What’s The Lowest-Hanging Fruit In Ecommerce?

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(Charles Nicholls of SeeWhy has an interesting post on retargeting shopping cart abandonment emails, which he has allowed us to reproduce for our readers.)

Digital marketers know they must measure and optimize all of their efforts, with the goal of increasing sales. They must also be able to prove a positive return on their investments. That said, digital marketers are constantly on the hunt for the latest technologies to help with both.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails Report Highest ROI

Recently, the e-tailing group produced their 2012 Merchant Survey which studied the ROI impact of different personalization techniques.


The highest ROI reported is from shopping cart abandonment emails. This shouldn’t be a surprise — 72 percent of site visitors that place items into an online shopping cart don’t make the purchase. Since they did almost purchase, cart abandoners are now your best prospects. And, a sequence of carefully timed emails will recover between 10-30 percent of them.

It’s these types of recovery rates that propel shopping cart abandonment emails to the top. They generate millions in incremental revenue for only a small effort and cost.

Retargeted Ads Complement Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails

The second most successful technique is retargeted advertising, a fantastic complement to shopping cart abandonment emails. Retargeted advertising works in a similar way, by nudging visitors to return to a website after they have left. And while retargeted advertising works across the entire funnel — from landing to purchase — the biggest opportunities lie where there is some level of intent to purchase, such as browsing category and product pages.

While the two techniques deliver a high ROI, they are definitely not the same. For example, brands using SeeWhy’s Conversion Manager to engage their shopping cart recovery emails average a 46 percent open rate and 15 percent click-through rate. Retargeted ads, by comparison, average a 0.3 percent click-through rate.

See the difference?

The real power comes when you combine the two techniques together — using retargeted advertising when no email address has been captured and email remarketing when it has.

Don’t “Set ‘Em and Forget ‘Em”

To achieve the highest possible ROI combining cart abandonment emails with retargeted advertising, you should plan to test and tune your campaigns. It’s dangerous to go live with your new campaign and then ‘set it and forget it.’ Testing and tuning your campaign can double or triple your revenues. SeeWhy tracks more than $1B in Gross Market Value ecommerce revenues annually and analyzes this data to understand what factors have the biggest impact on conversion.

A SeeWhy study of more than 650,000 individual ecommerce transactions last year concluded that the optimal time for remarketing is immediately following abandonment. Of those visitors that don’t buy, 72 percent will return and purchase within the first 12 hours.

So timing is one of the critical factors; waiting 24 hours or more means that you’re missing at least 3 out of 4 of your opportunities to drive conversions. For example, a shopping cart recovery email campaign sent by Brand A 24 hours after abandonment may be its top performing campaign. But this campaign delivers half the return of Brand B’s equivalent campaign which is real time.

Scores of new technologies and techniques will clamor for your attention, making bold claims about their ROI and conversion. But if they aren’t capable of combining shopping cart abandonment emails and retargeted ads, the two biggest ROI drivers in the industry, then they aren’t worth your time.

About the Author

Charles Nicholls is founder and chief strategy officer of SeeWhy (www.seewhy.com) and author of the ebook "Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites." As a veteran of the web analytics space, he has worked with the world's leading ecommerce companies, including Amazon and eBay. Contact Charles at [email protected] or @webconversion.

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