Interview: Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Bronto Software

Abandonment is no stranger to online retailers, and one of the most common ways to approach it is through automated recovery emails. If done thoughtfully, post-abandonment messaging can help you re-engage customers after they leave your site. For instance, understanding your abandoners and tailoring your message to ensure relevancy to the visitors you are targeting is a key component of abandonment recovery emails – and it doesn’t stop there. Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Bronto Software, answered some frequently asked questions and shared his best practices for abandonment recovery with Qubit.

Is there a benefit of abandonment emails over exit overlays or pop-ups?

With regard to browse abandonment, both emails and exit overlays target the browser who has browsed products, but did not take any additional action, such as placing an item in the shopping cart. Exit overlays and pop-ups provide an urgent appeal to encourage the shopper to complete the purchase then and there. This can be particularly useful when you don’t yet have an email address. Browse abandonment emails are targeting the same consumers, except via email. The emails still generate a sense of urgency, but they give shoppers time to decide and additional incentive to help them make the decision. This is especially effective when the user is starting their process on your site and have not yet had a chance to do comparison shopping.

With regard to cart abandonment, using a pop-up in addition to an abandoned cart email could be effective, but you would likely need to delay the sending of the first cart recovery email since you provided the consumer an immediate opportunity to purchase. Sending a message too soon may cause frustration for the shopper. The pop-up could be especially effective if the would-be purchaser left due to technical issues or simply had to abandon their session at that time. Delaying your cart recovery message for something that is out of your control may do more harm than good.

Also, commonly, overlays include an incentive to complete the purchase. I would advise to not incentivize in the first, or even the second cart abandonment email. With the pop-up, you may be giving away margins in order to capture the purchase now. This would be a company-by-company decision, but I’d be wary about giving away margins unnecessarily.

When is the best time to reach out to a visitor once they have abandoned?

From an abandoned cart standpoint, I traditionally recommend a three-part series: sending messages at the one hour, 24 hours after abandonment and four days post abandonment (as a starting point), with the purchase incentive in the final message. This timing will depend on the type of products a merchant sells and the product price point. For instance, if you are selling larger ticket items where customers routinely do lengthy research on a product, the four days could stretch to seven.

From a browse abandonment standpoint, timing is very much dependent on the products a merchant sells. For more expensive items that shoppers take longer to research, targeting the customer within hours may not make the most sense.  On the other hand, sooner is likely better if you are targeting those looking for a $60 pair of shoes. The goal is to make the emails look relevant without being stalker-ish. A safe bet is at least four hours after the shopper abandons before retargeting. The most common timing is 12-24 hours after abandonment.

When deciding on the timing of your browse recover emails, look first at what is working for cart recovery emails. If your shoppers are responding well to a cart abandonment email that was sent one hour post abandonment, it is likely you will have comparable success with an earlier send of browse recovery emails.

How can you reach out to a visitor if you don’t know who they are? (i.e. my visitor didn’t finish the check-out process, so I never got their email address)

Well, unless you know their email, you can’t. Obviously if they click through an email you will have their cookie info. This really emphasizes the importance of optimizing all areas of your email sign up and collection points. Most retailers assume that since the pop-up sign up works so well they can ignore the other areas, such as the website.

Some good questions to make sure you are delivering an optimal sign up experience include:

  • Is the sign up above the fold?

  • Does it stand out?

  • Is it on almost all pages of the site? (It should be.)

  • Is it also in the footer?

  • Is your checkout process optimized to collect the email earlier on rather than in the final step?

Any other abandonment email best practices you can recommend?

Here are four:

1. Test timing of messages and monitor your results! Does it take one, two, three or even four messages? At what time post abandonment are they sent? How does changing this affect conversions? Your goal is to provide extremely relevant emails in a way that doesn’t spook your audience. People have mostly become accustomed to cart abandonment emails, but they aren’t as familiar with browser-based emails. Browse recovery emails should be relevant without being too big brother-ish (e.g. we noticed you were looking at this).

2. Focus on relevancy: Abandonment emails are relevant by nature. Send these messages instead of batch-and-blast messages. If two, three or even four messages produce a conversion, then use multiple messages. Always keep the subscriber benefit in mind. This is true with regards to both browse and cart abandonment.

3. Think customer service. Use these messages to reinforce why someone should buy something. Focus on your value adds and reasons the consumer would be helped with this product. We are in the age of helping consumers find products they are looking for. Help them find it!

4. Use the data. Let’s say someone is looking for a specific product. You can send a message based on that one item with some recommendations similar to it. Your next message could then be about that category with the specific product as simply a secondary recommendation. This allows the retailer to start by targeting something specific, and then backing away in case their interest from that specific product has faded.

Also, by knowing someone is shopping for a specific product or category of products it allows you to better segment them and deliver more relevant promotional emails or product recommendations in those emails.

For more information on how to approach abandonment creatively and effectively, check out Qubit’s guide to abandonment recovery here or fill out the form below.