on June 14, 2021 (last modified on January 9, 2022) • 27 minute read
Your website’s conversion rates went down. Now what?
No matter what you measure as your site’s conversions, it can sting when you see your hard-earned KPIs drop. Fortunately, marketers have tons of strategies to turn to when this dip in numbers happens.
We surveyed more than 80 marketing professionals about the conversions they measure on their websites and what they do when those numbers fall. The participants mainly measured direct purchases, consultation/demo requests and email subscriptions as their primary conversions. But, nearly four-fifths focused on other metrics like downloads, average time on website, trial signups and form submissions.
They also shared 20 strategies for managing a drop in conversions. For your convenience, we listed them by the type of conversion the advice-giver measures:
Let’s dive in.
The most frequently mentioned conversion category in our survey was direct purchases, which 30.7% of respondents monitor. Marketers who measure purchases as conversions track their conversions pretty often, with most checking them monthly or weekly.
This group of respondents had six tips for bringing conversion rates back up:
Sure, there are dozens (and dozens?) more GA metrics you could track. But, starting with these 10 commonly tracked GA metrics will give you a pretty high-level view of how your marketing is working…
If you want to track these in Google Analytics, you might find the visualizations limiting. It’s also a bit time-consuming to combine all the metrics you need in one view.
To better understand how your website performs in terms of traffic growth and conversions, we’ve made this plug-and-play dashboard that contains all the essential metrics for understanding how successful you are at optimizing different aspects of your website.
This Google Analytics dashboard offers a complete view of how your website is performing and converting at-a-glance and helps you gain valuable insights such as:
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Content marketing is a popular method for bringing in new leads and taking them through the conversion funnel. If you notice your conversions dropping, you could benefit from starting or boosting a content marketing campaign.
“A drop in conversion rates means it’s time to double your content marketing,” Reuben Yonatan from GetVoIP affirms. “This means either making a lengthier blog post than the previous one and amplifying your social media marketing on the piece or creating more content to push across your channels. Guest posts, content shares, features on other sites — you need to make sure you’re getting real, organic results to drive better conversions.”
Yonatan emphasizes content marketing’s ability to draw organic audiences in its effectiveness for improving conversions. Marketers with existing content marketing campaigns can try Yonatan’s suggestions, while marketers new to the game can start with their first blog posts or videos.
Rent-a-Wheel’s Matt Seaburn agrees, adding, “When our conversion rates drop, we regroup and think about our content.” The Rent-a-Wheel team focuses on videos over blog posts as their primary content marketing channel.
Seaburn counts on content marketing to differentiate Rent-a-Wheel from the competition, stating, “Many people search for wheels and tires online, so we need to find ways to actually stand out. Even if your products or services are more unique, it’s always a good idea to think of ways to really pull people in with your content.”
While ads and other traditional forms of marketing can bring high numbers of leads, content marketing has the potential to improve lead quality. It can add a new dimension to your marketing efforts if you know how to appeal to your audience.
Conversions don’t drop without reason — there’s usually a cause behind the change in metrics. And it’s possible it’s something you or your website changed recently.
“Check what has changed in the last seven days on your website,” Christian Nelson from Reminderband recommends as a first step. “If a conversion rate drops, it could be due to a change you made to your landing page, product listings or even something aesthetic like the color of your call-to-action button. If nothing has changed, then I know to look at other possibilities next.”
As Nelson points out, sometimes, little changes can change your conversion rates. You might not realize the impact they have until they influence your conversion numbers.
“On-site updates can have a huge effect on your store’s conversion rate, whether it’s a design update or a new app. After any major site update, it’s important to keep an eye on conversions,” Todd Perry of Outdoor Gadget Review concurs. “You’ll be able to detect potentially harmful drops until they become a concern this way.”
What kinds of website changes should you look for when performing this check? Perry suggests, “Examine your store’s history of site improvements to see if any recent changes are linked to the drop in conversion rate. Keep an eye on the applications and plugins you use to see whether some of them become unsupported or expire since this would undoubtedly affect conversion rates.”
Speaking of technology lifecycles, automatic updates and R&D fixes can also impact conversions. In these cases, you’ll need to pinpoint those changes and see if they affect your visitors’ experience.
Take it from Futurety’s Lulia Poe: “If the conversion rates drop for the entire website, the first thing to check is if the website has had any down time or if the page load times have increased. Any recent website update that happened right before a drop in conversion rates should be investigated.”
Depending on the nature of your recent updates, your conversions could stabilize over time, or they could keep dipping. So many factors and technical features contribute to conversions that you should monitor your numbers carefully. Easily obtain this data with the help of this web analytics dashboard.
