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Beyond the Cart: 5 Process Abandonment Messages to Implement

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
09 May 2012

The use of cart abandonment campaigns has risen steadily in recent years, and with good reason: They’re a smart, effective way to bring customers back into the fold, especially if you follow best practices regarding timing, frequency and incentives. (Read our cart abandonment white paper.)

More and more, though, I’m finding that savvy marketers are also starting to look beyond the cart, taking some of the basic tenets of cart abandonment and applying them to unique situations in which a customer or prospect heads down the path toward a certain behavior, but stops somewhere short of taking the final desired action.

Given that the contact has shown a clear intent to engage with the company, the smart move is to try to reconnect. As I alluded to in my recent article on “Taking a Progressive Approach to Increasing Frequency,” someone who abandons a shopping cart, download form, digital tool or browsing session before checkout might need an email—or two, or three—before he or she comes back to finish the process. A follow-up email delivered with the right tone, content and offers can recover these lost opportunities and translate them into gains for your company.

Here are five sample scenarios in which a process abandonment message or series or messages can yield big returns:

1) Browse Abandonment
As opposed to cart abandonment, where customers are at the bottom of the funnel, people who browse a certain page on your website and leave may or may not have a strong intent to purchase. So why send a triggered browse abandonment message to those site visitors for whom you have an email address?

For starters, if you have educational materials—how-to guides related to your product, for example—this is the perfect opportunity to deliver helpful content and establish your company as the industry expert. Furthermore, even if you can get a small percentage to convert off a large number of browsers, that could still have a huge impact on the bottom line.

Test style and content to make sure you’re presenting helpful information the recipient appreciates without coming across as too big brother-ish. Personalize the message with images and details from the product category the shopper visited but ultimately didn’t purchase from. Include customer reviews and reinforce why you’re better than the competition.

2) Webinar Registration Form Abandonment
Depending on the situation, a triggered Webinar form abandonment message can be an effective way to increase registrations and continue nurturing a prospect through the sales funnel. Just because someone clicked through on your email and visited your Webinar sign-up page but didn’t register doesn’t mean they’re not interested—perhaps they won’t be available on that date, or they weren’t sure of their other time commitments when they originally clicked through and have forgotten about the Webinar.

As the event date approaches, you could send prospects who meet certain criteria (e.g., visited page but didn’t complete form) a general registration reminder, but also provide additional calls to action built around messaging that acknowledges that the person may not be able to attend your Webinar. For example, you could offer links to other presentations on Slideshare, offer to send a recorded version of the event post-Webinar, and ask if the prospect would like you to call them. The idea is to keep a service tone: “OK, you can’t attend, but maybe there’s something else I can help you find.”

3) Mobile App Abandonment
Many companies are using mobile apps to connect with customers anytime, anywhere—a wise move given the proliferation of smart phones. But considering the evidence that many apps are only used a handful of times—one study showed that 25 percent of mobile apps are used just once and then forgotten—companies would be smart to take steps to combat this disengagement.

One option is to set up a rule set so that when customers download an app and then don’t use it again within a specified time period, they’re placed in a nurture series that educates them about the app’s value proposition and features tips for getting started—both yours and those from other users.

4) Online Tool Abandonment
What should you do if a prospect or customer uses an online tool—a questionnaire guiding them to the right product or an ROI calculator, for example—and then doesn’t follow through on the next step, whether that be making a purchase or requesting salesperson assistance?

Again, the contact has shown a clear intent to engage with you, so consider following up with a service-oriented message or series of messages that provides additional educational resources, offers multiple service-related calls to action, and includes promotional info on why your product or service will address the recipient’s needs.

5) Wish List Abandonment
Have you ever left an item in a shopping cart as a reminder that you want to purchase it at a later date—or maybe invite someone else to purchase it for you? So have many of your customers, making traditional notions of “cart abandonment” obsolete for these shoppers.

These customers aren’t really abandoning their carts, they're just using them as makeshift wish lists. Consider giving them separate “wish list” functionality and then delivering an email message stream that promotes the items they've singled out.

So, what other types of process abandonment scenarios have you implemented? Share your stories below.

For more process abandonment tips and strategies—including cart recovery best practices—download Silverpop’s new white paper, “Abandonment Issues: Turning Lost Carts, Incomplete Forms and Interrupted Browse Sessions into Revenue.”

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