Abandoned basket emails & best practice

Whether it’s due to high shipping costs, unexpected booking fees, or just because customers browsing rather than buying, 77% of online shoppers and 81% of online holiday bookers abandoned their baskets in 2013.

While abandoned orders don’t always mean that customers are lost forever, with over three quarters of online shoppers and bookers essentially walking away at the point of purchase, retailers need to have a strategy in place to reconnect with customers and entice them back to the till.

Over a third of shoppers have suggested that they would welcome a retailer getting in touch after they have abandoned an online purchase – and follow up emails are known to consistently deliver in terms of conversion (in one example reviewed by the team at eConsultancy, the conversion rate averaged 45%).

However, the success of abandoned basket emails rests in delivering the right message at the right time, in a way that drives the customer to open, read and act.

So who is getting it right? We ran a test of our own, setting up accounts across a range of retailer and booking sites, then adding items to shopping baskets and abandoning them. And then we watched and waited…

Honourable mention

The Iconic

The Iconic was the first cab off the rank with their abandoned basket email, received just 3 hours after exiting the site. Perhaps a little too soon for many retailers, however the inclusion of an urgency message was a nice touch, as was the personalisation. Including the details of the specific products is a good reminder, and reiterating a brand’s point of difference (fast delivery, free returns) is a great way to draw the shopper back to purchase.

Top of the Class was similarly responsive in sending their follow up email – it arrived only 4 hours after my order was abandoned, which while also quite quick was good timing when the urgency of the booking is considered (our test booking was for the same week).

The real standout in this email is the inclusion of a glowing review of the hotel in question, with extra information about the location and traveller rating. This content works as a great reminder to the booker, as does the mention of the promise – no booking fees and the lowest available price.

Room for improvement

Naked Wines

The Naked Wines tone of voice really shines through in both the subject line and copy, and including customer serbvice contact details is a helpful touch.

However, not refering to the specific items left in the cart is a missed opportunity. Likewise, a follow up email gives retailers the chance to communicate the specific benefits of ordering with them, rather than general statements like the one used in this example.

Missing in action

Of the 15 retailers we trialled, a disappointing 12 failed to send any follow up whatsoever, including Amazon, Apple, Myer and ASOS – despite what were often sizeable basket values.

Key tips for abandoned basked emails

1. Use a clear subject line – making sure that the customer knows why you are emailing them will decrease the chance of your message being ignored

2. Personalise the content – address the email to the customer by name, and include the details of the products they left behind

3. Make it easy for the customer to pick up where they left off by include a clear call to action – with a link that leads directly to the cart

4. Be sure to include some information about the benefits of ordering through your site – such as a generous delivery and returns policy, or your USP

5. Include some extra content – such as positive reviews of the product in question or of your site’s customer service

6. Why not try an urgency message? – let the customer know how many of the items remain in stock, or when the last booking of a particular hotel took place

7. Test and learn – try experimenting with the timing of the email, vary the message or trial special offers

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