Tons of variables affect the way your customers perceive your product. Has something happened recently that could change that perception, leading to lower conversion rates?
“If your conversation rates drop, you might want to take a close look at the products you are selling. Customer’s perception of your products impacts your website’s conversion rate,” Adam Garcia from The Stock Dork tells us.
Your customer’s view of your products can also depend on the time of year or negative reviews. “Additionally, if your products are seasonal, you should expect a drop in conversation rating once they go out of season. Check for any negative comments or publicity for any of your products. Negative customer reviews massively affect your conversation rate,” Garcia explains.
So, how do you keep an eye on your customers’ perception and its effect on your products? According to Garcia, “Frequently check your products’ analytics. Find out the most popular, best-selling and seasonal ones — this will help with keeping close track of any slight change and recognize drops in your conversion ratings earlier.”
Your website visitors’ actions can show you what they think of your website and what gets in the way of converting them.
According to Monique Gesmundo of Growth Rocket, when conversion rates drop, “What marketers usually do first is to set up new objectives by identifying the customer’s behavior and check on website tracking code that could help drive new successful conversions.” When the Growth Rocket team notices a conversion drop, they “do re-marketing to existing customers, update all marketing campaigns and also we ask our UX person [to perform some page optimization], check out form revamp, and [update the] call to action to make it more responsive and user-friendly.”
To ensure that your visitors have an enjoyable on-site experience, you need to look at those experiences in the first place. We’ll touch more on this topic in a moment.
If you consider purchases your primary conversion, you want to make the purchasing process as smooth as possible. Any snags in payments or pricing can hurt conversion rates.
GroomingHut’s William Munir recommends checking your payment gateway when you notice conversions going down: “Issues with your current payment provider could be causing problems and preventing customers from making purchases. Furthermore, if you’ve recently switched payment providers, some customers might be unable to pay you using the latest payment portal on your website. This may be the explanation for the decrease in conversion rate.”
Munir highlights the importance of easy-to-use payment gateways, explaining, “It’s critical to regularly review current payment gateways to ensure that you introduce gateways that accept a variety of payment methods so that all of your customers can conveniently buy from you.”
Notice that changes in competitors’ pricing can affect your conversion rates even if you haven’t updated anything on your end. It’s crucial to keep an eye on your competition when monitoring your conversion rates.
Just as you should look at your visitors’ actions on your website, you should check the on-page experience they have. Technical problems with an ecommerce platform or website can prevent leads from becoming customers, even when they want to.
“Is your shopping cart working properly? Is your website being slowed down by something? Is there a problem with any of your store’s features? Check for common problems that could affect conversion,” advises Sasha Quail of Claims UK.
Quail continues, “On-site issues, in our experience, are one of the most common causes of conversion issues, so carefully test the site’s features to diagnose any errors. Using a web auditing tool to find any underlying errors or issues on your site that may be destroying conversions is a smart idea. Minor problems can have a significant effect on your conversion rate, resulting in any decreases.”
At CodeSigningStore.com, Danny Lewis takes a more direct route. “Reverse engineer your user’s journey,” Lewis recommends. “One pitfall when discussing website UX is that many marketers focus on where the user was first engaged and where the conversion is meant to take place, but there are many beats the user comes across in between. With more than one hand in the pot typically, you never know what content or functionality tweaks have been made.”
Lewis suggests going through every step of the customer journey, including social media bios, website content and forms. As you look at these elements, you want to search for technical issues and additional roadblocks like inconsistency or low quality.
Recent changes you made to the website or automatic updates can cause these blocks without you realizing, as John Frigo from Best Price Nutrition mentions. “If I notice a drop in conversion rates I’ll first look for any recent changes we’ve made on the site. I’ll also check the site and go through the buying process as if I was a customer,” Frigo explains.
“We use Shopify and have a very complex store. Sometimes an app may cause a buy button to disappear from a product or something crazy, so I like to go through the customer journey and make sure pages are loading, popular products are in stock, site speed isn’t terrible — that’s one of the first things I’ll do,” Frigo affirms.
Whether you decide to use analytics or put yourself in your visitors’ shoes, these techniques will help you look at your business from your customer’s viewpoint.
When you sell a service or software instead of a product, it often makes sense to track consultation or demo requests as your primary conversions. Out of the marketers we surveyed, 27.3% watch this metric. Nearly two-thirds of these folks track their conversions weekly, and one-third check them monthly.
These marketers provided seven tidbits of advice for reviving your conversion rates:
Do you have a lot of traffic but see your conversion rates flattening out or going down? You might be marketing to the wrong people.
