What’s In Your Basket?

There are lots of places we can go to find advice on improving conversions for our websites. However, some of the suggestions “feel wrong” or seem counterintuitive. This is why I like to go look into other people’s research.

There’s a term used in marketing – basket recovery – that describes a somewhat counterintuitive method of grabbing at least partial contact information from your site visitor even if they don’t complete your conversion process, leaving you a little less empty-handed.

The basis of this principle is requires the insertion of an email collection field BEFORE the call to action button. For example, if you have a page that offers a link to a free trial download of software, you could just have a button that says “click here to start the download,” and hope the customer follows up with you when the free trial expires, or you can put a single form field in there requiring an email address, then the customer clicks the button to start the free download.

Of course, I can hear everyone saying “I put fake email addresses in there all the time. That won’t help.” Ok, I admit this example is simplistic – but I’m illustrating how basket recovery works at its simplest. In the real world, it’s usually a little more sophisticated. Here’s an example from a test that was run by the researchers at Marketing Experiments last year.

Control Path before Basket Recovery
Control Path before Basket Recovery

The above image illustrates a free trial offer where the customer had to fill out a 6-field form anyway in order to get the free trial. The original green button was just a link with some basic call to action text.

The Basket Recovery Process
The Basket Recovery Process

In this process, instead of the landing page only containing a link to the mid-length form that is required before the customer’s trial account can be set up, they inserted an email collection field right above the orange button. Then the second page of the process included the email address that was already provided. If the customer changes their mind after seeing the rest of the form, there’s still a chance to recover that individual as a customer later with a follow up email to find out why they didn’t complete the form, because you already have the email address.

In this particular test, the basket recovery test page had an email address conversion rate of 2.16% while the original 6-field form completion process only converted .09% of the time. That’s a 2300% increase. If you’re operating a lead-gen site, a valid email address is all you need to make a sales introduction, offer a second chance, ask if there was a technical difficulty, etc.

Keep in mind that this technique will not work for every type of conversion as it actually increases user friction by adding a form field sooner. Careful testing will be necessary before you can decide if basket recovery testing pays off for your web site, but if you already have a multiple-step conversion process, basket recovery practices might help your end conversions.

The Smart Way To See Your Own Ads In Google AdWords

Users of AdWords almost all universally suffer from the drive to see their own ads – just to make sure they’re there. However, “googling” yourself can actually damage the performance of your account over time because it gives Google the wrong idea about your ads. Imagine if everyone in a small company with 15 employees looked their own company up in Google three times daily as a part of their discussions with their customers. They never click on those ads but they have caused 45 impressions a day, plus any impressions the customers themselves might have caused (which also did not get clicked on). At the end of a month, this number becomes large enough to cause problems.


This decreases your CTR – click through rate – which is a major component used by Google in determining your quality score. What this looks like to Google is that a lot of people are looking up the terms you use but not clicking your ads, so your ads must not be as good in quality as other ads which are getting clicked on. {editor’s note: this is also a very good reason not to “google” your own keywords and then click on your competitors ads. This makes Google think their ads look better than yours. – michelle} Once you start suffering poor quality scores, you end up with higher costs per click and you’ve made it harder on yourself to raise the quality score back up to an acceptable level.


Fortunately, Google understands that sometimes you need to see how your ads look and to make sure they’re showing. There are two tools that assist with this – the Ad Diagnostic Tool and the Ad Preview Tool.

They’re both accessible from the Tools tab in the Google Interface. If you have regionally targeted your ads, you must select the correct region – and be sure to also select a specific city if you’re using City, Metro or Map Area targeting – and then type in the keyword to see your ads. The Ad Preview tools will show you an actual Google page layout with your ads in their proper position, as long as they’re showing on page one. The Ad Diagnostic tool will give you more detailed information about how many possible ads that term might have triggered and which ones may not be showing, along with the possible reasons (like budget restraints or ad schedule limits).

Some points to keep in mind when using these tools:

  • you need to be aware of the regional targeting settings, if there are any, as any sort of city, metro or map area form of targeting will require that you enter in the target country, the target state, and the target city. If your ads are only nationally or state-level targeted, you can get away without entering a city for testing.
  • you need to be aware of ad scheduling, and make sure you’re testing your ad appearance during times when your ads are supposed to be running.
  • you need to be aware of your budget – your ads may not show if you’ve hit your budget for the day.
  • you need to be aware that these tools only pertain to ads that are on page one SERPs – if your ad position fluctuates at some point to position 11 or 12, you won’t be able to see your ad consistently in these tools until your CPC allows it.

Remember, Google has one of the most sophisticated algorithms in the world, and it’s all based on statistics – anything you do to cause a metric to be inconsistent or even wrong will adversely affect your PPC accounts in the long run. The best practice is to fight the urge to “google” yourself, and train yourself and your staff to use the tools provided to check on your ads.