4 Elemental Problems With Low Converting Web Pages

As “power” marketers, our work can look more like scientific experiments than creative campaigns. More and more, power marketers make decisions with data. The collection and interpretation of this data requires a new set of skills.

Nonetheless, the goal remains the same for our online initiatives. We want to get a reaction from our visitors.

We want to get them to do something. Complete the form. Download the document. Buy the product. Subscribe to the list. Water the camel.

When we aren’t generating reactions on our site, we can see the results clearly in analytics.

  • High bounce rates and exit percentages
  • Low conversion rates
  • Low revenue per visit
  • High acquisition costs

The problem is that — unlike in science — we don’t have a common vocabulary and notations in the marketing world. When someone says, “Let’s send an email to our list,” it will mean something different to each person designing the campaign.

Here is a chemical reaction you may be familiar with.

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Reaction

This is the reaction that powers the volcano in many elementary school science fairs. I’ve also used this to unclog my garbage disposal. The carbon dioxide creates the frothing and bubbling “lava” or drain-clearing pressure.

The notation clearly tells us what elements to combine and what the output will be.

To get frothing, bubbling visitors on our website, we’ve borrowed the chemists’ notation to help us design some online marketing reactions.

The Online Marketing Reaction

When optimizing a website, Conversion Scientists borrow from our chemist brothers to create models for designing experiments. For example, here’s the formula for the classic landing page:

The basic landing page reaction

The Inert Gases

In the periodic table of elements, there is a section entitled the “Inert Gases.”  Inert gases do not react, hence the name “inert.” Furthermore, their gaseous nature makes them difficult to contain.

We have a similar section in our periodic table of online marketing elements.

The Inert Gases

These inert gases interfere with our online reactions, reducing conversion rates, decreasing sales and generally making us look foolish.

Having an understanding of these contaminants on our websites and landing pages will help us to improve our pages and our fortunes.


Bordom (pronounced “Boredom”) contaminates pages that present information for only one kind of visitor — one that likes reading text. However, a page full of text, no matter how well written, will not appeal to scanners. Visually-oriented visitors will be driven away if the page doesn’t introduce some images. Long paragraphs, long sentences and industry jargon will bore even the most qualified of visitors.

To eliminate Bordom:

  • Add some image, motion, or sound to the page
  • Use short paragraphs, frequent headlines, bullets and highlighting to help scanners
  • Place text captions under your images

Melium Me


Melium is introduced when the copy, images and video on a page talk about your company and its products exclusively. Look at your pages and count the occurrences of “we,” “us,” “our company,” “our clients,” or your company name, logo and tag line.

Is the page full of Melium?

To eliminate Melium, mix in some storytelling. For example, your value proposition is the story of what you do, how you do it and what it will do for your customers.

Advanced marketers will mix in the radioactive element Youranium, by understanding the visitors very, very well and creating pages specific to their needs. Youranium can be created by getting feedback, generating personas and testing messages.

Hot Air (He)

Hot Air

This contaminant is generated by unfounded “facts,” posing statements and irrelevant stock photography. We chose the same symbol chemists use for the element Helium. Helium isn’t hot air, but it behaves similarly.

Do you claim you are the “leader” in your space? By what measure?

Will I get to talk to the pretty lady with the headset if I call? Probably not.

This inert gas can be eliminated by adding some important catalysts.

Proof builds credibility and may even make the visitor say, “Oh, really?”

Trust can be added with symbols, testimonials, ratings and reviews. It tells the visitor that others have used your product or service and approve.

Use Images to show the product. Instead of manipulative stock photos of pretty people smiling for the camera, come up with images that communicate the experience of hiring you or buying from you.

Abandon (Ar)


This is perhaps the most insidious of the inert gases. We chose the symbol “Ar,” which chemists use for the element Argon. When someone abandons your page, they “Are gone.” Get it?

Distractions are a common source of Abandon. Visitors are just looking for a reason to delay their decision to react.

Are your colorful social media symbols enticing visitors to check Facebook? If so, they are gone.

Do you put your corporate site’s navigation on your landing pages? It’ll steal away key conversions.

Does your form ask for my title, company, budget, buying timeframe, mobile phone number and social security number? That whitepaper may not be so interesting to me if it does.

I once tried to purchase a replacement keyboard for my laptop. The first question on the checkout page asked for my “Gender.” I abandoned and paid more at Amazon for that product.

Abandon can really get in the way.

Eliminating Inert Gases

Using our landing page reaction as an example, we can look for testing opportunities that eliminate these contaminants from the reaction.

We can test some catalysts – Proof, Trust and Image – on a landing page to see if we get more reactions. The revised equation looks like this:

The Landing Page Equation Enhanced

By adding Proof, we eliminate Melium. Trust works against Hot Air. Relevant Images work to dissolve Bordom. Then we look at all of the elements on the page. If an element isn’t clearly delivering Offer, Form, Proof, Trust or Image, it is probably generating Abandon. Remove those elements that don’t fit the equation.

