Targeting Passive Buyers — How to Tackle the Online Version of “Just Looking”

Window shoppers, Looky Loos… your website has them too. Find out how to convert these visitors into more sales by targeting passive buyers.

Targeting Passive Buyers

There are digital versions of everything and, as your online store knows, that includes the browsers, window shoppers, and people who spend an hour “just looking.” Thankfully, this also means there are digital ways of targeting passive buyers in order to get them to buy.

These passive buyers are amazing and terrible at the same time. They visit our sites and spend a while, so it decreases bounce rates and improves our overall metrics, but then they don’t buy. It means a site can look great on paper but isn’t converting like it should.

Your ecommerce shop is pretty great right now, and it deserves to do its best. So, here are five things to consider so you can reach that best by upping your chance of converting the digital window shoppers.

Understanding Your Audience

The first place to start is to look at this audience in a broad sense. You don’t necessarily need demographic information or spending habits yet; you just need to focus on one important thing: they’re interested in your company. What you must do is figure out the ways in which they’re interested.

Our “just looking” visitors aren’t ready for most of your sales funnel, they’re floating around the top and haven’t started the descent. That’s okay because we know that they have some desire for your goods simply because they exist — no desire would mean no browsing and sky-high bounce rates.

When targeting passive buyers you need to start by trying to understand why these customers might be looking at your business. Do you have new products that are out now or will be out soon? Is it almost time for a holiday where your industry usually gives big discounts? Do people who buy your products usually need to do a fair amount of research or are these impulse purchases?

Look at their habits and your overall usage patterns with things like site heatmaps and page analytics. Start thinking about why they’re browsing, and you might be able to discover how to address it.

Creating a Samples Table

People love samples, just ask anyone who goes to Costco. You can actually find websites for your local store that talk about the best times to go and how to get the good stuff…

(hint: weekends are the best treats but the biggest lines, while Monday and Tuesday are decent samples and no wait).

You want to try and capitalize on this aspect of people. Look for ways to give out some freebies to entice the people who are just looking around. The beauty of the Internet is that you can always ask to trade data for samples — like an email address or phone number as well as seeing what pages people are interested in — and you can control consumption, so there’s no risk of someone walking away with your entire tray.

Look for small products or add-ons that you might be able to give. Or, if you can create a digital version of something, go for it. Some businesses do this now with a “tripwire” offer that gives a free report, article, email, toolkit, etc. in exchange for providing a name and email. In retail, you can also try free advice or free shipping through an order fulfillment partner to see if people will bite.

As a side note, some companies turn this into a promotional trial where the customer gets the product and doesn’t pay for a certain number of days. So, they get it and can try it for a week, and then are charged unless they ship it back to you. That’s essentially a product trial conversion, and it can get some people off the fence.

Start with a Small Ask

If you’re not sure about freebies, approach these customers with a small request. This is the digital version of getting your foot in the door so that it can’t be closed on you. A low-impact ask allows you to inch them a little closer to becoming a true customer.

The best way to do this is to have call-to-actions that demonstrate a direct value. “Sign-up for a free X% off coupon that you can use next week”. “Get our newsletter to be the first to know about new products and when things go on sale”. “Click here to see a sneak peek of next season’s fashion”. Or ask for social shares for other goodies.

The chief thing you want to do is have these silent visitors engage with you. If they take action and enjoy it, you’ve built trust and are making them more comfortable with you. You’re starting the relationship, and that’s exactly what you need to do to generate future purchases.

Be Helpful and Unobtrusive

Those suggestions above might give you a bunch of ideas about what to do next. That’s great! Now, write them down in a comprehensive list and rank them. Then pick one, and only one, and run with it. If you try to execute all 15 or 20 on your list, you’ll overwhelm every visitor and tank your sales.

Window shoppers are being held back for a reason, and you don’t want to shout at them because of it. You want to help them overcome that barrier, and the best way to do it is to be helpful.

Start by saying hello and offering whatever assistance you provide, such as a size or color chart. If you’ve got chatbots on your site, that’s a terrific way to give this information or ask if the customer needs help with something else.

Chatbots are another useful example because they can be extremely annoying. If you visit a website and a new chat box pops up on each page, it’ll be frustrating. Clicking the “X” to make it go away only to have it reappear when you click on another product will quickly get people to leave a site.

Greet people, offer to help, and then respect their decision. Your site should operate in the same way that you want people to behave when you’re in a store and just to browse.

Help Them Plan for the Future Purchase

Helpfulness isn’t just about when they’re on your site, because some aren’t going to buy today no matter what. So, give them a hand with buying from you in the future.

The first step is being kind like we noted above, so they like you when they’re done browsing. The second step is to ask them for an email based on the coupons or newsletter or other items discussed above.

If possible, use retargeting to bring them back to blog posts and help pages later, so they don’t forget about you. See where you can find them again online and provide a link to the product pages they visited or any related offers.

No Idea Where to Start?

Getting started can be difficult. There’s a lot to try and understand to segment these folks, and you don’t want to scare them away. Here’s a quick A/B test you can try.

First, identify a product whose page is getting a lot of traction but not a lot of sales. Create two versions of that page so you can send visitors to one or the other.

On Version A, add a short paragraph or link to another page that explains the product a little more and answers whatever the most common question about the product is. Keep it short, simple, and high on the page. Clicks here can tell you there was some product confusion.

For Version B, introduce a different order option. This can be a pre-order for a product not out yet, a bundle with related products, or even a sign-up for an email that promises to remind them about the product in a week. You can also try a sign-up for a coupon.

Stick to simple things, and you’ll likely see some movement and hopefully a bit of traction for the product. Good luck transforming “looking” into “buying.”