5 Ways to Avoid Shopping Cart Abandonment

With the Holiday Season quickly approaching, performance marketers are already getting ready for a busy next few months. Merchants are preparing their sites for higher traffic and creatives are already being planned to capture early Christmas shoppers.

A recent webinar  hosted by Chris Nicholls of SeeWhy Inc. highlighted 5 great ways to avoid shopping cart abandonment, which can help you prepare for the upcoming quarter.

 

Here are our notes taken from the webinar:

Shopping cart abandonment rates have been increasing year over year. From 2009 to 2011, shopping cart abandonment rates have increased from 68%, 71% to 72% respectively.  Two of the main reasons for abandonment rates are; the ability to store items in your shopping cart and that shoppers are becoming more savvy and shopping around before making a purchase. In order to capitalize on converting these customers, merchants should consider increasing their “persistent cart” length times to 60 – 90 days as well as compare their prices to Amazon.com, the “online price benchmark”. During the 2011 holiday season 60% of customers went to Amazon before making a purchase.

Abandonment rates rise and fall throughout the year but from the start of October 2011 and peaking out on November 23, 2011, the shopping cart abandonment rates increase from just over 70% to 89% and then fell to 78% on Cyber Monday and continued to decrease through to Christmas.

So why do 72% of shoppers abandon? Forrester’s interviewed over 3000 shoppers and determined the reason why they abandon their carts in order was first “Price” then “Timing”. Here’s a summary of their top 5 reasons why shoppers abandon their carts:

  1. 44% – Shipping and handling costs were too high
  2. 41% – Were not ready to purchase the product
  3. 27% – Wanted to compare prices on other sites
  4. 25% – Product price was higher than they were willing to pay
  5. 24% – Wanted to save the products for later consideration

With price being the biggest factor, a large and very small shopping cart had higher abandonment rates than a shopping cart around the $99 value. If the smaller shopping carts shipping costs were greater than 20% of the value of the goods the abandonment rate is around 80%.  Merchants need to take into account not only the price of their products compared to their competitors but, need to factor in the cost of shipping to their customers.

Because shopping cart abandonment is part of the purchase cycle, merchants need  to better understand what their customers want and accommodate their needs. The following 5 tactics try to do just that:

  1. Free Shipping
  2. Give Promo Codes
  3. Check the Product Details
  4. Mobile Optimization
  5. Remarketing

Everybody loves anything for Free. eTaling Group surveyed website users and asked them what promotional features are the most important when making a purchase. The top two were “Unconditional free shipping with purchase” and “Free returns”. With 64% of all Thanksgiving transactions offering free shipping, merchants need to find a way to accomplish this tactic. Three ways to offer free shipping is to offer it over a 3 day period, with Overnight service as a paid service.  Create a loyalty or membership club like Amazon Prime. And, offer free shipping on minimum order size, like “Free shipping on orders over $99”

Which would you prefer: ““$10 OFF your purchase“ or “10% OFF your purchase” The majority of shoppers would prefer an easy to calculate discount like $10 OFF, instead of trying to calculate what the dollar value of the % off is. Make it easy for your consumers, don’t make them think. If you are going to provide a promotion code box, make it easy for consumers to see and provide a link to a page on your site with all of your current promotions on it. Macys.com tested their promotion page and 40% of the visitors to the page converted in the same session. The promotion page make your company look very consumer orientated.

Check the product detail page. Provide your customers with a large product image, clear product details, clear call to action, phone number and if you can, a wider site equals more selling area. Clear product details include a good description, dimensions and colour options.

97% of mobile visitors abandon their shopping cart. The majority of consumers user their mobile devices to research items before buying them on a different platform. Merchants should cater to their customers on mobile by making their website mobile friendly. Focus on making your site more mobile search friendly. Include easily clickable links, easy to view and clear pictures, PayPal access for making payments easy and check the visibility on a range of devices.  Lastly, remarket to your mobile abandoners with a link back to the shopping cart so they can make the purchase easily on another platform.

Remarketing to your all ready interested customers who are showing you their intent to purchase, by having a product in their shopping cart, is easier than trying to convince a brand new visitor to your site to put something in their shopping cart. Without remarketing on average 8% of customers will return to by something. With remarketing on average 26% of customers will return to buy something. The three stages of remarketing is to remind the customer within an hour, reassure them within 23 hours and promote to them within 6 days and 23 hours. Try to include the picture of the item in their shopping cart in the email. 

