Grownup e-commerce

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.

His expertise...

... covers online projects for organisations such as Nestlé, RBS, The Metropolitan Police and Philips and he has previously held senior roles such as Head of e-Business for P&O Ferries, Head of Project Management for a Top 10 Global Digital Agency and Technical Director at several online businesses. He has also won several awards including the British Interactive Media Association award for best financial services website.

For the last five years he has run Ideal Interface, an eCommerce and Digital Marketing consultancy based in Scotland. Although predominantly consulting in the retail sector (River Island, AllSaints Clothing, Sainsbury’s, etc.) the company has now built up a number of clients in the financial services, travel & tourism and other vertical markets.

He can usually be found Tweeting about anything from Social Media, eCommerce and multi-channel attribution through to reality TV contestants and the weather in Glasgow @haydens30

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3 February 2013 - 11:39pm | posted by | 2 comments

Abandoned basket emails – optimisation tips

Abandoned basket emails – optimisation tipsAbandoned basket emails – optimisation tips

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.


8 Feb 2013 - 11:03
gemma13173's picture

Emailing people who have abandoned shopping carts is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Retailers should be looking at why people are abandoning the cart in the first place, and addressing those barriers that caused the issue through testing, based upon real time measurement of a customer's online behaviour. True ROI on website investment needs to be established through iterative testing using A/B and multivariate testing to proactively measure and monitor the way individual changes impact customer behaviour. This puts the customer at the heart of the decision making process and with advanced personalisation and testing, businesses will find themselves gaining the largest ROI alongside increased engagement and retention and having to send fewer emails trying to rescue a bad situation.

Tim Burge Director Maxymiser

17 Feb 2013 - 23:20
haydensutherland's picture

Tim Let's have some perspective here. Whilst A/B testing has it's place... there will always be website visitors who put items in the basket and don't complete the order. The final stage in the checkout has one of the highest drop-off rates, something that A/B or MVT will hardly make a dent in. Abandon Basket emails definately have their place in modern e-Commerce operations and make a positive contibution to online revenue. It is hardly bolting the stable door when so many customers return to the site & transact after recieving such a reminder...that's the ROI. Hayden

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