Battling Slow Web Traffic

Battling Slow Web Traffic

The Internet is a modern instant-gratification playground—anything you want is literally at your fingertips, which bodes well for online businesses. However, that immediacy comes with an inherent drawback; as easy as it is to click a link and find what you want, it’s just as easy to click away towards something else. 

Cart abandonment has become a familiar part of e-commerce. Your customer fills their cart with items, but never completes the sale. In 2018, the global cart abandonment rate was as high as 75% (SaleCycle). Now, approximately 40% of shoppers fill up their carts without any intention of actually buying anything (Annex Cloud). You can’t do much about those people. However, the reasons for abandonment vary. Carefully examining the reasons for cart abandonment  will reveal recovery might be fairly easy and achievable. Some of those lingering carts are under your control! Let’s look at a few of the things you can do to keep customers on your site and convert their shopping cart contents into sales.

There are two key points at which you are losing potential sales: site abandonment and cart abandonment. If customers are leaving your website before they even begin to explore your offerings, you need to look at website issues such as loading times and navigation. A slow-loading website can increase cart abandonment by 75% and decrease brand loyalty by 50% (Annex Cloud). 

Keywords also play an important role in securing sales. Misleading or vague keywords can easily throw off a potential sale. “Spinning” is a great example of a mistaken keyword. You sell spinning wheels and fibers, but your shopper is looking for an exercise routine… *sigh*. On the other hand, If they are putting spinning wheels in their carts but not buying them, you want to consider your checkout procedures, your product information, and added costs such as shipping and handling.

You can figure out when and where in the sales process customers are abandoning your website by looking at Google Analytics and comparing your Overall Traffic with your Bounce Rate. Experts suggest that anything over 30% bounce rate can be improved upon.

Combat Site Abandonment

Eight seconds or less: that’s the amount of time you have for your website to load before your customer gets bored or frustrated and goes elsewhere to shop. Site speed is so important, in fact, that Google lists it as a major ranking factor in its listings. Eight seconds may be your target, but research shows that customers click away within the first ten seconds total, which means each passing second counts (Hobo). So many elements affect loading time: file size, scripts, image resizing, caches…again, analysis is going to be crucial to determining what sort of changes to make. Then you have to factor in the devices on which your customers are viewing your website and make sure that your site loads as quickly on a mobile device as it does on a laptop or desktop computer. As customers increasingly move towards doing everything on their mobile phones, it becomes even more important that your site is mobile-friendly and mobile-fast. Mobile phones suffer the highest cart abandonment rates, at almost 86% (Barilliance).

Site navigation is another important factor in customer retention. The easier your site is to navigate, the speedier their shopping experience and their overall satisfaction. Think of your action buttons as road signs for your site. They should direct your customers from Search to Results to Buy Now to Checkout. How complicated is it for a potential buyer to look at one product and go back to the Search Results to compare it to another? If they have to start the Search all over again to view details on a second option, they are going to shop from a site that makes it more convenient to revisit Results.

And you want to revisit Google Analytics to discover how they are searching on your site and what keywords they are using that directs them to you. Some free apps such as will also allow you to see heatmaps and collect valuable user data from your site.  

If you’re selling a clothing care product, are your top keywords wash, soap,  detergent, cleaner or refresher? While it technically may not be a soap or a detergent, customers searching for it may not know that until they arrive at your site, and they aren’t going to arrive there if your keywords don’t match their search terms. In the same way, if they are searching internally on your site, you may want to add software that suggests related or similar search terms so that you don’t lose them on a matter of “You say toMAYto and I say toMAHto.”

Combat Cart Abandonment

What do you do if a customer has spent plenty of time on your site, filled a shopping cart with products they intend to buy, but never completes the sale? Here’s where paying careful attention to your checkout process can help your conversion rate. It’s the point in the transaction where the customer actually has to do the work, so make sure it’s easy and seamless for them. 

At the point that they are putting products into their carts, give them all the information they need: every color combination of the particular printed fabric they are purchasing should be on that page, or suggestions included below the Add to Cart button. Having customer reviews readily accessible can also help conversion. People like to know how your product works for someone like them and reading relevant reviews can help them feel confident about their choices.

Now they are ready to check out. Is that, in fact, the next step, or does your site force them into a cumbersome registration process before they even get to enter their credit card number? That’s a classic point of cart abandonment. In fact, a quarter of cart abandonments occur because of a burdensome checkout process (Annex Cloud). Always give them an option to check out as a guest; your billing and shipping forms will collect the contact information you want. At the end of the check-out process, you can ask if they want the information saved for future purchases. They are likely to respond positively if the experience has been smooth for them so far.

Maybe the addition of shipping and handling costs put the product out of their price range. Here’s the place for a pop-up ad offering free or flat-rate shipping to new customers. You can also offer a free shipping discount for new newsletter sign-ups. Better yet, offer it upfront for all your customers to build a loyal following. Waiving shipping charges for purchases greater than a specific dollar amount is another great way to incentivize a customer to stay and add more products to the cart. Show them a “You’re only X dollars away from Free Shipping!” message here and you’re certain to see results.