 

There are tons of great stats and tips in here to help get the ideas flowing for this upcoming season, but regardless of Holiday shopping, it’s important for merchants to continuously test their site for improved conversion rates and decreased shopping cart abandons, which will result in better performance from your affiliate partners.

What other strategies have you used to help lower your shopping cart abandonment rate that have worked?

Exclusive Interview with Shareasale’s Brian Littleton

Brian Littleton of Sharesale and Sarah Bundy of Affiliate Management Trainers

Brian Littleton of Sharesale and Sarah Bundy of Affiliate Management Trainers

There are a few people in this industry that I love. Brian Littleton, Founder and President of Shareasale is one of them. Despite his incredibly hectic schedule, he allowed me time to ask him some questions to help us understand him more as a person and reflect on a few key issues faced by our industry today.

 

Q. Please tell us about the success of your last Think Tank. Was it as you expected? Better? Worse? What were your personal favorite parts?

Think Tank was a lot different than last year, for a number of reasons – the most of which was that last year we tried to “mix it up” and make it an open event for anyone to register.  This year we went back to a little bit of the old formula in invitation only, and a little more stepped up on the amenities, etc..   We also shared a week with Affiliate Summit in Austin (their event, Affiliate Summit Central, took place a few days prior to ours) which brought a whole new element to our event and introduced a lot of people that would otherwise not have known about it.    From a business perspective, it was a huge success as we had a number of wonderful presentations, great feedback, and I know a lot of Affiliates were introduced to some great Merchants while we were there.   From a fun perspective it was one of my favourites especially with the Lake Travis day, boating, jet skis, etc…  As you know, our event is about relaxed, casual networking which is how we feel so many of these bonds are formed between Merchants and Affiliates… I was extremely happy with how the event played out.   A great new addition was the Affiliate Summit Party which was thrown on our “off night” by Shawn Collins and Missy Ward – it was a top notch event and really added a great element to our agenda… hopefully we can do that again!

 

Q. Attribution is a major topic these days and one that’s going to become more important over the years. What would you suggest to new and intermediate level merchants in order to understand this area more clearly?

From the Affiliate Marketing perspective, there are two important points to remember.

1.  If you use Shareasale, attribution can be customized and is not a one-size-fits-all approach.   Our tracking software allows you to segment groups of Affiliates, setup rules to commission them differently based on multiple click points (not just the last click), and allows you to commission differently if the traffic was touched or influenced by another marketing channel.   I would highly recommend any ShareASale Merchant taking a long look at these capabilities to make sure that commissioning is happening just the way they want.

2.  Affiliates are compensated on sales only, and those commissions can be taken away in the case of voids.   This is unique to any other marketing channel being used… for example, you can’t call up a search company and ask for your PPC expenses back when an order is cancelled.  This needs to be taken into consideration when dealing with the issue of attribution.  I hear often that Merchants are concerned with Affiliates being commissioned on orders that actually came from somewhere else.  This is certainly something to research and a legitimate concern, but there is also a lot of leakage as well as reversals that act as a balance.

 

Q: Shareasale has a reputation for being an “ethical” affiliate network, which comes with ensuring affiliate compliance as much as possible. What are some of the things you do to ensure affiliates are being as honest as possible?

To start out it is part of our mission to work to make the affiliate channel a valuable channel for Merchants.  Once you set that as a true goal, it is easier to make decisions on what types of promotion fit within that goal set.   I don’t use words like “ethical” to describe our business practices because it implies that others are unethical and that isn’t our position.   We wish to setup our policies so that Merchants see value in our network, see that we are honestly trying to help them and grown their business, and see that we don’t put ourselves in positions where conflict of interest can complicate things.   Affiliate compliance is a huge piece of affiliate marketing right now, and it takes a concerted effort between the Merchant and their Network to get it done.

 

Q: Who is your personal hero or someone you look up to?

I look up to dreamers – probably the simplest way to put that.   Whether it is an athlete, artist, entrepreneur… whatever the dream might be.  It takes courage, imagination, and a ton of work to be a dreamer and those are the people that I would say most inspire me when I hear their stories.

 

Q: What is your favorite thing about this industry and what would you like to see changed?

