Business are quick to react to a drop or perceived drop in website conversions by immediately putting a site-wide discount in place. This can be a ‘percentage off’ offer, a ‘fixed price’ offer or service-based offer like ‘free shipping’. By implementing site-wide, without due consideration for where they might be applied tactically or linking it to purchase behaviour, businesses are losing massive amounts of money needlessly.
Here are three ways to apply these incentive types tactically.
Add to cart promotion
Having trouble getting customers to add their first product into their cart? Use a combination of scroll tracking and time limits. If you see that a customer is scrolling down to read product reviews or descriptions, that initially can be a good thing. If they are spending a lot of time reading reviews however, it is possible that they are either not convinced by what they are reading, there are conflicting reviews or they have another tab open looking for alternatives.
After a specified period of time, perhaps 45 seconds to a minute, flash a strip banner across the top of the page. It is significantly less intrusive than a modal, does not directly impede the customer from completing their reading but it does grab their attention.
Then and only then do you provide them a discount offer. ‘Limited time’, ‘For the next 15 minutes only’, ‘For selected customers’, ‘Special promotion on “product category”’ … these are the messages that can be helpful in getting customers to start a shopping flow.
Move the customer into the checkout flow
In other situations, a customer has already added product to their shopping cart, but they are not progressing to the checkout. The most likely reason why this may happen is a failure to re-enforce the checkout flow when a customer adds a produce to their cart. When a customer clicks on that fantastic ‘add to cart’ button, the mini-cart in the header should open, confirm the addition and prompt the user to first and foremost, checkout – alternatively to continue shopping.
When we see browser sessions where there are product(s) in cart, but a long period of time with no additions, no movement through the site navigation or scroll activity, it may be time to prompt the consumer. It is only at this time that we should incentivise the checkout flow. Percentage or fixed price discounts can be valuable tactics, but be careful not to give away too much, it can be seen by customers as being too desperate for a sale.
Complete the sale
If you find that your data is telling you that customers are in fact adding product to their cart and are finding the checkout but not completing the transaction, then you have a completion or conversion issue.
There are a few reasons why customers may abandon their shopping carts. Is the process too long? Are you asking too much information? Are you trying too many add-ons or up-sells in your path to purchase? Are you only informing them of additional costs at this late stage (shipping being the most obvious)? These are all common reasons why checkouts fail.
This is where time-based discounts may be of value to you. How long should it take for a customer to complete the checkout flow? It is important to actually time this with people unfamiliar with your site.
Let’s say that it takes 30 seconds to complete a transaction. If we see a customer is on the checkout page for more than 45 seconds, or if we see long delays (say 10-15 seconds) between either keystrokes or form fields losing or gaining focus (focus is when the cursor moves from one form field to another) we can assume that the customer has a high potential to abandon their transaction. This is the most critical point to incentivise.
Offer a one-time discount – perhaps free shipping on their order, or a fixed price discount, once again for a limited time only, to complete their transaction. FYI – of all incentives, ‘free shipping’ is the promo that 88% of customer want most.
Obviously, it goes without saying that these offers must be limited to a customer, and for a short period of time to limit the potential that others might find and apply this discount at checkout.
Discounting is not a four-letter word – if it’s done for a purpose. Recognising how your customers shop and building in some smarts will give you the best opportunity to incentivise customer behaviour without giving away all of your precious margins.