Turn Your Browsers Into Buyers

Steven Bradley, Marketing Strategist

Steven Bradley, Marketing Strategist

Wondering how you’ll meet all of those increasing KPIs in the new year? If you haven’t already, add browse recovery to your list of marketing techniques.

Browse recovery emails are automated messages targeted at shoppers on your website who view products but fail to add them to their cart. They basically serve as a little reminder about the abandoned items and hopefully encourage your subscribers to go back to your site to consider them again.

Creepy or Convenient?

Some would say browse recovery emails will upset their customers and keep them from coming back to shop. And I can see their point. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being watched. Just imagine if this process happened in real life. You go to your local hardware store but decide not to check out. Later that day, you receive a call from the store associate saying, “Hey! I noticed that earlier you were looking at a shovel, some light bulbs and an extension cord. Can we help you at all?” While the associate may be very friendly, you’d still likely be a little freaked out and wary of your privacy and security. How did he know what I was shopping for? Who was watching me?

Some of your subscribers may feel the same about browse recovery emails, too, but others have come to almost expect them as a part of the whole online shopping experience. In reviewing a majority of the large brands I work with, I noted that complaints for browse recovery messages are extremely low. For some brands, the numbers were even lower than what they receive for non-segmented blast messages. Many customers now prefer a very personalized experience and appreciate such emails, some even using them to bookmark sites and products they’ve recently viewed. But for those who don’t, they can always opt out.

Getting it Right

There are many reasons why a shopper doesn’t add items to a cart: running out of time, viewing other websites or simply moving on to other tasks. But no matter the reason, it’s important to keep your brand top of mind for these subscribers, particularly those that haven’t yet purchased from you. And sending a triggered browse recovery message can help do just that.

The first browse recovery email should be sent soon after the shopper has finished browsing. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to find the product at another website or change their mind altogether. And if you opt for a browse recovery series, be sure to test the timing of your follow-up emails. To start, I recommend spacing them 24 hours apart, beginning the day after the shopper started browsing your website. You can also throttle the automation to only allow sending again after 30 days or not send a “send trigger” rule for a period of time such as 60 days. This helps with fatigue.

Setting Your Triggers

Think about the products you sell and the typical buying behavior of your customers as you create your browse recovery strategy. There are a variety of triggers you can use to generate personalized messages for shoppers.

Perhaps you want to trigger a message that captures the items a shopper viewed most recently. These types of messages are the most relevant to shoppers and tend to give the best ROI. Or you might consider triggering your message when a browser reaches a particular threshold. For example, they viewed a product or a product category so many times within a certain time period. The more often the shopper visits the product page or category, the more quickly the email is triggered.

No matter your strategy, be sure to upload your full product catalog so you can personalize your messages appropriately. And be sure to keep the products on your ecommerce site up-to-date and assign unique photos to each SKU. Doing this work ahead of time and monitoring it regularly will be key components of finding success with browse recovery.

Take the example of Brooks Sports. The athletic gear company sent a product-specific message to shoppers that included a photo of the browsed item. Their results: a 61% open rate, 24% click rate and 7% conversion rate with revenue of $1.44 per email. And when floor company TTI implemented browse recovery messages to increase engagement and conversions, one of their messages saw an open rate 150% higher than standard messages with a 60% higher conversion rate. These messages can really reach those customers on the edge of buying and help them over the line.

Even though browse recovery, and other similar campaigns, tend to generate a higher ROI, it’s important not to overdo it with personalization. Keep the message design simple, on brand and to the point. Limit it to a bit of snappy copy and a catchy subject line, and let your products do the rest.

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