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How to Convert Window Shoppers Into Loyal Customers

“Nope, I’m just looking right now, thank you.”

That’s a common response indecisive window shoppers have historically given to brick & mortar salespersons when asked if they’re looking for something in particular.

When translated, the response often means…

“Leave me alone, I’m not sure I like or trust you.”

It’s a cold brush off that’s even harder to contend with in the digital world. 

Especially when you consider that indecisive online window shoppers can easily slip away and leave your store without ever being explicitly asked to make a purchase as they might in a face-to-face encounter with a real salesperson.

Not sure indecisive window shoppers are a problem for you?

Then consider research from Google that found that while 78% of holiday shoppers use the internet to research purchases, just 40% of holiday shopping occurs online:

Image via Google

Image via Google

But here’s a secret big brands don’t want you to know…

Indecisive shoppers aren’t as married to the brands they’ve previously purchased from to the degree you’ve likely been led to believe. In fact, window shoppers are willing to switch brands and give you a chance even though they may not act like it initially:

Image via Google

Image via Google

Indecisiveness can be overcome…

You can convert window shoppers into loyal repeat customers which is a hallmark of high performing ecommerce businesses.

But first, you need to understand why shoppers are blowing you off…

The Root of Indecisiveness

Let’s not overcomplicate this…

The fact of the matter is window shopping is fun or enjoyable for many people. The thrill of the hunt- or discovering something we never knew we wanted is part of the curiosity innate in all of us.

Theoretically, the ability to browse an unlimited number of stores without leaving your home and from whatever screen is in front of you actually makes today the best time ever to be a browser but one of the most difficult if you’re an ecommerce merchant being browsed.

The truth is that quite often people simply aren’t ready to buy:

Image via FedEx

Image via FedEx

Let’s back up though…

Despite the fact that 41% in the above survey say they simply weren’t ready to purchase despite adding an item to their cart, what prevents indecisive shoppers from adding one of your products to their carts in the first place?

The answer hinges, in part, on biology and the the almond shaped portion of our brains known as the amygdala which is responsible for fear and triggering our “fight or flight” reflex when we encounter something unknown or potentially dangerous. While the amygdala served our caveman ancestors well when they came face-to-face with a sabertooth tiger, it’s partially responsible for the subtle but real fear shoppers feel when they encounter your store for the first time.

What do shoppers fear?

Window shoppers, browsers, and those who have never bought from you before are often indecisive because they’re rife with fear and uncertainty:

  • I don’t know this merchant or whether I like them
  • I don’t trust this merchant with my personal information
  • I don’t know whether this merchant is giving me the best price
  • I don’t know whether this merchant will keep her promise or take care of me if something goes wrong

In a nutshell, indecisive shoppers browsing your site may not like or trust you.

It’s an extremely grave problem when you consider that two of the key factors in persuading people, according to research, are to get them to like and trust you.

So how do you overcome these challenges?

To turn indecisive window shoppers into loyal customers you’ll not only need to overcome fear and persuade visitors to like and trust you, but you’ll also have to help them discover for themselves a reason to pull the purchase trigger and convert.

Here then are four techniques you can use to convert indecisive customers:

Technique #1: Retarget With Relevance

Research suggests 98% of the people visiting your site for the first time will leave without making a purchase. But just because a shopper is indecisive and leaves your site without making a purchase doesn’t mean they haven’t left some clues behind as to their intent.

What did shoppers intend to do by visiting your site?

Three key pieces of data are important here:

  • Where did your visitors come from?
  • What is their search history?
  • How did they behave while on your site?

When you have this information, and have installed the appropriate pixel on your site, you can intelligently retarget visitors:

Image via Retargeter

Image via Retargeter

The return you can generate from retargeting, or showing ads to those who have left your site without making a purchase as they browse the web or applications elsewhere, includes a combination of a lift in sales and reduced customer acquisition costs:

But how do you determine intent so you can create relevant and personalized retargeting ads?

  • Gauge intent across channels by overlaying user search activity on top of remarketing lists to better segment your audience and serve the right message at the right time
  • Intent scoring customers can position you to retarget only those prospects who have the highest probability of purchasing a particular product
Image via Inskin Media

Image via Inskin Media

Once you understand the intentions of your visitors based on their behavior you can segment them to deliver highly relevant retargeting messages that are more likely to be perceived as valuable:

  • Product Page– target prospects who visited a specific product page with an image of the product they browsed, copy that reminds them of their interest, and possibly a time-sensitive discount to coax a purchase
  • Cart Recovery– target prospects who demonstrated clear intent to purchase specific items by retargeting this segment with ads highlighting the item left in the cart

Pro Tip: Bid less on homepage and non-converting page visitors and bid more on visitors who abandoned their shopping carts.

Pro Tip #2: If you offer a discount in return for a visitor’s email address you can begin targeting them transactionally and based on their behavior which positions you to offer more personalized messages designed to build trust.

Technique #2: Weave Social Proof Throughout Your Store

Stop marketing to indecisive visitors…

Instead of bombarding them with messages they’ve been conditioned to ignore or not believe, allow your loyal customers and brand evangelists to do the talking for you. One merchant that does this as well as anyone is Pura Vida Bracelets, which sells bracelets handcrafted by artisans in Costa Rica.

