8 Conversion Killers That Hurt Your Small Business (And How To Avoid Them)

conversion rates by industry graph

source: Unbounce

Turning a person browsing your site into a customer takes a lot of effort.

Even a brief look at the median eCommerce conversion rates shows that most businesses would need 5 to 10x better results to achieve unicorn-level 25% conversion rates.

Now, add that the average cart abandonment rate last year was above 69 percent. It quickly becomes evident that small businesses must do everything possible to turn website traffic into sales.

What is the best way to do this? Invest in overall customer experience by optimizing web pages and removing common conversion killers.

The following eight changes are essential if you want to ensure the successful future of your business.

1. Non-responsive page layout

You must make your site more suitable for mobile traffic when attempting to create a high converting landing page and boost conversions.

More than 50% of all web traffic in 2021 was generated from mobile devices (not including tablets). Additionally, in 2020, as much as 31% of all digital spending came from mobile devices. And traffic from handheld devices is only expected to grow in the coming years.

But it’s not enough to know that people browse and shop for products on their mobile phones. Mobile design also plays a crucial role in affecting peoples’ purchase decisions.

For example, Google found that more than 50% of people wouldn’t consider shopping with a brand whose mobile site offered a poor user experience.

So, when looking to boost website conversions, one way to do it is to ensure that your site’s design and layout are suitable for viewing on small screens.

Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do.

You can easily find a terrific web designer to plan your website so it looks great on desktop and handheld devices. You can also use a pre-built theme. Just make sure that it matches your brand’s personality and does a solid job of highlighting your value propositions.

You can also reduce excessive details to ensure a winning mobile browsing experience. After all, minimal design isn’t popular just because it looks beautiful. It also works great on all screen sizes, allowing brands to draw consumer attention to high-value elements like CTAs.


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Finally, ensure all your content and images are optimized for mobile. This means that they:

For an example of a site that looks fantastic on desktop and mobile, check out GILI Sports. This brand’s design team understood that using a simple layout was the best way to drive conversions. The homepage draws attention to the user benefits, looks aesthetically pleasing, and allows the CTAs to stand out so that consumers can purchase right from the screen of their smartphone device.

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2. Slow load times

Another common reason for poor conversion rates is websites being too slow to load.

According to Google, a one-second delay in load time can negatively impact conversion rates by as much as 20%.

Adobe found that as many as 41% of web visitors stopped interacting with content when it took too long to load.

So, to avoid this conversion killer, it’s a good idea to speed up your site.

Before taking any action, you must get a lay of the land. Google’s handy Test My Site tool allows businesses to assess how well their websites perform in speed and offers actionable tips for improving the UX. For example, suggested fixes may include:

  • Pre-connecting to required origins to avoid redirects
  • Removing unused code
  • Limiting the number of render-blocking static files that slow load times
  • Increasing cache lifetime

As you can see, all of these fixes are easily applied to most websites. So, don’t hesitate to identify areas where you can reduce load times. Even if it’s only by milliseconds, it’s likely to help.

3. Insufficient social proof

Almost 70% of consumers research brands and their products before committing to a purchase (online or offline). Experience shows that reviews and ratings are the go-to forms of social proof consumers seek out before making buying decisions.

Social proof builds brand equity and should be an essential element in your brand strategy.

Research by PowerReviews and Northwestern University found that adding social proof to product pages increased conversions from 190% to 380%.

Including testimonials, ratings, or even user-generated content on your site won’t just boost consumer trust and make people more likely to convert. It will also speed up the pace at which your target audience moves to the lower stages of the sales funnel, seeing how they’ll have all the relevant product information on the pages they’re browsing.

Of course, try to do more than the bare minimum to see the absolute best results from including social proof on your site. Don’t just pull ratings from Google or Trustpilot (although you should). Try to find additional ways you can build trust.

One good example is the crowdspring reviews page with a seemingly endless collection of reviews from happy clients worldwide.

You can also add rich media to your reviews. For example, the US Fireplace Store allows customers to upload images with their reviews, which goes a long way in building credibility for the brand.

Mrs. Property Solutions, on the other hand, combines social proof with third-party trust signals, pulling feedback from various channels, including BBB Reviews, Facebook, Google, and Yelp. Furthermore, the brand uploads video testimonials to its reviews page. And it includes screenshots of messages from satisfied customers, proving just how dedicated it is to providing the absolute best possible experience.

4. Unexpected checkout costs

According to Baymard, as many as 49% of people quit the checkout process because of extra costs. Additionally, 17% abandon their carts because they can’t see or calculate the total order cost up-front.

reasons for cart abandonment chart

source: baymard

It’s easy to conclude that one way to boost conversions on business websites is to adopt more transparent pricing policies.

The most basic way to do this is to be upfront about extra costs like shipping. You can use a website banner to inform users about any fees they need to expect when purchasing from your brand. That way, you’re minimizing the chances of unpleasant surprises down the road.

Or, if you have the resources, you can go with something a bit more complex. Macy’s, for example, has a handy website feature that calculates how much more web visitors need to spend to qualify for free shipping. The feature makes consumers more likely to go ahead with their purchases and even helps the brand boost its average order value.

5. Complicated checkout process

If there’s one thing consumer psychology has taught us, it’s that, when making purchases, people want the experience to be as seamless as possible.

First and foremost, they don’t want to create an account with a brand to order a $10 or $20 item. Statista found that almost one-quarter of consumers will give up on a purchase if forced to create an account.

