Hayden Sutherland was involved in the early days of web development and has been pivotal in the implementation of some of the largest and most highly regarded sites on the internet.
If you’re trading online, you may have set up the facility to email visitors and remind them that they have left items in their virtual shopping basket. Abandoned basket emails have but one aim, to encourage prospective customers to return to your site and continue their purchase. Some E-commerce operators have been doing this for years and for most it has been a profitable exercise.
But if you want to get the most out of them, here are my suggestions for optimising your abandoned basket emails.
1. Experiment with subject lines
By testing different copy in your email subject line, you can affect not just your open rates but also potentially your deliverability (the percentage of emails that actually get to the user’s inbox rather than spam folders, etc.). Remember that there is a maximum character length for subject lines, so don’t be tempted to write too much.
2. Experiment with the time of sending
I’ve recently heard one large e-commerce consultancy suggest websites send out an email 48 hours after an item has been placed in the basket but not been sold. I personally doubt these words of wisdom, as I think this is too long. However only by experimenting with different times will you find the optimum length to wait before sending that reminder.
Note: you can experiment further by varying timings by product category, price, available stock and other things.
3. Send more than one email
Simple but effective, I’ve had a major retail client increase their abandoned basket email take-up merely by sending two emails. The secret then is to find the optimum time between sending each email and for that I refer to my point above.
4. Use your email service provider (ESP)
A lot of e-commerce operators send their abandoned basket emails directly from their site, rather than sending them via their ESP. Assuming you are able to integrate these two systems in a near real-time manner, then the added benefits from doing this are: a potential increase in deliverability and greater control over formatting. Most major ESP’s now provide the functionality to send out dynamically structured emails; meaning you are not only able to send out an email displaying multiple products, but also to add further offers and content to this richly formatted masterpiece.
5. Experiment with layout, imagery and palette
Don’t be afraid to trial all sorts of creative approaches to your email to get the best open and click-through rates. However don’t forget that most images will be blocked by the major email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) and sometimes the most effective messages can be the simplest.
6. Track links
Abandoned basket emails are different from marketing emails, which in turn are different again from other marketing efforts. All links from these emails back to your site should be tagged appropriately using your analytics tool. This is to ensure that you can tell the difference between them all and therefore measure the real value that this important service is delivering.
In short, I don’t think that there’s a single abandoned basket campaign that should be the same from one site to the next. And just as you should have a site that is constantly evolving as your understanding improves, this should also be reflected in your abandoned baskets campaigns.
Do you have a strong opinion on a topical industry issue? To submit a comment piece, please send a short summary of your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Views of writers are not necessarily those of The Drum.