, but have evolved into something more interactive and downright comfortable to fill in and submit.

According to an article on Search Engine Land, natural language in a form led to a 25-40% increase in conversions – something that would be enviable by any serious web marketer. These friendly forms are called “Mad Libs” forms, after the popular fill-in-the-blank children’s road trip game because they invite you to fill out a form much in the same way as you would conduct a conversation with someone.

When you take the time to properly test and track the results, you can easily see how even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant details can play a pivotal role in increasing conversions. Have you noticed an unusual or unique factor on your own site that caused your conversion rate to go up? Share your story with us below in the comments!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob creates beautiful, high-converting landing pages, in addition to designing blogs and writing compelling content. Learn more at iElectrify or @sherice on Twitter.

*Image credit: privacy policy screenshot is from soccerpro.com

  1. What’s more, reading fonts with “feet” on the edges of the letters (such as Times New Roman and Courier) tire the eyes more quickly on screen, making Arial or Verdana (fonts without “feet” on them) a better choice.

    Sherice, can you cite a source for this? It’s the sort of statement you see thrown around a lot online, but to my knowledge there’s no justification for it. Even on a relatively low-resolution screen, a well-designed serif screen font is just as legible as a well-designed sans-serif one. Georgia, for example, at 16px or so, is highly legible on just about any screen. The only time sans-serif shows a real advantage (that I know of) is on mobile devices.

    • hmmm, that’s an interesting point about the “feet” on the edges of letters and their correlation with tiring the eyes.

    • From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serif

      According to Alex Poole,[4] “we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible.” Research actually suggests that Serif fonts are more legible but are generally preferred less than sans serif fonts.[6] Nonetheless, reading times on individual words are slightly faster when written in a sans serif font than when written in a serif font. [7]

  2. Bnonn,

    That’s interesting you brought that up. My kneejerk reaction to your comment was that I knew non-serif fonts were better. But then I realized you were right. It’s one of those things that’s considered a “best practice”, but I’ve never seen a particular study that proves it.

    While searching around a bit, I came across this article, which has some interesting thoughts about it: http://alexpoole.info/which-are-more-legible-serif-or-sans-serif-typefaces

  3. Hey Naomi, that was the exact study I had in mind when I wrote that (:

  4. Nice information. Slight typo on the days v. months on the return policy (#4). Also, I would love to know how much of these ideas are rooted in data analysis v. heuristic analysis of experts.

  5. > 7. Not Paying Attention to Font Size or Style

    Written on a site that turns off subpixel rendering for webkit browsers? Seriously: get rid of the custom webkit stroke styles to make the text readable again. All it does it make the text blurry and hard to read.

  6. Do like this post! I guess I will try to use these ideas into my next startup.

  7. That’s interesting you brought that up. My kneejerk reaction to your comment was that I knew non-serif fonts were better. But then I realized you were right. It’s one of those things that’s considered a “best practice”, but I’ve never seen a particular study that proves it.

    • I don’t know if there was a specific study from the pas, more than it was from trying it out through various testing.

  8. Wow Sherice, you really unloaded the good stuff here!

  9. Hey Sherice, I’m again impressed by your copywriting insights! Point #8 totally resonates with me – whenever I checkout and I see this empty box for entering coupon code, I can’t help but feeling a little annoyed because deep down inside I’m thinking someone else must have gotten a better deal than me. Gosh, that’s not a good feeling to give to your customer!

    And your last point about using mad libs forms is very cool. I never thought about using natural language as a powerful tool for the contact form. As with most marketing stuff, I’d better test it out ;-)

    Thanks for yet another useful article…

    • The two points you liked were my favorite also. I know I do the same with coupon code boxes and when you think about it, it’s such a better idea to have something pre-filled.

  10. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve left a shopping cart in search of a coupon code (thinking one must exist somewhere if there’s a field for it), and gotten sidetracked and not returned to complete the purchase. I like your suggestion for filling it in for the purchaser!

    • Yes me too! Terrible idea for websites to have one if it isn’t pre filled already with something.

  11. Very nice blog post! I was alway a big fan of changing the standard link/button texts into something different to active users but now I know it also actually affects conversion rates.

    • Isn’t it interesting on big of a difference it could be sometimes. You just got to A/B test it to see what works best.

  12. Nice, but coming from an analytics company it would have been nicer to actually include a few more examples with metrics.

  13. Some great conversion rate tips, going to be rolling a few out on our site very soon.

    • I’m with you on that Parkat. It’s funny how small changes can make such a big difference in the long run. Will you be a/b testing your changes?

  14. Great article! I found at least three tips that I will be implementing on my website. Also, I’m currently looking for a new contact/order form, and I’m so glad I read this before choosing. Thanks.

  15. Mcneri Tech and Health Blogger Aug 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for these tips. Though I do not have a product that I am selling yet, it is good to know that these techniques are evolving. Number 10 is my favorite. These are points to be archived for posterity! I will send this link to any of my online friends interested in selling. In fact my grandkids will get the link on their 18th! Thanks of sharing.

  16. Hi Sherice, the comments about font size and colour are really interesting. So many websites seem to miss the mark with both of these factors. I will definitely be taking these on board.

    Also, I like the point about using natural language and I will be reviewing my content to see how it stacks up.

  17. If a coupon field may cause the effect that people would think that others maybe get a better deal. Then I am very curious in what way the usage of coupons has on a webshops turnover. Great post! Great for A/B testing.

  18. We are going use and implement this straightaway.

    Thank you Sherice

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