August 26, 2011

Push Clickers Across the Conversion Finish Line

by Jim Davidson, Head of Research

Last week we looked at strategies for openers who are not clicking.  Hopefully you have had a chance to put some of the ideas into practice.  If so, let us know how what worked for you!

To recap, I outlined a 15 minute exercise to increase engagement in a previous post with the goal of looking at your subscribers across varying levels of engagement and recency.

We are going one step deeper into the purchase funnel today to get those "clickers who are not purchasing" to convert.

Let’s get to segmenting.  You could be in a few different situations where your "clickers who have not purchased" population is growing.  Two very typical scenarios are:

  • Limited Time Offers: Sending multi-day promotions, one-day sales, and other limited time offers usually work well.  How can you maximize revenue by focusing on the highly engaged customer who clicks but does not convert?
  • Ongoing Engagement: Perhaps you have been experiencing an ongoing decline in click-to-conversion.  What practices can you put into place to make sure you are speaking to these subscribers in a way that will push to conversion?

Many tactics will work for both segments but I will break out a few specifics too.

Segmentation

Limited Time Offers: Your approach should be to segment throughout the entire series focusing on levels of engagement along the way.  For this particular post, focusing on the clickers who have not purchased could fall into a couple categories.  If you are running a multiple day sale, start segmenting out the clickers who have not purchased after the first send.  Begin to monitor the conversion rate throughout the duration of the promotion to get benchmarks of how people convert and use that data to anticipate trends for future multiple day promotions.  For more limited time offers such as a one-day sale, be prepared to segment out this group later in the day for a last minute push.

Ongoing Engagement: Following the logic outlined in my previous post, determine a window of time that factors in your mailing frequency i.e. Subscribers who have clicked but not purchased within X days.

Creative

Limited Time Offers: One common mistake is to send the same creative for multiple day sends and limited time promotions.  This is usually blamed on lack of design and production resources.  Convincing your various teams to get onboard with testing creative specifically designed for this set could demonstrate the return for the additional effort.  Remember, these subscribers have opened and clicked in multiple messages.  Seeing some shift in the format, composition, featured products, model shots, etc… can work to reignite engagement and sustain the engaged customer through the end of the promotion.  Here is an example from Aeropostale where the email creative varied throughout the promotion:

Aeropostale email

Ongoing Engagement: Review your promotional calendar and communication plan to determine which messages could benefit from an email creative specifically targeted toward pushing these engaged subscriber across the conversion finish line.  Think of the email creative as the voice to the clicker that should speak directly to the conversion process.  This could be as simple as a change in tone in the copy or visual cues that reflect steps of the carting or purchasing process since the customer will likely have been exposed to this section of your site.  This Vera Bradley email creative could work for various segments but they used the subject line to really put the recipient into thinking about checkout.

Subject Line:

Checkout today for $5 shipping!

Vera Bradley email

Call-to-Action

Limited Time Offers: An overall best practice is to make sure you are factoring in urgency throughout the promotion.  Reiterate the amount of time left and hit the “last day” factor hard in both your subject line and the body of the email.  When it comes to our clickers who have not purchased, we can go the extra mile and send a “final hours” email.  Overmailing your entire population could result in increased unsubscription rates and abuse complaints, so make sure you are factoring in how many times people will have been mailed the particular offer.  If the offer is off a total purchase, reinforce “X% off your entire cart” to keep subscribers thinking about clicking “submit your order.”

Ongoing Engagement: Hopefully strategically planning out when this group will be mailed in your communication plan will help you to retain design and production resources to fully maximize messaging clickers who have not purchased.  Many of the tactics from the section above can be carried over especially featuring the expiration of the offer and using language related to carting and submitting an order.  Engagement is high with this group. We can assume that there is a high probability that they will be clicking through so test limiting how many products are shown in an email.  Giving everything away in the email could replace the actual shopping experience and potentially discourage the click.

Remailing

Limited Time Offers: If you are currently sending a message stream like “starts today,” “1 day left,” “ends today” then be careful about injecting additional messages into the mix for your entire list.  As mentioned above, this could lead to some negative reactions from subscribers and could also result in a poor reception to future mailings.  However, adding a remail touting the "final hours" could help you garner some additional revenue for an under performing promotion.  If you are not sending messages reminding people of the promotional timeline, definitely start doing so!

Ongoing Engagement: If you don’t have the chance to plan out these targeted messages or if you want to get started right away, then hope is not lost.  Remailing to subscribers based on levels of engagement can lead to additional revenue gains.  You can use the subject line to speak more directly to the clicker who has not purchased.  A few approaches could be to feature your vast selection or products, simple check out process, and even testing a mention of your easy return policy.  This has been shown to be effective and not increase the number of returns. If you can’t change the email creative, you can leverage the copy of the email to extend the purchase completion dialog.

Have you implemented any of these ideas?  Let me know what has worked for you!

Jim Davidson
Manager of Strategic Services at Bronto

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Jim Davidson, Head of Research

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Comments

Thanks, Jim. This 3-part series was a great overview of how to help already-engaged people through the sales funnel.
We find that a lot of small businesses have limited resources in the creative marketing area and so do not implement these targeted email practices. But even a small difference/push can make a big difference! For small one-man shops we sometimes suggest a simple change of the subject line for non-openers; and then a re-send. Not so much a "split test" as a back-up plan. Then we can usually can get a few more openers (resulting in clicks) by the end of the campaign.

Hi Jen! I agree a small change can make a big difference. There are several strategies you can try to push these subscribers along the way to conversion that require little to no effort from your creative team. Here are a couple ideas:

-Modify your pre-header text: This text will be seen in the inbox preview for many email clients and can work to convey additional messaging about your offer, featured products, and expiration dates.
-Ask your creative team to use plain text copy where possible rather than text in images for areas that you may want to modify. You may already have some areas that have plain text copy and can be changed as you wish. This way you can change your message without having to change your design!

Remember, one key way to get additional creative resources is to prove that you are gaining additional revenue even with minor changes. These can be great first steps!

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