Website Errors that kill your Conversions and how to fix them

 

79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again – Source: Akami

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.” – Source: Kissmetrics

Even trivial website errors (like spelling mistakes, missing images etc) can ruin your conversions. – Source: Bug Finders

“ Website Crashed, ‘Process was taking too long’ and ‘Website timeout’ are one of the top reasons for people abandoning your shopping cart” – Source: Statistia

The first step to creating a great user experience, is not to do A/B test. It is, to fix the website errors and that too ASAP.

The conversion optimization industry to a large extent, even today, talk about only one thing, and that is A/B testing. Not many talk about the conversion killers.

It is not the bad design or lack of call to action or bad copy but website errors that instantly kill any possibility of getting sales or conversions on your website.

If your landing page:

  • throws a 404 not found error
  • show malware warning
  • ask users to download flash player or some other extension
  • does not accept/store users’ input
  • is super strict about data validation (we accept passwords only in XFTBAVERS format)
  • takes forever to download and/or
  • is not responsive/mobile optimized

then you have guaranteed yourself to lose sales and conversions.

And the worst part is, you may never know the volume of conversions and sales you are loosing every day just because of website errors, as you don’t monitor them.

 

Prevention is better than cure

When it comes to website errors, prevention is better than cure. Once a user has seen error message or experienced a dissatisfying visit, the damage has already been done. You can’t go back in time and revert that user’s experience.

Imagine you run an airline ticket booking website and your shopping cart broke for 3 minutes. In just that 3 minutes, you could lose millions of dollars in potential sales and create a long lasting bad user experience which drastically reduce your customer lifetime value.  

People don’t do high value transaction on the website which throw errors even when it was a temporary technical glitch. The concern about payment security force them to immediately abandon the shopping cart and go to your competition.  

Interestingly,

According to Statistia, the ‘concern about payment security’ is also one of the top reasons for people abandoning your shopping cart.

If you are not monitoring website errors, you may never know about this very short 3 minutes disaster and how much sales you lost because of that.

Error monitoring can help you in fixing website errors in real time and prevent bigger website errors from occurring as a result.

The website errors which users often encounter are generally client side errors related to JavaScript. This is because JavaScript is a very lame language when it comes to robustness and highly prone to errors.

So whenever you use JavaScript, except errors. And since there is hardly any website on this planet, which doesn’t use JavaScript in one form or the other, website errors are inevitable.

 

Tracking JavaScript errors through Google Analytics

Don’t do that. There is a reason why I never blogged about tracking JavaScript errors through Google Analytics. It doesn’t work.

Google Analytics let you track number and types of crashes and errors through Exception Tracking. You can send these errors to GA via custom dimensions, custom variables, events, virtual pageviews or exception hit type.

The first thing that you will notice, after the implementation is, that you will see lot of errors in your reports, which won’t make any sense to you (unless off course you are a web developer).

Secondly, if your website is getting say 100 errors per minute, your website users will very quickly exhaust your data collection limits (500 hits per session, 200k hits per user per day) set by GA.

Once your data collection limit is exhausted, GA will stop tracking data, not just the error data but any website usage data. You don’t want that.

Third, GA is not going to group similar errors for you. It will track and report errors as it found. You will see tons of same errors in your GA reports from different users and browsers, making debugging extremely hard, inefficient and time consuming.

Fourth, GA error tracking is not real time. It may take few hours before you can see error data in your reports.

Last but not least, GA won’t give you tons of information about a particular website error or how it can be reproduced, thus making debugging extremely inefficient and time consuming.

 

Tracking JavaScript errors through error monitoring tool

error per pageview

errors timeline

You know it by now, that Google Analytics is not good enough for monitoring JavaScript errors and you need a dedicated solution. There are lot of solutions out there which can monitor JavaScript errors in real time and provide lot of debugging features.

The solution that I use is TrackJS.

top urls browsers

Following are the key advantages of using a dedicated web page error monitoring tool:

#1 It group similar errors together and provide search and sort capabilities. This helps in prioritizing debugging issues. You have got ‘N’ website errors but you can’t fix them all at once. So you need to find and fix those issues first which are more important.  

#2 It logs error as soon as it happen. So you can debug it immediately, if you want:

errors last seen

#3 It help you reproduce the error which is very important for debugging:

telemetry timeline

#4 It provides suggestions for fixing a particular error:

solutions

#5 It shows trend in error data via charts and dashboards. Through these charts you can determine whether website errors are increasing or decreasing over time. You can also see top error trends.

#6 It can send you alerts via email about critical website issues esp. those related to shopping cart.

If you are really serious about keeping your website as error free as possible and provide error free user experience, then you have to invest in a dedicated web page error monitoring tool.

