Pull the Trigger on Abandoned Carts

By Oct 01, 2010

Abandoned-cart e-mail programs — in which you send triggered e-mails to visitors who left your site without purchasing the items they’d placed in their shopping carts — have proved to generate impressive ROI. DVD merchant Movies Unlimited, for instance, earned back its investment within 30 days of implementing its abandoned-cart program, and educational supplies cataloger S&S Worldwide manages to convert one out of every four abandoned carts into a sale thanks to its e-mails.

Here’s some advice on implementing — or improving — your own abandoned-cart trigger campaign:

  • Personalize the messages as much as possible. According to “The Remarketing Report” from Experian CheetahMail, e-mails that referred to the specific items left in the cart by name or with an image had twice the conversion rate as those that merely offered a link back to the abandoned cart.

  • “Add some value” to the follow-up e-mails, advises Ross Kramer, CEO of e-mail services provider Listrak, whose clients include Movies Unlimited. Include ratings and reviews of the abandoned items, if possible, as well as alternative ways to contact you, such as your toll-free phone number.

  • Be sure that your contact center team is aware if you’re going to offer an incentive in the trigger e-mails, such as 10% off. Some people may have abandoned their cart because they encountered problems with the site and subsequently want to complete their purchase via phone.

  • Test your timing. At first, Movies Unlimited sent its initial e-mail 24 hours after the cart was abandoned. It then tested sending that first message one hour after the cart was abandoned vs. six hours after. Although the one-hour e-mail had a higher response than the 24-hour message, the six-hour e-mail had the highest conversion rate according to early analysis of the results.

  • Be certain that your automated program allows you to immediately remove a customer from the message sequencing once he completes his purchase. You don’t want someone who placed an order several days after receiving the initial e-mail to receive the second e-mail in the series.

Got an e-mail tip to share? Contact Sherry Chiger at sherry.chiger@penton.com