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Recover Abandoned Carts With Awesome Lightboxes

Online retailers are well acquainted with the dangers of an abandoned cart. Nearly 87% of shoppers abandon their carts at some point in the checkout funnel, and this costs companies $18 billion each year (Forrester Research). There are many effective methods for reducing cart abandonment, no small amount of them rooted in CXO. Today, I’ll explore one of my favorite techniques for reuniting customers and carts: lightboxes. A well-timed lightbox with intriguing content is a great way to lure shoppers back to the funnel, increasing your conversions and revenue.

Why Do Shoppers Abandon Their Carts?

Let's first discuss some of the causes of cart abandonment. Why might a shopper exit an experience before making a purchase? There are three main reasons:

  • Unexpected Costs Customers can be discouraged from buying when they encounter a higher final price than they saw coming, which can be caused by shipping fees, packaging fees, and taxes. Price has a huge impact on cart abandonment: Almost half of all carts are abandoned due to high shipping cost, and 93% of shoppers will spend more money if shipping is free (CPC Strategy).
  • Unfavorable Comparisons Seventy-one percent of organic site traffic comes from a Google search (CPC Strategy). In other words, shoppers often know what they want to buy, search for it, and mainly explore the sites shown high in results. In this way, digital shopping is more customer-friendly than brick-and-mortar shopping: A different seller with a cheaper price is just a new browser window away.
  • Uncommitted Shopping One thing online and brick-and-mortar stores do have in common is an ability to inspire window shopping. There will always be site visitors and app users who have no intention of buying anything.

How Can Lightboxes Bring Shoppers Back?

Businesses can take on the above challenges with cart recovery lightboxes. Lightboxes, or popup modals, are a form of interruption marketing: They promote positive action or delay negative action from buyers. While many people claim to dislike “pop-ups,” research shows lightboxes are effective. The key is to populate them with good content and smartly time when they appear.

Lightbox Timing

There are two kinds of lightboxes: same-session and next-session. Same-session lightboxes activate the same visit customers trigger them, and next-session lightboxes deploy after the customer has exited the current session and returned. Companies can use both types to employ triggering logic that discourages customers from abandoning their carts.

A same-session lightbox, for example, can be designed to deploy the first time a customer moves her cursor outside the browser window, or the first time she moves his cursor toward the top-right corner (where the dreaded ‘x’ is). A next-session lightbox, on the other hand, can be set to deploy only after a certain period of time has passed since the customer first added an item to her cart.

Same-session lightboxes activate the same visit customers trigger them, and next-session lightboxes deploy after the customer has exited the current session and returned.

The main advantage of using a same-session lightbox is it instantly prevents customers from abandoning. For this reason, same-session lightboxes are sometimes said to use ‘exit-intent technology.’ Research, in fact, shows same-session lightboxes work: Neil Patel, cofounder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout, used them to increase conversions by 46%! There is a big drawback to using a same-session lightbox, though. Customers who encounter one tend to go through with their purchase as-is, without adding anything else to their cart.

Businesses that use next-session lightboxes are trusting customers to come back and have another experience. There's risk in that approach but also reward: “Retailers must understand that almost half of all online purchases are from shoppers who leave a site after the first visit, and return—even days later—to buy,” notes Ken Leonard, CEO, ScanAlert. Plus, customers spend 55% more after returning to a cart they previously abandoned (CPC Strategy).

Lightbox Content

After hammering out the ‘when’ of their lightboxes, companies have to figure out the ‘what’: the messaging that’ll convince people to return to their cart. Both same-session and next-session lightboxes benefit greatly from customer experience optimization, as companies can offer more enticing deals and discounts when they understand the age, gender, location, and browsing history of individual visitors. (We’ve written previously about segmentation and how to use it to give customers better offers, in case you’re interested!) Lightboxes may also better incentivize customers if they use a ‘ticking clock’ element, delivering limited-time deals set to expire soon.

Always test your lightbox content, from value propositions to design to calls-to-action. Experiment with when you deploy them and what they offer once they’re activated. This ensures your lightboxes will do more good than harm to your marketing efforts.

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