Imagine a 20-something man or woman on a first date and their desire to discuss marriage. For many, that is a good way to see how fast they can run. Now think about consumers coming to your site the first time.

Your own marketing efforts could be scaring away consumers. Avoid pitfalls that contribute to cart abandonment

Your own marketing efforts could be scaring away consumers. Avoid pitfalls that contribute to cart abandonment

If you are a small or relatively unknown brand, consumers are likely not in the mindset to create a long-term relationship with you. First, they don’t know you yet. Second, they are already managing 25+ user IDs and passwords from ecommerce, bank, social media, email, app store, insurance, and interest sites. Third, a long-term relationship may not make sense for them as they may only have a one-time need.

Again, this is more relevant for smaller, unfamiliar, or new brands. Consumers familiar with major brands like The Home Depot, The Gap, Amazon, and Sony likely won’t have the same fears or uncertainty.

So, when a web site pushes registration or talks about long-term member benefits, you may be scaring people away and driving up your cart abandonment rates. When doing conversion path optimization, we have seen a lift of around 5% to 8% when deferring full profile setup or simply removing copy that discusses long-term membership. This may not sound like much, but an 8% lift on $1 million in sales equates to $80,000 of found money, with little effort to get it. Do the math for your business… It adds up quickly.

This is also a bit counter intuitive as more and more marketers in trade publications and in practice push for aggressive tactics to get consumers into CRM databases. While you want to grow your marketing database, you should do it in a way that is less threatening to consumers and won’t impact conversion rates.

So, what specifically can you do to minimize consumer shopping cart abandonment with respect to membership or long-term commitment issues?…


  • Unless absolutely necessary, minimize language about “membership” or “joining”. Membership sounds like a long-term commitment and something that could possibly cost money at some point.
  • Look at all messaging, from the advertisements, to landing pages, to all other pages in the transaction path. Most often, it is the landing pages that go into detail about “member benefits”.
  • Even button copy should be revisited. Buttons like “Join”, “Register”, or “Become a Member” can be replaced with “Submit”, “Next”, or “Continue”.

ID’s / User Names

  • Is it absolutely necessary for your site to have the consumer setup a user ID at that moment? If you are already collecting email address, then try to use that as your user ID… it is easier for consumers to remember and is one less field you need to have in your forms. You can collect the email address under the guise of sending electronic receipts instead of membership, then use that as the primary identifier if/when they need to log in down the road.

Password Setup

  • Password setup is a clear indicator of a long-term relationship. Unless it is absolutely necessary to include this in the transaction path, you can improve conversion rates by moving password setup somewhere else.
  • Options:
    • Auto-generate a password for the consumer and email it to them. This is easy to do, maximizes conversion, and consumers can still leverage “Forgot Password” functionality if they don’t get or lose the email with their password.
    • Setup a password during a future session. In transaction emails, you can entice consumers to create a password by offering a discount on their next transaction. This accomplishes your goal of a password setup and drives another transaction.
    • Put password setup fields on the confirmation page… after the transaction is complete. This will maximize order conversion, yet still get the profile setup. You will be sacrificing some password setup volume, but that is likely offset by the higher conversion rates. To offset the drop in volume, you can incentivize password setup there with a coupon on a future transaction.

The tactics mentioned here are not difficult to implement, will help you reduce shopping cart abandonment, and still accomplish your objectives of getting consumers into your CRM database.

As always, it is vital that you test different shopping experiences before doing a mass change on your site. A/B and multivariate testing with tools like Optimizely will quickly show you which performs best.


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