There is a good reason, why you don’t see websites like Amazon throwing errors to their users. They all, heavily invest in error monitoring solutions. They have got developers, who fix critical website errors almost in real time, round the clock.

 

Tracking errors through Live visitors recording

Through visitor recording, you can actually see, what website users are doing on your website. Are they able to find what they are looking for. Do they encounter an error while filling a form or going through the checkout process.

Visitors recording is the one of the best way to find website navigation issues and other usability issues. Tools like Hotjar provide you visitors recording.

 

Malware and Hacking

malware alert

As mentioned earlier, the concern about payment security is one of the top reason of people abandoning your shopping cart. People need to feel safe on your website before they can make a purchase. But if you website is throwing a malware alert then you have already lost the sale/conversion.

Any website can get infected by malware at any time. No website is safe. However this is not the worse part. The worse part is, you know about the malware issue only after your website get infected and Google start alerting website users, not to visit your website:

hacked site

As I said earlier, prevention is better than cure. Once your website get infected and users have seen the malware warning, it is already too late. The damage has been done. You lost the potential sales and credibility. This bad user experience can not be reverted.

So it is very important that you monitor your website for malware and other malicious code 24 / 7 and remove it as soon as it is found.

I use a wordpress plugin called ‘Wordfence‘ which continuously scan my website core themes and plugin files for malware. This tool has helped me a lot, not only detecting malware before Google does, but also stopping hacking attempts:

This email was sent from your website “……….” by the Wordfence plugin at Monday 21st of December 2015 at 10:26:47 AM 

A user with IP address 141.101.85.36 has been locked out from the signing in or using the password recovery form for the following reason: Exceeded the maximum number of login failures which is:…. The last username they tried to sign in with was: ‘admin’

User IP: 141.101.85.36
User hostname: 141.101.85.36
User location: Seoul, Republic of Korea

.
.
.

Warnings:

* Modified plugin file: wp-content/plugins/sendgrid-email-delivery-simplified/readme.txt

Critical Problems:

* Your WordPress version is out of date

— To change your alert options for Wordfence, visit: …..

You will remain in the dark and will never know who, how and when your website get hacked or injected with malware, if you don’t invest in website security solutions.

There is a strong correlation between malware and hacking. If your website can be hacked, its security can be easily compromised then it can/will be used to deploy malware.

If you are an ecommerce retailer, you can’t take any chances with your website security and put your business credibility at stake. You have to invest in website security scan solutions.

Big multi-channel retailers should also invest in penetration testing from time to timeThis type of testing is carried out with the objective of finding security loopholes and esp. backdoors on your website.

Backdoor is a malicious code installed by a hacker which is used to regain access to your website. Unless and until you don’t find and remove these backdoors, your website can/will get hacked over and over again.

Penetration testers deliberately exploit the security vulnerabilities of your website to find and remove these backdoors. They also evaluate the security of your hosting provider and your networks.

If your website has already been hacked once, you must invest in penetration testing, as there is a high probability that it can be hacked again.

Related Article: Malware Removal Checklist for WordPress – DIY Security Guide

 

Server Side errors

There are three categories of server side errors:

#1 3xx errors . These are redirection errors like 302 (temporary redirect)

#2 4xx errors . These are the errors related to incomplete HTTP requests like 402 (page not found)

#3 5xx errors . These are the errors which occured in the server itself like 502 (Bad Gateway error)

These website errors are known as server side errors because they results from your web server and not by your user’s machine.

We usually refer to these errors by using a number which is also called as server response code ,as this response code is sent to a user’s web browser. For example, 404 means page not found. 502 is a bad gateway error:

bad gateway

I am sure, you must have seen the 502 error before. When a user encounter a 502 error during checkout, he/she immediately abandon the shopping cart.

Similarly, a landing page which throw 404 error (‘file not found’), can immediately result in website exit. Just like client side errors, the server side errors can also completely destroy the possibility of generating any sales/lead on your website.

In order to find and fix server side errors, you need to daily/weekly crawl your website using a website crawler like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, download all the web pages with errors and then ask your developer to fix them.

 

Website Speed

google page speed insight

A website slow down because of website errors.

For example, bad HTTP requests (3xx, 4xx, 5xx errors) slow down parsing of a web page and thus reduce website speed. Similarly when you have got blocking JavaScript or blocking CSS scripts on a web page, it causes delay in the loading of your web page.

An outdated version of wordpress, an outdated plugin or old version of PHP can negatively effect the website performance. Similarly, if your website theme is not light weight and responsive, then it can create cross browser and cross device compatibility issues all of which are bad for website speed and eventually user experience.

To learn more about optimizing your website for speed, read the article on Website Speed Optimization

Announcement about my books

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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