Bring Back the Revenue

Waynette Tubbs

Why do your online shoppers load up their shopping carts and then leave without so much as a goodbye? Should you be worried? No. It’s actually a great opportunity for commerce marketers!

Recent research has found that cart abandoners haven’t necessarily decided they no longer want the products. Some likely left temporarily because they got distracted, and others may simply be planning to buy later using another device. Whatever the reason, there are steps you can take to get them back to the cart to complete a purchase – sooner rather than later.

Frederique MeijerAt City Tour Los Angeles, attendees heard about how the Johnny Was brand began addressing this very issue in 2013 when they brought on Frederique Meijer as their E-Commerce Marketing Manager. Although the site had only been live for about a year, they felt there were improvements they could make to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

“In the redesign, we went for a more streamlined look that showcased our beautiful images and clothing,” Meijer said.

But pretty pictures don’t stop people from deserting their carts, so Meijer went to work on the features that do.

Optimize to Reduce Abandonment

As a starting point, Johnny Was focused on two pages: the cart and the checkout. They made several enhancements, including:

  • Making customer service contact information and the live chat link more prominent.
  • Clearly displaying the returns and exchange policy.
  • Quickly giving the shopper a cart total to reduce sticker shock.
  • Adding a box to the cart page for promo codes, so shoppers learn early on if their code is valid.

In addition to these enhancements, the team also began testing their site. Meijer was shocked to learn how many steps a shopper had to take to reset a forgotten password – so many steps, in fact, that some shoppers abandoned right there. Shoppers were also required to sign in or create an account in order to check out.

One of the first changes Johnny Was made was to remove the mandatory sign-in or registration process, offering it as an option rather than requiring it. They also reduced their checkout process to a single page and added a status bar to help shoppers see their progress.

These changes reduced their overall abandonment rate by 17%.

Compel Shoppers to Return to the Cart

Meijer said marketers should look at shopping cart abandonment as an opportunity.

“These people came to your site, they looked around, and they selected a color and a size and put it in the cart, “ she said. “Shoppers give you all the information you need to retarget them and get them back to the cart, so use that information to craft a good cart recovery email.”

But the one piece of information you can’t get from a shopper’s cart behavior is why they didn’t buy. Meijer believes there are four general reasons, and each one requires a different tone in the retargeting message. Here’s what she suggests:

Abandoned Cart Email ToneMeijer said that for the initial Johnny Was cart recovery email sends, they operated under the assumption that the majority of abandoners were distracted or had a technical issue or product question. So they decided to send a gentle reminder email that included prominent links to customer service and a touch of urgency. They also personalized the message with a picture of the items the shopper left in the cart.

Johnny Was email

“For the call to action, consider whether you want to link back to the cart or the products,” Meijer said. “We link back to the cart because we want to get people back into checkout mode ASAP, but if they click on the product image, they can also go directly to the product page.”

Once they decided what to include in the body of the email, they got to work on the subject line. “We want to make sure shoppers know that it’s coming from Johnny Was,” she explained. “This is also a good place to personalize, whether it’s with the person’s name or the product they abandoned.”

Next decision – how soon to send after abandon. “For us, under an hour works. One thing to keep in mind is your site construction – make sure the cart won’t expire too soon after sending the email,” Meijer explained. Johnny Was is now sending the email 45 minutes after the cart is abandoned.

Results of the cart recovery email are astounding. The email open rate is around 57%, click-through rate is 40% and conversion rate is 17.5%. Their open rate for other promotional emails is around 30-35%.

“That email accounts for about 2% of our email traffic, but about 10.4% of our email-generated revenue. As email marketers, these are numbers you just dream about,” says Meijer.

Looking Toward the Future

This kind of success is addictive, and Meijer has plans for more. She plans to do more in-depth testing on timing and the subject line, and build out an abandoned cart series.

In addition, she’d like to test other optimizations to the cart recovery email, such as including positive customer reviews, similar product recommendations and a low-stock indicator. She’d also like to experiment with a more urgent message that includes a countdown to cart expiration or shipping deadlines. And she’s thinking of including the cart total within the email.

“The success of this simple email really got everybody excited.”

Want to learn more about the best and brightest in commerce marketing? If you’re in Australia, join us for the final stop of the Bronto City Tour on November 16. And keep checking the blog for more posts from this thought leadership series. In the meantime, you can find a collection of recently published Q&As with our esteemed City Tour speakers here.


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