The Ultimate Guide To Cart Abandonment In ONTRAPORT

Many digital marketers are often surprised to find out that the conversion rates on their checkout pages can be as low as 10%. In many cases, 33% is considered quite healthy…

But think about that for a second…

If all of your marketing efforts so far have:

  • turned a cold prospect into a friend (through lead nurture)…
  • developed your prospect’s interest in your products and services – enough for him or her to even land on your sales page…AND
  • your sales page has persuaded your prospect to click the ‘add to cart’ button…

Think about the fact that only one in three such prospects are likely to complete their order and convert into a customer!

There is clearly a very leaky bucket here, and therefore a huge opportunity to plug the various holes where your potential revenue is leaking out of!

The problem with the standard ‘cart abandonment’ sequence, is that you can only follow up with those prospects who are already in your ONTRAPORT database.

In this article I will walk you through a process that not only follows up with contacts who didn’t convert, but also captures the email addresses of these very hot prospects so that you can follow up with them even if they weren’t in your database!

On top of that, you’ll be following up with prospects who didn’t buy via text message as well as email! And this should seriously boost your conversions because:

  1. 97% of text messages get opened, compared with just 25% of emails
  2. As many as 55% of your users will be checking out on mobile devices (depending on the demographics of the niche you are targeting)

The added bonus of this is that you will grow your list with the very people who are most likely to convert into customers!

How To Build Ironclad Cart Abandonment In ONTRAPORT

I’ll walk you through this step by step process assuming you are creating a new product from scratch in your ONTRAPORT account.

Step 1: Create an ONTRApage For Your Checkout Page

I usually go with the ‘start from scratch’ template.

You could also create a master template landing page and just copy it to save time on adding branding elements, menus, footers, etc.

Step 2: Add an Order Form block

It looks like this:

Step 2 Order Form Block

Step 3: Create / Add Your Product

Click on the product grid to create a new product and set up your payment settings.

Seeing as this post is all about how to get the highest possible conversions, you’ll get a higher conversion rate by reducing the amount of fields on this checkout form.

If you are selling a digital product, do you really need to ask for their full physical address?

You may need to ask for their country and state for tax purposes (here in Canada, I’m supposed to charge GST (Goods and Services Tax) to Canadian residents only, so I need to ask for the country and state, as different Canadian provinces have different GST percentages).

Step 4: Remove Unnecessary Fields

Click on ‘billing fields’ in the left column and then turn the slider off on all the fields you don’t need (I just leave state, country and zip code to reduce credit card fraud.

step 4 billing fields

Add the field ‘SMS Number’ and change it to say ‘Cell Phone’.

Why would you want to do this?

Because you can then contact this customer in the future via SMS, meaning that you can notify them about special offers, and also follow up if they ever abandon your cart again when buying other things from your site in the future!

And as I mentioned earlier – SMS messages get opened a lot more than emails, and more and more users are visiting your site from mobile devices (check your Google Analytics for your site’s exact numbers)

As a side note, I would make sure that this is not a required field, and I would probably label it as ‘cell phone (optional)’, to avoid it reducing conversions.

Some people don’t want to give out their cell phone numbers and will bounce off your page. Making it clear that the cell phone field is optional should help to reduce the risk of this.

Step 5: Select your form settings

In the left column, at the bottom, you’ll want to click on ‘form settings’ and be sure to do these things:

Select which page to redirect users to when they complete your order form. I highly recommend you to send them to an up sell page, which can also be done in ONTRAPORT.

Scroll down to ‘conditional rules’ and add rules for successful payment. You should have rules to tag the contact as a customer of your product, and to assign them to an on boarding sequence, that gives them access to your wordpress membership via PilotPress level if required.

Step 6: publish your page

If your website is SSL enabled, you can use the https protocol with one of your own domains. I personally use one of ONTRAPORT’s secure domains for my checkout pages.

step 6 publish your page


Encourage interaction! If you don’t mind getting phone calls from prospects who are just about to become customers, but have a questions, add a line at the top of your checkout page saying, “Questions? Call us – +1 (your phone number)”

Better still, outsource or delegate the answering of questions via phone to someone in your company who can answer common questions.

I also highly recommend using something Olark to include a live chat box on your checkout page.

Olark chat box

If you go into settings on the checkout page in ONTRAPORT, you can add custom scripts.

Olark and similar services will provide you with some code that you can add here to make their live chat box appear at the bottom of your checkout page.

where to put olark tracking script

At the very least, test it for a month and then track how many of your prospects who contact you via live chat actually convert into customers of that product.

I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that it is a higher percentage than your checkout page’s overall conversion rate.

Step 7: Make a light box ONTRAform to collect your visitors’ email addresses (and possibly their SMS numbers) when they click the ‘add to cart’ button.

This is the first form your visitors will fill out when they click the buy button on your sales page.

