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March 9, 2017

Why you have a low conversion rate and how to fix it

Published: 9 March 2017 

When you’re looking at your websites analytics, you’ll often come across the term ‘conversion rate’. For those who aren’t used to interpreting data, it can be confusing to know what it means and how to interpret the numbers.

So what is a conversion rate anyway?

Qualaroo defines conversion as “when a visitor to your website takes an action you want them to take.” This action varies depending on your end goal. The action could be signing up for an email, creating an account, purchasing an item or downloading an app.

Your conversion rate will vary depending on what you are trying to achieve, what type of product you sell and the niche you’re in. If you’re looking at the numbers, the average ecommerce add-to-cart conversion rate is 8.7% globally. However, this changes even when you’re measuring AdWords. The median conversion rate for AdWords is 2.35%, with ¼ of all accounts having less than 1%. Again, you will get different results depending on the industry you’re in.

It’s important to know the average in your industry to know how your competitors are tracking. However, there is no need to panic if you find your business has a low conversion rate. In this instance, instead of focusing on the competitors, focus on finding the cause of your conversion rate and what you can do to improve your score.

What causes a low conversion score?

Website design

Conversion rate is all about the consumer taking an action. If it’s not clear what action they should be taking, then you could end up with a low conversion score. Check to see if your call-to-action is clearly displayed and the customer knows they should be taking it. For example, if you’re running an ecommerce website with a checkout process, you want to ensure you’ve got a prominent “add to cart” button.

Whatever your call-to-action is, make sure that it stands out. Consider using eye-catching or bright colours, and place the call-to-action in a place that is easy to see. This is particularly important if your website has just been redesigned - double check your call-to-action is just as easy to access to avoid having a lower conversion rate.


If you’re in an industry where customers tend to do a lot of comparison shopping, any changes to the competition could drastically change your conversion rate. Similarly, if you or your competitor alters your price, it will have an impact, whether negative or positive. If you suddenly have the most expensive items in the market, chances are you will see a dip in conversion rates.


For some industries, sales revolve around the seasons. Unfortunately, sales often can’t be strong all year round, and will often consistently dip and rise at the same times every year.

Vertical Measures posted an example of an ecommerce retailer whose conversion rate suffered as a result of seasonality. While there was a small peak in Spring, there were declines throughout Summer and Autumn, with a last peak in Winter before a drop off during the holiday season.

Source: Vertical Measures

If you know your business suffers from seasonality, it’s important to know when to predict rises and falls in conversion rates. Compare data from previous years and note if there is a consistent pattern. If there is, chances are it’s because of seasonality.  


Sometimes, one of the culprits of your low conversion rate is your website copy. Your copy conveys your brand to your customers. You need to make sure this is consistent on your landing page, across your website and in your ads.  

To have the best possible copy on your website, consider your buyer persona. This means your website and your copy can be completely targeted to your audience. After all, a customer isn’t going to want to visit or make a purchase from a website that doesn’t speak to them.    

Make sure your copy evokes emotion. People make purchases based on their emotions. It doesn’t matter what emotion you’re trying to evoke, just make sure it’s one that your audience is going to identify with and use it throughout your website’s copy.     


It may sound obvious - but sometimes the culprit for your low conversion rate can be the tracking itself. If you’ve suddenly got an unexplained drop in conversions, make sure to check if your tracking is set up correctly. Running a quick tracking test can save you time agonising over why your rate has suddenly dropped.

Make sure to consistently run an analytics test, as this will allow you to see if there are any drops in conversion rate and to be able to quickly put in place a solution to fix it. If you’re using AdWords, it’s important to setup conversion tracking. This means you’ll be able to monitor how your campaigns are progressing and can make any necessary alterations.

How can I improve my conversion rate?

If you’ve got a low conversion rate, and it’s not a tracking error, there are a few strategies you can implement to improve your conversions. These include:

  • Using specific keywords: these will have a higher conversion rate than general keywords. Think about specific terms people would search to find your website, and use those keywords.
  • Use negative keywords: this is particularly important for those who are using AdWords. Using negative keywords means your ad won’t display for people searching a particular keyword or phrase. This means you can exclude people searching for specific terms that you know won’t lead to a sale.
  • Include prices: for those who have an ecommerce website, it’s a good idea to include the prices of your products or services in your ads. This will help you to get more relevant traffic. If you display the price and a customer clicks on your ad, you know they’re interested.  
  • A/B Testing: use A/B testing for your website or your ads. This allows you to compare two versions of your web page or ad to see which one performs better. This way you can see how you need to correctly optimise your website or ad, and what will lead to more sales.

Following these tips will help to not only understand why your conversion rate is low, but how you can avoid a low rate and what changes you can make to see improvements.

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

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