Why abandonment should be your last strategy

The call

This post is part aimed at optimisation companies and part at optimisation managers.

I recently received a call from a company specialising in site abandonment. Initially I was going to be polite and tell them that I wasn’t interested in discussing their product, nor did I have time for a demonstration. However, I thought I’d have a quick chat and challenge the salesman, ask the questions I would ask during a demo and engage him in a conversation about his product. This would save me a lot of time in finding out if their product and services would be worth the 2-3 hour demo meeting at a later stage.

Much to my disappointment, but not my surprise, the conversation was around pop up banners to customers; showing intent to exit and chasing them around the web with adverts. No real strategy, just short term tactical solutions to isolated problems without a view of the overall picture or customer!

Needless to say I apologised about not wanting to take the conversation forward to a face to face and wished him a good day.

Why was this a disappointing experience?

The conversation was disappointing because the salesman didn’t mention anything about understanding the problem. He simply went into solution mode. Offering customers the same offer they were not interested in in the first place and then chasing them around the web with it.

It was Einstein who said “the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

What should you be doing?

Instead of prioritising abandoning users the moment they are about to leave, you should be prioritising retaining users from the moment they arrive. This is why site abandonment should be your last strategy and site retention your first.

When I talk about site retention, I mean it in all sense of the term: landing page retention, cart retention, product retention, homepage retention, etc…


Basket (I really f***ing hate basket optimisation, as this should be perfect): If customers are leaving the basket because of a surprise delivery charge (or what you assume is a surprise delivery charge), offering them free delivery as they leave might seem like a good idea, but you know what’s even better, not shocking them in the first place. Build the trust so next time when they are doing the maths in their head they are fully considering the total cost. Be upfront with delivery times so customers don’t make it all the way to the end only to find delivery is 2-3 weeks.

Product: Slashing your price, or offering 25% off just as they are about to leave is a stupid way to kill your margin. First and foremost, ask your trading team to check the prices against competitors so you’re not optimising a losing battle. Check stock levels and delivery details. Finally see if the product information is easy to digest and customers can get the maximum out for the minimum in.

Landing Page:  Landing pages are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. However, if you can’t live without them make sure that they aren’t the primary reason for customers leaving. Existing customers, should not be seeing landing pages. There is no excuse for the majority of existing customers to be not be identified as soon as they hit your site. Let them through, they have already jumped through your hoops once. For new customers, don’t let landing pages be a one way ticket to your competitors. Simplify registration forms, pre-fill boxes, make passwords requirements clear, sign post number of steps, make T&C’s very clear and so on.


When all of the above and more, so much more, fail, then you should consider abandonment strategies (truthfully, I’m not even sure they work). Everything I’ve discussed above is actually the fundamentals of any eCommerce site and largely site marketing and information, but there are other things that you should be prioritising such as functionality and product. Work with the product owners and development team to ensure that your entire site is working optimally.

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