The 12-Minute Window


Marketing agency Tangent Snowball surveyed 1,000 customers and found the average time customers spend browsing a website before placing an order is 12 minutes.  Tangent commissioned the survey  to pinpoint key customer-engagement areas and to develop effective strategies for ushering customers out of the browsing phase and into purchasing.

Here are some of their insights:

Use Personalization to Attract

Data will be the differentiator going forward as marketers learn to decode the massive amount of information available to them. One case study is where Microsoft worked with a bank to determine who was in the market for car loans. Microsoft was able to determine how many searches served as  the tipping point for customers who were  really in the market for a new car rather than just browsing. 

Going after customers with personalized messages who have abandoned their shopping carts is another effective strategy, since more than a quarter of online shoppers prefer to leave a site  before coming back to buy.

There is a split between consumers who like to receive targeted ads based on their previous searches (26%) and those who believe it is an invasion of privacy (22%).  The key to avoiding the invasion-of-privacy trap is to give the customer good information without overdoing it. 

Personalized emails are also effective. Research showed that 42% responded positively when asked if a personalized email affected their decision. That is a  higher number than TV ads (36%) or online advertising (22%), which came in second and third as motivating factors.

Improve the User Experience

Ease of navigation is another important area. One-third of respondents said they bailed out if the  checkout process grew too complicated. Almost a quarter  of customers saw  value in online support.

One-click purchasing and Guest Checkout also improved the shopping experience.

Another sticking point is shipping costs. On many sites  customers only learn about shipping costs at checkout, which creates two problems - 1) customers will advance to the checkout phase just to find out the shipping cost and then leave (increasing the abandonment rate) or they will bail out at checkout because they weren't expecting the extra charge.

Next Steps

The new frontier of e-commerce is changing all the time, and online merchants need to keep abreast of  the latest developments. This requires ongoing education about e-commerce strategies. The industry continues to change at a rapid pace, and those who keep learning stand the best chance of prospering.