In recent years, ghosting has moved beyond personal relationships and now some businesses ghost job candidates, with potential employees doing the same. But there is a whole other group you should be worried about: your customers. 

Customer ghosting is much more common and accepted as many people don't even realize how much they ghost companies they were once interested in doing business with.

Consider this: When is the last time you bailed on buying something you wanted because the ordering process got a little cumbersome? According to a 2019 study by the Baymard Institute, 23 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned because of a long or complicated checkout process -- yikes.

Streamlining your online ordering process is important, but it can take a long time to fix (and you might be locked into a template experience from a vendor if you don't work for a giant corporation). Instead of getting frustrated, consider another important channel where you may be making it difficult for people to buy from you: email.

The human brain is lazy. If answering your email is perceived as effortful, you may be encouraging the recipient to put you in the "for later" pile (i.e. ghost town). Here are a few tricks to make it so responding to your email immediately is easier than ghosting you:

Identify and Showcase a Clear Next Step

What is the recipient supposed to do next and why does it benefit them? Listing out all the possible things they could do (email me or call or text or fill out this form or...) is confusing. Too many choices makes quick completion impossible.

Instead of giving all the options in copy, propose the most common choice among customers (or where you know you have the highest close ratio) and recommend that with a simple line of, "If you prefer to connect another way, please let me know and we can make that work."

Recommend a Few Options

If your next step is to schedule a meeting, please do not tell the recipient to provide some times that work for them. This may feel like kindness or courtesy, but it is actually asking them to stop what they are doing and put in a bunch of work to suggest options. 

Nikki Rausch, author of the 2019 book The Selling Staircase says to instead provide three windows of time that are open on your schedule to help the recipient take the next step. She says five is overwhelming and one or two doesn't feel like a choice.

I love this approach and have found a huge benefit in making this shift myself. The biggest benefit from a behavioral economics perspective is in the slight reframe of the proposal: it shifts the conversation from "do you want to meet?" to "what time do you want to meet?" This simple brain shift can increase conversions like you wouldn't believe. 

Be Considerate of Your Recipient 

If you are in different time zones, list both in your recommendation (or just list theirs). It shows you took the time to put their needs first and made a little extra effort. This triggers reciprocity -- the brain's desire to give back when a little gift has been provided, making them more likely to put in reciprocal effort. 

End with a Question

The brain interprets a question very differently than a statement. Statements can be glossed over. A thoughtful, purposful question encourages a response. (Even a "no" is better than being ghosted and wondering if they are still interested.)

Instead of ending your email with, "Please let me know which times work for you." try saying, "Which of these times do you prefer?" Subtle, but powerful.

Which of these tactics will you test out first?