Finish the Sale: 4 Strategies to Prevent Abandoned Online Carts

An abandoned cart could be a missed opportunity … or a potential second chance, depending on how you play it. Here are some ways to make the most of your e-commerce strategy.

Whether you’re trying to sell books, encourage membership sign-ups, or get people to register for your next event, you’re probably dealing with a shopping cart of some kind—as well as people who leave their carts half-full, with products they end up no longer wanting.

How do you get them to come back to finish the purchase? A few strategic considerations for your association:

Don’t complicate the checkout page. If you’re hitting users with lots of confusing details, it could be preventing them from clicking “pay” or “sign up.” In comments to BizReport, BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier notes that putting ads or other distractions in the way of the transaction might convince people to step away. “When shoppers click the ‘checkout’ button, they probably want to check out. Yet a lot of companies get in the way,” said Dangelmaier. “They use the checkout pages to bombard annoyed shoppers with advertisements, coupons, add-on items, and other junk. Cut the distractions. The best checkout pages are uncluttered and don’t shuffle shoppers across multiple pages.”

Focus on the targeting. If a person abandons a cart, there may be a good chance that the user wasn’t actually your target audience—think, for example, of a user who might price out something extremely expensive for reasons of curiosity or aspiration. You may never stop those people from showing up, but you might be able to ensure more of the “right” people are seeing the cart through better digital targeting, notes Thomas Griffin at “The best thing you can do is step back and take a look at your analytics data,” Griffin writes. “You’ll find a wealth of information about your customers through your email, social media, and website data.”

Then, focus on the retargeting. The silver lining about someone leaving a half-full cart is that they are much more likely to come back and finish the job than a cold lead might be. Which means using steps like personalized, retargeted ads to recontact them. Milos Varaklic, vice president of operations for the consumer financing firm MDG, noted to BizReport recently that using retargeting tools to bring back people who have already started to fill a cart is a useful way to boost conversion. “It’s very effective for merchants to retarget with personalized ads based on the customers’ previous site visits,” Varaklic said.

Take a personal approach. As a recent PCMA article notes, the packaging association PMMI was trying to find another way to tackle the cart abandonment problem for its annual PACK EXPO events by improving its outreach tactics to draw back in people who had briefly looked at the online registration form but didn’t follow through. By asking for the email address of potential customers, the organization was able to reach potential attendees through email and social media—in the latter case using retargeted ads. Tina Warren, PMMI’s director of tradeshow marketing, noted that the emails were written in a less formal way to make a more direct connection. “It was really more of a personalized letter utilizing just the banner [image] of the show so that they could make the connection that it was about PACK EXPO,” Warren said.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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