Why am I losing sales to competitors on paid traffic? And how do I fix it?

Why am I losing sales to competitors on paid traffic? And how do I fix it?

Are you noticing low conversions on paid traffic like Google Shopping ads this holiday season? This is how you can fix it.

If you run Google Shopping, retargeting, or other product detail page ads, chances are you’re losing most sales to competitors.

Why does this happen? Well, in the case of Google Shopping, those users are often in a comparison mode. When the product page was invented, the only way to get there was via the homepage and global navigation on your site.

But, users are now going straight to the product without even walking in your proverbial front door.

When our team looks at data and runs interviews with prospects, we hear that they are often net-new and they are trying to maximize by comparing your products to others.

So they are comparison shopping, and that can cause you to lose sales.

But, you can stand out from competitors and turn the challenges caused by users landing on PDPs into a strength.

This is the recipe for success to convert more of your product page traffic and make the most of the holiday visitors.

Step 1: Understand your customers

Before you do anything, you have to build your understanding of your audience through user insights. That means figuring out where they are coming from, how they are behaving, and what is important to them.

We categorize user insights into three buckets:

Foundational (Observation): Foundational user insights are observations, or facts about behavior that are foundational to understanding the user journey. On their own, they do not signify challenges or blockers to conversion, but they give context that is important to understanding the user and painting a fuller picture of a user experience.

Often, these are discovered through tools like Google Analytics and can help us understand:

  • How the users are behaving on site
  • What content they engage with
  • Truths about users like age and location

Foundational insights will only shift slowly over time or with new campaigns.

Situational (UX Challenges): Situational insights are pain points that impede the user’s ability to navigate the site and reach their goals. While users are not necessarily aware of these UX challenges, the issues can delay or prevent positive outcomes like task completion, conversion, or user satisfaction.

These insights can help you understand:

  • What works on your site
  • How much effort it takes a user to convert
  • If users are satisfied with their experience

These show if users can complete a task to their satisfaction when given a context and an interface.

Motivational: These largely qualitative insights are about mindset. Users may experience apprehension or lack motivation when the product or experience does not align with their wants, needs, or commitment level. So, motivational insights give us context to how we might better understand users.

Issues of motivation or apprehension represent a disconnect between what users want, the effort they are willing to expel, and the perceived payoff of that effort.

Motivational insights answer questions like:

  • What motivates users to purchase?
  • Are users connecting to our product?
  • What is holding users back from purchasing today?

Conducting regular research to understand your users will help you pinpoint why users aren’t buying from you today and build a better shopping experience tomorrow. Beyond Google Analytics, use the below tools to collect user insights:  

  • User testing
  • Heat mapping
  • Observational analysis
  • Surveys
Why am I losing sales to competitors on paid traffic? And how do I fix it?

Step 2: Define the Opportunities and Solutions

After step 1, we should understand our users. We know:

  • Foundationally, who they are and how they are behaving on-site
  • If users complete desired tasks and if they are satisfied with their experience
  • What motivates users and what demotivates them

But it’s one thing to have that insight; it’s another to know what to do with it.

Every site is different, but let’s take a look at some treatments that all aim to solve similar problems.

We mentioned that for Google Shopping or other paid traffic, the product page is likely one of the top entry points to your site. Let’s imagine that 60% of your sessions start on a product page and that you have a high bounce rate.

We know why: many users who land on your site from a Google product listing will be comparison shopping. They likely have multiple tabs open and they are going tab to tab comparing products.

So, the opportunity is to increase intentional browsing. It’s not enough to just slap a product page up with some generic copy and call it a day. What you want to do is encourage users to browse the parent category and explore more products rather than abandoning the site if the product doesn’t meet their needs.

You want them to stay on your website instead of going to your competitor’s site which sells the same or a very similar product.

A few ways you’ll notice brands encourage users to stay on-site include:

  • Adding breadcrumbs that allow for easy on-site navigation
  • Featuring more shopping pathways in the buy box area
  • Show recommended products above the fold
  • Establish trust and authority on the PDP

All of this increases the likelihood that even if shoppers don’t land on the perfect product, they can explore more like it.

Step 3: Validate Your Solutions

You’ve done steps 1 and 2: understand users and conversion barriers and define the opportunities and solutions. Now it’s time to validate your solutions.

We’ve gathered all this great data, and I recommend you don’t stop there. There’s a difference between being data-informed and actually data-driven.

That’s the real secret to leveling up against your competition: validate

Taking good ideas to your designers and throwing them on your site is a shotgun or spray-and-pray approach. Some of the ideas will work, and some won’t. Industry-wide, that percentage is only 10-20% of ideas actually convert better, so up to 90% of development effort is totally wasted.

So, instead of shotgunning, we recommend a systematic approach. Strategically validate some of the riskier decisions with rapid prototyping and tactics, including:

  • A/B Testing
  • Task Completion Analysis
  • Sentiment Testing
Image showing the scientific method in experimentation  Why am I losing sales to competitors on paid traffic? And how do I fix it?

There you have it. You’re losing sales to competitors on traffic you paid for because the users are comparison shopping. You can fix it by following our three-step approach: understand your users, identify opportunities and solutions, and validate your ideas.

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Natalie Thomas

About the Author

Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas is the Director of Digital Experience & UX Strategy at The Good. She works alongside ecommerce and product marketing leaders every day to produce sustainable, long term growth strategies.