Site Abandonment Myths Debunked

Joe Rosenthalcart abandonment, checkout abandonment, website abandonmentLeave a Comment


Website abandonment can be baffling. There are hundreds of factors that contribute to the different types of abandonment, making it difficult to pin down an exact cause. As with most open-ended mysteries, a few myths have starting cropping up about site abandonment. Today, we’d like to do our part in squashing some of these tall tales.




Myth – “I Can’t Reduce Website Abandonment without a Complete Website Overhaul”

Reality – As with most myths, there’s a grain of truth to this one. Yes, completely reworking your site can help you fix structural problems that promote abandonment, such as poor navigational systems or overly complicated checkouts. However, you can make small optimizations to your site that can have a large impact.

Two examples of small changes include:

  1. CTA Optimization – As you design your website, you’ll likely place buttons that are designed to draw the attention of visitors. These elements are aptly named “Calls-to-Action” (CTAs), as they call for the attention of the visitors in an attempt to gain clicks. Unfortunately, when you cluster too many CTAs together, these elements start to draw attention away from one another. Build each page around as few distinct CTAs as possible and give your visitors a clear pathway through your website. The more straightforward your website, the better your odds of conversion.
  2. Trust Building – According to our research, a lack of trust is the third-most often cited reason for abandons at the checkout stages of purchasing. Building trust doesn’t always require redesigning your website, but rather the careful placement of imagery and proper site copy. Fix any grammatical errors on your site and be sure to reinforce the security of your checkout with language. Label your checkout as “secure” and, if you can spend the money, approach one of the trust-badge companies, such as McAfee, for an evaluation. Backing your site with a big name in security can go a long way.

cart abandonment

Myth – “Optimizing the Shopping Cart is Most Important to Reducing Abandonment”

Reality – Optimizing the shopping cart is an exceptionally important part of the abandonment puzzle, but the truth is that the purchasing journey is a long process that involves every piece of a website. A few months ago, we wrote an article that breaks down the term “abandonment” and takes a look at the different types and causes. Although Shopping Cart Abandonment may appear very common and can be extremely frustrating for vendors, there are five distinctly important types of abandonment:

  1. Bounce – As the name may indicate, a visitor to a site ‘bounces’ when he or she abandons before interfacing with the website, as if landing on the surface of the site and bouncing off.
  2. Product Abandonment – When a visitor browses through products but leaves the site before adding anything to the cart, they’re registered as a “product abandon.”
  3. Shopping Cart Abandonment – Shopping Cart Abandonment is when a consumer adds one or more items to their cart and leaves before purchasing.
  4. Checkout Abandonment – If a user takes an active cart into the checkout stages before abandoning, they’re registered as a “checkout abandon.”
  5. Website Abandonment – This blanket term describes visitors abandoning before completing the desired action. Website abandonment is typically a result of site-wide shortcomings.

Optimizing the shopping cart and building a remarketing campaign that surrounds it is a wise decision, but if you’re looking to approach abandonment comprehensively, then you need to start from the top and address each type. It’s impossible to say which is universally the most important, as each type of abandonment contributes differently.


Myth – “People Abandon Shopping Carts Because I Can’t Offer Free Shipping”

Reality – A 2013 study sponsored by UPS asked a pool of users why they abandoned their shopping cart. 54% of respondents stated that they did so because “shipping costs made the total purchase cost more than expected.” Along these same lines, more than half of customers expect free shipping options from their favorite online vendors. So, when someone states that they’re facing a heavy volume of site abandonment because of an inability to offer free shipping, they’re not entirely wrong, but there a few things to consider:

  • Shipping prices need to be balanced. UpSellit’s internal studies have shown that cart abandonment rates spike when the cost of shipping exceeds 20% of the total order cost. One way of keeping this balance in check is to always default to the least expensive shipping option. The other, more obvious solution is to offer shipping at cost. Make profits with products, not delivery.

  • Customers abandon for a variety of reasons. While shipping prices and additional charges top the charts as far as reasons for abandoning shopping carts and checkouts, they’re not the prevailing reason for leaving earlier on. Make sure you have an understanding of where your abandoning shoppers are in the purchase process before blaming your shipping fees for abandonment.
  • Shipping discounts can increase AOVs. Many retailers cringe at the prospect of having to absorb the costs of free or discounted shipping. According to that same UPS study, 75% of shoppers have added items to their carts in order to qualify for a free shipping offer. If you can’t offer free shipping for every order, consider adding a minimum order value to incentivize customers to buy more.



Myth – “Website Abandonment is Failure”

Reality – From a one-dimensional point of view, yes, each abandon can be viewed as a missed conversion. However, there’s so much more to a customer and their visit than what’s counted by tickers. Instead of considering each abandon as a missed conversion, treat it as what it is: a piece of valuable intelligence. Delve into site analytics and find out where customers are abandoning and which items are carted most often before abandoning. This kind of information can help you improve site performance when considered carefully.


site abandonment solutions

Science – “The Data Will Set You Free”

Finding the truth surrounding abandonment is a delicate exercise in analysis, hypotheses and continued experimentation. Here at UpSellit, we can help dispel the myths and put you on the proper path to reducing website abandonment and increasing revenue.

UpSellit begins every site abandonment solution with a comprehensive website performance analysis. Only after we’ve reviewed visitor behavior, identified key traffic segments and problematic stages of the conversion funnel do we begin to formulate a hypothesis as to why visitors abandon.

Armed with this insight, UpSellit designs completely custom strategies that target the reasons for abandonment and re-engages the lost shoppers that aren’t coming back. UpSellit then continually tests and optimizes every campaign to ensure the highest lift in conversions AND profitability.

For a complete site abandonment anlysis, contact and abandonment expert or request a consultation. UpSellit’s site abandonment solutions are 100% pay-for-performance and we don’t charge any development fees.

Written by Joe Rosenthal

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