Favourite is definitely the amount of diversity and imagination in our industry.   I’ve worked in the industry for some 12 years or so and still have conversations everyday that amaze me.   The people who make up our industry have so much collective knowledge and creativity, it is truly great to watch and be a part of.   The part I would like changed the most is definitely the apathy factor.   Our industry faces a lot of collective challenges – the Affiliate Tax is the most obvious of these – and despite efforts from a lot of good people, we haven’t yet been able to really inspire industry involvement from the majority of the industry.  That is Affiliates, Merchants – and others.  There are so many common challenges that it would really be great to see our industry stand up a little for ourselves, as a group.  It’s definitely something that I’ll be working on for the next few  years quite a bit – so if you are reading this and want to get involved in trying to solve some industry issues, definitely shoot me an email!  It isn’t something that can be accomplished by one group, but it is something that could benefit from any individuals participation.

If you’d like to contact Brian directly, he can be reached at brian(at)shareasale.com.

As always, thanks for your time Brian. It’s always an absolute pleasure!

Marissa Mayer Yahoo’s New CEO on Finding Balance

Marissa Mayer Yahoo CEOI never heard of Marissa Mayer until yesterday when she was announced Yahoo’s new CEO. Intrigued by her picture – being young, pretty and feminine – I started to read more about her and watch some of her interviews. What I find interesting and incredibly inspiring about Marissa is how much she has accomplished at such a young age.

According to Celebrity North, Marissa’s net worth is $300 million. That’s not bad for someone who’s still three years away from turning 40. As one of Google’s first employees and their first female engineer, she has contributed to over 100 features google has offered. She is incredibly intelligent being a tech geek and an engineer, but more importantly she is down to earth and appreciates the people she works with.

Having accomplished so much in such a short time, it boggles my mind how hard she must have worked to get her engineering degree, compete against men in a highly male dominated space when she first entered, then worked her way up the corporate ladder in two of the world’s most recognized brands.

But despite the incredible work she’s done and the dedication it must have taken to get her there, she understands that balance and not resenting your work is the most important element to a balanced work life. Burn out is a dangerous thing and she appreciates that people have different reasons for living and different ways for dealing with life balance.

Here’s are her thoughts on finding a proper work balance in life.

I obviously don’t know Marissa personally, but I admire what she has accomplished is such a short time and what she represents for women. To me she tells the world that despite age, gender or origin, you have opportunity to accomplish whatever you want if you can be focused, determined and find the needed balance to get the job done.

 

17 Reasons Internet Marketing Is In Trouble

I can’t tell you how often I hear how shady, scummy, and overall filled with unethical, sleazy people the affiliate marketing world

has. Personally, it drives me crazy. There are a TON of awesome people in this industry – thousands of them. Possibly HUNDREDS of thousands of them, yet somehow the world still thinks we’re a bunch of criminals.

An anonymous reporter recently put a request out to find more information about the internet marketing space. I sent them a letter to address their question. Here was the original post:

 

Summary: Are All Internet Marketers Scam Artists?

Category: High Tech

Email: query-29rx@helpareporter.net 

Media Outlet: Anonymous

Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 12 July

Query:

I’ve been reading the Salty Droid with a great deal of interest, and have been intrigued by his claim that “you can’t make money online.” The site’s founder was a prime source in a video and commentary by the Verge taking down the entire Internet marketing segment as being a syndicate of scam artists.

I want to kick the tires a bit harder on the Verge’s commentary and do some actual reporting to test the claims. Are there legit Internet Marketers and Affiliate Marketers online? What should content providers know and what questions should they ask before signing on or, even more importantly, entering payment info?

Requirements:

This is for a leading industry Website with high traffic levels. I am looking for expert commentary and data for a serious,
investigative piece, not product pitches. Thanks.

Before I even go into my list of reasons why we have a bad rap – PLEASE SEND THIS REPORTER A MESSAGE WITH THE TRUTH THAT LEGITIMATE INTERNET MARKETERS ARE OUT THERE AND SHARE YOUR STORY!

 

Anyway here are 17 reasons I think the world has a horrible misconception about our entire industry. If you have some to add, please do!

 

1. No Formal Education

It seems when there is no formal education, training or reputable organization backing an industry people think it’s not a legitimate profession. There are no universities or colleges (that I’m aware of) that have top level degrees or recognized designations in affiliate management or social media, for example, that people can study for two – four years like other recognized professions that give them the respect they deserve. I predict that over the next few years this will change.

 

2.  Is it Legal?

When I say “affiliate marketing” the VAST majority of people I speak to don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. One of our account managers’ mothers asked if what she does for a living is legal!  We still have a long way to go to bring awareness that people who work online are legitimate business owners and are not breaking the law by working on the internet. Part of this issue might be from lack of #1.

