Confused Customers Cut Conversions

by Terry Meiners

Confusing your customers is bad for business. If a customer cannot figure out how to get the information that they need, or they become confused as to what step to take next, you’re going to lose them. Even worse, you may never know, because your analytics might not tell you.

Confusing customer experiences create misleading results

Consider the following scenario:

One of those new grocery delivery services has finally become available in your area. So, you hop on their website hoping to save time and gas by ordering a week’s worth of groceries. The only problem is that once you arrive, you can’t tell what to do next. So, you start looking for information. Here are a few things that you try:

  • You watch a video on the homepage hoping it will enlighten you
  • You click several links in search of information and spend lots of time reading each page
  • You attempt to find contact information to no avail
  • You manage to find and click the order button and spend several minutes trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do

Eventually, you leave without converting, and you’re irritated and frustrated on top of that. Chances are, you aren’t going to provide the company with any feedback about your experience. This means that the only thing they have to go on is analytics. The problem is that analytics are going to say that you had a great experience.

Think about that. You spent enough time on each page that it’s unlikely that any bounces were logged. You performed a couple of micro conversions. You watched a video, and you even got as far as the order page.

Now a question for the business owner: Is it possible that you’re losing customers because you’re unintentionally confusing them?

Why confusion is a big deal

Buying products involves one of two decision making processes. The first is known as system one. These’re decisions that people make quickly without a lot of consideration. This isn’t necessarily a sign of carelessness. It’s an indication of lack of emotional investment. If you need a pair of shoes, but don’t particularly care about footwear trends, buying shoes is a system one decision.

You grab a pair that fits, that you can afford, and then you pay for them. If you care about shoes or you have special footwear needs, it becomes a system two decision. You shop around, you research, you check out relevant blog content, and finally you make a decision.

Confuse a system one customer and you’ll lose them quickly. They simply aren’t going to spend the time trying to figure things out. This is a negative, but usually identifiable because these customers will bounce quickly, enabling you to find the source of confusion. If you make them happy, system two customers are very likely to become loyal customers. Unfortunately, if you confuse them, you may not even realize it. In both cases you’ve lost out.

Confusion can drive customers to other sources for information

If visitors to your website become confused about your products or services, or even about navigating your website, they’re going to go to other sources to get the information that they need. This is problematic for you in many ways. First, there’s no guarantee that the information they’ll find is accurate. Even worse, the information might be both inaccurate and negative.

Ultimately, when a customer is forced to go elsewhere to find information that’s not available or not discernible on your website, you risk them being pointed to one of your competitors.

Imagine a frustrated and confused customer asking a question about one of your products on a forum like Quora. The only thing an alert competitor needs to do is provide a quick and accurate answer, along with an invitation to check out their own website, and you’ve essentially passed them a conversion.

On the other hand, you can capitalize on the confusion that’s created by your competitors. Pay close attention to industry related discussion boards, review sites, and question and answer forums. Search these for your specific brand name, your competitors’ names, and for the products and services that you sell. You can have a great competitive advantage by becoming a source that can clear up confusion.

Eliminating confusion on your website landing pages and social media

Since we already know that analytics aren’t very useful here, you have to use other methods to identify where and how you might be creating confusion among your customers.

Where are your returns and cancellations?

Even more important, why are your customers making returns? You’re always going to get returns because people decide they can’t afford the object, or they simply change their minds about what they want. However, if you’re receiving a lot of returns because your products or services weren’t what people were expecting, or your pricing was confusing, it may be time to adjust product descriptions and take a closer look at your landing pages and advertisements.

Look at your frequently asked questions

No, not the FAQ page on your website. What questions are you frequently fielding about your products and services when customers contact you via your website, in person, or on your social media pages. As mentioned above,  you should also look at the questions that are being asked most on other websites as well. If something is coming up over and over again, there’s probably a clarity issue.


Take negative reviews seriously

Most people aren’t going to do anything if they’re turned off because you have confused them in some way. Those that do decide to take some action are very likely to speak out on review and discussion forums. This means that if there’s one negative review speaking on the matter of confusion or misrepresentation, there’re probably many others who have the same opinion. The others just aren’t speaking up.

The good news is that these reviews often provide the information that you need to find the specific product pages or landing pages where inaccurate or confusing information is a problem.

Embrace user testing

Chances are you can find everything you wanted to on your own website. That’s a fortunate, yet unfortunate side effect of being involved in the creation of that website from day one. You have to remember that your visitors don’t have that advantage. This is where user testing comes in handy. User testers can help you to identify points of confusion that you’ll miss due to familiarity. This confusion might be in the areas of navigation, conflicting information between advertisements and landing pages, or contradictions in product descriptions on various web pages within your website.

Depending on the size and scope of your website, you can conduct informal user testing or you can use professional testers. There’re also user testing tools to help you set up and execute a variety of test cases.

Ask your visitors

Give visitors the opportunity to provide you with feedback regarding their experience on your website. For example, if a user abandons their shopping cart in the middle of their transaction, that would be a good place to pop up a simple “before you leave” question.

Back to you

What do you think about my first article for GetResponse Blog? Please share your opinion in the comment section below. I’d love to know what you think.

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