What Exit Intent Technology is

This post covers what exit intent technology is and why you are missing out if it’s not part of your Conversion Rate Optimization efforts.

There’s one truth anyone who’s poked around with website traffic, user retention and conversion rate statistics will tell you. Only a very small amount of people purchase on their first visit.

According to Monetate, a typical conversion rate will lie anywhere between 1% and 5%.

This is, obviously, the sheer minority of the total traffic.

What’s more – the first impression is the most lasting. Moreover, people who’ve left without purchasing first are more than likely to do it again. In other words, getting people to visit your site time and time again won’t help much.

Why you are missing out

Yeah, I think I’ve seen this deal somewhere already, I think I’ll pass again.
Yeah, I think I’ve seen this deal somewhere already, I think I’ll pass again.

As a means of mending the vicious loop, exit intent technology focuses on giving your visitor every reason to purchase. Even when you thought the battle was already over.

And it’s true – the battle is pretty much over. Factors that drive the decision usually are the design, layout, color scheme and copy. Thus, you want to A/B test all of these puzzle pieces.

From there, even seemingly microscopic changes like shifting the title size by 0.5 points or giving your graphics a 4 pixel border can make or break your conversion statistics.

The truth is that you will never be able to do everything 100% right. And the best you can do is to strive for improvement, ideally by performing lots and lots of split testing.

What Exit Intent Technology is

In their essence, exit intent technology works suspiciously similar to the annoying exit pop-ups you may have seen in the early 2000s.

The term “pop-up” has been scratched. As the strategy now relies on lightbox triggers or page overlays, so nothing is technically popping up.

They’re also far less annoying than in the past, and no longer considered to be below-the-waist marketing tools.

This is actually the grandfather of exit intent technology. The kids just grow up so fast!
This is actually the grandfather of exit intent technology. The kids just grow up so fast!

The effectiveness of exit intent technology implemented is large and the impact can be tremendous.

The most trivial strategy would be to simply give an offer for an amazing discount or some other irresistible information when the person attempts to navigate away from the page. Furthermore, more complex strategies track user behavior, interests (cookies are your friend here), and deliver a very narrowly customized message.

The more advanced your strategy, the more likely you are to hit the sweet spot and give your site visitor just the offer they can’t refuse.

Why Exit Intent Technology Works

Exit intent overlays narrow your offer down to a tiny particle of whatever you’re selling. Moreover, overlays present to your potential customer in the most concentrated form possible. It makes the offer so simple, even a lizard could understand it, and that is exactly what you are aiming for.

The problem is that people think they appreciate choice and freedom to make informed decisions, but studies show that this is not the case.

It is called the paradox of choice.

Coined by author Barry Schwartz, he explains that a lot of choices leads to unhappiness and decision paralysis. Schwartz explains it perfectly in just a few minutes during his Ted talk.

You thought you wanted to be informed and have a choice? Well, you don’t.
You thought you wanted to be informed and have a choice? Well, you don’t.

So this is what exit intent strategies counter. They eliminate choice and severely cut down on the analysis required to make a decision. Some people distinguish between decision paralysis and analysis paralysis, both keeps your visitors away from buying.

Another psychological reason for why exit intent works is that the ability to make informed decisions gradually wears down. If you sneak in a compelling offer right at this point, you’ll take the visitor by surprise just when they’ve let their guard down.

It’s closely related to an NLP technique called “pattern interrupt”. Which put it layman’s terms means that if you do or say something unexpected, you’re likely to break the sequence of actions planned by the receiving party.

In your case, it means you’re breaking your visitor’s thought chain of leaving your site. Putting on some funny cat video, and replacing it with signing up to your newsletter or buying your product could get back the “bouncer”.

Are You Ready to Test Exit Intent Technology?

Total conversion rate is affected by everything, at all times, and reaching perfection isn’t a realistic goal. Nevertheless, there’s always room for improvement and a lot of possible techniques you can play around with.

Exit intent technology works by narrowing down choice, and churning down your offer to “this is good, take it or leave it”. They appeal to the most primitive instincts of the buyer, simplifying the decision-making and minimizing the amount of consideration and analysis required.

Knowing what exit intent technology is and how it can benefit your CRO efforts can be a game changer in long-term.

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Emily Brown
Online sales, conversion rate optimization and digital marketing. Marketing Assistant at MaxTraffic.