 

3. No Really, Is it Legal?

Because “internet law” is so new in itself there is so much grey space  in the online landscape it’s still like the wild wild west out there. With better regulations, attorneys who understand the landscape and online business owners who better understand the legal issues surrounding the internet, we will start to become taken more seriously by the rest of the world. Right now, no one really knows who regulates behaviour and dishing out consequences online, so everyone just does what they want.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and legal issues are not my strong suit – so please do your own research in this regard.  If you are or know of a good internet attorney, please let us know so we can contact you.

 

4. Industry Lingo

When an industry has it’s own lingo and that language gets thrown around by different people who don’t fully understand it, the meaning of those terms becomes skewed. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and franking most of the people I speak to – even in the industry – either don’t use the right terms or don’t understand them. SEM, SEO, PPC, CPA, CPL, CPS, EPC, ROAS, MLM, Click Fraud, Trademark Bidding, Direct Linking, Back Links, Widgets, Datafeed and Tagging are just a few examples of terms people in the industry use a lot, but others don’t have a clue what they mean. And because there are so many industry specific terms and so many novice people in the space (which is understandable since it’s growing so rapidly and there is no formal training) people just don’t get it.

 

5. Spam

All our favourite thing. That tasty meat that makes us cringe is about as appealing as when people bombard and harass you in your personal space online. Somehow that seems like an oxymoron, but seriously – I don’t want another mass email to 486 people to my Facebook inbox. I don’t want my personal email passed around because I donated something once and now 50 charities suddenly know who I am and want my money too. There are a ton of ways we spam and are spammed and people always attribute it to internet marketers.

 

6. Cheesy Aliases

SexKitten69, PimpDaddy11, FuckHead09 – sounds very professional right? Well if I’m someone outside of the industry seeing aliases like that, I’m not going to be impressed or trust you. Or the website, forum or social network you’re on either.

 

7. Stolen Personal Info

How many times have you ordered something online and wondered if your personal info (name, home address, credit card info) is safe. I know I have. I won’t buy from a site that looks shady and lacks authentic security seals. I know several people who’ve been ripped off buying something online – or have had their personal info used to register for things they had nothing to do about. No wonder people are scared give their info. Everyone knows someone with a similar story.

 

8. Adware, Spyware and Toolbars

Between all the popups, popovers, warnings and download requests how is anyone supposed to trust anything these days? In the affiliate marketing space these things are used to give unfair advantage over other affiliates and even the merchants themselves. These in-your-face (and sometimes under-the-radar) requests are not only annoying but worrisome. Even more so when people don’t know what they mean or if they should accept them or not. How do we (or any regular user) know which ones are legitimate or not. Downloading tools to help us determine this only makes us all the more paranoid.

 

9. Turning a Bind Eye

This one drives me nuts. When I was 16 years old I fainted on the sky train on my way to work. I was by myself during rush hour and woke up three stations later with people walking over my body to get on and off the train. Why is it people insist they can’t see something happening? Or they pretend it’s ok? Or they expect someone else to do something about it? I’m not one to just sit around hoping someone else is going to do something. I know from experience they probably are not. Therefore it’s up to you and me to stand up and say something when we see something that’s not right. For us, it’s just a matter of knowing who to say something to which is probably the hard part in the online space. Again, this could be a result of #1, #2 and #3.

 

10. No Accountability

Similar to turning a blind eye, I find people just don’t take responsibility for their actions. It’s so easy to point the figure at someone else, especially when public scrutiny is a real possibility in the online space and of course no one wants to be embarrassed. But at the same time how can we improve if we don’t properly reflect on how to improve. If we just continue ignore the things we need to change then this industry isn’t going to get any better.

 

11.  Promised Overnight Success!

“Get rich quick! Make a million dollars with my easy three point system! Buy this one time solution and earn $100,000 within 3 days!” These people drive me nuts. Anyone who’s been in the space long enough knows there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme. There is just a scheme. Internet marketing takes patience, determination, skill, proper business strategy, focus and often times a specialization. It also takes time. Nothing is quick, easy or free. We have to work for it just as hard as any other industry, if not harder.

 

12. Cheap Tricks

Cookie stuffing, giant red flashy banners, popovers (add adware, spyware, malware and toolbars to this list) and a slew of other things people do to have an easy advantage over others is one major reason people don’t like internet marketers, especially in the affiliate marketing space.

