Do exit intent mechanisms help to increase eCommerce sales or is it just poor UX?

Statistics show that 97% of people don’t purchase anything in their first visit to an eCommerce website, which is a substantial proportion of customers, so being able to increase your conversion rate is central to the success of a product range. Selling to online customers has a plethora of variables, so providing effective calls-to-action can motivate people to buy now or at least buy later. This is where exit intent mechanisms can come into play and can be the difference between a browse and a buy.

An exit intent mechanism is a fancy name for a pop-up and it usually occurs using a Javascript which causes a pop-up when a customer is preparing to leave a website. Pop-ups can request the customer to perform an action like asking for an email address, asking survey questions and anything else that will capture customer data and lead to follow-ups. It’s up to a webmaster to decide what information they want to gather and what will be most useful, but Conversion Rate Optimization is the primary goal.

But the biggest drawback of pop-ups is that they’re annoying, right? People don’t want to be bombarded with more information when they’re trying to leave your website and it negatively affects their user experience. Well, exit intent mechanisms are really effective because they give you a second chance at conversion. In reality, if someone is leaving your website without buying anything then you’ve failed somewhere along the line to persuade them to buy anything first time around. They may return, but if you can gather an email address through an exit intent mechanism it allows you to increase the chances of conversion by making them a long-term prospect you can market products to. If they buy something then you can continue your relationship with a customer and if they don’t then you still have their details to send offers to.

Capturing contact information is probably the most effective call-to-action, because it asks a customer something different. If your exit intent mechanisms just reinforce your sales messages by reminding them about the product they haven’t bought, this can look invasive and repetitive, so make your content diverse and present an attractive incentive to have a look at the product again. Presenting users with a direct choice can be a successful strategy as you are narrowing the amount of options that they have in this instance; exit intent mechanisms are either allowing a customer to leave a site or getting them to perform an action, so their choices are limited and this increases the chances of them giving you information that you want.

Exit intent mechanisms aren’t difficult to put in place and they’re becoming increasingly popular with eCommerce sites. This is because of the ability to offer mechanisms that don’t inhibit the user experience as much as traditional pop-ups used in online marketing. It’s now easy to configure different types of mechanism options. The frequency of pop-ups can be altered so that they only target consumers who have, for example, visited the website before, spent a specific amount of time on the site or read down to a certain point of a website’s copy. It’s also possible to make mechanisms a weekly or monthly occurrence so it doesn’t have to happen every time the customer visits the website. The user experience can drive the mechanism framework and allow it to be more flexible.

So, how much do exit intent mechanisms really affect user experience? The split second of interruption is almost a commonplace on the internet. The ability for a user to instantaneously get rid of a pop-up if they’re not interested means that it’s not a hindrance to their online activity and won’t cause them to give considerably negative feedback. They’ll either exit and get back to what they’re doing or give you information. However, the way exit intent mechanisms are presented can inhibit the user experience. If mechanisms are not easily distinguishable from the rest of the page or are difficult to get rid of then this can frustrate a customer and decrease the chances of them wanting to come back to your website, whether they like the products or not. Dimming the background of a page, so a pop-up can be clearly seen is a way to avoid this. If you’re providing attractive, useful benefits to a customer then they will also be more inclined to respond, so making sure an exit mechanism offers something worthwhile is important.

It’s useful to do your own testing with pop-ups and analyse trends so you can make more informed choices as to how frequently you use exit intent mechanisms and at what times. Try and assess which point in the user journey is the best time for a pop-up and choose the right messaging. It’s crucial that your exit intent mechanisms have content that is relevant and doesn’t come across as a desperate plea for sales. Getting your mechanisms right and experimenting with them can generate more sales and lead to a growth in your email database which means you have a second chance at conversion with the help of effective email marketing campaigns.

Whatever you do, try not to spam. If customers feel like they’re due an onslaught of pop-ups every time they visit your website then they’ll be put off. Exit intent mechanisms can be a gentle reminder of the offers and ethos of your product and can spark the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with a customer.