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Browse Abandonment Emails: How You Can Use Them to Bring Browsers Back to Buy

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
12 February 2013

A well-done shopping-cart recovery email program can help you convert more carts into sales. It also can help you reach out to the people who showed obvious interest in your products or services but left your site without buying or converting.

This blog post is Part 1 of a two-part series on recovering abandoned browsing sessions and processes. In this post, I'll explain what browse abandonment emails are and why you should consider adding them to your behavior-based email marketing program.

A browse/process abandonment program is a coordinated series of automated messages that you can use to remarket to your serious visitors.

These are not casual passers-by who land on your homepage by accident and then bounce away without going deeper into your site. Instead, they are the ones who browse key pages of your website or who begin a process such as registering an account or downloading a white paper but then stop short of the conversion goal line.

Similar, But Not the Same as Cart Abandonment
Browse/process recovery is like shopping-cart recovery:

  • The email series triggers when the visitor leaves your site without completing the conversion goal you set.
  • Your goal is to bring the visitor back to finish up what he/she started.

However, people who abandon a browsing session or a process are higher up in the conversion funnel than shoppers who place products in carts but leave the site without purchasing. This essential fact must drive the design of your follow-up emails.

People abandon their browsing sessions or processes for similar reasons they abandon a full cart:

  • They had to attend to something else.
  • They were still researching prices or products on other sites.
  • They weren't sure whether they were buying the right products or needed more information.
  • They had concerns about the process they had started or ran into technical problems.

Because your browse/process abandoners aren't as close to a decision as your cart abandoners, however, your email series should aim to overcome objections and uncertainties instead of focusing on a hard sell.

How Browse/Process Recovery Works
You’ll need Web tracking code that’s integrated with your e-commerce and email platforms as well as a permission-based email relationship with those visitors.

Your tracking code — such as Silverpop's Web Tracking, which matches cookied browsers with email addresses (from registration or by clicking from an email) — then triggers a message whenever a visitor’s behavior matches your criteria.

Why Add Browse/Process Recovery?
Adding browse/process recovery to your program of behavior-based automatic messages is a natural next step once you’ve mastered abandoned-cart recovery.

You can reach out to many times more browse/process abandoners than cart abandoners, but because they aren't as close to completing a conversion, you’ll typically see a lower conversion rate but potentially higher revenue due to a higher number of browse abandoners.

Client Example: SmartPak Equine
This online retailer of nutritional supplements and other products for horses sends follow-up emails that match the pages its customers were on before they left the site.

Here's a quick look at the numbers its browse-abandonment program generates:

  • 37.6% open rate
  • 7.4% click-through rate
  • 44 cents revenue per email sent (compared to $4.80 RPES for cart abandonment emails)

What to Offer Returning Visitors
Not every page or process generates a high abandon rate. If you track your Web page or section bounce rates, you might find they are higher on product pages with longer or more detailed consideration factors.

Your browse/process recovery emails should address these potential objections and offer help in overcoming them by pointing to resources on your site.

Next up in Part 2, I'll outline some best practice suggestions and tips. In the meantime, you can check out the SlideShare below for more details on SmartPak’s browse abandonment program:

Related Resources:
1) White Paper: “How to Turn Cart and Process Abandonment Scenarios into Revenue
2) Blog: “5 Questions: Carey Marston of SmartPak Equine
3) Blog: “Beyond the Cart: 5 Process Abandonment Messages to Implement

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