Browse Abandonment Best Practices: Sending Relevant Messages, Part 2

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.

In our last browse abandonment best practices blog post, we set the stage regarding when to start browse abandonment messaging. In this post, we’ll talk about specific browse abandonment messaging strategies and some additional best practices when sending these messages.

Creating your browse abandonment messages

After defining your browse messaging plan (single/multiple sends), you need to draft the actual message. This is where you should test tone and copy to see which type of message your audience responds to best.

Each audience will respond differently based on how your messages are worded, the products being sold, and the timing.

Consider incorporating one or more of the following themes:

  • Helpful, customer service-oriented.
  • Incentive driven.
  • Sense of urgency (limited quantities, sale ending soon).
  • How-to videos or product resources.
  • Benefit-oriented.
  • Customer reviews/testimonials/top-rated products.
  • Back in stock.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it shows the various ways you can differentiate your messaging. Some of these themes may be dependent on whether you are sending a single message versus a series.

No matter what, having different message layouts and themes is a best practice. This is especially important if you allow contacts to receive more than one message. Here is an example of a two-message series sent one day apart:

Williams-Sonoma example

Some noteworthy things about these email examples:

  • Notice the CTAs in both examples. On the product-specific abandon, they also have a CTA that directs to other products in the category.
  • The category-specific message has a CTA linking to all items on the site. They are allowing me to slowly step back, ensuring the email has value even if the specific focus is not precise enough.
  • The bakeware browse email includes several other suggestions (which make sense) but also highlights the specific product identified in message one. Nice job!

Here’s some additional best practices for browse abandonment messages:

1. Mention products in the subject line

While inserting the actual abandoned product in the subject line sounds like a great idea (and at times it is), if you practice that with every single send, it can reduce the effectiveness of your messages.

Consider this example:

Williams-Sonoma Subject Lines

While the first message might drive the open, the subsequent subject line is identical. From a consumer’s perspective, they may think they know what the email is about even before opening.

This can lessen the likelihood of them opening the second email. Be sure to not only test your browse abandonment subject lines, but also use alternate ones for different messages.

Here is an example of two different category-based browse abandonment emails and how they differ in their subject line approach.

  • Dress Shirt Browse Abandonment Email: Quality is a Click Away
  • Sports Coats & Suits Browse Abandonment Email: Invest in Quality – Shop Suits & Sport Coats

While the subject lines are similar, they are not identical. In fact, the first one is more ambiguous and doesn’t mention the category at all. Someone would not necessarily know these are both browse abandonment messages.

2. Reconsider personalization

I am not typically an advocate of using first name personalization in email, and I would avoid this type of personalization at all costs for these messages.

For starters, it’s just not genuine in this circumstance. The user took no direct action other than visiting your site.

Secondly, it can be creepy or “big brother-ish”.

Remember, people only viewed your site, and in this seemingly always-connected world, people want some assurance of privacy. Browse abandonment messages can be effective and relevant without mentioning contacts by name.

3. Use frequency caps

Setting frequency caps on these messages isn’t just a browse abandonment best practice, it’s a deliverability one. You don’t want to inundate subscribers with email after email and see your unsubscribe rate go up.

While testing will give you the ultimate answer, begin where you are comfortable and see how contacts respond. Otherwise, you provide a negative customer experience .

This applies not only to these messages but promotional messages as well. Remember, these messages are relevant and targeted — if your contacts are receiving browse abandonment messages, be sure to also suppress them from receiving standard marketing messages.

You’ll also want to think about how often subscribers can receive your browse messages. Will it be once per week, one per month, or some other cadence?

4. Limit cross-sells and recommendations

Using cross-sells in your emails can be a great revenue-driving tool. When the consumer identifies a general interest but maybe not a product-specific one, these messages can be a great way to push them further down the purchase funnel.

 

But be sure they make sense based on the message you are viewing.

Look at this example from Best Buy:

Best Buy Recommendations

There are a couple of different things to point out:

  • First, they used first name personalization in the subject line (James, it’s not too late. Still have your eye on this?). I don’t like this, nor did the person who actually received this message (He goes by Jim).
  • And notice the cross-sells. To me, there is a disconnect with the overall message.

This looks like a desperate attempt to try to sell a product… any product! While these recommendations can make sense, it’s a best practice to simply focus on the primary call to action.

5. Don’t set it and forget it

Finally, once your messages are sending, your job is not done. Analyzing these messages is essential!

With so many variables, such as timing, subject lines, message tone, graphics, number of messages, and cross-sells, you need to review message performance.

Watch your unsubscribe rates carefully. Are you being big brother and turning people away, or are you striking the right chord? Be sure to analyze and adapt.

In review

Browse abandonment messages are relevant and can be great revenue drivers. They fill in the everyday email gap between landing on your site and carting products, and they continue to push people further down the purchase funnel.

In addition to the above browse abandonment best practices, when crafting your strategy, be sure to also:

  • Define your products, categories, and abandon criteria.
  • Optimize your signup.
  • Test timing, creative, tone (friendly vs. more assertive) and number of messages.
  • Test cross-sells from the same category of products.
  • Use frequency caps to prevent over-mailing.
  • Use the data to segment your subscribers.

One client who sends category browse abandonment messages sees an 890% lift in revenue per email over regular promotional sends. These messages account for 3% of their yearly email revenue, while accounting for only 0.3% of their email sends.

These results are precisely what you want to see from targeted, lifecycle messages: high revenue and low volume of email sends.

 

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