Keys to Sending Relevant Browse Abandonment Messages: Part 1

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Cart abandonment emails are some of the most profitable messages you can send because they are relevant, based on real-time data and target those who are already quite far along the purchase path. However, many marketers stop here and fail to consider how consumers actually made it that far to begin with. Think of how many shoppers don’t make it all the way to the cart. What are you doing to reach them and nurture them along to a purchase?

Browse abandonment messages are one of the best ways to help move these shoppers down the purchase funnel and drive additional revenue. When consumers abandon a website without carting products, they leave about halfway through the purchase funnel, as illustrated here:

Purchase Funnel

As seen below, most scheduled, promotional emails drive consumers to one of two points in the funnel, while abandoned cart and/or post-purchase messages target those at the end of the funnel. There remains this opportunity in the middle to drive conversions, but many marketers struggle at this point to consistently send relevant and targeted emails.

Drive Conversions

This is where browse abandonment emails come into play. These messages are designed to drive contacts even further down the funnel, and because they are targeted, they will drive higher metrics than your standard promotional messages.

Building a browse abandonment program can take your standard email program and give it some automated oomph! But before creating abandoned browse messages, there are a few key issues to consider.

Products or Categories?

Do you want to send messages that are specific to product or category? If you send product-specific messages, consider products with attributes such as:

● High margins

● Most viewed

● Most abandoned (may be the same as most viewed)

● High price point / longer sale cycles (think a $4,000 TV or piece of jewelry)

If specific products don’t make sense or are too cumbersome to start with, consider targeting those who abandon a category of products. When selecting categories, consider how niche you want to be:

● Primary category (Men’s/Women’s)

● Secondary level (Men’s shoes, men’s shirts)

● Third level (Men’s dress shoes, men’s flip flops, men’s casual shoes)

Define the Abandon

After deciding how to target the customer, you must determine what qualifies as an abandon. Do you consider the contact an abandoner after a product or category is viewed or when they’ve viewed something multiple times? Is the last product they viewed what you target? What if they viewed multiple products from one category? There is no right or wrong when determining this criteria, but you need to make sure it makes sense for your organization.

Optimize Your Website Sign-up

Without capturing a contact’s email address, you can’t market to them. If you have a pop-up on your website, great. This will go a long way toward capturing new contacts, but don’t forget about your organic sign-up. If a user closes out of the pop-up but later wants to opt in, they shouldn’t have to search hard to do so. Position your sign-up above the fold, where it is easy to find. These contacts are asking for a way to receive messages from you AFTER viewing products, so do your part to help them follow through.

Define Your Site Abandonment Messaging Strategy

Within your overall strategy, there are four items to consider:

Timing: How soon after abandonment do you send messages? Use your cart abandonment as a baseline. Remember, these messages are not quite as timely because consumers are simply browsing, so it won’t make sense to send a message one hour later. Choose a time that seems to make sense, and measure it. Consider sending message one no less than four hours after abandonment. Again, this may depend on what the message includes and the types of products you sell.

Content: I will discuss message content in my next post, but for now, determine whether you are willing to offer incentives. You don’t have to offer an incentive in every message, but it may help determine the number of messages you send.

Number of Messages: Are you planning to send one message or a series of messages? Again, this may depend on the products you sell, but if you are open to offering incentives, consider the same strategy as cart abandonment and test incentivizing later in the series.

Frequency: How often are you willing to send message to contacts after abandonment? Are you comfortable sending messages to contacts once per week if they abandon each week, or do you prefer to limit it to only two messages per month? Analyzing your message metrics will ultimately help you decide, but start where you are comfortable and adapt accordingly.

These will be the primary steps to get you started in crafting your strategy for sending browse abandonment messages. Once these decisions are made, you can start finalizing your message strategy and drafting your emails.

For more information, read part 2 of this series, which discusses message content, key considerations and pitfalls to avoid when sending browse abandonment messages.

  • Most probably, sending browser abandonment emails is the perfect way to destroy your brand image. Many customers will perceive these emails as an extreme impudence…

    • Greg Z

      Thanks for your comment Ivan. As mentioned in my posts, you do need to balance these messages carefully. If done right, the message would appear simply as a well-timed and relevant promotional message. This message would be no different than a regularly scheduled message, which may or may not be relevant to the consumer.

      Seeking relevancy within emails is the same reason companies employ manage preference forms and use segmentation. Knowing I like product X due to browsing the product on the site, checking an interest box, or clicking on an email link really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day the end result is the same. The difference is how the company communicates they know I like product X.

      Using first name personalization or telling me I abandoned the site might give the consumer pause, which reinforces your concern. But a simple, non-intrusive message sent to reinforce that product would simply be viewed as a well-timed message.

      I appreciate your comment and agree that if not done in a way that speaks to your consumers, you can cause more damage than do good. Knowing your audience and studying your strategy will be invaluable.