Battle Browse Abandonment: Be a Virtual Concierge

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Visualize your brand’s purchase path. Where do customers enter your website? How do they interact with it? Are they making a purchase or not? It’s important to hold their hand and guide them each step of the way, which can be difficult when you’re trying to guess what they need or want at any given time.

To really connect with your customers and offer them the most relevant information at the right time, you have to take cues from their behaviors, their interactions with your site and response to your emails. Based on that information, you can create automated browse abandonment triggers to target your audience and help them move successfully through the sales funnel.

When you see shoppers abandon their cart at the shipping page, it’s safe to assume that a free shipping offer sent via an abandoned cart triggered email may be just the incentive they need to complete their purchase. But when users abandon at the category or product page level, it can be more difficult to determine what it will take to move them along.

While you may not have a clear-cut answer as to why a shopper left your site, you can still design an effective browse abandonment email program to encourage a return to purchase. Be sure to consider these best practices:

Don’t Wait Too Long

Depending on your products or product line, your customers may have a shorter or longer time-to-buy, from first consideration to finalized purchase. A good rule of thumb would be to target a user with their first browse abandonment message 24-48 hours after abandonment. Be sure to get a strong message in front of them at the right time. Depending on their browse behavior, it may be the first or only message, so don’t miss this critical window.

Don’t Be Creepy

It can be hard to hide the fact that you’ve been “watching” your customers, but you want to avoid making them feel stalked or intruded upon. If you have a specifically savvy, quirky audience, you may want to call it out in a comical way. Retailers Moosejaw and Urban Outfitters do a great job with this. Or you can speak to it subtly, as seen in the West Elm email below, in a way that seems helpful, not invasive.

West Elm example

You may also try to avoid the “creepy” vibe by using phrases such as “Items you may like” instead of “Items you recently viewed” in your message, giving it more of a traditional promotional feel. In this case, mix up the recommendations with other similar products that they may not have viewed.

Provide Content That’s Helpful

While you certainly want to work toward getting the right products in front of the customer, you should also focus on where they are in the buying cycle. At this point, prior to carting an item, the shopper is on the fence, or just window-shopping if you will. Think about your own experience. If you were browsing shoes at a shoe store and the salesperson began showing you many different kinds of shoes, or just continued presenting you with the same shoe again and again, would you find that helpful in making your decision? Or would you rather hear about how, despite the higher price, the shoes are pure leather, waterproof, come with a lifetime guarantee and can be returned free of charge anytime within the next 90 days?

Highlighting the benefits of a product, why it stands out and how your great customer service makes for a frustration-free experience is what the customer most likely needs to hear to make them more confident in their purchase. That’s what turns a window-shopper into a buyer. Try the approach of pointing out the value before offering discounts. You might find that you don’t even need them.

Use Multiple Touchpoints

Depending on the behavior, you may want to focus a series of messages on one particular event. For example, the shopper views a single product six times within a 14-day period. Trigger an initial message within 24 hours that focuses on that product and its benefits, and then follow up with additional content two days later, and perhaps another message at the five to seven-day mark.

You might also take a combined approach that includes a few different messages with different triggers. Perhaps the initial message focuses on the most viewed product, while the second and third focus on other products within the same category, possibly paired with an offer. Whatever the case, make sure to get the right products in front of them multiple times. You can typically do this dynamically, with only minor changes in creative.

Follow Standard Email Design Best Practices

As with any new messaging, be sure to optimize your emails for mobile and follow general guidelines for email design best practices. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve segmented or how great your offer is if your subscribers won’t read the message.

Follow these strategies to help your customers find what they’re looking for and encourage them to follow through with that next purchase. Once you’ve established an effective browse abandonment program, continue to test and iterate on your approach, and watch the conversions roll in.

For more on this topic, check out The Definitive Guide to Browse Recovery.