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For Those Who Abandon Shopping Carts


Tell the truth. Have you abandoned a shopping cart this week? I’m not talking about the people who leave actual carts in the middle of the parking lot when there’s a corral two feet away. (Though they annoy me, too.) I’m talking about the 70% of shoppers who load items into a virtual cart on a website only to walk away without buying anything.

We all do it. Ironically, I was going to do it today simply to see if the online store I was buying from would offer me an incentive to come back and finish. I decided not to count on it and it’s a good thing. According to an article on eMarketer, only 35% of marketers send out a remarketing email to people who showed an interest but didn’t follow through. Odds are the small site I was buying from wasn’t part of that 35% but they might be in the future.

A survey by SeeWhy says the use of remarketing emails will more than double in the next year. They also show a slight increase in the use of remarketing advertising but the numbers there and for phone marketing are still pretty low.

The remarketing email, though, is a no-brainer. All it needs to be is a canned response — hi, we see you left some items in the shopping cart — with an incentive to return. Free shipping or a 15% coupon code would be enough to entice me back and I believe I’m a typical online shopper.

I don’t have a study at my fingertips, but I would bet that the reason most people don’t follow through on a purchase is because of the bottom line. Take the order I placed today. As I added items to the cart, my shipping cost remained at $4.50 which meant it was advantageous to add more items until I hit the next level, which I assumed to be a $50 sale. But then, when I went to check-out, the site pulled a switcheroo and said the $4.50 shipping was only for media mail and since I had t-shirts in addition to a cd (and mind you the t-shirts were in the cart first) I had to pay $10.00 shipping. Suddenly my bottom line went from 44.95 to 50.00 and even though that’s not a big jump, visually 50.00 felt like a lot more and I almost walked away.

Imagine that I had abandoned the cart, then, a half hour later, received an email saying they’d take 10% off my order if I returned. I’d click that link in a second. Without the email, that would have been a sale lost.

Do you use remarketing emails for your business? If not, what’s stopping you, because that’s money left on the table.

  • http://www.Twitter.com/SearchBuzz Michael Buonomo

    I love this idea…..one of my concerns would be programming your repeat customers to abandon their carts knowing they will probably get a better deal with the re-marketing email?

    This is an issue some e-comm sites deal with when the consistently run end of month promotions striving to hit projections.

    You start to train your audience base to wait for the best deals, or the free shipping promotions that are sure to come the last two weeks of the month.

    What are your thoughts on those two facts of life in the crazy mixed up world of E-Commerce? :-)

    Nice post – I will share this with my email marketing division.

    • http://www.redeye.com Garry Lee

      Very good point Michael.
      This is something we at http://www.redeye.com have been working on for a few years now and we’ve found that adding more intelligence to the program overall is the answer. By this I mean actually segmenting your serial abandoner’s from the one off people.

      This gives you a couple of options (a) to not send emails to these people (b) to send them very different messages.
      It’s not too difficult and can add massive value to this sort of program

  • http://merchantstand.com Bob Williams

    I agree with Michael. You have to be careful with this because you’ll train customers to never order again with a discount. The same issue exists with promotion/coupon code boxes at the end of checkout. Customers will stop to go and look for a coupon code. Perhaps a better alternative would be to give the customer a message something like “We are sorry to see you go. We’ll keep your shopping cart filled with your selections ….. .” Let them know that you’ll save their cart contents and hope to see them back.

    Earn your customers on product/service differentiators and avoid the price war which erodes your margins.