May 10, 2012

Bring Them Back to Purchase: Tactics to Reduce Cart Abandonment

by Kellie Boggs, Marketing Strategist

We just completed our third annual Bronto Summit that brought together top leading marketers.  If you aren’t familiar with the Bronto Summit, it’s a three-day conference that allows our Bronto clients to get together and expand their email marketing knowledge.  There were many hot topics at the Summit this year, but the one that is top of mind is Shopping Cart Abandonment.

Did you know that 60-70% of carts are abandoned? 

That's right, according to a new Bronto whitepaper From Abandon to Conversion, Forrester Research and MarketingSherpa reported abandonment rates of 55% and 52% respectively. SeeWhy and Fireclick show abandonment rates hovering around 72%.  With abandonment being a major issue for retailers and commerce marketers, we want to take some time to review some of the ways that you can combat abandonment by bringing back customers to buy.  If you're seeing a high abandonment number, don't fret!   SeeWhy, a company that specializes in shopping cart recovery says abandonment is often a precursor to conversion. People don’t convert because of either

  1. Price
  2. They aren’t ready.

So, sending a reminder to folks that they've left something in their shopping cart is a super smart idea.

The next thing you are probably asking yourself is okay so why do visitors abandon?  What can I do about it?  What should I be watching out for?  

These are all great questions, read on to hear what the Bronto Marketing Strategy team recommends.  

Kestrel LemenKestrel Lemen:  For me the abandoned shopping cart message that has the look and feel of a check out page is the most effective.  I'm a big believer in making the user experience to conversion as quick and easy as possible.  By setting up the abandoned shopping cart message to have the items left in the cart with the total and a CTA that denotes "complete my checkout" makes perfect sense.  If you have a recommendation engine you could also add in "other products you may like" as cross sells and up sells for the message. 

Emily KeyeEmily Keye:  Abandon cart messages can be one of the highest revenue driving emails that a marketer can send.  Ideally, you'd trigger this first message within 24 hours of the cart being abandoned and populate the message with the product images, names, prices, etc. of the items left in the cart.  As Kestrel mentioned, you should also make it ridiculously easy for shoppers to complete their purchase.  In other words, link directly back to their abandoned cart.  Make sure that you're including the benefits of why someone should purchase from you.  Highlighting things like: your award winning customer service team, the awesome return policy you have and your satisfaction guarantee.  I would also recommend creating a sense of urgency in this message.  Let the recipient know that their items are being held and their cart will expire in 10 days.  This will also give you the opportunity to follow up with additional messages and create an abandon cart series. 

Once you have an abandon cart message set up, you'll need to continue to test and optimize.  You'll want to test the timing of the message/series.  You'll need to test if the message/series performs better with discounts or without.  You'll want to test the content of the message itself.  Is it better to take a friendly, helpful approach, or should you just be very direct and to the point? 

Fawn YoungFawn Young:  I'd say it's very important to test the timing of your abandon cart messages.  I've seen messages within the first 24 hours work great for some clients while others need to allow a couple of days before triggering the message.  I recently abandoned cart at Old Navy and they didn't trigger the abandon cart message until almost a week later.  By that point I had already made my purchases elsewhere.  If they had triggered it within the first 24-48 hours they would have been very likely to get that revenue from me.  So, in order to find the timing that works best for your abandon cart message- test, test, test!  

Anna PfeifferAnna Pfeiffer:  I'll simply lay out what I've seen with my clients as the most "typically" successful abandoned cart series.  Not to say that this is a one-size-fits all solution by any means, but it has typically performed well for the majority of clients who have tested it. 

In this series, the first message is sent out within 12-24 hours of the initial cart abandonment. As Kestrel said, it would be designed in a way that mimics the checkout page and makes completing the order very clear and simple. I typically suggest that this message not contain any offer but instead presents itself as more of a friendly reminder and service to the customer by emphasizing the fact that they are saving the items for them. To determine the timing, you should look at the average time between abandonment and purchase for those who have not been subject to any abandoned cart messages. This will give you a good idea of when to trigger the first message. Fawn pointed out that the timing is crucial!

Then, in the second message, sent 3 days after abandonment, I suggest again detailing the order information as Emily mentioned.  Couple the summary with an incentive this time and also include cross sell & upsell products.  I prefer not including incentives in the first message so as not to distract from the main CTA of completing the initial order.  However, I think the second message is a good time to include this, especially since you are providing an offer, which makes it more worthwhile to purchase.

For the third and final message, which would go out 5 days after abandonment, it's all about creating a sense of urgency!  You need to stress that the offer, as well as the cart itself, will expire soon, and give them 1-3 days to redeem.  If possible, throw in an additional incentive by upping the ante with free shipping.  I've seen this really make the difference between getting the conversion or not on the final abandoned cart message.

It should go without saying but just as a reminder, make sure that you're checking for conversions between each message in this series and suppressing subscribers who have purchased!

Greg ZakowiczGreg Zakowicz:  I agree with the rest when they say testing is key.  You need to find what works best for your audience. Remember, abandonment is a sign of intent.  Be sure to capitalize upon this intent.  Additionally, if you offer an incentive be sure you have a method that excludes those who have already received a discount for a previous abandoned cart.  You may want to limit this to one coupon every couple of months in order to avoid abuse.


The strategists make a lot of great points here and I hope you feel like you can now tackle shopping cart abandonment.  For more tips on this topic, check out Emily’s blog post on 4 Ways to Drive Revenue Through Retargeting, which includes abandon cart tactics.  SeeWhy research shows that with no remarketing only an average of 8% of consumers will return to buy, but with remarketing 2 to 3 times more abandoners will purchase.  This equates to one in four customers returning to make a purchase.  So, what’s stopping you?  Follow the strategists advice & take advantage of this huge revenue driver!

Kellie Boggs
Marketing Strategist at Bronto


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Kellie Boggs, Marketing Strategist

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