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How to solve a sudden drop in website conversions
Work on your site’s going well—ideas are flowing, metrics are improving, and business is booming. Or that’s what you think, when—BAM—you notice a sudden drop in your website conversions and try not to panic.
Anything could be causing low conversion rates—from broken elements to slow-loading pages or complicated user flows. You need to quickly identify and fix the problem before it negatively affects your customer experience and bottom line, but how?
Last updated16 May 2023
Reading time5 min
This guide teaches you how to resolve a sudden drop in conversion rates to create a high-converting, customer-centric website experience.
From bounce to buy: 5 steps to fix your website’s conversion rate
A conversion rate drop is never a pleasant experience—you worry about frustrating and turning away potential customers, and the pressure is on to bring your website performance back to normal.
Accidents will happen, so stay calm and follow these five simple steps to quickly restore order:
Step 1: locate where conversion rates drop
You have to know what to fix before you can fix it. Determining what’s made your conversion rates drop is a process of elimination that starts broad and then narrows its focus. If you aren’t sure which page or user flow is flawed yet, investigate with these questions:
Where are visitors leaving? Noticing a drop in sales isn’t enough—you need to pinpoint which page or step is problematic, like a landing page, shopping cart, or checkout flow.
When did the problem arise? Review website analytics like exits, conversions, and ecommerce tracking to find when drop-offs began. Then, compare the time frame to any updates or changes you’ve made.
Who’s being affected? Compare conversion rates across devices, locations, traffic sources, and customer segments to reveal if only a specific group is experiencing a problem.
Step 2: determine why conversion rates took a dive
While traditional web analytics highlight which pages have a high exit or bounce rate, you need digital experience insights to learn how users interact with your website and pinpoint exactly which page element or section is causing them to leave.
Be curious and empathetic with your website visitors—what are they thinking, feeling, doing, and intending? Here are a few ways to use digital experience tools (like Hotjar 👋) to dig deeper into the cause of your sudden conversion rate drop.
Watch recordings to see how visitors move around and interact with your website
Analyze heatmaps to visualize where most visitors click, move, and scroll
Use an exit-intent survey to gather feedback about why customers leave
Launch on-page feedback widgets to track user sentiment toward pages and elements
Step 3: fix broken elements
The most straightforward cures for sudden conversion rate drops are simple bug fixes. If your research in step 2 revealed a broken element at the root of your drop-offs, here are a few ways to remedy the situation:
Update broken links and buttons
Resize buttons, images, and text that render incorrectly across devices or browsers
Watch recordings to review rage clicks and find broken elements like a faulty drop-down menu
Remove intrusive pop-ups or make exit buttons more noticeable
Redesign pricing page tables to easily fit on mobile devices without side-to-side scrolling, ensuring your site is responsive
Add alt text for images to optimize your web pages for screen readers
Fix your color-contrast ratio for accessibility
Ensure your pages load quickly by reviewing heatmaps to see what media users don’t interact with—and then remove them
Pro-tip: organize bug fixes to keep your team on the same page.
After you find the cause of a website conversion drop and propose a solution, it might be up to someone else to implement the code. In that case, a little organization goes a long way in resolving issues quickly and easily.
If you’re using Hotjar, you can grab snippets of your recordings with Highlights, and tag them with relevant labels to easily share with your team so they know exactly what the problem is and can see it in action.
Group your Highlights into collections that you can share and analyze with your team
Learn more on how to find and fix website bugs here.
Step 4: clarify confusing information
Visitors might need clarification if they stall, hover, or excessively click around on the page with a conversion rate drop.
Here are ways to ensure your visitors understand how to achieve their goals on your website:
Update your copy to give extra information or social proof and ensure your product’s unique value proposition is crystal clear
Avoid conflicting calls to action (CTAs) on a single page
Interview customers to learn about their pre-purchase hesitations, so you can do things like update pricing pages to quell concerns
Place shipping and returns information earlier in the checkout flow if customers leave after seeing it in the final step
Review heatmaps across devices to ensure navigation and buttons are visible and make them more obvious if visitors are confused
Analyze engagement zone maps to uncover and remove elements that take visitors off track, like a banner or internal link
Use a help desk chatbot to assist confused visitors before they abandon your site entirely
Maintain a consistent visual identity—from color palettes to font choices to logo usage—to build user trust
Filter recordings for u-turns to find out why visitors tend to navigate back to the previous page, then place the info they need on the confusing step
See it in action
Let’s look at a real-life example of a team clarifying confusing information for users to improve conversion rates. Using Hotjar Recordings, digital design agency Turum-burum discovered that because potential customers couldn’t filter product results by size, they ended up clicking on a shoe, seeing it wasn’t available in their size, and quickly ‘u-turning’ from the product page. Adding filters to the website made the user experience (UX) less confusing.
Step 5: simplify inconvenient steps
New—but cumbersome—steps in your user flow can cause a sudden website conversion rate shift, which means you need to ensure your users can seamlessly achieve desired actions on your site. Here’s how to cut out the noise to improve your UX design and rehab your website conversion rates:
Reduce checkout steps and add a progress bar to the process so users can see how far they’ve come and how long they’ve yet to go
Review heatmaps to find which product filters shoppers use the most and prioritize the available options
Implement suggestions from user interviews like adding different sign-in options
Add highly-requested payment options (hint: use a short survey to ask visitors what they want)
Make signing in easy with one-click registration and login
Add searchable drop-downs or auto-fills
Use recordings to determine what pricing page elements visitors care about and then place those high on the page and minimize the rest under an expanding section
⚖️Pro-tip: when in doubt, conduct user testing to validate your changes.
Clarifying confusing information on your website or simplifying inconvenient steps isn’t as straightforward as fixing a broken link. But that doesn’t mean you make your changes, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
Let’s say you have two ideas that will clarify confusing steps for your users on your ecommerce site.
User testing methods—like A/B testing—let you gauge visitor reactions and conversion rates between two design options—like an explainer video vs. a short text description—to determine which fixes your conversion rate drop.
Connect with customers to quickly improve conversions
Sudden website conversion drops are jarring, but they’re also an opportunity to check in with your visitors and customers, who are probably experiencing confusion or frustration while trying to browse and complete actions on your site.
Taking a user-centric approach helps you not only fix the decrease in conversions, but also allows you to create a brilliant experience that delights your customers. Even if the resolution ends up being as simple as fixing a broken link, approach the problem with empathy for users, and you'll see a significant increase in your conversion rates.
Understand and resolve sudden drops in website conversions
Hotjar’s tools reveal why customers suddenly abandon your website so you can make the necessary changes and increase conversions.
FAQs about website conversion drops
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It’s vital to evaluate website bugs as they come up, so you know how urgently you need to fix them. Without taking a moment to assess impact, you’ll be shooting in the dark.
You might invest your precious resources in unnecessary work, or worse—underestimate the problem and cause frustrated users to take their business elsewhere.
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