So you’ve managed to get traffic to your website, and your leads are actually clicking around (Go you! That in itself is a big win). In fact, they’ve even clicked the “buy now” or “checkout” button.
But don’t go popping bottles just yet.
Just because they clicked into your checkout process, doesn’t mean they’ll actually check out. In fact, Baymard Institute even found that the average cart abandonment rate is a monstrous 69.23%. Yikes.
But before you resign yourself to only closing 30% of the people that add your product to their cart, there are a few things you can do to lower your abandonment rate and boost your sales.
1) Simplify your checkout process
Of all the reasons why people abandon the checkout process, the most common is simple confusion. If someone was on the fence over making a purchase and your clever marketing tipped them over the edge, it isn’t going to take much in the way of a clunky checkout layout to tip them back again.
And… there’s really no polite way to say this… but let’s just say that credit card companies don’t include an IQ test on their application forms. As a rule, you should work under the assumption that every single one of your customers has never purchased anything online before. If your checkout process isn’t ridiculously simple, you will lose sales to impatience.
Start by reviewing every element of your checkout process and asking two questions:
- Can this be removed?
- Can this question be moved to a post-sale form?
2) Add a progress bar to your checkout pages
A visual representation of your customers’ progress through the checkout process helps, not just because it reassures them the job is almost done, but because as human beings we have an innate need to see something unfinished become complete.
Incidentally, a progress bar works to improve conversions on just about everything. Behaviorally speaking, we’re all just rats bashing a lever to get a food pellet.
3) Keep payment processing onsite
There are certain benefits, from a statutory requirement point of view, to having a third-party handle payment processing offsite. But there is a downside. Anytime a prospect has to leave your site to do anything, there is always a risk that the link could fail, or the customer could become confused, or the tab could be accidentally closed.
If it seems like we’re saying all problems stem from customer error, please note that is something that only affects a minority of people. But when your business is volume, that small percentage can add up to a lot of missing sales.
Select, or switch to, Stripe as your payment processor and you can use their personalized option that allows for payments to be taken without the customer ever leaving your site.
Or, if you don’t want to use Stripe, but want to achieve the same effect, there is a software program that features a “window overlay” mode that creates a seamless checkout process. Transactions are completed without having to direct the customer away from your site.
What software program is that, you ask? Well… how about a clue? It starts with “K” and ends in “artra.”
4) Make “Free Shipping” standard.
Product A costs $87, plus $12.99 shipping. Identical Product B costs $99.99 with free shipping.
The net price is the same, but Product B sells more. Why? Because shipping is free! The word “free” draws the eye. And even though we know that the overall cost is the same, the fact that the vendor of Product B is covering the cost of shipping, somehow makes them seem like a friendlier and more generous seller.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense. But then there’s a lot about human behavior that doesn’t quite compute. Such as why you’d go outside on an icy day and not salt your driveway.
Whatever the sense or lack thereof for this strategy, try it and measure your results. Start by just covering the cost of shipping yourself. You may find that the increase in sales as a result of being able to apply the label “free shipping,” covers the increased costs. If it doesn’t, then try wrapping the costs into the price.
This works most of the time, but obviously you need to track your results. There are exceptions to every rule. This is why testing and measuring is so critical.
5) Highlight guarantees throughout the checkout process
It’s no secret that return policies and performance guarantees improve conversions. Even when they’re so ubiquitous that they barely register, they allow the customer to reduce the sense of risk in making the purchase, and tick off another mental box that gets them closer to completing the sale.
However, most businesses only place the guarantee seals on the sales page. It’s an important place for them, but they’re even more critical when the customer is nearing the end of the checkout process.
Remember, hitting the “Buy” button doesn’t mean the transaction is done. Nothing is finished until the final “confirm” button is clicked. When your customer reaches the final stages of the checkout process, this is the last chance for indecision to strike. And that’s when your full risk-reversal, crowd-pleasing, money-back guarantee should be front and center.
6) Make your security shields visible
People make buying decisions emotionally and then look for reasons to justify them logically.
If, on a base level, we really want that curved UHD 65” television, we look for reasons to convince ourselves that this is the smart and righteous choice. Low energy footprint? Check. $200 less than comparable models? Check. Ten billion uber-whatsits per square inch? Don’t know what that is but it sounds important… check.
And a lot of the paraphernalia we add to our sales page are mainly there to allow our customers to check off a few more good reasons why they’re right to really, really want what you’re selling.
Money-back guarantees, as we’ve just mentioned, come under this category. Most people don’t need or use them, but it’s good to know they’re there.
Privacy and security shields perform a similar function. Most people, if they’re honest, don’t understand what these little images mean or indicate. Except that it’s something good.
Has one of those little Norton shields that means the seller probably isn’t a criminal selling fake TVs made out of legos? Check! Here’s my credit card number.
But this tip isn’t to get a security shield – if you’re selling online that should go without saying – this tip is about bringing it out of the footer where it usually resides and, just like your money-back guarantees, making it more visible.
And, again, don’t just feature them on your sales page. As your customer gets further through the checkout process, the security shields should be increasingly visible. If the customer gets close to the point of no return and hesitation threatens to strike, in some cases a nice large security logo helps ease the customer through the final steps of making that purchase.
7) Add a currency converter to your checkout
As you may have gathered by now, improving checkout completions is much the same as split-testing. It’s all about small tweaks here and there that, individually, may not seem to make a lot of difference, but will each bump up conversions by a small percentage (or in some cases, such as the last two tips, significant percentages).
A currency converter is a good example of this. Assuming that your product is priced in dollars, most of your customers will have a reasonable understanding of what that converts to in their own currency. But in a small percentage of cases, the customer will be unsure. In which case, a helpful conversion tool, right at the point of sale, can make the difference between a completed sale and a customer who goes to Google to find a currency converter and becomes distracted by a video of a guy sliding down his icy driveway.
We just can’t stop watching it – the Internet might have broken us.
8) Send a coupon to people who abandon their shopping cart
If as many as 70% of people who start the checkout process abandon the transaction before the end, that means there are likely a significant number of your prospects who were interested enough to read your sales page (or watch your sales video), click on the “buy” button, and get at least some of the way through the checkout process before giving up.
Assuming that your checkout requires a log-in, or asks for an email address right at the beginning of the process, you can claw back some of those lost sales by tagging customers who abandon their carts and sending them a nice email.
You could simply ask for feedback, or remind them of some of the key benefits of your product. But if you want to make this strategy super-effective, you should also send them a coupon providing them with a discount if they go back and complete their order.
This strategy is proving so popular among online retailers, that some shoppers are now sharing with each other the names of companies that do this, deliberately leaving items unpurchased in their shopping carts, and waiting for the coupon to arrive.
It’s hard to know whether to be impressed at the gumption and frugality of people who are willing to go to such lengths to get a coupon, or to be slightly embarrassed at belonging to the same species.
Either way, if this is becoming the expectation among online consumers, this only makes it all the more important that you join in.
While some of these strategies might work better than others for your business, remember even a minimal decrease in your cart abandonment rate can mean big profits. For example, if together all of these strategies only boosted your conversion rate 4%, you’re still getting 40 more sales for every 1000 people that click “checkout.”
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