Browse Abandonment Best Practices: Sending Relevant 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 already far along the purchase path. However, many marketers 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?

Why you need a browse abandonment email series

Browse abandonment messages are one of the best ways to 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 seen in the graphic 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’s an opportunity in the middle of the purchase funnel 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. When you follow best practices, they drive contacts even further down the funnel — and because they’re targeted, they drive higher metrics than your standard promotional messages.

Building a browse abandonment program can take your standard email program, but before creating your series, there are key browse abandonment best practices to follow.

Decide what you want to focus on: product or category

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

  • 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 when a browser abandons

After deciding how to target the customer, you must determine what qualifies as an abandon.

Do you consider the contact abandoned after a product or category is viewed, or when they’ve viewed something multiple times? Do you target the last product they viewed? What if they viewed multiple products from one category?

There isn’t a singular browse abandonment best practice for determining this criterion, but you need to make sure it makes sense for your organization.

Optimize your website sign-up

You can’t market to a potential customer if you don’t have their email address.

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 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 crucial browse abandonment best practices 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 one message 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 browse abandonment messages? Again, this may depend on the products you sell, but if you are open to offering incentives, consider testing them later in the series.

Frequency: How often are you willing to send emails to contacts after abandonment? Are you comfortable sending messages to contacts once per week if they abandon each week, or do you prefer only two messages per month?

Go at your own pace and test

Analyzing your message metrics will ultimately help you decide, but start where you are comfortable and adapt accordingly.

These are 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 two of this series, which discusses more browse abandonment best practices, key considerations about subject lines, and even some browse abandonment email examples.


2 Responses to “Browse Abandonment Best Practices: Sending Relevant Messages, Part 1”

  1. Avatar

    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
      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.