Abandonment takes many forms in the digital world, due to the separation between proprietor and potential customer, and the reasons for abandonment can sometimes be nebulous. When a home or landing page is not optimized or relevant to a specific audience or segment, based on visitors’ intent or preferences, “bounce,” or initial abandonment, can be detected within analytics and repaired with testing hypotheses and optimization. Visitors who spent time on your site within a specific category can also be reengaged through relevant display ads on additional websites that they visit after they leave your site. Arguably, the most valuable use case for reengaging abandonment is a visitor who has expressed interest in a particular category or even added a particular piece of content or product to his or her cart, then decided not to proceed with the transaction. Most commonly, this is referred to as the “cart abandoner.” Similar to a frustrated parent who might leave a shopping cart, chock full of groceries, standing in the middle of the aisle in order to deal with a tantrum or medical emergency, so too do Internet shoppers fill their carts with items and then leave them in virtual limbo, leaving the site or their computer to attend to something else.

One of the key strengths in optimization is the ability to test and to determine the most effective rules for reengaging segments of your customers that have abandoned your site. There are many reasons for abandonment, and it’s important to try and identify what might have kept them on your site longer, consuming more content or perhaps even converting at a higher rate. Let’s return to our shopper for a minute. Perhaps there are clues as to why the cart was abandoned. Was there a screaming child involved? Was there a phone call? Perhaps the kids were all wearing soccer uniforms, which could imply that they were heading somewhere. All of these are clues as to why the person left, and variables or signifiers in the data, help us pinpoint what could possibly get them to stay longer and complete the transaction.

Analytics can sometimes detect abandonment as soon as a visitor segment arrives on the site, which could indicate a weak landing page or perhaps an inability to locate offers or other content related to the content that brought these visitors to your site from an offsite offer, advertisement, or application. Testing and targeting dynamic content from display ads offsite or within social applications or emails to landing page experiences, as well as testing and targeting content based on search terms from Google and other search engines, allows you to bring visitors more content related to what they’re looking for. The content visitors engage with in a mobile or social application or within an email—all of which can be tested and optimized—can also provide valuable insights to trigger more relevant content once they arrive at your Web or mobile sites. All of these tactics create greater “stickiness” for your site and remove friction in terms of the visitor finding what they are searching for within your content.

Site search should also be a vital consideration, because it is most often the second action visitors take when they arrive at your site. If the rules that govern how your products or content display relative to visitors’ search query terms are not tested and optimized, you are bound to experience abandonment at this stage as well. But even if landing and search experiences are optimized relative to the preferences of a visitor, the checkout form/application process can be another high value location where optimization can significantly affect conversion. Poorly designed forms or checkout pages can easily frustrate visitors and cause them to defer or go elsewhere. Sometimes a small investment in redesigning the checkout or conversion process can exponentially increase conversion because it streamlines the purchasing or form field process for an audience that has already committed to this point prior to conversion.

For those who do abandon their carts or application forms, the content or products entered within that conversion funnel can be a tool with which to reengage them. The fact that they had items in their cart or had filled out significant information in a form to begin with means they had the intention of converting, which means that a little nudge can go a long way. Best practices have shown that with retail cart abandonment, it’s often most effective to reengage a customer within the first 24 hours, and then to follow up with a second communication within three to five days. Testing and defining these rules of engagement and reengagement can also be valuable in a free trial-to-purchase scenario. The rules defining these engagements must be tested, because some customers or industries may have less tolerance for follow-up emails and offers than others. When used, a follow-up offer can include a discount on the product in the cart, with the potential to realize greater add-on value by including recommendations for other items the visitor is likely to purchase from the related product category or from their or other related customer purchase history.

Adobe Target can test and optimize along cross-channel campaign management solutions such as Adobe Campaign to help determine the right timing and offers to include in retargeting emails, advertisements, or other touch points. These retargeting emails can also better inform your retargeting strategies and tests within Adobe Target, providing information on what types of retargeting emails work best for distinct customer sets. These emails can even be optimized to the point at which winning content that has reached a certain level of significance can be automatically swapped out within remaining unopened emails based on what performed best.

The capabilities of the technology for targeted reengagement are immense; however, sometimes you can further estrange the customer by being too forceful. The rules of engagement and reengagement need to be clearly defined, and that’s why we’re excited to hear from Stephen Ratpojanakul at Adobe Summit this year. He has worked as a consultant for many years alongside a plethora of our successful customers in the financial services industry, retail and travel, and hospitality spaces. These leaders have grown their optimization practices and organizations efficiently and exponentially year over year, and in Session S609, “The Rules for Reengaging Abandoners,” Ratpojanakul will share his tips and tricks on how to best reengage site and cart abandoners in a manner that has been proven most effective and tactful.

Join us March 26, 2014, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, to learn more about best practices for reengaging the abandoner from one of the leading experts in the industry. I look forward to seeing you there.