When it comes to increasing your ecommerce conversions, there are a lot of obvious things you should try. Improving your site design, working on your page copy, getting great product information and photos — these should all be no-brainers.

Why not try some more counterintuitive or unexpected ways to increase conversions on your sales page? Here are five surprising factors that might be limiting conversion rates on your sales pages.

Jesse Genet co-founder of Lumi.

1. Your Product Is Priced Too Low

Product pricing is a tricky decision to make in ecommerce. You might assume that lower pricing on a sales page will always have a positive effect on conversions, but surprisingly, it can have the opposite effect entirely.

According to McKinsey, 80-90% of all poorly chosen prices are too low. Researchers say that by charging too little, “a company not only forgoes significant revenues and profits but also fixes the product’s market value position at a low level. And as companies have found time and again, once prices hit the market it is difficult, even impossible, to raise them.”

The big issue with low pricing is that it establishes your customers’ perception of the product’s value, so even a high-quality item with a low price will be perceived as lower quality than the same item with a higher price. For example, would you rather spend $15 on a pair of jeans, or $50?

This effect is especially pronounced when selling products where the quality of the product is not immediately apparent. For example, with wine: Most wine aficionados would rather buy a $50 bottle of wine than a $10 bottle, even if they know nothing about the quality of either. This is because the price establishes their perception and expectation of the quality.

One of the best examples of how higher pricing can affect conversions is found in Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. In it, he describes a scenario where a local jeweler accidentally doubled all her prices for turquoise jewelry. Although she had meant to discount the jewelry by 50% because it was not selling, her mistake actually resulted in her selling out of all turquoise jewelry. With the inflated price, her customers’ perceptions of the turquoise changed — they assumed it had a higher intrinsic value because of the higher price.

If you are hesitant to raise your prices, there’s no need to do it all at once. Run a split test on your sales page with a higher price for a single item and see what effect it has on conversions and your overall profitability. You might be pleasantly surprised to see demand increase, while enjoying a higher profit per item sold.

2. You Have Too Many Positive Reviews

Product reviews have a huge effect on conversions. In fact, research shows that 90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So you might think it’s safe to assume that the more five-star reviews the better, right? Not so fast. Although the content of reviews matters far more than the star rating assigned, a study in the Journal of Marketing showed that variability of star ratings also had a significant effect on conversions. If potential customers see only five-star reviews on your product, they’re going to be suspicious. It’s not uncommon for deceptive business owners to pay for fake product reviews that are overwhelmingly positive. Researchers have estimated that for some products, up to 30% of reviews may be fake.

Your customers are savvy, and they know that if there are only five-star reviews of your product there’s a good chance that those reviews are fake. If there is a wider range of product ratings, your potential customers will trust the accuracy of the reviews they read.

In fact, there is some evidence that a few polite, but negative, reviews can actually increase your prospects’ positive opinion of your product. A study by researchers at Stanford and Tel Aviv University identified something known as the “blemishing” effect. When a customer receives small doses of mildly negative information, it can actually result in more positive feelings overall toward a product or service. It’s still important that this information is presented after positive information, and that it is only mildly negative.

The politeness factor of these slightly negative reviews also matters. It’s been shown that polite phrases such as “I don’t want to be mean, but…” can actually have a positive effect on the buyers’ perception of value and willingness to buy the product.

So, don’t remove or hide all negative reviews from your sales pages. Having some variance in the ratings that customers share can really increase your conversions. Encourage reviewers to share their honest opinions!

3. You’re Leaving Customers in the Dark

Even if potential customers are ready to try your product, they might still be worried that they’ll be up the creek without a paddle if something goes wrong. What if you don’t follow through on delivering it on time, it arrives in less-than-perfect condition, they need to exchange it, or they just don’t like it after giving it a try?

Leaving potential customers in the dark about what to expect if they need help can really hold back your conversions, which is why it’s so important to add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to your site. In addition to boosting your sales conversions, an FAQ page can also reduce the volume of support requests since your customers will know where to look first.

To create your own FAQs, look through past support requests and questions from potential customers about the product, return policy, shipping information, etc. Figure out which questions are the most common and be sure to include those answers.

Adding product information that addresses FAQs can have a major impact on conversions. In one case study, RollerSkateNation.com increased their conversions by 69% by simply adding advice about sizing to their product page. When your customers are unsure about your product or your policies and can’t find the answer, they are far more likely to give up and look elsewhere.

Check out some great FAQ page examples in this article.

4. You Aren’t Including Enough Trust Indicators

These days, your customers are worried about having their identity stolen online or being duped into paying for a scam product. According to research by GlobalSign, 77% of consumers are worried about having their personal data intercepted or misused, 55% are worried about identity theft, and 84% would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an unsecure connection. The bottom line is, security matters to your customers, and you need to show them that it matters to you, too.

One way to do this is by placing trust seals on your order pages to reassure customers that their information is safe with you. Trust seals matter to buyers more than professional design, personal recommendations or well-known branding, which is surprising. An Econsultancy survey asked participants, “If you are shopping from a retailer you don’t know well, how would you decide whether to trust the website?” Trust seals were the most popular choice. They were selected by 48% of respondents, more than any other indicator of trust.  

A/B tests have also revealed that the simple addition of a trust seal can have a large impact on conversions. In one test, Blue Fountain Media was able to achieve a 42% increase in conversions just by adding a VeriSign seal to its form.

To get a trust seal for your ecommerce site, you’ll need to pay the price tag to get an SSL certificate from a provider such as Norton or Verisign. The increase you’ll see in conversions should be well worth it.

5. You Charge For Shipping On Everything

Do you always charge for shipping? If so, you might want to reconsider that strategy. Free shipping and returns are incredibly important to online shoppers. A study by the E-tailing group and Oracle revealed that unconditional free shipping with purchase is ranked as the number one most important feature considered by shoppers when making a purchase. 73% of participants in the survey ranked it as either “Critical” or “Very Important.” The second most important factor? Free returns, as chosen by 70% of participants.

Although large online retailers like Nordstrom and Zappos have had success with free shipping, you may be wondering if it’s really viable for your business, especially if you’re considerably smaller.

Free shipping can be costly for your business if you aren’t careful, but there are many case studies which prove that it can increase not only your conversion rates, but also your overall profitability. Orders with free shipping encourage customers to buy more and can result in average order values that are around 30% higher, which means that as long as you can keep shipping costs beneath 30% of the total order value, you’re coming out on top.

The free shipping offer doesn’t have to apply to every order on your site to increase conversions. In fact, Brandon Eley of Kelsey Advertising & Design was able to achieve a 50% increase in conversions immediately by making free shipping the default for orders over $100. By limiting your free shipping to orders that meet a minimum threshold or only apply to specific products, you can boost your conversions and increase overall profitability without risking a big increase in shipping costs for low-profit orders.

Even if you do have to charge for shipping, be sure to let customers know upfront so they don’t receive a nasty surprise when they go to check out. Unexpected shipping charges at checkout will make up to 47% of people abandon their purchase, according to this study. Another report by ComScore even found that up to 61% of consumers would cancel their purchase after finding out that the seller doesn’t offer free shipping.

About Megan Monroe

Associate Editor Megan Monroe is a graduate of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College where she studied Philosophy and Communications. After working for several local small businesses (where she gained firsthand experience with the frustration of manual segmentation and follow-up), Megan joined the ONTRAPORT Growth Team. When she isn’t writing marketing copy, social media posts or educational guides for entrepreneurs, she enjoys taking advantage of the Central Coast's amazing wineries and cooking without following a recipe.