Why did my conversion rate drop?

Question mark and a declining chart

There are several reasons why conversion rates drop. When troubleshooting, look at these most common causes first:

  • Design changes
  • Pricing changes (e-commerce)
  • Stock issues (e-commerce)
  • Traffic sources
  • Website performance

Design Changes

Ask yourself, what has changed since the drop occurred? Look at all changes and anything that could distract visitors and guide them away from converting. Sometimes what seems as a mundane change, can greatly disrupt your conversion funnel.

Were there any pop-ups or overlays added? Sometimes a new feature not well-tested can wreak havoc on conversion rates. The chat feature you may have added, or the email subscription form could be driving prospects away rather than helping conversions. Be sure that any new feature is well-tested, and if unsure, you can A/B test the feature on and off to see how conversion rates fare.

Was any work done on navigational links? Visitors can be confused easily if your nav is not easily navigable. Let data do the talking and A/B test major navigational changes on your site. Especially if there is any doubt as to how your visitors are using the new nav.

Stock Issues

This goes without saying, but out of stock products can destroy e-commerce conversion rates. Visitors that see nothing more than “Out of Stock” will leave your site as fast as they came. If you have an estimated ETA for restocking, then tell visitors. Even better, allow users to quickly enter an email address to be notified the minute the product they are looking for is back in stock. It could be that they will move on and make a purchase elsewhere, but giving them an opportunity to come back and buy is better losing them forever. It shows that you care and builds trust.

Price Changes

This is an often overlooked cause of conversion rate drops by shop keepers. The obvious issue would be if prices were raised. The higher you charge, the more likely shoppers will buy from a competitor.

But, it could be that a price drop is actually to blame. If your customers are used to seeing sales and periodic price drops, you may find that you have very high conversion rates during sales. But conversions and conversion rates drop dramatically when you aren’t marking your products down. This wait for a sale mentality can be problematic, so you have to be careful with your timing and use of sales.

Traffic Sources

Referral traffic tends to be high converting. If for some reason you lose a link from a site that sends valuable traffic, it’s possible your conversion rate will be affected.

Organic search traffic, and pay-per-click traffic both tend to have above average conversion rates. If these traffic sources decline, your overall rate could go down as well.

Compare your Acquisition reports in Analytics from the time your conversion rate fell, to a period previously that had normal rates and you should be able to spot if there are any problematic traffic sources.

Website speed / bugs

Has anything been added or changed with your hosting, server, or technical set up? A buggy or slow site can hurt your rep with potential clients. People are expecting faster and smoother sites, and that will only get more important as mobile usage grows. With so much technology available to debug and speed up websites, there is no reason this should be on your to-do list. Your visitors are one minor bad experience away from forgetting about you. You should be constantly testing and improving your site speed.

So there you have it. The most common issues to look for when troubleshooting a drop in conversion rate. Were you able to track down why your conversion rate dropped?

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