5 Ways to Improve Response Rates from Basket Abandonment Emails

By Matthew Kelleher

Special to the eTail Blog

During a recent webinar, a question was posed that I thought was worth a second look:

When using an abandonment program, sending a discount to encourage a purchase may not necessarily be a good idea. So what would be a good hook to get their interest piqued again?

This brings up yet another subject: the inevitable decline in response rates for basket abandonment emails. Some argue against this, but I would say it is inevitable. I consider basket abandonment emails just another product that will inevitably follow the same path as any other product, as illustrated in the classic graph below.Untitled

So, what can you do to ensure that your results do not decline?

1. Pay Attention to the Basics. Make sure you have got the basics right. Does your basket abandonment email include the products from the basket? Does the email link straight back to the saved basket? Are you using standard personalization (e.g. Dear Matthew)? Honestly, you’d be surprised how many mailers don’t, or aren’t able, to do this. If you fall into the former, then seriously, get another supplier, you will double conversion rates.

2. Optimize. This could easily fall into the basics. Getting the basics right has to do with set-up, while optimizing your basket abandonment emails is post set-up and ongoing. An untended basket abandonment email will not be successful mainly because your best customers, intrigued by the first one, will simply get used to receiving them. So what constitutes behavioral email optimization? Well, start by testing the subject line, time sent, copy, and creative, to get the best performance. I believe testing is even more valuable with trigger and behavioral emails, because the findings will benefit you for months to come.

3. Expand Your Program. Another very simple way to improve conversion rates is to send one, sometimes two follow-ups. Working on the basis that 50% of the recipients won’t open the email, and approximately only 5% will go on to purchase, a cleverly crafted follow-up should achieve 40% of the performance of the initial send. But I emphasize “cleverly crafted.” Don’t repeat the same email to people who have opened. That is the way to turn relevant email into spam.

4. Offers. Or should I say “Don’t rule out offers.” First, determine what type of customer you want to encourage with an offer. Many online retailers focus on the second sale, aiming to increase the repeat purchase ratio. Perhaps use offers here and also use business rules on your database to make sure that customers get only one offer. Also, cross sell with an offer, e.g. “The item of clothing you left in your basket looks great with these shoes, 20% off,” or, “People interested in this also looked at this…” Product recommendations are also useful when seeking to increase engagement with basket abandonment emails. It may be that the abandoner could not locate the item they wanted to purchase.

5. Use Your Customer Data.
Address your recipient appropriately. It will encourage the recipient to read more and click through. You should have data on the browser instantly available to you, so USE IT! For instance, if you can identify this person as a loyal customer or a first time browser, then use that information (or indeed any other that is relevant). Greet loyal customers in an appropriate way e.g. “Great to see you back again,’ or ,‘Thank you for shopping with us again…”

Once this is all in place, remember the communication itself is the primary hook. The email is a reminder, a prompt, or even a disruptive influence on the decision making process… remember the cliché – don’t ask, don’t get. The simple fact is craft your emails carefully then performance will improve.

Matthew Kelleher is the Chief Commercial Officer for RedEye International, a conversion rate optimization specialist with practical, in-house expertise in usability, web analytics, behavioral email, user experience design and AB/multivariate testing.