The Plight of the Abandoned Shopping Cart: Top 4 Reasons People Do It (and how to fix it)

 
The sky darkens and a wind picks up.  The nightmarish creak of rusty wheels draws closer—you know this sound, you’ve heard it before—another shopping cart full of your products…. Abandoned. 

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Digital shopping cart abandonment runs rampant, the bane of millions of e-commerce owners and managers. 

 Photo by  Ali Yahya  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

How rampant? According to data collection by The Baymard Institute, 69% of shopping carts are abandoned on average. This equates to billions of dollars of lost revenue, and what’s worse—these customers actually want your product—they have placed items in their shopping cart and are ready to convert—but something, most likely something awry in your checkout process, is stopping them.

Many marketers spend so much time focusing on beautiful site design, content creation, and merchandising, that they forget (or don’t know) how big of an impact their checkout process can have on conversions. This article will cover the top reasons shoppers abandon, and solutions to address each issue.

Top 4 Reasons People Abandon Their Online Shopping Cart

  2017 Data from  Baymard.com

2017 Data from Baymard.com


As you can see from the graph above, the top 4 reasons customers abandon their shopping carts are: 

  1. Unexpected Costs (61%)
  2. Forced Account Creation (37%)
  3. Overly Complex Checkout Process (28%)
  4. idn't Trust Online Store with Personal Info (19%)

The good news is that these are all fixable issues! If you’re able to optimize your checkout and alleviate these concerns, most likely you will see a drastic improvement in conversions.

Plight #1: Extra or Unexpected Costs

Clearly, customers hate surprises—at least when it comes to cost.  With 61% abandoning their shopping cart because of unexpected costs (shipping, taxes, other fees), and another 24% abandoning because they were unable to see or calculate their cost upfront, it is definitely worth a peek at your own cost presentation.

Be Upfront

It’s not viable for every business to offer reduced or free shipping, but that doesn’t mean these costs have to be clandestine. Be upfront about pricing from the beginning of the shopping process, and your customers will not only appreciate this confidence-building act, they will reward you with purchases.

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Kohl’s does a great job of this on their online shop, seen in the screen capture above. They offer free shipping, but with caveats, and these caveats are clearly broken down for the customer.

You can also integrate a shipping calculator that estimates taxes and shipping during the shopping process so your customers know the final price before they get to checkout. The screenshot below is a stylish example of a real-time calculator used by the company Simple Sugars.

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Plight #2: Forced Account Creation

Account creation and form filling can be tedious work, and according to the graph above, 37% of customers would rather leave their shopping cart high and dry than deal with unnecessary steps.  

Offer Optional Registration

It seems customers generally don’t like be forced to register, which makes offering optional registration the best way to go. Forced registration may offer the benefits of upselling and personalization, but it can be a curse on your conversions.

Asos reduced their cart abandonment by 50%  and another company added $300 million to its annual revenues by removing forced registration. Notice how Papa Murphy’s checkout page (screen grab below) gives new customers the opportunity to checkout as a guest.

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Reduce and Incentivize

If you still want to use forced registration, just be sure to keep it simple. Cut out all unnecessary information and keep the required fields on your registration pages down to bare bones—just email address/username and password. You can always learn more about the customer as the relationship progresses, the important thing is that the relationship actually progresses. You can also offer an incentive for registration - perhaps a discount or even just a reminder that they can save time later.  Notice how Walmart offers both checkout options, while explaining the benefits of both.

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Plight #3: Overly Complex Checkout Process

Imagine this – you’re standing in a checkout line with your arms full of stuff of you want to buy.  A salesperson approaches you, but instead of helping you through the checkout, he asks you to sign up for the store’s newsletter, buy a membership to a sister store, and maybe even follow the store’s Instagram.  You’d probably find it incredibly irritating, perhaps so much so that you walk out, leaving behind the things you planned to buy.

The online sphere isn’t so different – e-commerce customers are likely to react to distractions and complexity the same way. The solution is to remove distractions.   

Isolate Your Checkout

One way to remove distractions is to isolate your checkout process. Checkout isolation focuses the customer's mind on completing the purchase, making her feel more comfortable completing payment and order confirmation.

Remove Extraneous Content: Remove any headers or left-hand navigation menus in your checkout page. Don't make it easy for the visitor to abandon the checkout process. Econsultancy’s Dr. Baxter recommends doing this by replacing the header with the company logo in the top left of the page which can link to the homepage as the sole escape route. The below screenshot from Macy’s checkout page is a great example of a clean, isolated checkout.

