March 9th, 2018

Cart Abandonment Recovery or More Traffic: Which is More Cost Effective

Author: Eric Lynch
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

There are two ways to increase your sales on e-commerce. First, you can increase relevant traffic. The second is to decrease your cart abandonment rate. The first option can be effective but can also be expensive. Whether it’s organic ranking growth or increases in advertising spend, you’re going to invest a lot to get increases. Cart abandonment recovery however, may not cost as much upon first blush but may not be as effective without it hurting your bottom line.

Let’s take a look at a couple of ways that you can adjust both items and what it may end up costing you in the end.

Increasing Traffic

Everyone wants more traffic, but to what cost. The first thing you need to look at is where your best investment for that traffic is. If most of your conversions come from organic traffic, then the investment will need to be in items like SEO optimization of products. Depending on the number of items you sell, it can range from dozens of hours of work, to tens of thousands of hours to update and optimize all of your products.

This of course may not be the most cost effective way to handle this. Often we recommend that clients optimize their top performers or most profitable products to see the best return on investment. Even then it can cost thousands of dollars to get them in their best shape.

If your best return is on something like Adwords, the equation is much easier. How much does that traffic cost, how much traffic do you need for a conversion, and what will it cost to get you there. If those numbers add up, you can easily make a case for a deep investment into more ad spending. It will eat into your overall margin long-term more than organic, but it’s an easier up front investment.

Either way, to gain new traffic is a pretty simple operation, but one that will either take time, or cost more money. To determine what the best course of action is, first determine are you focused on long-term growth or is your need more immediate.

Cart Abandonment Recovery

Sending out emails telling people they left something in their cart may seem like a free way to get people to come back. But what’s the main reason most people abandon their carts? Cost. Either you are more expensive than another option, or your shipping costs are too high. Those aren’t things that reminders are going to fix.

While it’s true some folks are simply browsing and making lists for later purchases, and certainly remarketing to them will have an impact. But studies show that this is only about 17% of the people. The other are looking for better deals or didn’t realize they’d be paying for shipping. (has Amazon spoiled us or what?!?)

So what do you do for those folks? You’re going to have to play to their needs if you want them to come back and not go to a competitor who will. This means that discounts are in order. Free shipping can cost you $5-10 per order for small items, and more for heavy ones. Depending on your margin and the cost of the product, that can have a huge impact on your profitability.


When you’re figuring out which method will have the most impact on your sales, as opposed to the most cost. Take a look at what you’re going to need to draw customers back in. If a $5 discount would bring back 30% of your cart abandoners, what does that mean in terms of your overall sales? Then, compare it to what it would cost you to buy that traffic. If one would mean more sales than the other, then you know. Every business is different, so speak with your marketing team on how to get the best ROI on your e-commerce store investment. 

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