“Focus your attention on marketing qualified leads,” advises Kevin Miller from GR0. “If your conversion rate is dropping, you may be overspending your sales efforts on completely cold leads; focusing on MQLs will help your sales team fine-tune their prospects and close more deals.”
MQLs are leads with a higher chance of becoming your customer than the average lead. Figure out which leads you should focus on by practicing lead scoring and adjusting your marketing accordingly.
More often than not, you’ll find the reason behind your conversion drop in your data.
“Take a breath and know that the answer is somewhere in the data,” Andrew Miller from Workshop Digital reassures you.
Miller suggests, “First, double check that your conversion tracking is working properly. Are the tags, pixels and triggers firing as expected? If not, the conversion rate drops could be a false signal due to broken tracking.”
What should you do if you don’t have tracking problems? “Next, use your analytics data to isolate the visitor segment(s) that saw the greatest decline in conversion rates. Start with the big segments — traffic sources/mediums, device types, browsers, campaigns, visitor paths and geography. Compare date ranges to previous periods to see which segments suffered the biggest drops. Once you know which segments are performing poorly, you can form hypotheses and test solutions until you see conversion rates start to rise again,” Miller answers.
Sasha Matviienko from growth360 recommends looking across dimensions in your data. “Check your site analytics and see if you can narrow down the problem to a certain dimension – did conversions drop for a certain page, device geography, or an audience? Maybe the problem is fixable on your end. If it’s not, I recommend doing a site analysis to identify Conversion Optimization experiments and low hanging fruit wins,” Matviienko tells us.
At WeBizz, Isabella Federico taps into the power of Google Analytics. “With its specific reports, such as the Behaviour Flow, and its extensions, such as the Page Analytics, it can tell us which path drives visitors from one page to the other and which contents of our web pages generate more interactions. This way you can identify opportunities but also any issues or “distraction” elements which can make your conversion path harder.”
Federico has another report to recommend. “Another important report is the Device one. For example, you could find out that many of your visitors come from mobile but your site is not very friendly for mobile conversion paths. You could then decide to make conversions easier (shorter forms, Messenger…) or eventually focus on more immediate conversions (for example, phone calls),” Federico explains.
All of these marketers bring up valid approaches. You can start by pulling as much data as you can from your analytics platform and looking for patterns — as well as numbers that break those patterns.
As you investigate the source of your dropped conversions, keep an eye on your market.
According to Jessica Ayre from Text Request, in addition to examining your website’s recent changes, “Another thing to consider is what might’ve changed with your consumers, and that falls into either temporary or permanent change. For example, your consumers might not be buying as much in March/April because of Spring Break. Or, there might be a new competitor out there that you might not know about.”
If you don’t do so already, make sure to perform detailed customer research and competitor research — and keep performing it. This data will keep you on top of your market’s trends so you can catch factors that impact your conversions as they happen.
How well do you position your product or service? Your presentation could impact how much leads want to try it out.
Here’s how Andrea Loubier of Mailbird puts it: “If you notice your conversion rates dropping, then it’s imperative to change the narrative! Look at everything from the offer to the actual content used to describe it, and make certain that it appeals to your target audience. But, put the time in, and be sure that you can back up your data with specified research.”
The key here is clear positioning — no matter how small or big your differences from the competition are, you need to express what makes them special. Your product or service’s narrative sets up that positioning.
“If you’re offering a product, it’s important to look at exactly how you’re presenting its features, especially if you see that your conversation rates are dropping,” explains LTHR Shaving’s Timmy Yanchun. “Provide detailed information, including informative blog posts and how-to guides with actionable tips. That way, would-be customers can have a complete understanding of how your products can be of benefit to them.”
Look at your offering from the customer’s perspective — do you know what your product or service does? Would you feel compelled to try it out?
Did you notice a drop in traffic with your dip in conversions? Your click traffic could be the key to finding the cause behind your conversion drop.
“The first thing I’m looking at is the click traffic,” says YY Lee of Zoewebs.com. “If the click drops, it could mean a lot of things, for example,
Once Lee narrows these factors, it’s time to determine if the change is temporary or permanent. “For example, if I find more and more people targeting the same keyword and this condition will not end in a short time, I’ll have to do something to increase my clicks by improving visibility,” they explain.
Of course, as we mentioned before, not all traffic is made the same. As you resolve your traffic issues, make sure you’re bringing in high-quality leads.
Sagefrog Marketing Group’s Ben Johnston recommends one technique over others when you see your conversions going down: “Good, old fashioned CRO.”
CRO — conversion rate optimization — refers to the process of optimizing a page for conversions through split testing.
