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Wow; Just 13% Employ Abandoned-Order Emails: Bronto


By Ken Magill

Though they are widely seen as one of the most effective weapons in the email marketing arsenal, very few merchants send abandoned-order messages, according to a just-released study by Bronto Software.

In a study of 100 brands, just 13 sent abandoned-order messages, just five sent more than one abandoned-order message and only one sent three.

Triggered messages in general—messages sent as the result of some action or inaction by the subscriber—were 2.8 percent of marketing service provider Epsilon’s clients’ messages in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a report published by Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association yesterday.

Yet triggered messages achieved 96 percent higher open rates and 125 percent higher click rates than broadcast emails, the report said.

And as has been documented here, abandoned-order messages take some up front work, but once they’re in place they’re automatic and they work like gangbusters.

For example, an abandoned-shopping-cart email program implemented by library supplies merchant DEMCO in 2009 has reportedly delivered stunning results ever since

As of last year, the program entailed three messages, respectively, sent one, three and five days after the cart is abandoned.

The first message served as a simple reminder. The second was a little more urgent and the third offered a free tote bag as an incentive to purchase.

According to Lisa Moling, e-marketing manager for DEMCO, the messages converted at 22 percent, 15 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

“We don’t put an offer in that first email and we still get a 22 percent conversion rate,” she said.

“That’s staggering. It’s just as high as the third message where we put an offer.”

By comparison, the average conversion rate of DEMCO’s broadcast emails was 5 percent, according to Moling.

If DEMCO’s results were even close to typical, the money being left on the table by the 99 out of 100 brands in Bronto’s study that don’t employ a three-message strategy is potentially staggering.

Most experts recommend a multi-message abandoned-order strategy.

Internet-marketing consultant Amy Africa recommends employing five or more abandoned-order messages.

“[U]sing one abandoned cart e-mail is ok but using a series of five (or more) is fantastic and really makes a program,” she wrote on her blog. “You need to keep in contact with them till they take another action – finish their checkout, add to their order, complete their lead form, request a quote, register for a webinar and so on. The more you ask for what you want, the greater the chance you have of getting it.”

Also, according to Africa, timing is important with triggered emails.

“In about 95 percent of the cases, the first trigger in a series should be sent out within two hours of the action,” she wrote. “So, in a perfect world, if a user goes to your site, puts stuff in their cart and then abandons it, they will get their first abandoned cart e-mail within a couple hours.”

In a presentation at the All About Email Live summit in New York City last month, Jim Moore, CEO of Birkenstock merchant The PSNE Group, likened abandoned-cart emails to the crab pots on the reality TV show Deadliest Catch.

“Pull them out too early and you get fewer crabs,” he said. “Leave them in too long and you get fewer crabs.”

Moore said the optimum timing for PSNE’s abandoned-cart emails is three hours.

According to Bronto, among the 13 brands that sent abandoned-order messages, timing ranged from 45 minutes to three days.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Phil Schott
Date: 2012-04-10 13:20:54

You can't argue with numbers, but I personally find abandoned-cart emails to be annoying. There's a reason I didn't complete the purchase and I'm smart enough to remember that I still need and want your whiz bang product. Abandoned-cart emails are like having a kid in the back seat asking if we're there yet. And, I don't recall a single merchant who sent me one of these emails asking me if it would be okay if they sent me a reminder or even mentioning that they'd be pestering me if I didn't complete the purchase.