How Marketing Automation Reunites Your Visitors with Abandoned Shopping Carts

Like the hero in so many parables, online retailers have one undeniable nemesis. Instead of a dastardly villain, these businesses continually struggle against shopping cart abandonment.

When customers touch the merchandise in brick and mortar shops, it's often a strong indicator that they're likely to buy. But the Information Age has emboldened consumers, and leaving the digital store after putting an item in the cart is common practice.

In fact, it's the norm.

The authoritative statistic on shopping cart abandonment - which takes into account 22 other studies - reveals that 68.07 percent of users leave their online carts before completing their checkout. According to Surepayroll, e-commerce sites lose nearly $20 billion each year because of this.

The fact that consumers walk away from their carts so frequently suggests they feel less pressured to buy online, but why is the rate of abandonment so high?

The most common reason is unforeseen additional pricing, specifically shipping. In a recent study, 56 percent of shoppers cited unexpected costs as the reason for abandonment. Website navigation issues and finding a better price elsewhere were also popular reasons.

If online retailers want to increase revenue, they'll have to find a reliable strategy for overcoming this obstacle. Specifically, they'll need powerful marketing automation software.

Using Marketing Automation for Reengagement

Due to shifting trends in consumer purchasing patterns, digital marketers continue to seek tools with more powerful behavioral analytics and more precise targeting capabilities. The current incarnation of these software capabilities is marketing automation, which gives marketers a way to track consumer behavior across multiple channels.

Because these platforms allows marketers to fashion campaigns that dynamically adjust to consumer behavior at a large scale, marketing automation systems can help address the shopping cart abandonment phenomenon.

There are two broad strategies that online retailers should focus on when it comes to checkout churn: onsite and offsite. Onsite addresses issues in the actual checkout process -- i.e. elements and processes on your site -- that may make a buyer uncomfortable and cause them to leave. This strategy is often outside the scope of marketing automation and shades more heavily into site design and user experience.

An offsite strategy focuses on tactics and campaigns to reengage consumers who abandoned their purchase after they've filled their shopping cart. It's here that automation software shines. Using users' behavioral data as an indication of purchasing intent, automation software can personalize banner ads, emails, and landing pages to reflect the interest of each individual customer.

The result is a paradox made reality: one to one marketing at scale. Retailers should focus on two tactics in particular: retargeting with display ads and retargeting with email.

Retargeting with Display Ads

By implementing a sequence of Javascript on each page of a website, behavioral remarketing (colloquially known as retargeting or tracking IDs) creates a cookie or pixel that follows visitors after they leave a website. Though it sounds ominous, the result is simply banner ads on social media or other websites advertising products or brands with which the user has previously engaged.

The uses for retargeted ads are numerous. Businesses can use them to reinforce brand awareness, promote a piece of content relevant to the user, or to encourage app downloads. For online retailers, retargeted ads should focus on the products (or similar items) that a user selected before they halted the checkout process.

Retargeting is still an emerging art, but its effectiveness is already drawing high praise from marketing technologists.

Retargeting with Email

An email address is the most accurate piece of digital contact information around. It's a rule of thumb to ask for it as soon as possible in the checkout process, because it makes it easy to reach out to consumers who have withdrawn from the checkout process.

Automation systems configured specifically for e-commerce should allow marketers to conduct retargeting campaigns through email. By sending an email that references the contents of the consumer's cart, marketers can quickly reignite the original interest consumers showed in the items and persuade them to buy.

Like display retargeting, these email campaigns can be highly effective. According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all retargeting emails are opened and over one in three click-throughs from such emails results in a purchase.

Retargeting campaigns are powerful because they address the intent of consumers. Rather than guessing at the desires of website visitors, marketers armed with automation software can deploy communications that speak directly to the interests of each consumer. And all of this can be done at scale. At this point in the story, marketing automation seems to be the key device to turn the struggle with check-out postponement and shopping cart abandonment in retailers' favor.

About the Author

Zach Watson is the content manager at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, marketing automation, and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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