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Exit Intent Pop-Up Best Practices for Ecommerce

Exit intent technology offers a less intrusive alternative to the much maligned pop up. Can exit intent pop ups help reduce your ecommerce shopping cart abandonment?

by Gregory Burke
Categories:  Ecommerce
6 min read
If you are an online retailer looking to increase engagement and reduce shopping cart abandonment, it’s time to consider using pop up messages. I know what you are thinking: “People hate pop ups.” Here’s the thing, when used strategically, pop ups can actually enhance a customer’s experience . The trick is figuring out how use them in a way that isn’t abrasive.

The Traditional Shopping Experience

Let’s pretend you need some new shoes. You go to the shoe store, pick out a pair that you like, and you try them on. You admire your reflection, you love how they feel, all systems are go. You take them to the checkout counter, and when the clerk tells you, “Those Reeboks will be $54.11,” you panic and run out the door. Right? No. That would be very bizarre behavior in a brick and mortar store, but it’s a VERY real problem in online shopping. On your average ecommerce website, this happens about 70 percent of the time.

Why Do Online Shoppers Abandon Their Carts?

There are many reasons why ecommerce website visitors abandon their carts. First of all, shopping online doesn’t give you the same sensory feedback as shopping in a brick and mortar store. Your ecommerce store may have great product photographs, great videos, and great descriptions, but no matter how great they are, nothing can match the feeling of certainty you get from touching and feeling a product in real life. Have you ever physically picked up an electronic device, felt how light it was, and known instantly that it was a piece of junk? You don’t have that luxury when shopping online, so you’re more cautious before making a purchase. It may sound silly, but another thing that prevents brick and mortar patrons from walking out of the store at the last second is basic politeness. You have to say “sorry” to a real human being when you decide to ditch them, and that feeling of guilt can be a powerful deterrent. With online shopping comes anonymity, and with anonymity, politeness disappears. Think about it – it’s why the guy who blatantly cut you off in traffic wouldn’t do the same thing to you face to face in the grocery store checkout line. With the cloak of anonymity, people aren’t bound to societal norms. There is no human guilt deterrent to prevent online shoppers from filling up their carts and inconsiderately abandoning them. Some other less philosophical reasons online shoppers abandon their carts are:
  • They didn’t find what they were looking for.
  • The price was too high.
  • They don’t trust the product enough.
  • They got distracted.
  • The checkout page was too complicated.
  • They were not ready to buy.
  • They were left with unanswered questions.
An important first step in addressing shopping cart abandonment is identifying what the underlying reasons are. This involves understanding your buyer persona. No two customers are the same, but if you can understand the specific challenges your potential buyers are facing, you are better equipped to find solutions to serve their needs.

What is an Exit Intent Pop Up?

An exit intent pop up is a pop up that is triggered to display right before you leave the site. The technology works by tracking the position and velocity of your mouse movements on the page, and the instant your pointer makes a dash for the top of the screen where you’d go to close your browser, the pop up window is displayed.
exit intent pop ups ecommerce
The main advantage to this type of pop up is that it takes into account the user’s behavior. It doesn’t bother someone who is browsing your product catalog or reading a blog article. It gives your visitor the uninterrupted freedom they want, and only “barges in” when it is abundantly clear that they have one foot out the door. At this point, you have nothing to lose.

