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Most Retailers Don't Use Abandoned-Cart Emails: Study

4/9/13

By Ken Magill

Though abandoned-cart emails have proven time and time again to be one of the most effective selling tools in email marketing, the majority of retail respondents to a recent survey said they don’t employ them.

Fifty two percent of 85 retailers surveyed indicated they do not employ abandoned-cart emails, according to a study conducted by RSR Research and co-developed by email service provider Bronto.

This despite the fact that abandoned-cart emails have routinely shown to convert in double-digit ranges.

Of the 48 percent of retailers who said they do have an abandoned-cart program in use, 9 percent said they send one reminder, 32 percent said they send two reminders and 6 percent said they send three reminders.

One possible reason abandoned-cart programs haven’t achieved near-universal adoption is intimidation, said Jim Davidson, Bronto’s manager of marketing research.

“A lot of people feel intimidated thinking: ‘Oh, I’ve got to talk to my commerce platform and there’s going to be some data exchange … and all this kind of crazy stuff,” he said. “I think there’s a perception that it’s going to be difficult to do so people just don’t do it, but you can take a simpler approach. Most abandoned-cart reminders don’t include any type of offer or limited-time promotion. They’re mostly a customer-service email that still drives a lot of sales.”

He added that some of his clients have tested offers versus no offers in abandoned-cart emails.

“The conversion rates are about the same,” he said.

Davidson said most ESPs have the data capabilities to enable abandoned-cart programs. The question is how complicated it will be.

“They [clients] should ask how can you work with my commerce platform so I can leverage my cart data and order data in emails?” he said. “Understanding ‘yes we can’ isn’t a good enough answer. [The question is:] ‘What is that going to look like? How customized is it? What if I want to change it? Or how is that going to evolve over the next year when consumer behavior changes?’”

While the idea that so many retailers are missing such an easy-target opportunities it troubling, the percentage of retailers that use abandoned-cart messaging programs is way up from last year when Bronto found that just 13 percent of retailers employed abandoned-cart reminders.

However, last year’s number was based on Bronto’s observations of actual behavior while this year’s number was self reported.

“We assume that when people said they were doing it [using abandoned-cart emails] they were telling the truth,” said Davidson. “I do think there were some aspirations and good intentions of people who want to do it but who haven’t started. So I do think that within those two numbers is the more realistic view.”

So while the percentage of retailers that employ abandoned-cart emails may have shot way up, the fact remains that at least a slim majority still don’t use them.

Davidson added that the case for abandoned-shopping cart programs is pretty unassailable.

“With shopping cart abandonment typically at 70 percent and abandoned-cart reminders converting at 20 percent or higher, that’s pretty simple math,” he said. “There’s a gap there you should attack.”

Abandoned-cart reminders “should be a fundamental part of a basic email marketing program,” Davidson said. “A few years ago it would have been a component of a more robust email marketing program because of the technical difficulties in getting it launched. But that’s not the case anymore.”

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