Nine reasons your customers aren't converting and tools to find out why

May marketing madness usability week, post #30

By Conversion Rate Experts

Turning visitors into customers can be hard. It's even harder if you don't know exactly what they want or how to convince them to take action.

In this article, we've listed nine common reasons why visitors don't convert and some tools to help you find out why.

Reason 1: You're Ignoring The Mud Tracks on Your Website

For a long time, visitors to New York's Central Park were taking shortcuts across the grassy areas, leaving ugly, well-worn mud tracks across them. The park's planners took an unusual decision: instead of trying to prevent people from taking these routes, they encouraged them to do so by paving them. The planners acknowledged that the routes revealed the ideal placement of the tracks. These dirt tracks were an example of what designers called desire paths. Desire paths are clues as to how users would like to behave.

For Central Park's planners, it was easy to see the desire paths' grass turns brown when walked upon. However, many of the desire paths on your website can only be seen using technology. Here are some tools for making them visible:


  • You can use 4Q to find out why visitors failed to convert

  • By installing Kampyle or Opinion Lab onto your site, you can gather feedback from customers, so you can hear their suggestions.

  • Clicktale's Mouse Click Heatmaps can be used to identify if users are clicking on unclickable images

Reason 2: Your Site Search Is Poor

An intuitive site search can be a powerful conversion tool on your website when optimized accordingly. Each time a visitor types in his/her query, they are telling you exactly what they'd like to see. By analyzing the site-search reports in your analytics package, you can see what content users are struggling to find. Manually try some of those searches yourself and (i) identify whether the results page is recommending the best available content, and (ii) consider whether the information they were looking for should have been present on the page they were on.


Here are some solutions that can show you what visitors are searching for on your site, and help you to optimize your search box for increased sales.

Free Solution: Google

SMBs: Celebros, SLI Systems
Enterprise: Endeca, Omniture

Reason 3: Visitors Don't Know to Scroll

It's okay to have long pages of content, but only if your customers realize that they can scroll down on the page. Here are several ways to do this: (i) include one continuous vertical element that straddles the folder, (ii) use images that fall right on the fold itself (though be aware that the position of the fold will be different for different users), (iii) consider having a scroll button or a scroll bar at the bottom of the page. For more scrolling tips, see this article.


Clicktale's Scroll Reach and Attention Heatmaps can give you a good idea as to how your visitors are reacting to your long pages of content. Scroll Reach Heatmaps are great ways to see how far down visitors are scrolling through your pages and how much time they spend on each section.

Reason 4: Customers Want Instant Help

Sometimes customers need personal support. Give them the ability to communicate one on one.


Every visitor has preferred means of finding information. Some feel comfortable e-mailing. Others would prefer to phone. Some want instant answers but would rather not phone you.

Live chat tools such as LivePerson, Olark and SnapEngage are great low-commitment ways to help your prospects ask questions.

Reason 5. Lack of Continuity From Ad to Landing Page

What you promise in your PPC ads should be delivered on your landing pages. If there's a lack of continuity from ad to landing page, the chances of visitor abandonment are high.


The obvious way to fix this is to manually visit your top referrers and click through to your site, observing whether the messaging is consistent and whether the promises made in the referring ad are paid off on the landing page.

Instead of guessing what content your visitors like best on your landing pages, test different pages using split testing software. Here's a comparison of multivariate testing software.

Reason 6. Pages Take Too Long to Load

As you may imagine, long page loading times result in lower conversion rates.


Use a tool such as Pingdom's page load timer, which shows you exactly how long each of your pages take to load, and helps to identify the bottlenecks.

Reason 7. Forms Take Too Long To Fill

Customers don't like forms, especially ones that are long, intrusive and filled with errors.

So try and make your forms as painless as possible. Ruthlessly remove fields that you don’t require—or that request information you could ask for later.


Use Clicktale's Form Analytics to analyze (i) how long it takes for customers to fill out each field of your form, (ii) which fields are continually left blank, and (iii) which contain errors.

Reason 8. Distracting Page Elements

Ads on your page can distract visitors. Who knows, some of them might even click on them. Attempt to measure whether the revenue from them outweighs any decrease in conversion rate that they cause.

To see a list of other page elements that can destroy a sale, see this list of conversion-killing mistakes.


Your analytics software can be set up to track which ads are being clicked on. However, in addition to the benefits mentioned above, services like and Clicktale's Mouse Move and Mouse Click Heatmaps have the advantage of automatically allowing you to see exactly where users click. This is particularly useful when your page has several links to the same URL, and you don't want the hassle of adding extra tracking code to each of those links.

Reason 9. Limiting Payment Options

Customers are reluctant to use a form of payment they did not intend on using. Try not to limit the payment options of your customers.


PayPal and Google Checkout are two payment methods you may wish to provide to your prospects.

What To Do Now

Before you go implementing these tips, you should study this list of conversion tools. You should also see this landing page optimization case study, which describes, step by step, the process we used to more-than-double the sales of the software company SEOmoz.

This post is one out of Clicktale's month long May Marketing Madness series. Each of our daily posts will highlight and explain today's best practices, useful tips and smart tools to measure and improve your online business performance. This week's theme is usability. Make sure to stay tuned in for more!

About Conversion Rate Experts

Conversion Rate Experts is an international consultancy that has worked with companies including Apple, Sony, Vodafone, Google, 888, BT (British Telecom), SEO Book and SEOmoz.

CRE has pioneered a new approach to conversion rate optimization, called CRO. Double-digit improvements are the norm.

CRE works closely with Google to evangelize Google's Website Optimizer tool, and has presented research to Google's staff at their headquarters in Mountain View, California and London, UK.

Talk to us to explore how customer experience analytics can improve your business