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How to use a cart abandonment survey to bolster ecommerce conversions

It's no secret that bad or broken user experience (UX) drives up cart abandonment and, consequently, revenue loss. But cart abandonment reasons differ from brand to brand, site to site, and user to user.

Hear it straight from your customers when you create relevant surveys with the Hotjar Surveys tool. By including the voice of the customer (VoC) in your analysis, you’ll unlock insights that help fine-tune your UX and, ultimately, improve conversions and sales.

Last updated

14 Jun 2023

Reading time

7 min


Surveys are a deceptively simple (and highly efficient) solution for discovering why users drop out before completing their transactions on your site, be it a bug or blocker, and nipping the problem in the bud. Using your customers’ own words, you can also collate suggestions to improve your UX or get early feedback on your latest idea.

Dive in and learn how launching surveys helps you win people back and speed up their buying journey—a win-win result for prospects, existing users, and your business.

Hear directly from customers

Learn the real reasons users leave their carts. Turn the insights into changes that drive sales and conversions.

What is online shopping cart abandonment?

Did you know that the average cart abandonment rate reached 69.99% in 2022? This global figure from Baymard Institute applied to all industries, which means anyone selling digital or physical products (including product teams!) still has many opportunities for improvement.

We’ll break down the work into practical and manageable steps in a bit. But first, let’s define cart abandonment rate:

Cart abandonment rate is the percentage of people entering the checkout process but exiting without, or getting lost before, completing their purchase.

While online retailers love to see visitors put items into their virtual carts, they measure success by orders that go through the transaction process. A rising shopping cart abandonment rate can signal that something is wrong with the ecommerce customer journey.

Common cart abandonment reasons

Let’s look at some aspects of the customer journey that often go wrong and cause people to leave their carts:

Piled-up extra costs 

A Contentsquare survey found hidden costs as the biggest obstacle to conversion. These include shipping, taxes, and fees that show up when users view the items in their carts or at checkout.

Coming across unexpected shipping costs, for instance, may annoy potential buyers, leading to them leaving their carts altogether.

A long and complicated checkout flow

Convenience is one of the top reasons people choose to shop online. Things inevitably won’t look good for you and your bottom line if you choose to go against that end goal.

The average checkout process is 5.2 steps long and contains 11.8 form elements—including common ones like name, address, and birthday. But we've said it before, and we'll say it again: every business is different, and it's worth putting in the effort to figure out the magic number for your users, prioritizing their convenience.

💡Pro tip: using Hotjar? Strategically place a survey on the page where most people exit your site, such as the shopping cart page. Through an exit-intent survey, you can ask, "Did you face any issues while making a purchase?"

Stick with uswe’ll talk about how this type of survey helps reduce cart abandonment rate a bit later.

Inefficient targeting and/or messaging

If you’ve tried to engage cart abandoners but still failed, you might have been using the wrong tactic or messaging.

In an experiment, researchers nudged ecommerce shoppers in two different ways: a price incentive and a scarcity message. They found that those with existing items in their carts responded better to the price promotion strategy.

In fact, the price incentive proved 11.4 times more effective than the scarcity message to late-stage shoppers (meanwhile, those who were just browsing and had nothing in their carts favored the scarcity nudge).

The moral of the story: it’s crucial to factor in customer behavior when resolving cart abandonment issues or addressing anything related to the buying journey and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Poor online user experience

A site with slow page speed or hard-to-follow navigation comes to mind when we talk about bad UX. But we could also argue that most cart abandonment reasons hinge on one or more facets of the user experience:

  • Usefulness 

  • Usability (i.e. where site navigation falls)

  • Desirability 

  • Findability

  • Accessibility

  • Credibility (e.g. when you’re upfront about shipping costs)

You can therefore think of fixing broken UX as a comprehensive method to combat cart abandonment and ramp up the performance of other CRO metrics.

So, how do you deliver a positive user experience and stop cart abandonment?

You see a spike in your cart abandonment rate: what do you do? You might refer to our list of common reasons people abandon their carts. Or you can test Hotjar in action to pinpoint the exact driver of this online business downer. 

To improve the quality of the user’s interaction with your site, specifically at the late stages of the ecommerce funnel, you can:

How to use surveys to reduce shopping cart abandonment rate and compel users to convert

Surveys are the quickest way to collect qualitative data and uncover the why behind the rise in cart abandonment rate.

Let’s delve into:

  • What surveys are and why you should use them

  • How to launch cart abandonment surveys to boost conversions (a step-by-step guide)

What are surveys, and why should you use them? 

Surveys are an effective way to capture user feedback. Through the various survey types and customization options available in Hotjar, you can launch surveys as you like: on-site or external. 

This powerful tool brings the voice of the customer to your decision-making when you're focused on optimizing your UX. Specifically, you can deploy abandonment surveys to learn more about your users’ actual experience and discover insights that will help reduce your cart abandonment rate. 

