Cart Abandonment Emails: Big brother marketing or an essential part of your mix?
58% of people said they abandon because shipping costs increased the price too much. 57% said they wanted to get an idea of the price including shipping. 55% said they weren’t ready to purchase and wanted to save the basket for later! 50% said their order didn’t qualify for free shipping and 37% complained shipping costs were shown too late in the process.
I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to email marketing managers who have said something along the lines of…”I’m not sure we should be sending basket abandonment emails, it feels a bit Big Brother to me” and the look of terror when I suggest that, not only should they be sending basket abandonment emails, but, where possible, sending browse abandonment emails as well. If you are a bricks and mortar retailer and someone walks into one of your outlets, picks up and looks at the same item say three or four times then you would expect your sales staff to engage them in a conversation about the product and attempt to sell it to them. Well, the truth is, your website is your online shop so why would you treat your customers differently online than you do offline?
So let’s take a look at basket abandonment first. In their June 2014 report on “Abandoning shopping cart” BI Intelligence discovered 58% of people said they abandon because shipping costs increased the price too much. 57% said they wanted to get an idea of the price including shipping. 55% said they weren’t ready to purchase and wanted to save the basket for later! 50% said their order didn’t qualify for free shipping and 37% complained shipping costs were shown too late in the process.
It’s clear that a well timed basket abandonment email with a free shipping offer is likely to have a dramatic impact on conversions and bottom line revenues and basket abandonment emails make sense, rather than be “Big Brotherish” after all.
So how many people abandon baskets? The statistics from your eCommerce partner or software will give you an idea of how many baskets are abandoned on your site, but in December 2014, the Baymard Institute pulled together the basket abandonment statistics from 29 of the major players in this space and then calculated the mean average to give as close to an industry statistic as I have seen. Cue drum roll…the mean average of documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.07%. So more than two thirds of people abandon baskets on your site.
In the Econsultancy article, of the nine case studies and infographics on cart abandonment and email retargeting, the one that really caught my eye was smileycookie.com where, over the course of three basket abandonment emails they received a 29% recovery. The first email was sent immediately with a “Oops! we hope nothing went wrong with your checkout process”. The second email was sent 23 hours later and offered a 10% discount and the third a further 4 days later, when you would expect a FMCG product like cookies to no longer have any traction, a third email offering a 20% discount is sent.
Here are the average metrics for each of the emails:
- Open Rate: 54%
- CTR: 28%
- Open Rate: 50%
- CTR: 16%
- Open Rate: 23%
- CTR: 6%
Smileycookie.com not only increased their sales and revenues but if you look at their open rates for these three mailings they also created a strong branding effect with 50% plus opens on two of the emails and 23% on the third.
Interestingly the steep drop off in open rate between emails two and three supports the evidence of my research that the optimum number of emails to send in a basket abandonment series is three. My research also suggests that most email marketers only send one - if indeed they send any at all.
One of the key challenges marketers face when sending basket abandonment emails is how to you recognise the user. How do you know the email address of the person who left something in the basket? Well, there are a number of ways to get the email address in order to trigger the email. If your site makes the user log in before getting to the basket element then you can use that information to send to your email system. If part of the checkout process involves the user giving you their email address this can also be used but it has it’s restrictions; very often the product is in the basket and the transaction abandoned before the email address has been captured. We have one client who is suffering from this at the moment and we are working with them to restructure the way the basket process works. Thirdly, if your traffic is arriving site side from your bulk email marketing you can pass the email into the site tracking by adding it to the link string and, at the point of abandonment, use that to send your request to the email system to generate the email.
Finally, if you are using someone for your basket abandonment they will have a system and process which effectively remembers your visitors from session to session so there is no need for them to add their email address site side for you to be able to trigger your basket abandonment email. This effective way of recognising the user allows for the greatest number of people to be remembered and for the greatest number of basket abandonment emails to be sent.
It is also this technique which allows for browse abandonment. Now browse abandonment is an even less understood and undertaken type of automated email which has very few statistics available with which to wow you. However, if it is accepted that basket abandonment works then it’s a very small leap of faith to suggest browse abandonment will also work. Although I have little evidence to support my arguments I do have logic on my side. In their infographic on browse abandonment, Fresh Relevance, suggest that 8% of site visitors put something in their basket and then abandon but 39% of site visitors look at specific products but don’t actually basket them. That is 5 times the opportunity that basket abandonment gives you. Now I will accept that conversions will be much lower than that achieved by basket abandons but if you believe the numbers collected by Fresh Relevance the sales uplift of combining basket and browse abandonment per £1m of turnover is £102k of which £30k of this is derived from browse abandonment.
The ship has sailed for you to become an early adopter of basket abandonment emails as they have been in the mainstream for some time. However, what you can do is hone your strategy by understanding exactly what drives people to buy or abandon your baskets and there is still time for you to be a pioneer in the browse abandonment space.
Quite an interesting post Mike! Relished reading it out. It is quintessential to identify the trigger as you mentioned that led the customer to abandon the cart. Only once it is identified, they could be touch based with right email offer. I second to the stats about late display of shipping charges. Prospects or customers feel there is some kind of marketing chicanery involved as shipping charges are hidden or deliberately shown at the end. A transparent and easy checkout follow by right behavioral targeting might help, thoughts?