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Make it easy to find relevant information: Replace the footer with links related to the purchase process—information about delivery, return policies, contact options, and privacy and security.  Notice how the Nike checkout footer below has to do with purchase and shipping essentials. Take care that when these links are clicked, they’re displayed in a lightbox over the page – again, you don’t want your customer to leave the checkout page. Customers should be able to view all necessary the information without being taken out of the process.
 

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Communicate with the customer about their progress. You want to isolate them, but you don't want them to feel lost. Provide a progress bar: when one step of the checkout has been completed, make it clear that it has been fulfilled and that the end is getting close. 

Plight #4: Didn’t Trust online store

While consumers love the convenience that online shopping has given us, they’re also wary (and rightfully so) of providing sensitive information unless a retailer can prove that it is trustworthy and secure. 

Build Confidence with Trust Signals

Use a recognizable trust badge or security seal. Data compiled by Actual Insights revealed that 61% of people abandoned a purchase because a trust logo was not present, and 75% abandoned because they didn’t recognize the logo. Be sure to not only use a security badge on your website, but use one that is familiar to customers. According to the same survey cited above, the three most familiar security seals are McAfee (89%), Verisign (76%), and PayPal (72%).  

 Photo Courtesy of  LucyGrey.com

Photo Courtesy of LucyGrey.com

You Can Save the Shopping Cart

Now that you understand the plight of the abandoned shopping cart, you are better equipped to be your own e-commerce hero. These solutions should help prevent the majority of your customers from abandoning, and for those who continue to do so, you can utilize a retargeting campaign.  I’ll talk about that next week, so stay tuned.

Content Marketing 101: Developing Your Tone of Voice

Your tone of voice is important for any kind of effective communication, making it absolutely essential in content marketing.  Tone is not so much what you say but how you say it -- it's a change of adjective, a subtle punctuation, a story.  Your tone speaks volumes, gives feeling, and leaves an impression.

mayangelouquote

If you want to effectively communicate and interact with your audience you must develop your distinct (and appropriate) tone of voice. You may have excellent copy and beautiful design but no one will give two hoots about your content if your tone is boring, patronizing, or just completely ill-fit to your brand.      

How to Find Your tone of voice

Voice

Voice and tone are inextricable in definition -- your voice is your brand's unique personality, and your tone expresses that character unique personality.  If you're not sure exactly what your "brand's unique personality" is, ask yourself the following questions.  

howtofindyourtone

Try to be specific when you answer these questions, and create a list of 3-5 adjectives that describe how your business should sound.  You should also make a list of 3-5 words that do not describe how you want to sound. If you need more guidance, BBS Media has a great brand personality exercise that can help. 

Tone

Tone, your expression of your business, will vary depending upon your marketing channel and audience.  For example, your daily social media posts will have an informal tone compared to that of a formal white paper or press release.  Your voice stays consistent (see my note on consistency below), but your tone is driven by context and should react appropriately. 

Examples of Tone of Voice:

I've included four examples of personae (style) and the general vibe (tone) associated with each.  These groupings can help you understand a few different types of tones, guide you in the right direction to find yours, or help you perfect a tone that has already been established.   

  • Energetic: Use an active and energetic tone when you want your writing to make readers feel lively, upbeat, or adventurous.  Energetic tones may be appropriate for companies who offer provocative vacations, fast cars, fun gym memberships, or any product or service that wants to convey passion and excitement.  Achieve this kind of tone through the use of action-oriented lists and fragmented sentences.  Short, power-packed phrases and words are the key—you don’t want to bore your reader with overly long sentences or bland vocabulary. 
 Photo by  Quentin Dr  

Photo by Quentin Dr 

  •  High-End Elegance: An elegant tone is intended for the affluent audience.  They don't like to be rushed, and they do love a good adjective. Think of indulgent spas, chic interior design, craft boutiques, luxury jewelry. Write in a way that is  focused on appearance and “feeling.” Don’t use action-oriented adverbs and phrases, as these can convey a feeling of being rushed. Write with longer, flowing sentences that highlight the exclusivity or status of your product.  Make your target audience feel admired, reassured, and important.
  • Trendy/Bold: Trendy could be the tone for any innovative company whose target demographic is young adults.  Overall, the trendy tone is unique, weird, wild, and witty.  An effective bold tone is loud but not obnoxious and fun but not totally irreverent.  It works well with app companies, hip clothing brands, popular technology, or anything that can be considered "cool."  A trendy tone is often funny and will forever make your brand memorable.
  • Dependable: What do a first-time investor, a person shopping for insurance, and a school administrator researching educational texts have in common?  They don't necessarily want you to make them feel hip and wild; they would rather your communication instill a feeling of professionalism, guidance, and dependability.  The tone should be relaxed and warm but not informal, instructional but jargon-free. You’ll want to structure your  content in a way that highlights organization and precision while also inserting a sense of trust and reliability.  Use convincing facts and statistics, and always avoid rambling.   

