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AMC Dead YourselfPeople desert websites for various reasons. If you’re lucky, they’ll come back to finish what they started; if you’re unlucky, they will forget all about it. ‘Abandoners can be hot prospects, and companies often invest a lot of time and money on retargeting (paid media) and remarketing (sending a series of abandonment recovery emails), to persuade consumers to re-visit their purchases.

Here are some techniques from the world of psychology that you can incorporate into your remarketing or retargeting campaigns, to stimulate the buy’ button in your visitors’ brains.

1. Foot in the Door Technique

Sometimes visitors abandon because they are not ready to buy yet, i.e. some shoppers like to add items to their carts over several visits before they check out. Although these visitors may convert later, you can reinforce their decision to buy from you by using the Foot in the Door technique. The principle behind the technique is this: Make a small request of your customer (a micro-conversion) first, such as asking them to join a mailing list or create a wish list for future purchases. If they agree to your first request, they will be more likely to respond to your next and bigger request.

Psychologists theorize that the technique works due to the human’s tendency to feel indebted to someone after they’ve had some level of interaction with that person.

2. Incentivize customers

Many of the loyalty cards you get in coffee chains have one or two items pre-stamped. The reason they do this is that psychologically, the existing stamps give customers a sense of being closer to the goal, which motivates them to complete the card.

You can apply the same principle to your retargeting campaign. Tailor your messages to emphasize how close the consumer is to completing their task (e.g. Screwfix encourages abandoners to complete their orders by reminding them that they’re ‘almost there’). The personalized message can be accomplished in several ways with one of the most popular being dynamic display ads.

Make sure your remarketing emails and retargeting ads take abandoners directly back to the last page they were on, rather than to your homepage. It’s not only annoying but removes the impetus for goal completion.

3. Give visitors a reason to come back

When a prospect abandons your site, you need to re-create the interest that they had before they left. This can be as simple as reminding them of their original reason for visiting your site. You could also try tapping into the inherently self-centered nature of human beings. Using the Doppelganger Effect, for instance, you can move visitors to make a purchase by having them visualize themselves using your product/service.

AMC's Dead Yourself app is the Doppelganger Effect in action. It allows fans of the Walking Dead series to transform themselves into walkers. Like most personalization strategies, the Doppelganger Effect takes advantage of the brain’s selfish instincts, evolved from the basic need for survival and self-preservation.

AMC's ‘Dead Yourself’

Topics: Online Advertising, Dynamic Display Ads, retargeting, Advertising Strategy, remarketing, Psychology

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN and Milwaukee, WI.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.