The company solicits and automatically posts UGC (user generated content) in the form of reviews from verified customers:

Besides Amazon-like product reviews which keeps people on-site rather than searching elsewhere for customer reviews, Pura Vida also allows customer to ask questions and get answers from verified buyers:

Separately, Pura Vida adds additional social proof while simultaneously making its online store feel “busy” to indecisive shoppers by illuminating recent purchases. It’s a unique form of social proof designed to lift conversions and creates urgency by displaying key customer behaviors in real time such as:

  • Someone just made a purchase
  • Someone just left a 5-star review
  • Someone just signed up for a newsletter

It’s instant social proof and allows merchants to leverage recent conversions by showing shoppers a small pop up at the bottom of the page. In this example, a customer named Ann in Florida just purchased the same item an indecisive shopper is currently considering:

Technique #3: Optimize the Checkout & Inject Urgency

Just because a shopper is indecisive doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in buying from you. In fact, a window shopper who adds an item to her cart but abandons cart before completing the checkout process may have encountered friction that caused fear and uncertainty to overcome her desire to purchase.

One way to ensure shoppers complete the checkout process is to remove red flags or unnecessary steps. First, maintaining checkout font type, color, and branding consistent with the rest of your site prevents customers from feeling as if they are being whisked away to checkout somewhere else.

In other words, the checkout should be identical to the rest of the store as is the case with MVMT Watches:

Image via MVMT Watches

Image via MVMT Watches

Next, it’s often important to let customers know exactly where they are in the checkout process and how far they have left to go. You can help indecisive customers know exactly where they are by designing custom breadcrumb navigation as Red Bull, the well known and pioneering energy drink maker, has done.

Red Bull wanted a smaller breadcrumb navigation that didn’t stand out or distract customers at any point in the checkout funnel and created a breadcrumb navigation unique to the Red Bull brand:

Image via Red Bull

Image via Red Bull

Importantly, you can accelerate the process by autocompleting a customer’s shipping address based on geolocation. Auto-populating at least a portion of an indecisive customer’s shipping address fields not only speeds up the checkout process but can prevent data entry errors – for instance a fat finger on a mobile device that accidentally inputs an incorrect zip code– which can keep orders from becoming lost.

For example, Shopify Plus merchants can integrate Google Maps to autocomplete portions of the checkout:

Image via Shopify

Image via Shopify

Separately, you might also consider adding urgency to get indecisive customers over the hump as people tend to fear losing something of value much more than they enjoy gaining something in value.

Use loss aversion to your advantage by customizing the checkout to lift conversion rates by as, American AF, which sells collections of humorous and patriotic clothing, does. American AF injects urgency into the checkout process by adding a countdown clock:

Image via AAF

Image via AAF

The company regularly runs out of popular items and uses a countdown clock to “reserve orders” for customers for a finite period of time before allowing the merchandise to be “put back” into inventory and made available for purchase by others.

Technique #4: Offer Rewards & Illustrate Their Value

Including a dedicated rewards page of the same quality as of any other page and including it in your site’s top and bottom navigation communicates that rewarding customers is something that’s important to you.

Differentiating your brand by offering to reward customers prior to making a purchase can endear you to indecisive shoppers and earn a degree of trust that ultimately converts them into loyal customers.

For instance, rewarding shoppers prior to a purchase is a technique Campus Protein, an online seller of health and wellness supplements, does to persuade indecisive customers the brand is one that can be liked and trusted. Notice how even window shoppers can earn points toward future purchases by engaging in a variety of non-purchase behavior the company deems valuable like visiting the company’s Facebook page or becoming an Instagram follower:

Image via Campus Protein

Image via Campus Protein

Campus Protein gives before it gets which leverages Robert Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity which recognizes that people often feel indebted to those who do them a favor or provide them a gift. Causing indecisive shoppers to feel a sense of indebtedness can be a factor in converting them into loyal customers.

But there’s something else magical at work here…

Offering to reward indecisive customers allows them to see firsthand how they’re likely to be treated if they were to become a customer of yours. Opening up your loyalty program for indecisive shoppers to see allows them to imagine what it might be like earning and redeeming points as a repeat customer.

Besides pulling back the curtain and enticing shoppers with the many ways they can earn rewards, Kopari, on online retailer of beauty products made of organic coconut oil, goes a step farther and clearly illustrates how valuable its rewards are.

Notice how the company translates the points into dollar figure discounts:

Image via Kopari

Image via Kopari

Not only can offering rewards prior to a purchase and clearly illustrating the value of those rewards convert indecisive shoppers into customers, but a strong loyalty program can also:

  • Lift average order value (AOV)
  • Increase customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC)

Be Decisive Now

To lift conversions and gently nudge indecisive customers over the hump, ecommerce merchants must be decisive in their approach to conversion optimization. Not only must you make the customer experience easy and enjoyable, but you must also convince shoppers to like and trust you by:

  • Retargeting shoppers with personalized and relevant messages based on their behavior
  • Lacing your site with social proof from verified customers who carry more credibility than marketing speak
  • Optimizing the checkout process so shoppers can breeze through it quickly, safely, and with a sense of urgency
  • Offering pre-purchase rewards and peeling back the curtain so customers can see how they’ll be treated and rewarded should they become a customer

Window shoppers are looking for an excuse to dump their indecision…

Give them that excuse by proving you deserve to be liked and trusted.

conversionscustomer engagementcustomer loyaltyecommercerewards programwindow shoppers

Nikhil Naidu • May 17, 2017


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