Moreover, consumers don’t want to give away private data like their email address or phone number just so they qualify for the “privilege” of owning an item.

Privacy is a growing concern. Businesses must start modifying the customer experience so that their target audience can trust they won’t use personal information for profit.

Fortunately, there are effective ways to make conversion forms simpler, faster, and more secure for end-users during the checkout process.

For one, brands should look into express checkout options to add to their e-commerce stores, like the one used by Orizaba Original. Thanks to integrations with Shopify, PayPal, and Google Pay, buyers can complete their purchase using only an email address without providing the store with credit card information or other sensitive data they don’t feel comfortable sharing.

Another excellent method for simplifying the checkout process is allowing web visitors to see their position in the process. Bellroy does a spectacular job of this, collecting all relevant data on the same page.

Bellroy shopping cart

An alternative to having the entire checkout process happen on the same page is to add a visual progress bar to the cart, as used by Mulberry. It’s an informative solution, plus it allows brands to collect data they can use for retargeting campaigns.


6. Substandard calls to action

Poorly written and designed calls to action (CTA) are commonly overlooked conversion killers on business websites.

As the element meant to encourage web visitors to move from browsing to buying, CTAs must be 100% optimized for efficiency. This means two things:

  • The wording needs to be action-oriented. Most experts suggest writing CTA copy in the active voice, using strong action words, aiming for a positive emotional response, and sticking to a word count of two to five. Skillcrush provides an excellent example, inviting visitors to “Code Your Way to Career & Financial Freedom” and “Start for Free.”

Skillcrush CTA

  • Visually, CTA buttons must stand out from the rest of the content on the page. One way to achieve this is to use color and contrast, ensuring the CTA is easily noticed. Button size is also a way to draw user attention, as is placement. For example, the Danish interior design brand Ferm Living relies on colored borders to visually highlight CTA buttons, thus avoiding too much clutter on its product pages but still managing to make it easy for web users to get the products they need.

Ferm Living

7. Inadequate security

Did you know that as many as 91% of US consumers worry about cybersecurity? According to Sophos, their main concerns include:

  • Viruses and malware (60%)
  • Identity theft (55%)
  • Financial fraud (48%)
  • Ransomware (45%)

With this in mind, small businesses must do as much as possible to prove they’re committed to protecting their potential and existing customers.

In addition to adopting HTTPS and using updated antivirus and anti-malware software, businesses should also display security certificates that give consumers peace of mind when shopping online.

You can use third-party certification. Or, you can adapt your copy, like Miinto, to show your web visitors that you’re actively working to keep their data safe.


8. Poor messaging

Lastly, if you’ve done all of the above and are still seeing high bounce or cart abandonment rates, it might be time to reevaluate the messaging on your site.

Sometimes, businesses find it challenging to nail their value proposition delivery, primarily when operating in highly specific industry niches.

Poor messaging hurts your brand identity by confusing your customers and prospects and hurts your conversation rates.

To ensure that web visitors understand the value they gain by becoming your customers, pay attention to your site’s copy and how it explains your offer.

For example, you can achieve a lot by re-examining product pages. Read the copy and consider whether it’s easy to understand by someone who doesn’t have experience with similar products or services.

  • Does your messaging describe the purpose of your products?
  • Does it provide explanations about how the items/services work?
  • Does it give information to help consumers in the upper and mid stages of the buyer’s journey?

In addition, to fine-tune your copy, consider whether it is enough to explain complex concepts with just words. Sometimes, videos or images can better explain complicated concepts.

It’s also essential for website messaging to effectively connect your brand and target audience. The best way to do this, according to research, is to connect over shared values.

The brand WhatsGood, for instance, understood that there was a significant gap in the US food market, which made it difficult for consumers to source local food that was healthy, affordable, and convenient to get by. So, the brand focused its site’s message on conveying its commitment to delivering value and convenience.

Interestingly, WhatsGood understood that text might not always be the best way to communicate that value (seeing how most web visitors skim text instead of reading it). So, it included an explainer video on its homepage. This video perfectly communicates what the brand does, and it does so in terms that are easy to understand and inspire conversions.

Finally, as you reevaluate the messaging on your site to boost conversions, take a step back and look at the language you use.

Nailing your brand’s voice and tone is essential when appealing to audiences, as even a slight misalignment in the way you sound and the expectations of your target customers might lead to alienation.

So, if you’re unsure whether you’re putting out the right messages, it might not be a bad idea to go back to your brand book and see whether you’re checking all the boxes.

Or, if those guidelines don’t provide you with the necessary answers, you can turn to analytical data and see what type of messages worked for your brand in the past. Even a simple A/B test can help you identify the language that works with your audience. And considering that your business’s success is on the line, taking the time to test might be worth the slight delay in your publishing schedule.

Final thoughts

One of the common mistakes small business owners make when optimizing conversion rates is that they think their websites need high-end widgets and advanced UX (user experience) solutions.

But the truth is, the best way to eliminate conversion killers is to go back to basics. Think about how people browse the web and what they look for when purchasing. Consider how consumers choose the brands they want to support.

That’s why the strategies we’ve rounded up here work so well. They’re easy and cheap to implement, yet they go a long way in improving the customer experience. And that, in itself, is a surefire way to achieve conversion growth.

So go ahead and give them a try. The worst thing that can happen is that your conversions only go up a couple of points, and you have to do further optimization before achieving that coveted 25% conversion rate.

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