Be Authentic

The most important thing about your tone is that it feels authentic and not forced. An affected tone will come across exactly how it is -- fake. If you’re not normally a humorous person, then your marketing content is not the time to try out your funny bone.  If you're completely clueless about social media, perhaps you're not the best one to be writing to millenials. 

 Photo by  Vladislav Klapin  

Photo by Vladislav Klapin 

Keep Your Tone Consistent 

Once you determine what kind of tone fits with your business, you must make sure that it stays consistent across all levels of your communication.  This kind of consistency prevents a disjointed customer experience and will strengthen your relationship with your customers by reinforcing familiarity through channels they trust.  

To ensure consistency, create a writing guide as a reference (or as a training tool) for your content writers.  A writing guide will make your expectations clear on how all aspects of content should be created. Your writers can then creatively work within your set guidelines.There are plenty of writing guide templates and established style manuals you can use. Below are some examples:

Use Your Voice

Your tone of voice establishes who you are. It makes your brand stand out and become familiar all at once.  With a proper tone of voice your business becomes an entity with a unique personality, worth getting to know.   

What is Content Marketing?

Today's consumer shops differently and responds differently to advertising than the buyer of old. Customers no longer want to be insulted with blatant advertising or bogged down with promotional materials or emails from a brand they can’t trust.

 Photo by  Albert Dera  on  Unsplash

Photo by Albert Dera on Unsplash

Shoppers today want valuable information, interesting stories, and creative solutions.  

Shoppers want content marketing.

How Content Marketing Works

Content marketing utilizes a variety of tactics (social media posts, blogs, podcasts, e-books, press releases, infographics, and on and on and on) to create and share valuable information (aka, content) with a specific customer base and target audience.

You are not selling, you are engaging.  Content marketing shows that you are an expert in your field--your company is useful, interesting, and trustworthy; and at this point, you are. 

 The end goal to content marketing should be meaningful engagement with your customers.  This will reward you with their business and loyalty. 

 Photo by  freestocks.org  on  Unsplash

The BUying Cycle

To fully understand how content marketing works, we must first understand the consumer’s Buying Cycle

  1. Awareness: Customer becomes aware of a need, but unaware of a suitable solution.
  2. Research: Customer becomes aware of a solution and begins performing research to educate herself.  (For example, an interested car buyer will read about what different types of cars exist and which one will best fit her needs and budget).
  3. Consideration: Customer begins comparing products from various vendors to make sure she'll be getting a high quality product at a fair price.
  4. Buy: Finally, the customer makes her decision and moves forward with the transaction.

Traditional advertising typically concentrates on the last two steps of the buying cycle; content marketing taps into the first two (awareness and research) by proactively educating consumers about products and services.  By using educational, entertaining, or informative content (i.e. giving them interesting stuff to look at, learn from, read, and share) you create positive interest in your product without advertising for it directly, and introduce yourself while they're still in the beginning steps of the buying cycle. 

How to Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

First, you must determine what kind of information would be useful or interesting to your audience. You should have a good idea of this already. For example, if you run a boutique hotel, you may want content themes revolving around travel, regional restaurants, wine tours, interior design, etc.).   Once you establish the main themes, you can explore the various avenues to share your creative content.  

  1. Social Media: Yes, yes, yes. We all know about social media. I'll keep it brief, but hear me out. Social media outlets are one of the best ways to develop relationships with potential customers, and with a plethora of platforms, you can choose the ones that best fit your purpose.  A regular posting schedule (daily/3 x week) of quality--and relevant--photos, videos, infographics, and blogs (see below) provides plenty of opportunity to reach exponential amounts of people locally, nationally, and globally.  
  2.  Create a Blog: Hosting a blog on your website is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase site traffic.  Each time you add a new blog post, search engines will scan your site, increasing your SEO ranking and makes your site easier to find. When building a blog from scratch, you should create and post your own unique content; however, sharing material from other sources (news articles, other blogs, influencers in your industry) can help to generate interest...just be sure to give credit where credit is due.
  3. Webinars, White Pages, and e-Books: These marketing gems can be used to educate prospective buyers about topics important to them.  They are a great way to communicate complex information in an understandable and easily-digestible manner, and truly establish you as an expert. 

