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Horseshoes, Hand Grenades and App Cart Abandons

By John Koetsier October 14, 2015

You know the adage, “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The meaning of this admittedly humorous statement is pretty self-evident. You either win or you lose; being close to winning – even a hair away from victory – doesn’t make a material difference. It’s thumbs up, or thumbs down. So how does that relate to app cart abandons?

It’s a stark assessment of what it means to win or lose. But it is certainly true that in ecommerce and mcommerce, you either make sales to customers or you don’t, and a cart abandon represents one of the best examples of how “close” is not a “close.”

App Cart Abandons Explained

With mobile app shopping cart abandonment, the user place items in a virtual shopping cart or shopping bag and then leaves the app. Sometimes they transact immediately upon leaving the app – either on the PC web, at retail, or in a competing app. Many times, though, they postpone or forget to make a purchase.

What Causes App Cart Abandons

For an ecommerce site, shopping cart abandons arguably represent the most frustrating of all customer actions, because the app user is so near to transacting. We can use that “closeness” to our advantage, because often it doesn’t take much to get people to take that final step. A little nudge and they buy,

There are lots of reasons why someone might abandon a shopping cart, but the most common include:

  • Ecommerce app or site performance issues. Pages that take a long time to load and other types of basic app or site performance challenges have strong effects on online shopping cart abandon rates.
  • Bad conversion process. Apps that make users jump through hoops to buy often have extremely high abandoned cart rates.
  • Uncertainty about whether or not to purchase. Do I need this? Do I really want this? Is this a good use of money? Negative answers or even dissonance in answering any of these questions can stop a would-be buyer in their tracks.
  • Uncertainty about pricing. For online shoppers that are price sensitive, the driver of many cart abandons is a desire to see if a discount is available – either via a coupon or on another site/app. In fact, many retailers issue so many online coupons that they have trained a generation of users to ALWAYS check coupon sites before transacting.
  • Distraction. We use this term broadly to describe any of a host of reasons why someone might lose focus on making a purchase during the shopping price.

Retargeting Your Way to Reactivated Shopping Cart Abandons

More and more commerce apps are dedicating a significant share of their budgets to addressing the shopping cart abandons challenge. The first step is understanding your shopping cart abandonment rate. From there, you need concrete strategies and tactics to impact that rate over time.

App Cart Abandons and Remarketing

Retargeting for apps operates under the same principles as retargeting for the PC or mobile web. A user who abandons a cart is identified and is then delivered a series of ads (often cost-efficient display “banner” ads) to remind or entice them to return to the app to finish the transaction. The level of personalization varies significantly for different retargeting efforts and solutions providers. Most effective are models that feature goods recently viewed or added to cart by the user.

Most PC retargeting companies use third-party cookies to identify users on the PC web. But because third-party cookies are problematic when it comes to smartphone apps, we need a different methodology to identify users.

Singular has developed a set of tools to help advertisers identify cart abandons as they occur so that a marketer’s media partners and internal marketing platforms can be leveraged to message them in hopes of driving a transaction complete. First, we use the Singular SDK to understand all of the tracked actions that a user takes while they are in the mobile application. We use “AND NOT” logic to identify cart abandons.

App Cart Abandons Audience Segmentation Logic

A person places one or more items in a cart during a session <<add to cart event>>
The person did NOT make a purchase <<and NOT purchase event>>

With Singular, you work with the partners and platforms of your choice, using Singular tools and data to power more effective marketing.Singular informs the media partner of which device advertising IDs to target. Our vision has always been that it is important to be able to do this on both a batch and triggered basis. The key challenge with triggered delivery is ensuring that your app has sufficient traffic and usage to meet the minimums of your media partner(s).

From retargeting display ads to abandoned cart email and push notifications, customized brand communications have been shown to drive significant incremental transactions – sales that far outstrip the media costs. While some of the sales possibly would have occurred anyway as a consumer naturally returned to the app, cart abandon retargeting shows incredibly strong ROI. It is shown to drive strong incremental sales.

So as you plan your next marketing efforts, think about horseshoes, hand grenades, and the new retargeting capabilities that Singular can provide to help you reactivate app cart abandons and so many other groups that can help you take your business to the next level.

Note: This blog post was published first on the Apsalar blog, prior to Apsalar’s merger with Singular. Learn more about our united company at Singular.net.


Singular enables data-oriented marketers to connect, measure, and optimize siloed marketing data, giving them the most vital insights they need to drive ROI. The unified analytics platform tracks over $7 billion in digital marketing spend to revenue and lifetime value across industries including commerce, travel, gaming, entertainment and on-demand services.For more information, click here.

If you’d like to learn more or see a demo of the Singular unified analytics platform, get in touch.

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