Abandonment = Opportunity: Five Tips to Boost Remarketing Revenue

With the holiday season fast approaching, the countdown timer ticking toward Black Friday and Cyber Monday and visions of overflowing online shopping carts dancing in many email marketers’ heads, I decided to get into the festive spirit as only one possessing email intelligence can: by focusing on remarketing.

There’s no more effective remarketing message for driving conversions than the triggered abandoned shopping cart email. According to Experian, abandoned cart messages increase purchases at a rate that is 19 times higher than promotional mailings, and they produce a 41% lift over promotional campaigns. These messages are critical for driving online revenue and showcasing the value of the email channel. They are, perhaps, most important during this critical time of the year, especially when you consider these stats from Smarter Remarketer: the average shopping cart abandonment rate is greater than 65%, the average value of an online order is $116.58, and the average online conversion rate is 2.13%.

With that in mind, I took at look at the remarketing practices of 24 top-100 apparel and accessory retailers. The brands on the list include established retailers like Zappos and the Gap, internationally recognized luxury brands like Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, and newer companies like Greats Brands (men’s sneakers) and Bucketfeet (artist-designed shoes, accessories and prints). I visited their websites, placed items in shopping carts, provided an email address and other contact information and went through the purchase process right up until I had to enter payment information. Then I closed my browser window and waited to see if any abandoned shopping cart emails were sent.

Surprisingly, only five brands sent an abandoned cart email and only two (Scottevest and Betabrand) sent an additional follow-up email that featured a discount on my cart items. Three brands (Indochino, Blue Cotton and Zappos) showed the cart items in the email message and all sent the message within 24 hours of the cart being abandoned. Betabrand sent their second abandoned cart message one day after the first and featured a 10% discount while Scottevest waited two days and featured a 20% discount. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the call-to-action (“Return to your cart”) in both Betabrand messages, I was taken to a landing page that said my cart was empty.

Meanwhile  two of the brands that didn’t send an abandoned cart message (identities withheld) sent welcome messages, clearly indicating that they had captured my email address even though I had not explicitly given my permission to receive email. This could explain why one of their welcome messages as well as their subsequent promotional messaging went straight into my Gmail junk folder.

Given the impact abandoned cart messages can have on revenue, implementing this strategy could be the single most important tactic you tackle to get ready for the holiday season. If you’re already sending these triggered messages today, that’s a great start. Here are five recommendations for making your abandoned shopping cart messages even more effective:

  1. Customize messages with abandoned cart items. This is the gift-giving season and most consumers are buying gifts for more than one person across different websites. In the frenzy of trying to check-off friends and family members from their holiday gift lists, it’s easy for consumers to forget what items they placed in a particular shopping cart. Showcasing those items in the message will not only remind the consumer what they were thinking about purchasing, but will be more effective at driving a desired action than a generic email with a stock image of an empty shopping cart.
  2. Send more than one message. According to a recent Experian study, brands sending a second abandoned cart email saw a 50% increase in abandoned cart revenue compared to their first abandoned cart mailing. Brands sending three messages saw a 56% increase in revenue compared to just sending the initial abandoned cart email. Sending a series of messages also creates a great opportunity for testing, such as only offering a discount with the second or third message, or offering a greater discount with the final message.
  3. Link back to the cart. This may seem obvious, but two of the five brands that sent me an abandoned cart email either took me to a landing page that required me to log-in or to a generic landing page telling me my cart was empty. Which brings me to another point – make sure the call-to-action brings the consumer back to a working landing page that accurately showcases the correct cart items. Consumers aren’t likely to take the time to refill their carts all over again.
  4. Create urgency. None of the messages I received drove urgency with a limited time offer. This is an especially important tactic if a discount is being offered. Abandoned cart emails are perfect for featuring real-time dynamic content, such as countdown clocks or timers.
  5. Test all of these. There are numerous opportunities for testing with abandoned cart messages, and learning what resonates with your would-be purchasers has a direct impact on revenue. Consider testing the following: a series of messages (as compared to a single message); the use of an incentive or discount; the type of discount, such as a percentage or monetary value; a variety of subject lines, such as listing the cart items, featuring the discount, or creating urgency with a deadline; the time frame and cadence of the messages; and the call-to-action text.

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