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Two-thirds of companies in the UK are failing to send emails to customers who have abandoned their shopping baskets.

This seems like a missed opportunity, and is one of the findings of the E-consultancy / Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census 2008, a survey of agency and company email marketers in the UK.

Surprisingly, companies are failing to take advantage of some obvious triggers to email customers. 66% don't send emails based on date notifications like birthdays, or when customers click through from emails but don't make a purchase.

More obviously, 69% are not emailing customers when they have abandoned shopping baskets. This is crazy - it is something we should all be doing.

Think about it: if a customer has added products to the basket and gone to the trouble of entering personal details then there is clear intent to purchase. So it seems like a real no-brainer to send them a post-dropout email to attempt to recapture the sale.

Of course, there are many reasons why customers may abandon purchases, such as hidden charges at the checkout, so an email may help retailers to understand the reasons behind abandoned baskets and take action to reduce these rates in future.

So when should the customer get an abandoned basket email?

This is something email marketers need to determine according to response rates. Some may find that sending an email within an hour of the abandonment might work, when the customer still has the purchase on their mind.

Others may wait a few days or as long as a week, but this is still better than not sending one at all.

What is the correct message to send?

In sending emails like this, companies are treading a fine line between annoying the customer and providing them with a helpful reminder.

A gentle reminder may work best, and it is certainly not a good idea to pressure the customer in any way. Something like: 'We noticed that you did not finish your shopping on our website, was there a problem that prevented you from making the purchase?'

An even better idea would be to offer the customer a discount, free shipping, or other incentive if they complete the sale.

One thing is certain though - two-thirds of companies are missing out on extra conversions for lack of implementing this strategy.

Related research:
Email Marketing Industry Census 2008
Email Marketing Roundtable Briefing, October 2007

Related stories:
UK retailers failing to follow email best practice
Spam is in the eye of the beholder

Graham Charlton

Published 14 March, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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