Exit Intent Pop Up Best Practices

Even though an exit intent pop up’s inherent functionality helps to make it less intrusive, they can still add up to a negative experience if not used strategically. In order to get the best results from your pop ups, you should pay consideration to the following best practices.
  1. The offer on the pop up needs to differ from the offer on the page. Your visitor is leaving for a reason. Whatever they were just looking at on your site didn’t satisfy their needs, so there is no point in showing them more of the same. Instead, explain your unique value proposition in a different way, or offer the visitor something else of value that they didn’t know about, like a coupon or free gift.
  2. Offer something of tangible value. “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” is no good. We all get enough emails. Why would anyone agree to add more clutter to their already crowded inbox, if it isn’t clear what benefit they get from doing so? If you want to capture emails, offer something of value in return such as,  “Get Access to Our 14 Part Email Training Series.”
  3. Tailor your message to your buyer persona. Your pop up message can vary based on the contents of the shopping cart, the pages they have visited, the device they are browsing on, and the referral source. If someone is thinking about buying a crossbow, offer them a deal on arrows. If someone is browsing on a phone, don’t show them an offer with a long form to fill out. Don’t ask them to sign up for your newsletter if they came to your site from a link in your email newsletter. The more precisely you can align your offer with your visitor’s interests, the more successful you’ll be.
  4. Sprinkle in some FOMO (fear of missing out). You’ll want to do this with caution, but nudging people to pull the trigger now before they miss out on some sort of deal is a good way to get some more takers. Free shipping  or a temporary sale are great examples. Your visitors weren’t born yesterday though. If the urgency you drum up in your pitch is obviously artificial, you’ll lose your visitors’ trust.
  5. Ask for as little commitment as possible. Fear of commitment is every internet marketer’s biggest obstacle. Your visitor is leaving because for some reason or another, they just aren’t ready to commit. They might need to find more reviews, compare more prices, or just need to think it over. Although you may not be able to immediately salvage a sale out of someone who isn’t ready to buy, you can probably get their email address, so you can keep nurturing them. This is where offering something value comes into play.
  6. Overcome analysis paralysis. You only have a very short amount of time to get the visitor’s attention. They were just leaving, after all, and your fancy technology reeled them in for a few more seconds. A simple yes/no proposition is all that most people can handle in that amount of time. Now is not the time to show them a grid of another 12 products they might be interested in.
  7. Use a reverse call to action. This one is not a game changer, but it’s an opportunity to have a little bit of fun and squeeze a few more conversions out of your pop up. Rather than having the standard options of “Submit” and “Cancel” for your form, your options might be “Sign Up For a Free Pest Treatment” vs “I Feel Lonely Without My 6 Legged Friends.” Obviously the second choice is ridiculous, but it can lighten the mood and possibly lower your visitor’s inhibitions.
  8. Customize the design and color scheme of your pop up to be consistent with the rest of your site. Many exit intent pop up plugins have pre-packaged templates included to get you started. Pop ups that don’t match your current design are more jarring, and seem like they don’t belong.
  9. Be original. When exit intent technology first came out, the pop ups were impossible to ignore. As they have become more widely adopted, our eyes have become a little more trained to ignore them. You can’t just slap one on like a band aid and expect it to work. It needs to be compelling and attention worthy.
  10. Split test. As with all online marketing, perpetual testing is key to achieving optimal results. Create different versions of your pop ups, run them against each other, pick the one that performs better, and repeat.

What NOT to Do With Pop Ups

Now that you know some pop up best practices, here’s what you shouldn’t do: Don’t show them in the first few seconds. Even if your visitor’s mouse makes a dash for the top of the screen, you shouldn’t show them a pop up in the first few seconds of their visit. They might just be switching between tabs. You should be able to set a minimum time on site in your settings. Don’t steer people away from checking out. Your exit intent pop up plugin will usually come packaged with a variety of other ways you can trigger it. This includes time delay, scroll activation, click based activation, page specific activation, and a myriad of others. Have fun playing with your new toy, but don’t get in the way of someone who is ready to checkout. For instance, you don’t want to interrupt someone who is about to buy a TV wall mount with an offer for a different brand or style. You just unnecessarily introduced uncertainty into the situation. Don’t overdo it. Pop ups have earned a bad reputation for obvious reasons. With a behavior based solution, you can better anticipate when a pop up would be beneficial to your visitor. They should be used sparingly nonetheless. Multiple pop ups per session is probably going overboard.
Are you looking to maximize the effectiveness of your ecommerce website? Call TheeDigital’s ecommerce marketing experts at 919-341-8901 or contact us online today.

About The Author:
Gregory Burke

Gregory Burke is the Marketing Manager at TheeDigital, a Raleigh based full-service web design and digital marketing company. He helps clients plan and implement well rounded internet marketing plans. Call him at 919-341-8901 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

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