Conclusion

Just as traditional marketing has made way for online strategies and social media, be prepared for what we know now to evolve.  Regardless, now is now, and content marketing is an easy-to-implement, inexpensive, and highly effective tool businesses of all sizes can use to develop long-term relationships with loyal customers. 

 Photo by  Arthur Osipyan  on  Unsplash

The Link Between Psychology and UX Design

UX Design (aka User Experience Design) involves all the elements connected to positively impacting a human’s experience with a company; more precisely, that company’s interactive system, such as their website, application, and so on. 

In order to be effective, the interaction and experience must be exemplary and meet the needs and goals of the user. To achieve this, you must design well-structured web pages with high usability and engaging visual design.   UX Design pulls from many different disciplines, and one discipline in particular is becoming increasingly relevant: Psychology. 

 Photo by  Gerome Viavant  on  Unsplash

Psychology and UX Design

At its core, UX Design is a human-to-human interaction science. It attempts to understand users’ emotional states; to get to the core of why they're visiting a website and what exactly they need. Psychology is the study of human behavior. Specifically, the motivations behind  behavior. Gaining a better understanding of human behaviors, motivations,  and thought processes enables you to utilize UX Design to its fullest potential.

Everything has a personality: everything sends an emotional signal. Even where this was not the intention of the designer, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions. Bad websites have horrible personalities and instill horrid emotional states in their users, usually unwittingly. We need to design things–products, websites, services–to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired.
— Don Norman, UX Architect
 Photo by  William Bout  on  Unsplash

Photo by William Bout on Unsplash

There are plenty of skills that a person with a background in psychology has which are directly transferable to the world of UX Design. Below are some of the big players.

The Mental Model: The Mental Model is based on the outlook of the user, providing an explanation of his or her thought processes, and functions as a prerequisite to empathy (see below). Psychology often looks at how mental models are constructed and how they shape behavior. When involved in UX Design, it is very important that you separate yourself from your own personal mental model and stay focused on the user—what are they used to, what do they expect? 

Empathy: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and understand the emotions that are experienced by another person. Within the study of psychology, there is a huge focus on learning and practicing empathy. This skill naturally translates to UX Design because the best way to build better products and services and meet the needs of your users is to understand them, where they come from, and what they want. The ability to show you care about how the user interacts with your products will help to improve how they, and others, interact with your products in the future. 

Empathizing is not the same as blindly responding to the user’s needs, it just means that you get a clear picture of how they think, feel, and experience things so you can make better decisions when you start designing things for them to use.
— Eric Flowers, UX Designer

Listening and Observation: Both these practices are strongly emphasized in psychology, and are invaluable tools for UX Design. One should listen and assess what the users are saying (or not saying) in order to better assess their behaviors and motivations. Observing how a user interacts with your system and figures out how things work also provides important clues into the users motivations and subsequent actions. 

Research:  A great deal of psychology is about empirical research, testing, statistics, and reducing bias; this painstaking and occasionally tedious approach is how researchers stay at the forefront of modern human behavior. UX Design and user testing is not too different--in  order to understand the behaviors of your users and their interaction with your products, you must conduct research. When conducting research, the UX designer has to be aware of the same issues that arise in psychological research, such as not leading the participant, reducing bias, and interpreting statistics.

Cognitive Psychology: Ever heard of Gestalt psychology? In the 1920’s a group of psychologists in Germany developed several theories of visual perception, describing how when viewers see a group of objects, they perceive their entirety before they see the individual parts. Simply put, people tend to organize visual elements into groups or "unified wholes". The organization revolves around certain principles, including; similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure, and symmetry. The concept of unified wholes and its related principles provide valuable information for the world of visual design. The fundamentals of this viewpoint give a cognitive perspective to designers on how to create and organize effective visual communication. 

 Photo by  Samuel Zeller  on  Unsplash

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

The Usability of Soft Science

These are just a few of the basic techniques of psychology that directly relate to UX design. Overall, it is psychology’s holistic approach to understanding behavior and its exploration of possibilities from various viewpoints that link it so closely with UX design.  As companies search for UX designers with widening scopes and all-encompassing skill sets, there may be a call for more UX designers with experience in psychology and similar disciplines.

