The Inside Scoop on Website Conversions


Is your website struggling with sales? A website can attest to your expertise and get you found, but without conversions, your website is really just a business card lost in someone’s wallet.

A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.  But there’s a science behind conversions that goes much deeper. Did you know that, on average, a website’s conversion rate is between 2% and 5% depending on industry? The percentage of total visitors that convert is called your conversion rate. So most online businesses, across the years, get less than 5% of their web traffic to purchase something from them. This is the case for both eCommerce businesses, selling products online, as well as service providers. A good conversion rate is typically above 10%. 

These statistics do not mean that you should give up on your website. They mean that most businesses are not doing the best job when it comes to converting visitors because too few of them truly understand how that process works.

When does the conversion happen?

In digital marketing, there is a term called “customer’s journey” which highlights the milestones a buyer has gone through from the moment they’ve first heard about a business until they’ve made a purchase (and even after). This journey brings with it needs, desires, and expectations from both your product and the medium (e.g. website, landing page, app) itself. Once these have all been met, partially or fully, a visitor will buy. 

Some visitors go through a longer journey and require more convincing than others.  So you need to not only identify but also optimize every touchpoint in their journey where a decision could be made. A touchpoint optimization could be a CTA (call to action) after every important section of your page, proper Ux/Ui to browse multiple product offerings and purchasing options, or pop-ups after certain cursor movements. The more you engage your customers and get them to spend time on your page or start a conversation with a real person, the better your chances for conversion get.

What eventually influences website conversions?

Multiple strategies can influence your sales and the growth of your online business. But, in order to be fully in control of your sales and business profitability, you need to understand the behind-the-scenes perspective which is typically left out of the strategy. So let’s dig into that.

Patterns and Triggers

For the next minute, let’s pause and stop anything else you are doing beyond reading this blog. Think about your clients. Now zoom into the profile of your target audience, past the demographics and psychographics. What do you see? If you still can’t see it, allow me to say it… you see a HUMAN BEING.

If we learn more about human behavior, we can better understand what consumer behavior looks like and how we can influence it.

Numerous books have touched upon this topic… The Power of Habit, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Decisive, Buyology, Influence, and the list goes on. The bottom line is that our purchasing decisions are based on a continuous dance between our cognition and emotional arousal… patterns and triggers. By pinpointing which ones most of us use during decision-making, we can recreate similar situations and influence our customers’ purchasing decisions. For example, in “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg tells us that habits or behavioral patterns like sticking with the same brand, turning to the right when entering a store, or buying items when they are on sale, guide a person’s purchases more than pre-planned events like grocery lists, diets, or healthy lifestyles.

Do you understand your customers? Most importantly, do you understand their buying habits or opinions around your products? Unless you’ve done a feasibility study or some conclusive type of research, you will probably not have this information available right from the beginning of your business. However, you should set up a system of tracking their behavior and analyze the data later on (say after 6-9 months) to find out the main patterns behind their actions and each of their triggers.

Cognitive Biases

A mind map of your customer, however, isn’t enough. Why? Well, our human minds are intrinsically flawed. Unfortunately, we have over a dozen biases that cloud our judgments consistently. While they help us save energy and run from imminent danger, these biases also allow our brains to get hijacked by the right words and perceptions. This is, in fact, what makes magicians still so successful. We go and pay money to observe how our minds can get so easily tricked because these tricks are way too hard to observe otherwise, in our day-to-day lives.

The sheer number of biases our brains fall prey to is astounding. Multiple studies have managed to list over 100 of them so far. By putting a name to some of these we could, to some extent, learn to increase our awareness and spot them (ideally) before they happen. Here are 15 of the most common biases that influence our purchasing behavior:

  • Ambiguity effects
  • Attentional bias
  • Availability heuristic and cascade
  • Anchoring
  • Backfire effect
  • Bandwagon effect
  • Pygmalion/Rosenthal effect
  • Golem effect
  • Zeigarnik effect
  • Base rate fallacy or neglect
  • Choice-supportive bias
  • Cheerleader effect
  • Confirmation bias
  • Clustering illusion
  • Framing effect

Obviously, I would have to write an entire book to address them all. I also don’t want you to start manipulating customers into buying products that truly don’t serve them. Here’s what I recommend instead. 

Learn about the various cognitive biases that influence consumer behavior, notice which ones are involuntarily being triggered by your branding and/or messaging and causing a negative response, and think about how you could give a little push to the audience who is ALREADY interested in your products/services to eventually buy them.

At the end of the day, website conversions are about creating the right environment for a purchase to happen. That entails both the amount of engagement and buying opportunities, as well as the quality of those 2 elements. Once you have a good grasp of this, your business will definitely grow faster.

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