Stop being a victim to pathetic conversion rates

Whenever I talk to people about their websites there seems to be a sense of passive victimhood, a malaise about 2-5% conversion rates*.

We search for benchmark performance and sigh with relief that our website is around average. Well, guess what? Average is pathetic.

Imagine you had a corner shop and 100 people came through your doors. Now imagine that 95 leave without buying anything. Horrifying isn’t it? Pretty soon you’d be out of business. Then why do we accept that websites should only convince 5% of visitors to become customers?

I think it’s because websites have been the domain of IT and as business owners or marketers we have been too hands-off. Even if it’s something we have commissioned and paid for, we have left the technicalities of how the site performs to others. Well, that’s like leaving the driving to your mechanic.

Stop thinking of websites as technical – it’s about influencing human behaviour

Beneath it all, I believe it’s because we have trapped ourselves into thinking of websites as something technical when, really, websites are just about changing the behaviour of your customer. Changing them from browsing to buying, from reading to clicking, from researching to transacting.

I say ‘just’, but changing someone’s behaviour is one of the hardest things you can do and most websites suck at doing it effectively. And that’s why conversion rates are so low.

So what makes a website behaviourally effective? It influences your visitor to do what you want them to do in the most efficient manner for both parties, and that means you convert as many visitors as possible.

Over the next five weeks I’ll be taking you step by step through the five things you should be doing to improve your website’s ROI using behavioural science. Until then, let’s stop being victims to pathetic website conversion rates.

*Online Retailing Australia, Forrester Research 2011

Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues. Bri is a presenter, consultant and author who you can find out more about at, [email protected] or by following on Twitter @peoplepatterns.


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