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From Browsing to Buying: 5 Holiday Strategies for Ecommerce Marketers

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
17 September 2014

It’s the week before Christmas, and you’re in a shopping mall. You already spent an hour searching for a parking spot, and now that you’re inside the store — with hundreds of other frantic shoppers — you want to walk right back out the door. Maybe your spouse can handle the shopping list ...

Few things have the potential to kill the holiday spirit like last-minute shopping. The good news is that you can help your customers avoid that traumatic experience by reminding them to start early this year. In this post, I’ll share cart and browse abandonment strategies you can use before the gift-giving season even starts to help window shoppers press “buy.”

From Wish List to Checklist

Holiday shoppers will soon be poking around your website, putting items in their carts to purchase later. But don’t let them wait until December to buy, giving your competitors a chance to woo them away.

Imagine getting this email in early November: “Getting ahead on holiday shopping, or just treating yourself before the hectic gift-giving season begins? Let us help. Complete your purchase today and receive 10% off your order, plus free shipping.”

A discount and the chance to start checking names off the shopping list? If you were on the fence before, I bet you’d be more likely to go ahead and buy. (Note: Remember to test discounts within cart recovery emails to gauge their impact on revenue and margins.)

When DEMCO wanted to better engage the 30 percent of customers who were abandoning its carts, the educational supply company created a triggered email campaign that reminded customers to complete their purchases. The result? A 400 percent conversion rate. And the campaign delivered 97 times more revenue (per thousand) than other promotional emails. (Read the DEMCO case study.)

From Browsing to Buying

Just because digital shoppers haven’t made it to the final stage of the buying cycle doesn’t mean they’re not interested in your products. A relative of cart abandonment, browse abandonment refers to the act of visiting a website without making a purchase or adding items to a cart. As with cart abandonment, you can capture these browsers’ behaviors, notice patterns, and trigger emails based on their interest.

For example, if a customer is looking at various big-ticket kids’ toys in October or November, chances are good it’s research for Santa. Assuming you have that customer’s email address, you can send a list of bestselling toys for the appropriate age groups. Personalize the message with images and details from product categories this shopper visited but ultimately didn’t purchase from. For instance, “We noticed you were looking at dollhouses. Here are the five models our customers rate highest.”

5 Ways to Woo Them Back

Regardless of the buying stage when you “lost” a customer’s attention, now’s the perfect time to get it back. Here are five helpful hints to keep in mind as you plan your holiday abandonment campaigns.

1) Sweeten the pot: Consider adding a sense of urgency by offering a limited-time discount or free shipping if they complete a purchase soon.

2) Go for the upsell: While you’re at it, take a cue from Amazon and suggest related items. A parent ordering a remote-control car, for example, might also want to order an extra set of spare parts for when it inevitably crashes. Nothing is more frustrating for a kid on Christmas morning than a broken toy or one without batteries. Help your customers plan ahead and win a bigger sale.

3) Add value: Browse abandoners may not be ready to buy yet, especially if they’re researching a bigger-ticket item. Add value to your emails by assisting them in the process and linking to helpful buying guides and how-to videos.

4) Act fast: The longer you wait to trigger cart abandonment messages, the more time you give customers to change their minds or buy it somewhere else. Many marketers let more than a day elapse before following up with shoppers who’ve abandoned their carts. Big mistake!

5) Don’t fold too quickly: If customers don’t respond to your timely first attempt at cart recovery, perhaps the price is too high or they’re waiting to see if a better offer comes along. Set up your system to trigger new emails when abandoned items go on sale or when stock is getting low.

For more on recovering lost sales opportunities, download our white paper, “Abandonment Issues: Turning Lost Carts, Incomplete Forms and Interrupted Browse Sessions into Revenue!” With these winning strategies, you’ll help customers avoid holiday stress. They’ll thank you with their holiday purchases. 

Related Resources:

1) Blog: “Email and Smartphones: Tips for Closing the Conversion Gap

2) Tip Sheet: “15 Holiday Email Tips to Make Your Customers’ Shopping Experience Easier, Faster and More Fun

3) Blog: “The Secret Stash: A Different Kind of Marketing Promotion


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