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19 Tactics to Destroy Online Conversion

Site conversion too high?

Too many online orders?

You need this: an updated look at a list we’ve offered earlier. Still tongue-in-cheek– and still relevant:

  1. Make the user work for it.
    Make sure users have to learn how to use your site. This is the best way to get them to concentrate and forget about competitors who are just 1 click away. Ignore accepted design conventions. And change layouts throughout your site—this increases “shopping suspense” and keeps even the most seasoned web customer on their toes.
  2. Design by committee.
    Let a committee of senior executives design your homepage—or you can just let your CEO do it. What’s important is never to test it or solicit input from your customers or front line, call center personnel.
  3. Ditch the style book.
    To increase interest, use lots of bright contrasting colors, multiple palettes and at least 4 font families. Use animated gifs. If they seem out of place, set them off with frames.
  4. Slow down.
    Make sure your site isn’t too fast. rapid response from the browser can confuse and bewilder your visitors. Ignore complaints from users on dial-up—they typically represent only 25% of potential sales.
  5. Get Bloated.
    Use all the bytes you need to create the image you want. Anemic homepages coming in at under 50k will underwhelm your users. Your brand deserves and demands more space—consider 1/4 or 1/2 meg homepages.
  6. Use org chart navigation.
    Let the HR department design your site’s information architecture. The best way to structure your site is following your divisional structure and politics. Make sure each department’s pet project receives equal prominence on the homepage.
  7. Embrace jargon.
    “Labeling” is an important concept in website usability. For key product descriptors on your site, simply repurpose the language found on your receiving department’s invoices. Manufacturer model numbers are precise and unambiguous. MA107LLA. Consumer slang like “black ipod nano” could mean just about anything.
  8. Don’t suggest, don’t offer alternatives.
    When your site search function fails to find matching results, make sure it offers a nice clean “dead-end” page. If you feel this page must contain copy, make sure it’s written by the programmers responsible for search. your customers appreciate straight talk from the people who can tell them why they failed. Don’t correct mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or pluralization—inferring what a customer might have wanted in such situations is overbearing and rude.
  9. Hide the Buy Button.
    On product detail pages, make sure “add to cart” is given equal weight with every other call to action on the page. In particular, make sure it doesn’t overshadow other buttons like “add to wish list,” “email this page” or “click for warranty info.”
  10. Offer “1-Click Empty Cart.”
    Provide a big button that says “Empty Cart.” Place it near “Continue to Checkout.” Also, if a user leaves your site, be sure to empty the Cart for her. This avoids cluttering up her next visit with musty reminders of things she considered but didn’t buy.
  11. Take the scenic route.
    Make sure your Checkout consists of at least seven pages. Ask for plenty of personal information without explanation (your marketing department may find it interesting someday). Extra tip for seeding repeat purchases. Automatically opt your user into every email list you offer. (This is much cheaper than creating a meaningful loyalty program).
  12. Force log-in.
    Eliminate Guest Checkout; require registration. This will separate “on the fence” prospects from the people who are really serious about placing an order.
  13. Forget everything your user tells you.
    If a user makes a mistake during Checkout be sure to erase ALL the info he’s entered. it is likely error-ridden as well, and users appreciate the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. If you feel you must offer helpful error messages, again, these are best crafted by your IT department.
  14. Offer “escape hatch ” navigation.
    Keep every link available on every page, particularly during Cart and Checkout. Halfway through your Checkout process, users may want to consult your “corporate history” link, or read about a high ticket item they have no real intention of purchasing. You need to support that.
  15. Ignore code standards.
    Who the heck is the W3C, anyway? Standards compliance is a costly distraction, If your site renders in the latest version of Internet Explorer the HTML is fine. Favor IE-only tags and javascript calls– particularly critical during Checkout. Firefox currently represents a mere 30% of browser market share.
  16. Forget about your catalog.
    Nobody reads those things anymore. Supporting catalog quick-order numbers isn’t worth the effort. It’s not like some user is sitting in front of his computer with your latest mailing, eager to type an item number into your Cart to make a purchase.
  17. Forget about your call center.
    Nobody uses the phone, so don’t clutter every page on your site with your 800 number. If a user can’t find the info he needs on your website, he probably wasn’t serious about placing an order. Anyway, you’re focus is your site’s web conversion ratio—not more sales for your company!
  18. Ignore the data.
    Buy an expensive analytics package. But don’t invest in the expertise to understand what it says (Note. this alone won’t actually lower conversion, but at least it will ensure that you won’t raise it.
  19. Don’t shop your site.
    Never shop your site as your customer would. And never test with real users. Instead rely on third party research and “checklist articles” out on the blogosphere.

Have a conversion sabotage tactic of your own? Please comment below.

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