Defining Website Abandonment, Part 1

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website abandonmentBefore diving into the most common causes of website abandonment, it would be a good idea to establish some definitions for the terminologies we will be using going forward. First, let’s take a step back and define ‘abandonment’ just in case there’s any confusion surrounding this term.

For the purpose of this blog, we will define abandonment as any time a site visitor leaves your site and doesn’t return. This last condition, ‘and doesn’t return,’ is important because of the emerging trend of comparison shopping. With a fairly recent shift in perception, online shoppers have grown to view the web as a type of bargain warehouse where cash is king and merchant loyalty is a thing of the past.

A 2009 North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey revealed comparison shopping as being the third most prevalent reason for cart abandonment, accounting for 27% of all abandonment. As shoppers transition from consideration to purchase, they often have multiple tabs open in their browser and are actively switching between different web pages. Depending on the price point of the product in question, the purchase cycle can also extend into separate browser sessions held across different computers in different locations. In this scenario, an online shopper may sometimes ‘abandon’ your website a few of times before finally returning (or not) to make their purchase. If you are measuring your website abandonment rate by simply analyzing your bounce rate against your site visitors, then you are not getting an accurate read on your website’s performance.

In order to accurately measure your website abandonment rate, you need to understand the distinction between site visits and unique visitors. Site visits is simply the total number of times a website has been visited, while unique visitors is the total number of individuals who visited your site. For example, if 2 people visited your website and one of them visited your site twice, then you would have 3 site visits and 2 unique visitors.

In conclusion, when calculating your website abandonment rate, you should always divide your unique conversions by your unique visitors. In terms of percent, you would use the equation [1- (the total unique visitors by the total unique conversions)]. Calculating your website abandonment rate is the first step towards understanding your website’s performance. For an easy tool that will help you determine your website abandonment rate, take a look at our automated chat abandonment calculator.

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