The purpose is to make sure you have an email address, and hopefully also a SMS number, to follow up with them if they don’t complete their order.

It also works well to boost conversions by having the user make a ‘micro commitment’ first, by only submitting one or two pieces of info on the first form, before being sent to the checkout form.

How to do this:

Go to contacts > forms > new form > ONTRAform.

Choose a template you like or make one from scratch.

If a smart form block is not present (if you are building from scratch), add one.

Smart Form

Next click on ‘form’ in the left column to edit the fields.

ONTRAform Form

Next, add these fields:

  • email
  • SMS number

Turn off the ‘first name’ field.

Next, click on ‘form settings’ in the left column.

In the opt in settings, we will tell ONTRAPORT where to send users after they fill out this form.

The opt in settings should remain as ‘single’ (not double opt in or double opt in optional).

Choose ‘use this landing page’ and set the page to be the checkout page we just created.

We can also pre-fill the email address and SMS number fields on the checkout page, making even less fields for the user to need to fill out on the checkout page.

This is done by checking the box shown below:

‘Override email address merge with cookie data’

Override email address merge with cookie data

This is where we can add people to our cart abandonment sequence.

It is also a great idea to add a tag to users who fill out this form with something like ‘entered 1st details for (product name)’

I would also change the wording on the submit button from ‘submit’ to ‘NEXT’ or ‘NEXT STEP’

I would also add some instructions like ‘Enter your 1st details below to checkout and join today!’

Your first form lightbox might look something like this:

ONTRAform Light Box

Step 8: Add your ONTRAform to your sales page as a light box.

Give your ONTRAform a title, then click the ‘publish’ button near the top right corner of the screen.

Select the ‘click to pop’ light box.

Follow the instructions to add the code to your sales page. You can add a button image instead of having regular text, and the publish instructions light box in ONTRAPORT explains how to do this.

Step 9: Build your Cart Abandonment Sequence

I like to have a different cart abandonment sequence for each product, so that the messages in each sequence send the contact to the correct checkout page.

You may have 6 steps in this sequence:

Three email messages and three SMS messages.

Email 1 and SMS message 1: these get sent out 30 minutes after the contact is added to the sequence.

This gives the contact a 30 minute window to complete the checkout before the first email and SMS are sent to try to get them back on the checkout page and complete their order.

If they haven’t done this, they’ll still be on the cart abandonment sequence, and they will get the 2nd email and SMS message the next day.

I like to set up the 2nd message to go out in the morning of the next day.

I then have email 3 and SMS message 3 go out the day after that, and to further entice these contacts to take action and buy, I offer a 10% off personal coupon code, which expires within 24 hours, creating urgency for the contact to use it before it expires.

Each contact gets their own coupon code, so they have to use it within the time frame set in your ONTRAPORT coupon code settings.

Step 10: Remove Contact From Cart Abandonment Sequence Upon Successful Checkout

This step is essential. You don’t want new customers to get these emails and feel confused after they just bought your product…

There are  many ways to go about it – I like to add both of these ways to ensure the contact definitely gets removed from the cart abandonment sequence when they complete checkout.

The 1st way: Use a Global Rule

Go to contacts > rules > add rule

The rule may say something like:

When contact is added to tag ‘Customer: (Your Product Name)’, remove from cart abandonment sequence.

The 2nd way: Remove Cart Abandonment Sequence In Order Form Settings

Remember when we built the order form landing page?

We can go back onto that page and set up rules for successful completion of the order form.

Click on the order form then click on ‘form settings’ in the left column.

Scroll down and add the conditional rule for successful form fill outs.

You can simply add a rule there that has the action

‘Remove contact from cart abandonment sequence’.

And that’s it – you’re done!

This will take you no more than 2 hours max (probably 30 minutes if you’re quick) to build, and will give you a significant boost to sales conversions.

When I investigated the conversion rate of one of my checkout pages for one of my online businesses, I was pretty devastated to see that it was 14%!

With some split testing, and a rock solid cart abandonment sequence like the one I’ve shown you how to create in this post, I got that checkout page’s conversion rate up to 49%! Tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy!

Thanks for reading this post and happy automating!

If you’re keen to discover more automation wizardry in ONTRAPORT, sign up for our free Automation Toolkit today!

About The Author

Luke Ward

Luke Ward is the founder of He is an Ontraport Certified Consultant and sales funnel specialist. Please contact Luke today if you're looking for sales funnel builds, marketing automation advice or migrations to Ontraport from other systems.

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  • Chris Daigle

    Killer stuff, Luke … we will be implementing most of these suggestions in our cart abandon process!

    • Thanks Chris! Glad it’s helpful for you. Let me know how it goes after you set it up!

  • Great article, Luke. Thank you. I personally love Step 7 – that can be a gamechanger for all our clients.

    • Hey Diana, I agree with you! It’s had big results for my membership site since I implemented it.