Don’t Let Them Get Away

Nancy Joyce

Updated · Oct 01, 2003

Did you know that for every dollar spent acquiring a customer online, you'll spend $100 reacquiring them after they leave due to poor usability or bad customer service (according to Mauro New Media)?

Discouraging? It doesn't have to be.

Let's say your sales conversion rate is currently around 2 percent. What happened to the 98 percent who didn't purchase? You must understand exactly where the lost opportunity occurred to properly optimize the site. If you learn through analytics, for example, 50 percent dropped off the home page; 25 percent left after viewing a product page; and 20 percent had a product in their shopping cart, but later abandoned it, consider possible causes and remedies.

Customers abandon a site for a variety of reasons. They might leave a home page because they can't find a specific section easily, or the home page content just wasn't interesting enough. They may have left a product page because they couldn't find the item easily, or product display wasn't compelling. A full shopping cart may be abandoned because the checkout process was too cumbersome, or because shipping and handling was too high relative to price.

Considering all of the potential pitfalls, it's clear testing multiple options and optimizing your site at every stage of the process is critical to capture all available value from your customers. But is it enough? What if they don't come back to enjoy your new-and-improved display or process? What about visitors who were simply interrupted by a phone call or crying baby, but didn't bookmark your URL? More important, what about customers who are simply considering purchase?

Many marketers miss a tremendous opportunity: remarketing to lost customers who may not return unprompted, and more importantly to hot prospects who are simply considering the options (your competitor's products, for example).

My organization's Web site analytics benchmark data reveals telling statistics about opportunities lost on customers who abandon carts. These customers were so interested in a product they went so far as to put it in a cart, but later abandoned it.

  • Only one in four customers who abandon a cart actually returns to complete the purchase.
  • The value of an abandoned cart can be up to 60 percent higher than a cart that converted.

  • The 25 percent who return to complete a purchase after abandoning a cart typically spend 15 percent more than a customer who completed the transaction the first time.

You'll have to wait until my next column on benchmark data to find out just how much money is left on the table, but trust me — you'll want to act.

Bottom line: ensure your analytics solution allows you to act seamlessly on the abandoned prospects described above to maximize the value of your Web site efforts. Some analytics systems permit you to export your opt-in customer list and integrate it directly with e-mail or ad serving technologies. A tailored message based on the actual product abandoned or other telling site behavior (like products browsed) can be sent to select individuals or segments (e.g. repeat customers who haven't purchased in over 120 days) — at the push of a button.

In addition to customers who abandon carts, all seemingly “lost” customers should be retargeted based on session recency and visitor segment. Let's say your customer segmentation data tell you 63 percent of purchasers haven't returned to your site since their last purchase. The remaining 27 percent returned within 9 to 10 weeks but didn't purchase; and 70 percent live within 50 miles of a retail outlet. There's a tremendous opportunity to create tailored messages based on what you know about your customers to entice them back to your site. Customers who live close to a retail outlet might receive a promotion enticing them to purchase either on the site or in-store. Those far from a retail outlet receive an aggressive site promotion.

Web analytics' Achilles heel is connecting insight with action. Without action, or optimizing and retargeting, Web analytics has no chance to flex its muscles and prove its ROI. It's a huge, yet wasted, revenue opportunity for the marketer.

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