“Ask an Expert” is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about sending remarketing emails to consumers who abandon shopping carts. It comes from Kenny Kelly, general manager of Shops.com, an Oklahoma-based ecommerce company with specialized, online stores, including Heater.com, and others.
For the answer, we turn to Carolyn Nye. She is director of digital interactive group for USADATA, Inc., a technology and data firm. She is also a to Practical eCommerce on the topic of email and email marketing.
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Kenny Kelly: “We are to the point in our business where we’re focusing on remarketing, customer engagement, and email segmentation. This question was posed recently in our office and there was some debate about how to best handle these potential customers.
“Is sending a cart-abandonment email to people who proceed as a guest frowned upon, or is it a good opportunity to capture one more sale than we not have captured?”
Carolyn Nye: “Excellent question, Kenny. Many marketers and ecommerce professionals worry that they will offend or upset a site visitor — or a guest visitor — by sending an email reminder to come back and finish the purchasing process. I used to think that, too, with my first abandoned cart email program over five years ago. I now know, however, that sending a remarketing email is standard and acceptable once the visitor provides his or her email address at any point during the visit.
“To ensure the remarketing program works for Shops.com, closely monitor opt-outs and replies to the remarketing emails, to ensure recipients are not complaining or otherwise upset. By monitoring replies, we found that more often than not, shoppers actually appreciated the reminders. They saw them as a courtesy and a way for them to easily return to their shopping carts and resume the purchase.
“Oftentimes shoppers are interrupted during an online purchase and forget to complete it. Your shoppers will likely see a remarketing program as a customer service, and you will likely capture a large percentage of sales that may never have been completed. During my previous role as email marketing manager for a large online retailer, we experienced a 25 percent conversion rate from shoppers who clicked on remarketing emails. One-third of our yearly email revenue was generated from the abandon cart email series.”