Try a soft-sell approach to your commitment-shy past customers

What is the value of a web visit that ends without an action? Sure, if that visit ends in a sale, or some other action, the answer is easy. But what about the person who “snacks” on your content but leaves without a conversion? Today data mining expert Kevin Hillstrom makes a case for testing a less strident reaction to an abandoned shopping cart visit. At the very least, he advises testing against a control group when you send discount offer emails to these not-ready-to-purchase past customers.

In the post he suggests the following:

Click for a larger versionConstruct a value model in your transactional records using the following “dummy variables”:

  • Shopping Cart Abandoned 1 Month Ago
  • Shopping Cart Abandoned 2 Months Ago
  • Shopping Cart Abandoned 3 Months Ago
  • Website Visit, No Shopping Cart, No Purchase, 1 Month Ago
  • Website Visit, No Shopping Cart, No Purchase, 2 Months Ago
  • Website Visit, No Shopping Cart, No Purchase, 3 Months Ago

When you do this, Hillstrom contends that what many find is this:

Unconverted website visits and abandoned shopping carts are not the end of the world! In fact, these activities tend to increase future customer value, as illustrated in the graph above (months four and twelve in the graph).

Hillstrom likens future value, as measured by non-sale visits, as “sort of like a heartbeat … each additional purchase (months six and eighteen in the graph) results in a shot of adrenaline, causing the heart to beat.

“Each unconverted website visit or abandoned shopping cart results in a mini-jolt, as evidenced in many statistical models.” Indeed, he writes, “We view the activity as part of a relationship.”

The take-away from those trying to derive value from any type of site is obvious: Build into your value model a way to watch unique visitors over time, and match “non-committal” behaviors that accompany purchases (or subscriptions, or whatever your call-to-action is) to a dollar amount.

And also: When you see folks abandon a conversion funnel, stay calm!

Another tip is consider measuring two specific signs of interest using my Content Interest Index. You can see a seven-minute YouTube video describing what it is, and its value, by visiting this post about the Index.

Note: The link above was to a blog post called Jeff’s First Pecha Kucha. This is a way of presenting slide show content in a prescribed format that is brief and often quite fun. If you are in the Milwaukee area, don’t miss this evening’s Pecha Kucha Milwaukee at the Sugar Maple. It should be a lot of fun!