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.