Johnston explains it in practical terms. “Have you been running the same deal, using the same CTA or having your form ask for too much info? Set up an A/B test and try some different CTAs on your submit button. Move the form to a more prominent position on your page! Anything, as long as you can measure how it performs against the old variant,” Johnston suggests.
As with any kind of split testing, remember to test one element at a time. For example, if you decide to test your CTA text, don’t change anything else in the same test. It’ll become easier to narrow down what works and what doesn’t with this practice.
While you keep this post’s previous tips in mind, make sure not to get too hasty.
Content marketer Alex Birkett has a reminder for you: “Take a breath. Marketers are way too reckless when it comes to taking action on short-term metric changes.” Birkitt points out that plenty of factors can influence your conversions, and not all of them fall within your control.
“If you’re constantly changing your strategy and focus at the drop of a hat, the change of the wind, you’ll never get anything important done,” Birkett stresses. “Plus, conversion rates change. That’s just the nature of sinuous data and non-stationary data.”
“If it’s serious enough, diagnose the tracking issue or UX issue. But other than that, worry about incrementally making more good decisions (through experimentation if possible),” Birkett concludes.
The same principle we recommend for A/B testing applies to major changes in your marketing strategy — adjust your campaign a little bit at a time. You’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your job, and you’ll be better equipped to identify the cause of your conversion drop.
Almost 24% of the marketers we consulted look at email subscriptions as their primary conversions. These experts were evenly divided in their tracking habits, with about a third of them looking at metrics daily, weekly and monthly each.
The marketers in this group gave us four tips for improving dropped conversion rates:
As you check for the elements affecting your conversion rates, remember to look at the technology itself. If you don’t have your tracking set up properly, you could have incorrect metrics. You could al
“First and foremost, diagnose if you have an analytics tracking issue,” Darrell Williams from growthhackguides.com suggests. “The drop in conversion may be attributed to an error in your tracking. For instance, UTM’s are created manually and are prone to mistakes if not configured correctly for paid media campaigns.”
Dig into the code for your UTM or tracking pixel and compare it to examples of functioning code. If you don’t handle your tracking code, consult a colleague who understands it to see if you’re tracking conversions correctly.
It’s critical to look over the macro-elements of your website marketing, such as messaging, in addition to micro-elements like button design. “It’s common for marketers to tweak the website features like the flaw might have been the specific shade of fuchsia they picked over mauve when setting up their download buttons,” Mitchel Harad from Expert Opportunities explains.
Instead, Harad argues, you should examine your overall messaging. “Step #1 when evaluating your conversion rate needs to be your message because it’s possible to create the right content and attract the wrong audience. This is common when generating paid traffic, but even when bringing in organic traffic, you can stumble over conversions by asking site visitors at the start of their journey to take the type of action reserved for bottom-of-the-funnel readers. In my experience, when your conversion rates drop, don’t overlook the basic marketing principles before you move onto the design of your landing page or website,” Harad concludes.
This point ties back to the concept of understanding your audience when driving conversions. Even if you have polished messaging, it won’t deliver the results you want when it doesn’t appeal to the right people.
After you nail your website’s messaging, it’s time to dig into a deeper layer — the copy. Your copy delivers your overarching messages to your visitors and keeps them traveling the path from lead to conversion.
As Jonathan Aufray from Growth Hackers highlights, this principle becomes especially important when you use a lead magnet to get email subscriptions. “When you notice a conversion rate drop, I recommend you rewrite your lead magnet’s copy.”
How should you approach that process? “Hire a copywriter to work on it. Your copy shouldn’t be too long: it should be straight to the point and be easily scannable. I suggest you use bullet points and emphasize the main benefits of your offer.”
Your content budget may vary, but you can work toward improving conversions by applying fundamental copywriting techniques. We consulted marketers for their SEO copywriting tips, which you can read for inspiration.
If you use Google Analytics for your website, you have powerful conversion monitoring features already at your fingertips. Its funnel visualization feature offers a comprehensive view of your customers’ journey.
As a food blogger, Samiksha Rawool of Yummy Tummy Recipes must stay on top of email subscriptions. “One thing I do often and I recommend other marketers do the same is, use Google Analytics to configure Goals and track the conversion journey using the Funnel Visualization feature of Google Analytics.”
How does this feature work? “The funnel visualization feature is simply amazing because it allows one to track the entire conversion funnel. One can see specific areas where users are dropping off within the conversion funnel. Accordingly, marketers can take useful actions to refine and improve the conversion funnel,” Rawool elaborates.
By tracking goals in funnel visualization, Rawool increased their conversion rate from 7% to 23% and got 15% more revenue.