Finally, a little thing, but an important one: as they are giving you sensitive information like their credit card number, make sure it’s on a form that prominently displays your security information. New customers especially don’t want to feel like they are putting their personal information out there into the great unknown; security information lets them know yours is a legitimate company that operates under professional standards. Customers who can’t figure out how their information is being protected may have second thoughts about completing their purchase.

The Customer Left – Now What?

Uh-oh. Your potential customer is about to leave your website. Have you engaged an exit-intent pop-up encouraging them to finish their checkout process? An exit pop-up provides a great opportunity to offer a shipping discount to encourage the sale. If they still click away and didn’t actually buy anything, can you still change their mind? You certainly can try! 

Online shopping trips get interrupted for all kinds of reasons – you don’t know whether your customer just got an important phone call or is trying to keep the kids from terrorizing the cat. Once the urgent business is concluded, it’s possible that they may come back to your site and finish the transaction. Here’s the place where “persistent cart” software can help your store retain that sale: if your website times out after 15 minutes and empties an idle shopping cart, you’re going to lose that sale. This ties into your site’s ease of use, as outlined above. Your customer will definitely be flummoxed by a quickly-cleared shopping cart and is unlikely to return and restart the entire selection process again. Many shoppers treat the cart as a wishlist and actively restrain themselves from checking out for a day or more to make sure that they really, really want those items. You can add a “Save Cart” or “Wishlist” button for those shoppers and make them part of your recovery process, but your persistent cart software can take care of it for both of you. Whether your customer left due to an emerging disruption or delayed gratification, the contents of their shopping cart should reappear when they come back to your website.

Ah, but how do you get them to come back? You can go subtle, with a retargeting ad campaign, or go direct with an email recovery campaign. Of course, you can always go with a little of both if your resources permit.

Anyone who shops online has seen a retargeting ad campaign: you’re reading your favorite celebrity fashion blog or scrolling through your Facebook feed and in the right margin, a familiar dress appears. Yup, it’s the one you left unpurchased in your shopping cart at that online clothing retailer.

Click on that ad and you are back to your shopping cart with all of your size and color selections intact, ready for you to enter your payment and shipping information. It works for craft retailers too, because haven’t we all seen unpurchased yarn or fabric beckoning us back from that same margin?

Retargeting works by placing a pixel of code (a “cookie”) on a customer’s browser. If the customer leaves your site, the cookie reports back to your retargeting platform, which then launches an ad campaign based on that user’s interaction with your website. It may display an unpurchased cart item, or show a previously purchased item with related products suggestions, or offer some kind of discount for completing a purchase. Retargeting platforms can customize ads for each particular shopper. You can start with Google Adwords or Facebook Custom Audiences for remarketing campaigns, or you can add third-party programs like ReTargeter, Adroll, or Criteo that work with your ecommerce software; the one you choose will help you determine where, how often, and to what segment of your audience you should display ads in order to convert your customers without annoying them or making them feel stalked.

An email recovery campaign is exactly what its name suggests: you reach out to the customers who left potential purchases in their shopping carts through the emails you have collected during their account registrations, newsletter sign-ups, or other forms of social sharing in which they have engaged with your company. Almost half of cart abandonment emails are opened, with almost a quarter of those opens leading to purchases (Moosend). Best practices suggest that you should send no more than three follow-up emails: the first within 6-24 hours after cart abandonment; another 24 hours later and a final one 2-3 days after the second. After that, you’re just annoying and you risk alienating that customer forever.  

The content should vary amongst the emails; ideally, it should contain images of the items the customer left behind as a visual reminder; a link back to the cart and its contents makes it easier for them to resume where they left off in the sales transaction.

  • Start with a helpful, concerned tone: maybe a subject line like “Did You Leave Something Behind?” or “Forget Something?” or “How Can We Help You?”, which sets a tone of personal assistance.
  • You can use your second follow-up email to create a sense of urgency, informing the customer of stock levels of their abandoned cart items: “There are only 10 skeins of Yarn X in colorway Y left in stock! Buy now so you can complete your project!”
  • Your last effort to convert may offer a deal of some kind – a discount coupon for a percentage off a total purchase at a certain level, or free shipping above a specified threshold: “Use this coupon code to get 20% off purchases totaling $100-150,” or “You’re only $7.99 away from free shipping on your entire order.”

The ability to generate recovery emails is included in Shopify Professional and Unlimited levels; at the Basic level, you can add apps to handle your recovery campaign. If you’re not using Shopify, check out services like Cart Rescuer, Rejoiner or Abandon Aid.

We’re here to help you convert those abandoned carts into potential sales. Contact us today for more helpful tips and tricks to keep your customers on site. Clear eyes, full carts, can’t lose.

Leanne Pressly
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