Inertia, Friction and Conversion

With a paradigm from this article in my mind, I set to work on a project recently. An old ecommerce site, great domain name, huge natural traffic can’t seem to convert a reasonable percentage of its visitors into customers. They’re currently converting around 0.2% of their readers into customers.
Is User Intent Being Met?
Normally, the first place I look when trying to solve problems like this is at the source of the traffic, in most cases its search keywords. When we’re dealing with paid search traffic (like adwords) I look at what the user was searching for, what the ad said and what page they landed on and I ask if the user’s desire and intent was being met. This is the really low hanging fruit, changing up (or eliminating) keyword spend ussually ends up perventing a lot of money from being wasted. In this case however, the traffic was coming from natural SERP listings, on totally relevant keywords and most vistors are landing on the homepage so that end of the sales funnel seems ok.
Is There Enough Inertia?
The next place to look is if the site is selling to its visitors well. Is the site actively presenting the product benefits? In this case the site was not. Product pages were full of big, unbroken blocks of text, option selection functionality was presented before any persuasive copy, product images were lackluster and the entire site felt amatuerish. Fixing these things will create more excitement, more inertia, in the user to actually overcome some hassle or friction in the buying process.
Is There Too Much Friction?
Now a look at the traditional usability things to grease the sales funnel. Reducing friction is reducing the amount of work or hassle the potential customer has to overcome before a sale is made. Things like excessive information demands, confusing functionality, and mislabeled buttons come into play here. In this case the site is full of these things. Recommendations have been made, so now we wait for them to be implimented to see if that 0.2% conversion rate goes up.