According to CXL, you can set up funnel visualization by going to “Goals” in the Admin options. Then, choose a goal, create a destination goal and toggle the “Funnel” button on.
These three pieces of advice came from marketers with various primary conversion metrics:
Your ads might bring in visitors, but not visitors likely to convert. You need to focus on how your ads attract visitors — not just the question if they do so in the first place.
“When your conversion rate is low, make sure to check your digital advertising campaigns. If social or search ads are a significant part of your current marketing plan, the visitors they bring to your store would have a significant effect on your conversion rate,” Chris Nutbeen of Nuttifox (direct purchase) explains.
Nutbeen continues, “Examine if the message in your advertisements is carried over to your store. Visitors will not convert if there is a disconnect between what they expect after seeing your ads and what they see on your store. You should also search for any recent improvements to your ads’ targeting, as this will affect the consistency of the traffic they generate.”
Once you compare your ad and website content, you can focus on your targeting. Tori Bell from Clever Touch Marketing (request for consultation/demo) says, “Check your targeting, it is always good to check your ads are still relevant and of value to your target audience and make changes when and where needed.”
Sometimes, you can tell that your ads are causing a dip in conversions because they also have a drop in traffic. “If the fall in conversion rate and drop in-site match then that can be the cause,” Bell adds.
Technical issues will stand in the way of any kind of conversion on your website. Keep an eye out for them if you see a drop in conversions without another explanation.
At TB Fontil Copywriting, Trace Fontil, who tracks email subscriptions, manually audits their website for errors. “The first thing I do when I notice a problem with conversion rates is auditing the website. Manually clicking every link and CTA, confirming that pages haven’t broken, and checking for 400-499 errors takes care of a lot of problems,” Fontil advises.
Sagar Velagala of Lola, who tracks email subscriptions, recommends making these audits a habit. “Technical website issues have a huge impact on conversion rates, which is why marketers should look for technical issues first. There could be a lot of issues impacting your conversion rates, such as broken links, buttons, images, and slow loading speeds. Performing regular technical check-ups can prevent and fix issues that eventually lead to conversion rate drops.”
James Pollard from The Advisor Coach LLC, who also monitors email subscriptions, suggests examining your entire tech stack. “For example, an API might be dropping. Or one of your links might have a 404 error. Or your shopping cart software may be taking longer to load, which causes visitors to leave. A lot of times marketers will rush to change their creative (copy, headlines, etc.) without examining the software and tech behind their marketing first,” Pollard explains.
Not all traffic is made the same. Customers from different channels and platforms will have unique conversion rates. So, when you notice your conversion rates dipping, you’ll need to find the relevant traffic sources to take more meaningful action.
As Software Pundit’s Bruce Hogan (direct purchase) points out that it helps to set up your reports in advance. “Marketers should have reports set up that look at conversion rates in different ways. For example, they should have a report for desktop vs. mobile traffic, for each traffic source, for each day of the week, etc. When they notice conversion rates dropping, the first thing they should do is look at these different reports to refine their understanding of the issue,” Hogan explains.
Alternatively, you can filter your Google Analytics traffic directly on the platform. “Head over to Google Analytics and compare the different time periods to see if you spot any big changes in traffic. After that, check the different channels (organic, direct, referrals, paid, social, email) one by one and identify the negative trends among the conversions,” Tom Zsomborgi from Kinsta (direct purchase) advises.
Now that you know where to organize your traffic sources, it’s time to evaluate their quality and identify where the drop happened. Different traffic types will have their own levels of importance for your conversions.
“Identify the traffic source and if there has been a change in traffic source,” Coalmarch’s Brett Ehlert (direct purchase) suggests for dropped conversions.
Ehlert continues, “Different traffic sources can vary quite a bit in terms of their intent and how far along the buyer funnel they are. Organic traffic that found your website via searching in Google could convert much higher than, say, referral traffic. Make sure you understand where your traffic is coming from, the search intent and the buyer funnel stage they could be at.”
Finally, you should take action to get more conversions from the affected channels. VisualFizz’s Marissa Ryan (consultation/demo request) recommends you “Investigate what types of traffic are converting less to learn how to improve.”
Ryan offers the following examples: “ If you’re finding that conversion rates from organic are decreasing steadily, you might consider some SEO efforts. If your social media conversion rates are dropping, you might adjust your posting content, schedule, or utilize Facebook/IG’s shopping features. If your conversions are down from all channels, that can be an indication that something is broken on your landing pages. In order to know how to fix, marketers should investigate specifically where the decreases are coming from so they can know how to fix/improve.”
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