 

13. Pornography, Gambling and other “Questionable” Booming Industries

I’m not one to judge a person’s pastimes but there are some who will argue the ethics of the industries in the online space. Seeing as pornography and gaming are two of the most profitable and popular industries online today, I can see how some would question decency of the internet overall and the sites that might be exposed to eyes that preferably wouldn’t see them. Parents have to put in a ton of effort to protect their children from sites like these, which makes them angry that they have to put that effort in at all – then they worry that their child will still be exposed to it somehow anyway.

 

14. Offensive and Hateful Material

Freedom of speech allows us to say whatever we like. Unfortunately some of that speech is incredibly harmful. Even decent websites and social networks that allow commenting who do not monitor regularly could be victim to such hurtful content.

 

15. Technologies People Don’t Understand

Again this goes back to people are afraid of what they do not understand. As technology advances throughout multiple channels (search, mobile, social, etc) more technologies are introduced that many people judge or fear fall into one of the categories listed above. Because technology advances so quickly it’s almost impossible for one person to keep up with all the changes so instead of understanding it, everyone simply becomes skeptical and untrusting until proven otherwise.

 

16. Completely Unpredictable

No one knows what to expect online. It’s completely unpredictable and everyone seems to be responsive and reactive rather than proactive and controlled. How can you be though when everything changes by the millisecond? In the time you took to read this, the ENTIRE online landscape changed and you could spend the next year reading to catch up to the last 10 minutes – if you never slept, ate or did anything else for 365 days straight.

 

17. All Marketers are Liars

Internet marketers already have a hard job because so many people think all marketers are liars. In some cases, yes, they are. They will make ups stories, names, fake product reviews and hide who they really are in order to make a few bucks. But that’s not everyone – and good marketers know to tell good stories based on facts without having to do this. Not all marketers are liars. The best marketers are just good story tellers who touch the minds, hearts and souls of those they wish to reach.

What are your thoughts on all this? What do you think are other issues that are causing us to have such a bad rap and how do you think we can solve the misconception that all internet marketers are scam artists?

I’m going to continue to fight for a better name in the industry. What are your ideas to help improve the image of our space?

Who Says Affiliate Managers Don’t Enjoy Life?

Sandals Resort View

Sandals Resort View

Being on the affiliate management side of things for almost a decade now I’ve seen a lot of affiliate managers switch to the affiliate side. I’ve also seen a lot of super affiliates (even ones that made six figures per month incomes) switch from affiliates to merchants.

That being said, you don’t always get to hear about the benefits some affiliate managers also gets to enjoy.  Though I’m not allowed to talk about the work we did, I can tell you that consulting as an affiliate management specialist certainly has it’s perks. My husband Iain and I just got back from four nights at the luxurious All Inclusive Royal Bahamian Sandals Resort in Nassau, Bahamas last week.

The resort was glorious in every way. Great food, great service, comfortable rooms, fabulous nightly entertainment, adult beverages at swim up bars, spa treatments on both their private island and in the main resort and warm tropical Caribbean waters everywhere you looked.

In addition to getting to experience true luxury, I got to know the management team at Sandals as well. I learned more about their incredible product and service offering and truly understand why they are a favourite amongst honeymooners, weekend getawayers (yes, I made that word up), couples getting married and even trips with the kids to various Beaches Resorts.

Sarah Bundy at Sandals Resorts Affiliate Program

Sarah Bundy at Sandals Resorts

All their Beaches Resorts were designed with kids at heart, so Elmo and other characters from Sesame Street wander around every corner while kids get to serve their own ice cream from giant ice cream cones. Awesome.

Affiliates take a look at joining their affiliate program. They pay 4% commission and have a 90 day cookie, and with their average order value being over $3000 (and some bookings $20,000) the earning opportunity is pretty huge. I’m not going to say how much affiliate pay outs have been, but if I was an affiliate, I absolutely would be joining this program.

If you have any questions about the Sandals Resort affiliate program, feel free to contact their affiliate manager, Lisa Nicholson. She’s great to work with and really cares about the success of each of her affiliates. She’s looking for great content affiliates to partner with and (I believe) will be giving away another trip to Sandals Resorts to a very lucky affiliate who joins her program.

Sandals was a blast and I look forward to enjoying the Turks and Caicos Beaches Resort with the kids later next year  🙂

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