Decreasing cart abandonment with one simple survey 

After making iterations to a client’s ecommerce site, web design agency NerdCow’s Tomasz Lisiecki found that conversions were still below the industry average. He decided to watch more Hotjar Recordings—something that had already become part of his routine. That’s when he saw that users were adding products to their carts but not going through the purchases.

Knowing he couldn’t rely on hunches and assumptions, Tomasz used Hotjar's Surveys tool to ask users directly: what stopped you from buying?

The answer? They forgot!

With this insight, Tomasz instructed his team to do two things:

  1. Set up an abandoned cart sequence to email people who didn’t finish checking out

  2. Add a reminder for people returning to the site about the items in their cart

In two weeks, they nearly tripled conversions for their ecommerce client.

How to collect feedback and win customers back

Get your cart abandonment survey up and running (and start gathering game-changing qualitative data) in just a few simple steps.

1. Decide between an on-site or external survey

There are two types of cart abandonment surveys you can develop depending on where you want them displayed. 

  • On-site surveys show up on your site as a small widget or an overlay in the middle of the page

#An on-site survey example
An on-site survey example
  • External surveys appear as a standalone page that exists outside your website. They come in URL form for easy embedding in cart recovery or retargeting emails.

2. Create an exit-intent survey with Hotjar

Hotjar has over 30 survey templates to help you collect feedback and facilitate customer analytics. But if your goal is to uncover cart abandonment reasons, you’ll rely on the abandonment or exit-intent survey templates.

An exit-intent survey enables you to gather information before a customer leaves your site. This short window offers you an opportunity to understand what has caused the user to desert their shopping cart.

Another important thing to note is that this kind of survey should appear on just one of your site pages, such as the shopping cart page or checkout page. 

Watch this video to learn how to set up and customize your exit-intent survey:

As for what question to ask, you can start by adapting the following to your needs:

  • What information is missing or would make your decision to buy easier?

  • What is your biggest doubt about purchasing this item?

  • Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?

3. Start collecting feedback

Once you activate your survey, collate and check the individual answers on Hotjar through the Responses section.

Meanwhile, clicking the Results section provides you with a visual representation of the responses, either in a cloud or graph format.

#Word cloud example
Word cloud example
#Graph example
Graph example

On top of viewing survey responses on Hotjar, you can choose to forward them to Slack to get notified each time a response is received or to your preferred apps like Excel, Trello, or Miro via Hotjar’s Zapier integration.

4. Analyze survey results

Discuss the answers with your team and address the reasons users aren’t progressing the way you’d like them to.

Here are some potential issues and blockers, as well as certain reactions and behaviors, and suggestions on what to do with them:

  • Preferred payment method not found: show a single view of all available payment options and clear visual cues indicating the selected payment method

  • A confusing checkout flow: display a progress indicator outlining each step in the checkout process and be transparent about shipping costs and delivery estimates to set expectations

  • Distracting and annoying non-clickable page elements: simplify checkout page design to drive purchases with minimal decisions

  • Late-stage shoppers ignoring scarcity messages: offer them price incentives instead to nudge them to buy

  • Impatient customers: eliminate friction by allotting nine seconds for the next page in the checkout to load, 10 seconds for credit card verification, and 12 seconds for an email confirmation.

Get more inspiration from these cart abandonment stats.

💡Pro tip: step up your landing page optimization using a combination of CRO tools like Hotjar Surveys and Recordings. In this case, ensure your survey responses are connected to Hotjar session data so you can hear from users directly and see their corresponding behaviors in action.

Filter responses according to sessions that have been ‘captured’ or ‘not captured’ by Recordings to learn how customers interact with the checkout page—what trips them up, what frustrates them, and what makes them bid your site goodbye.

5. Implement changes to the UX and ecommerce funnel

Apart from providing you with invaluable insights, hearing your prospects' reasons for cart abandonment straight from them gives you the confidence to take the next step in improving your UX. It also allows you to complement quantitative data with qualitative insights, which makes getting buy-in from your team or the higher-ups much, much easier.

Plus, if you incorporate surveys into your CRO program, as NerdCow did, there’s a higher chance of solving problems before they snowball and nailing solutions each time you iterate.

💡Pro tip: are you testing out a brand-new feature or page element? Take advantage of Hotjar’s newest tool, Engage, offering all the benefits of CRO minus the revenue loss. 

With Hotjar Engage, you can tap into our pool of over 175,000 verified participants to find and recruit users with the profile you need. Schedule calls and add your team members as observers. With the recordings and transcripts you get after each user interview, you and your team can glean valuable insights into improving your user experience.

Reduce cart abandonment with Hotjar Surveys

Now you have the steps to set up and activate a survey on your site. What are you waiting for? Launch an exit-intent survey ASAP to uncover why your users abandon their shopping carts. 

Take full advantage of Hotjar's Surveys tool to get closer to your customers. Make them feel valued and heard by introducing changes to their experience based on their feedback. Set the conversion wheel in motion once again, one user-led improvement at a time.

Spot problems in the purchase experience

Include on-site and external surveys in your Hotjar package to reduce cart abandonment and optimize conversion rate.

Cart abandonment FAQs