E-commerce sites either get the follow up right or screw it up completely – there is no real middle ground. Creating a stellar return path can exponentially grow your business. Now that CRM tools are an essential part of any online business, it is easier than ever to increase the number of personalized touch points with your audience.

There are two main types of return paths that interest me:

  1. Cart abandoners
  2. Turning one-time buyers into multi-purchase customers

In this article I want to focus on how to follow up with prospects that abandon their cart. Next week, I’ll have a detailed article about how to follow up with recent buyers and how to turn them into multi-purchase customers.

The Hard Truth

Let’s face it, people are always going to abandon your cart – this is just a basic e-commerce fact. In fact, the Baymard Institute found that the average e-commerce abandonment rate in 2014 was 68.07%.

We shouldn’t get hung up on the fact that people are abandoning, instead we should find the best way to deal with the cart abandoners. The follow up is one of the best ways to get people back on your site to finish what they started: purchase.

One Solution: Increases Touchpoints

Website visitors have so many distractions to deal with both on screen and off screen. Sometimes the act of purchasing is interrupted by something completely external to your website. This is the ultimate low hanging fruit – you just need to find a way to get in touch again, but how?

Two-step checkouts where the email is required in the first step have traditionally worked well. Try to turn the visitor into a marketable lead, and contact them again if they don’t actually purchase.

The problem with the two-step checkout is it creates a new level of friction. This is why the popularity of exit pop-ups has resurfaced. The person is already planning to leave your site, this is a great time to try and get a last chance purchase or turn them into a marketable lead.

Another cool trick is to trigger pop-ups for visitors that exhibit a certain type of behavior. If you notice that a visitor behavior is that of a ‘browser’ and not a ‘buyer’ you should trigger a pop-up to get their information. If you don’t have this type of data, I’d suggest triggering an overlay after 3-5 product page views.

What if they don’t give you their information? You may not be able to directly follow-up, and that’s okay. Use other data points and personalization tactics to target return traffic effectively!

3 Emails to Try

You have the abandoner’s information, now what? Here are three campaigns you can try to get them back to buy.

'Did You Forget Something'

This is a classic abandon cart campaign and speaks to the lowest hanging fruit out there: the people who had an external distraction. This campaign should serve as a simple reminder.

The visitor had intended to purchase something, just give them a brief nudge.

This example by grove does an amazing job. It reminds the customer of the products they intended to purchase and used a sense of urgency.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.30.37 AM

Source: Shopify

'Exclusive Sale'

Warning: don’t use this excessively and monitor your average order value. I’d recommend using this campaign for visitors who abandoned and have never purchased before. You don’t want to turn your audience into bargain seekers, so use this sparingly.

Peak Design did a great job with their abandoned cart email; they sent a two-step series. The first email was a reminder email and the second was an offer. Between the two emails they were able to recover 12% of all cart abandoners, cool right?

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.33.19 AM

Source: KISSmetrics

'Help Us, Help You'

This campaign is for people that just won’t purchase. Qualitative data can be just as important as quantitative data. It’s one thing to understand the what, but figuring out the ‘why’ is what separates good marketers from great marketers.

If you’ve identified that the customer isn’t going to convert, you should cut your losses and find out why. Send a survey email asking ‘What’s stopping you from buying’. The response rate will likely be low, but the data will be incredibly valuable. This will give you the chance to evaluate your offer, shipping policies, site layout, and other factors that could cause a spike in abandonment rate.

I’d recommend stacking these three emails into a 3-part series. Remind them about the cart, give them an offer, and then if they don’t buy ask why.

Good luck recovering those abandoned carts and happy testing!