How satisfied are you with your site's current conversion rate? Your answer might range from "not at all" to "extremely," but there's one thing you'll have in common with every other reader--your conversion rates could always be a little bit better.

Unless you're seeing a 100 percent conversion rate (and let me know when that happens), there's always room for improvement. Even a tenth of a percent increase can translate to several new leads or sales a month for a modest-sized site, so why wouldn't you try to keep improving your rate of return? The problem is, it's hard to identify what's holding you back from being better.

To start, take a look at these 10 common ways you might be sabotaging your own conversion rate, and how to fix them:

1. Making Your CTA Too Hard to Find. Imagine you work in a bakery, but you keep the donuts behind the counter. You don't advertise the donuts, nor are there any visual cues that donuts exist. Would you be surprised if you didn't sell many donuts? If you want people to buy something, you have to make it obvious for them to see. Put your call-to-action (CTA) "above the fold" of your website, prominent to your users, and try to direct your users' eyes to it any way that you can (without being obnoxious or spammy).

2. Making Your CTA Too Hard to Complete. How long does it take the average visitor to complete the conversion process? Are there several steps to completing a purchase, or just one? Are there a dozen fields to fill out or just three? The simpler you make this process, the better, and you might have to sacrifice some user information to get the job done. The longer and more complicated the process is, the more users are going to bail during the process.

3. Using an Unattractive Design. Aesthetics should not be underestimated in the conversion game; the only problem is, "unattractive" is a subjective term. Apply modern design best practices to your site, particularly your CTA, and make your site as "pretty" as possible. This builds trust with prospects, making them more likely to convert.

4. Displaying It Annoyingly or in a Distracting Way. A gentle, unobtrusive popup after a few seconds of inactivity on your site is a good way to get your user's attention. Hammering your users with multiple, layered popups is going to frustrate them. It's one thing to increase the visibility or prominence of your CTA, but it's another to distract or irritate your user with an ad. This is a fine line, so do some performance tests to evaluate your use.

5. Failing to Offer a Unique Value. Why would a user want to convert in the first place? Your CTA should make this blatantly obvious. Give users some strong bullet points as to why your offer is worth what you're asking, and make it apparent why you're different than the competition. Avoid the salesy copy here; instead, be as straightforward and honest as possible. Just explain to people what they're going to be getting in exchange for their money or personal information.

6. Failing to Offer Additional Information. Your CTA and landing page have plenty of information for most people to make a decision, but for some, it's not going to be enough. Be sure to offer more supplementary information for those who want it--you could link to your main site, offer an expandable FAQ section, or even offer a live chat feature to help inform those who always crave a bit more info.

7. Failing to Add a Sense of Urgency. Too many conversions are lost to the procrastination of "maybe I'll sign up later." If you want people to convert, you have to give them a sense of urgency to do it immediately. Including exciting, action-based words in your copy and suggesting a limited time offer are two good ways to establish this.

8. Writing Bulky or Fluffy Copy. Your headlines (as well as your supplemental information) should be concise, to-the-point, and unambiguous. The bulkier your copy is, and the more gimmicky it reads, the less users are going to trust the sincerity or value of your offer.

9. Failing to Include Trust Indicators. People will only buy from you (or send you their personal information) if they trust you. First-time visitors don't know you very well, so you'll need some third-party trust indicators to win them over. These can include customer reviews, testimonials, ratings, affiliations, major clients, logos of publications you've been mentioned or featured on, or even images and videos of people enjoying your products. These signals let people know you're a valuable brand worth doing business with.

10. Neglecting to AB Test or Experiment. This is the most important part of any conversion optimization process. You have to experiment with new strategies, including new headline copy, new positioning, new colors, and new styles. Compare your new model with your old one in a direct AB test and keep the one that works better. Only by repeating this process will you be able to refine your conversion strategy down to its best possible state.

These 10 self-sabotaging acts probably aren't the only thing stopping your conversion rate from being higher, but they can point you in the right direction with what to change and improve. As I mention in my last item, the real key to conversion success is an ongoing commitment to improvement--experiment with new features and new angles; you never know what's going to be successful until you try it.

Further reading:

7 Ways to Increase Your Website's Conversion Rate

Published on: Jan 28, 2016