The Inert Gases – Bordom, Melium, Hot Air and Abandon – contaminate the pages on your website and can be detected through your analytics. Use Proof, Trust and Images to eliminate them and get a reaction from your visitors.

Learn more about the Landing Page Reaction with our Chemistry of the Landing Page infographic.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Conversion Rate Optimization | Design, Usability & Conversion Column


About The Author: is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences and author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Forumulas of The Conversion Scientist. Follow Brian at The Conversion Scientist blog and on Twitter @bmassey


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  • http://agencemarketingmontreal.com/ Jason Mailley

    That’s basically the formula, I totally agree.

    BO: Your content suck… it bores the audience; seriously, all you are going to convert are the audience that absolutely need your products. Seriously, a lot of businesses should ask these questions to themselves:

    - Why would anyone prefer us over all the others selling a similar or the same products?
    - What do I sell? Do I sell a price tag? Commitment? Quality? Fast Service? Special features? AND: How important is it to my audience? What exactly matters to THEM?
    - Are my visitor aware of what we sell? (Not the products, but WHAT makes them choose you over your competitors).

    *Your website is not a business card. Your website is a salesman, if you feed him well he’ll sell your products 24/7 and serve all your visitors at once. Treat your website like your sales hero: sure it takes energy to build great content made for the audience, but the rewards are wonderful.”

    It’s sad, but most business don’t understand their best salesman… they treat him like a box that just need to be filled with something. Text is often copied from other material without much care about converting and interesting the audience.

    Start by asking yourself why your company exist, and why it should still be alive 5 years from now. Don’t do it while thinking of you, do it while thinking of your clients. What would make your business success matter TO YOUR CLIENT? Build yourself a strong mission, you’ll get a clearer vision on how to acquire customers.

    Only by doing that, you’ll address all the issues at once!

  • http://conversionscientist.com Brian Massey

    I always liked the question, “Why is the world better off because your business exists?” It makes you think more about the world (and the people in it) than your products and your company.

    Unexpected Formula #2: Your visitors don’t care about your company or its productcs.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • http://www.suncode.pl/ verpentor

    I love the word Melium – was it invented fully independently by you or inspired by name of Malaysian fashion designer http://www.melium.com ?

  • http://conversionscientist.com Brian Massey

    Melium is a combination of “Me” (as in “It’s all about Me”) and Helium, the inert gas that acts very much like hot air. I wonder how you pronounce the Malaysian “Melium”.

  • http://www.suncode.pl/ verpentor

    Meh – Lee – Yoom
    Meh (like sound in meh or in mentor) – Lee (like Bruce Lee) – Yoom (like you + M)

    btw Malaysian is quite similar to Indonesian and Google Translate has this reading / voice option for Indonesian (as well as pronounciation in many different languages)

    And last but not least: thanks for the answer :)

  • http://www.infiniteconversions.com/ Infinite Conversions

    Hi Brian,

    Informative article. I really like your structured, analytical approach to conversion rate testing.

    We typically ask ourselves a few qualitative questions when examining a website. Some of these include:

    Some Questions to think about:

    1)Do I think this (is) a real and good company — the kind I want to do
    business with, give my billing info to, etc.? Keep in mind, this is not
    because you tell them you are a real company, but more the
    impression you give with your site.

    2) Do I think they have what I need?

    3) Do I think they will deliver what I need reliably?

    4) Do I think they deliver on time?

    5) Is delivery/shipping free or inexpensive?

    6) If I have a problem, do I think it will be easy to deal with them to resolve my issue?

    7) Can I easily return something? Is it free?

    8) Do I think they have good/the best/reasonable pricing for the product or service I am seeking?

    9) Are they going to spam me if I give them my information?

    10) Does it seem that this site is secure? Will they treat my information securely?

    11) If clothing: Will this fit me?

    12) Will I like it?

    13) Do I need it?

    14) What do others have to say about this product or service?

    15) Can I try it out without committing?

    16)Do I need to do this now? This, as with many of these questions, may
    be thought about differently for different web sites. This may or may
    not be on your home page, but it may be in messaging throughout the
    sales process.

  • http://conversionscientist.com Brian Massey

    This is a great checklist for optimization. You should expand on this and let us publish it on our blog.

    The challenge comes when you’ve answered all of these questions to the affirmative, and the potential buyer is just looking for a way to delay the purchase. This is when distractions, esp. Ar-gone is particularly heart-breaking.

  • http://www.infiniteconversions.com/ Infinite Conversions

    Sure, can we talk sometime about this? My email is Milad@infiniteconversions.com.


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