RedEye’s latest Behavioural Email Benchmark Report shows that the number of online retailers employing a basket abandonment strategy has doubled from 7% to 14%. 

So, I’ve asked the key guys at RedEye for their ideas about how to improve a basket abandonment email campaign. I got the fun of ranking them.

And in the style of Tony Blackburn, I’m counting down starting at number 10!

10. Test the timing of the basket abandonment email.

There is lots of rubbish out there about sending the email in ‘real time’/immediately. But consider your brand, the motives for abandonment and, above all, your customers. 

9. Build in dynamic content to display the articles that were left in the basket.

This always provides an uplift.

8. Use dynamic content to pull in other browsed items into sub-images or footers.

7. Vary the message according to the drop out stage.

If you run, for instance, a five-stage checkout programme, customise the abandonment template to address the likely reason at each stage, for instance ‘price browsing’, ‘shipping price’, ‘credit card details’ etc.

6. Identify serial abandoners and identify their motives.

Set up a segment to identify individuals who have abandoned previously in the last 30 days. Then you can use offers if you wish to motivate single abandoners whilst driving serial abandoners back to their basket with other methodologies.

5. Use offers.

Don’t be swayed by certain vendors who say “You don’t want to train your customers to abandon deliberately because they expect an offer”… Doh!

This is only an issue if the system you are using is ‘constrained’. Instead, use a better system that can identify, for instance, whether the customer is a loyal customer or a prospect.

Then choose different segmented treatments, perhaps use offers to get the prospect over the line but use ‘brand values’ or ‘service’ to appeal to the loyal customer. Or, vice versa!!

4. Change your basket abandonment from a static trigger to a proper behavioural programme.

What does this mean? Well, a simplistic email saying ‘Can we help you?’ sent irrespective of the value of the basket or the customer will not be maximising the potential of the opportunity.

For instance, vary the message according to the status of the customer (eg loyal/prospect) and include the items in the basket and browsed items.

3. Don’t just send a single basket abandonment email.

Consider a multi-stage programme… e.g. one hour, three days and seven days. You will get diminishing returns, certainly, but the return on each stage may be good enough to warrant it.

2. Research why your customers have abandoned.

For a period, instead of sending a basket abandonment email, send them a survey. As with all marketing, customer motivations are key and should inform your copy accordingly.

1. The top tip? Don’t just set up a basket abandonment email and leave it!

My experience of basket abandonment is that it should, in general, be bringing in 20% of your email channel income. So treat it with respect!! Test and test again. Change images, alter the approach, seek out improvements.

Don’t just leave it to bleach in the sun, because performance will erode over time, as it does with mostly everything!!

Good luck!.

RedEye’s latest Behavioural Email Benchmark Report can be downloaded here

Matthew Kelleher

Published 28 September, 2011 by Matthew Kelleher

Matthew Kelleher is commercial director as RedEye and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (5)


Greg Power

No mention of reminding customers of your unique value propositions?

John Lewis' abandonment emails absolutely nail it with their 'Why Shop With Us?' - price matching / free delivery over £30 / free click & collect / free returns etc etc.

almost 7 years ago


Angelina Foster

I usually leave the basket when the website doesn't mention anything about P&P until the end!

almost 7 years ago

Matthew Kelleher

Matthew Kelleher, Commercial Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Thanks Greg. I will kick someone in the office for not suggesting it! So much about getting basket abandonment right depends on using the brand and considering the customer. Half an hour ago I was asked what the best 'tone' is for a basket abandonment email. My response is always 'depends on the brand and the customer motivation to abandon... research is the answer'. John Lewis's reliance on their brand and the value propositions is, I agree, a very strong message.

Angelina, you sound like a serial abandoner! But websites that do not declare shipping costs until the confirmation page are certainly asking for problems and this is an issue that should be addressed by wider basket abandonment analysis and not left up to a basket abandonment email to address.

almost 7 years ago

Johnathan Conlon

Johnathan Conlon, Email Marketing Manager at Royal Mail

Interesting that timing is #10, I would've considered this a higher priority. Also with high value orders or within a b2b marketplace, ask should it really be followed up with an email, or a phone call ? This approach can work through objections faster to get customers over the line, plus in some cases you can exceed their service expectations this way.
#8 I disagree with. I would recommend using space like this for up/cross-selling / accessorising the abandoned order.

almost 7 years ago

Matthew Kelleher

Matthew Kelleher, Commercial Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Jonathan, you are absolutely right, timing is crucial and in hindsight it should probably be higher... maybe I was bored of the issue, it was the subject of my last blog!

On #8 we do actually agree! If I had expanded that point, I would have stated that there are two reasons for using DC to pull in other browsed items... 1, to make it even more personalised and 2, to maybe upsell the value of the basket.

The one key is, of course, that the basket abandonment does not lose focus on its singular goal, the conversion. Real focus on X/Up sell comes later in the sales cycle.

almost 7 years ago

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