I have a fear of abandonment. It's true. I wake up in a cold sweat some nights, knowing that somewhere, someone has left something in one of our client's shopping carts….. and then they walked away. It breaks my heart.

clip_image002The worst part? It happens, on average, 67.91% of the time. There isn't just one reason either, there are a number of nightmare inducing reasons:

I'm trying a new coping mechanism to help me get through the nights and it involves a simple pad of paper and pen beside my bed. If I have a vision of someone leaving that toothpaste or those pair of jeans in their shopping cart, I immediately jot down my thoughts. And I drift back asleep. Peaceful.

The great news for you is that I had a terrible night, equaling not a whole lot of sleep for me, but 7 kick-ass tactics to share with you.

1) Be Transparent – the number 1 reason why people abandon a shopping cart is because they're presented with unexpected costs. People don't like surprises, so stop being a jerk about it. Be upfront about both your costs (shipping + taxes in) and also be upfront about shipping times. Offering free, same-day shipping probably isn't realistic for everyone, but if you're open and transparent with your shoppers, you'll likely see your shopping cart abandonment rate start to fall.

2) Keep the Cart Alive – According to a study by SeeWhy.com, 99% of visitors will not purchase on their first visit. There are a number of reasons why this is true, including getting pulled away from their computer, comparison shopping on other sites, consulting with a partner etc… The expectation of the user though is that when they come back, all of their products will still be in their cart. Using a combo of Persistent and Perpetual Shopping Carts is sure to drive down that abandonment rate.

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3) Remarket to Shoppers through Email & Display – This could be it's very own blog post, or better yet, Ebook. For the sake of this post, I'll put it simply: You MUST leverage the ability to cookie users and remarket to them via Email and Display ads to try and bring them back to your shopping cart.

On the email front, NEARLY HALF of all cart abandonment emails are opened and OVER ONE THIRD of clicks lead to a purchase. Here's an example of a great one:

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On the Display Remarketing side of things, you've all probably experienced this. You're shopping around for a new pair of Jordans, because they'll add 12 inches to your vertical (fingers crossed) and next thing you know, you're seeing the same pair of shoes you added to the shopping cart, but didn't purchase, follow you around…. forever. This is Dynamic Remarketing in action. You can accomplish this through a number of different remarketing vendors, including Google's Display Network or through a Facebook Exchange vendor, such as AdRoll. Stalking your customers has never provided a better ROI!

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Example of a Dynamic Remarketing ad


Here's an example of a Dynamic Remarketing ad. These are Jordans…. Right?

4) Allow Guest Checkout - Based on a Forrester Research report, 23% of shoppers will abandon your shopping cart if you ask them to register before checking out. Test the impact of dropping the forced registration and allowing for Guest checkout. What's more important… getting the registration or the sale?

5) Utilize Inline Validation – You know how I like to make friends? I like to watch them go through a painstaking process, make mistakes, chuckle to myself as they do and then wait until the very end to point out all of the errors they made. I'm kidding….. this brings on the night terrors.

Instead of showing all of the errors AFTER a form has been submitted, tell your customers when an incorrect input has been made and guide them through the process like a true friend. One user testing study found that inline validation resulted in a 22% increase in success rates of checking out.

6) Test the Shopping Cart – Testing should be core to your digital marketing mindset. We test ads, we test landing pages, we test emails and we should be testing the shopping cart. A checkout process with too many steps/pages can be a scary endeavor for some. Test reducing your steps in the checkout process…. Go from 4 to 3? We suggest that you have no more than 4 steps.

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7) Don't Forget Mobile – Shoppers have high expectations these days and we're getting better on desktops, but continue to fall short on mobile. With mobile sales skyrocketing in 2013, increasing 63% YOY, we need to do better. Let's not suck and let's provide an amazing mobile experience for our shoppers. Canada's very own Frank & Oak does an amazing job…. Why can't you?

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So there you have it folks, 7 kick-ass tactics to improve your shopping cart experience. Hopefully, these will help you sleep better at night. They've done wonders for me. Now, if I can only shake the awful "Innovation = Lipstick on a Pig" nightmare's I've been having.

Tyler Calder

Tyler is VP of Client Strategy at Search Engine People Inc., one of Canada's largest and most trusted internet marketing companies. He also teaches a 12 week Search Engine Marketing course at the University of Toronto and the intensive 1-Day SEO and PPC courses for the IAB.

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