What are abandoned basket emails and how can marketers use them?

Abandoned basket syndrome is alive and well. With so much of retail now taking place online, when consumers come nail-bitingly close to making a purchase, and yet still choose to abandon their baskets, it can be infuriating for marketers. It plays havoc with lead generation, insight analysis and leaves many a manager exclaiming, but what went wrong?!

Why do consumers leave?

This time last year, we wrote about how marketers could better understand why customers choose to abandon their would-be purchases at the last minute. We noted that there can be a wide variety of reasons for the habit, including suffering technical problems, feeling that the final price is too high or simply treating their basket as part of their online shopping method by using it as a ‘wish list’ or way to keep track on the cost of spending.

Worse still, it seems that the trend is not only prevalent but is in fact becoming more acute. Innovation and technology commentators TechWorld recently reported that the average shopping cart abandonment rate was at 69 percent as of January 2016, up from 65 percent in 2012, with it being calculated that this costs retailers $4 trillion a year.

Have you heard about abandoned basket emails?

Although there are many ways marketers can tackle consumer indecision and reluctance to part with their money, one way many commentators have discussed in recent months is the use of abandoned basket emails.

In many ways doing what it says on the tin, an abandoned basket email is an automatic email sent to the shopper after they have abandoned their basket, in the hope that they will be drawn back to the brand’s website to complete their purchase. Sounds simple, right?

But if the answer to abandoned baskets is so simple, why aren’t more brands incorporating these emails into their customer management strategy and seeking to capitalise on the benefits it can bring?

Three tips for crafting abandoned basket emails

As with any element of marketing strategy, crafting the perfect abandoned basket email takes time, testing and a dash of creativity. With their efficacy proven to lead to sales, here are our top three tips for getting started;

1) Think about your subject line

The first thing your customer is going to read from your abandoned basket email is the subject line. It could even be the difference between your email landing in the top of their inbox and being lost among the unloved world of junk email.

Econsultancy suggests that being absolutely clear with your email subject line is vital. It is argued that marketers should ‘let the visitor know exactly why they are being retargeted, therefore increasing the chance it won’t be ignored.’

2) Timing is everything

While it may sound obvious, making sure your email is timed well and includes a clear call to action is extremely important.

Essential Retail, the brainchild of London’s annual Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE), argues that since many shoppers abandon their baskets with the intention of making the purchase at a later date, timing your email right can work wonders.

Speaking to Made.com’s Annabel Kilner about the email strategy of the company, she said ‘these timed emails [are sent] to the customer after one hour, one day and a week, [and] not only is average order value almost double that of our standard emails, but conversion rate is a very pleasing 8%.’

3) Send more than one

As Made.com’s strategy indicates, sending more than one follow up email is not only acceptable but encouraged.

A recent article by Mobile Marketing Watch pointed to research carried out by Experian, which found that those who received multiple abandoned shopping basket emails were 2.4 times more likely to complete a transaction than customers who received only one.

PR Newswire reported on the same research, saying that although many brands are hesitant to send multiple emails for fear of bombarding their customers, this can be countered by testing a number of strategies and then tailoring your campaign to the response rates of the consumer.

With the right timing and a simple call to action, abandoned basket email campaigns could be just the trick brands need to keep customers interested and coming back to buy. As TechWorld somewhat humorously points out:

‘imagine [online shopping] was a store or supermarket. One hundred people walk in, fill their baskets, then 69 walk out and leave. A store owner would have to rightly assume they had a serious problem.’

The underlying message is a sound one; tackling basket abandonment is necessary for marketers, and is a strategy investment worth making to tackle the growing challenge facing online sales.

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