Does Paid Search (CPC) Work?

What do we want as web users? We want information at our fingertips and we want it now. A Pew Internet survey shows that search is one of the most performed internet activities, conducted by an overwhelming 92% of all users.  Another study shows that 93% of all internet traffic comes from a search engine.  Those are big numbers.  Big enough to confirm that using search engines to attract visitors is vital for your business. 

One way to utilize this is through the use of Paid Search or Pay-per-click (PPC); the question is, what are they and do they work?

 Photo by  Agnieszka Boeske  on  Unsplash

What is Paid Search?

Paid Search Marketing (also known as cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-impression (CPM), pay-per-click PPC, and sponsored links) is intended to make your website, services, and/or products highly visible on the search engine results page (SERP).  Essentially, sponsored links are paid advertisements.  Your  paid search ad--which is directly linked to search queries--will appear at the top of the SERP. These ads are often found directly above or to the right of the organic results (see example below). 

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CPM vs CPC

Whenever a person clicks through your paid search ad to your website, you pay the host (i.e. Google, Bing, etc) a predetermined amount.  This is approach is known as Cost-per-click (CPC) advertising.  You bid on the search term that you would like to trigger the appearance of your ad.  For example, using the keyword “discount tennis rackets.” from the image above, you can see that Target, Midwest Tennis, Ebay, Tennis Express, and Amazon all have the highest bids on that keyword, which is why their ads appear in the search result.

Now, a cost-per-impression (CPM) campaign isn't about clicks, it's about impressions.  This means you pay the host for every 1,000 times your ad appears on the SERP.  CPM is good for getting your business name out there.  

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How Paid Search Shines

Guaranteed higher visibility

Placement is everything. Most people will click on the first result presented to them, and the vast majority of searchers (75%) won't even look beyond the first ten results. And since Paid Search ensures your ad appears at the top of the SERP, it makes it incredibly easy for web users to find you. 

Ability to target

You can use paid search to target your advertising on particular regions, age groups,  where you conduct business.  Going back to the tennis warehouse example from before -- say they're located in Costa Mesa and their particular target audience is women, ages 25-45, located in Orange County (or even all of Southern California).  The ad will only be run in the region set, and will be targeted to a specific audience. 

Conversion Rates

There is some evidence that paid search traffic converts better than organic traffic with conversion rates of up to two times higher. The higher conversion rates are most likely because paid search traffic is more targeted and qualified.  Search queries that result in ad clicks are also more likely to be commercial in nature, rather than informational.   

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How Paid Search Sucks

Possible High Cost

Depending on what you’re promoting, keyword campaigns can be expensive. The inclusion of the word “insurance,” for example, would require a bid of  $54.91 per click.  That is one expensive click, especially if the person who clicks doesn’t buy anything.

Clickity-click

There is no guarantee that a visitor clicking your ad is planning to purchase anything--there's a chance they may have even clicked on your link accidentally. And, as mentioned above, you still must pay for click, regardless of whether or not the click results in a conversion.  

 Photo By  Taras Shypka

Photo By Taras Shypka

How to Make Paid Search Work for You

Paying for sponsored links is less like buying advertising space and more like paying for qualified leads. If used correctly--with proper planning, appropriate keywords, and measured results--it can be a vital addition to your marketing campaign.

Choose your keywords carefully

A way to use keywords to your advantage is to seek keywords that aren’t searched for quite as often. For instance, instead of using "insurance" as a keyword term, try something more specific, (and less expensive), such as, "car insurance in Maine."  Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Adwords can help you find effective phrases that will work with your needs and budget. Learn more about the tool, and finding appropriate keywords, in this blog post: A Guide to A Great Google Campaign, Part 1

Measure your results

Be sure to monitor your paid search results and adapt your campaigns accordingly. Most, if not all, paid search hosts offer excellent analytics where every click is monitored and recorded.  You can easily track how many people are clicking on your ads, and how many are converting. If the number of clicks is low, try changing your keywords; if clicks are high, but conversions are low, optimize your web pages to encourage visitors to become buyers.  

Final Thoughts

Remember, with paid search, you control the ads, the keywords, and the budget, all which can be adjusted to optimize your paid search campaign and generate higher ROI. However, to ensure the best possible results for your marketing campaign you should use paid search alongside organic search and other content marketing avenues.