Combatting browse abandonment series - Eight ways to create browse recovery campaigns that deliver

Combatting browse abandonment series - Eight ways to create browse recovery campaigns that deliver Headshot

By Lee Marples, Customer Success Consultant

In “Seven reasons browsers leave without buying” we explored the root causes of browse abandonment. Now it’s time to do something about it.

There are two primary ways to encourage an abandoned browser to return to your site. The first is to employ retargeting to stalk the customer with the product image and descriptions as they go about their online business.

There are a couple of drawbacks to that method. It can be difficult to master, expensive and can come across as very customer unfriendly. We’ve all bought the product that we browsed on only to have the ads follow us for days, even weeks, as we moved around online.

There is even an issue with brand safety. Thirty-eight percent of marketers told Sizmek that they inadvertently deliver a retargeting ad on a harmful or unsafe web page.

The second method, browse abandonment emails, is what we’re going to talk about today. This method can be much more personalized. And if you are using a series to draw shoppers back, it can be designed to stop once they’ve made a purchase.

Tip 1: Get to know your shopper

Browse abandonment emails can’t be triggered unless you can identify the shopper.

Identification can come from:

  • subscriber clicks on a link in your marketing emails and arrives at your website
  • returning shopper is recognized through first-party cookies
  • pop-up/pop-over registration forms
  • standard log-in at the checkout

To be able to identify as many website visitors as possible, make sure that you’re deploying data capture devices effectively to collect email addresses. Also use a personalization platform that collects browse behaviour of unidentified shoppers and merges this information into their history once they enter their email address.

Tip 2: Develop a strategy

This part can get a little bit tricky. You need to clearly define what qualifies as an abandoned shopping session and how you want to approach the recovery. Do you consider the contact an abandoner after they have viewed a product or category once or multiple times?

Do you want to reference the last product viewed or the product viewed most often? Do you want to feature the category, all products or only those with specific attributes, such as high margins, high price or most viewed?

Use A/B testing to help you hone in on a strategy (more on that later).

Tip 3: Lock down your timing and frequency

This is part two of your strategy. We recommend sending abandonment emails about 30 minutes after customers leave the website. The precise timing will be a judgment call, so test different send times to see what works best for you.

Also, think about the optimal email frequency. Should you trigger browse recovery messages every time a shopper visits your website or cap the number of messages? Should a subscriber receive browse recovery messages once per week, once per month or some other cadence? Will you send one message or a series?

A well-known kitchen goods store was early to adopt browse abandonment emails. But it didn’t set up the triggers correctly. Thus customers’ email boxes were overrun with an email for every single item the customer had just looked at.

It wasn’t a good look.

Tip 4: Think about your email design

Don’t be wishy-washy about why you are sending this email. Be upfront (starting with the subject line) about why you are sending the email.

The sender, subject and preheader must identify the brand and purpose of the email (e.g. “Thank you for visiting” or “Did you need any help?”).

The content should be clear and simple so the recipient understands quickly why they received this message. It is important to keep a light touch and a helpful tone.

Our customers succeed when they follow their website branding and tone of voice without being too sales-focused. For items that might be complicated to buy without asking questions, include your customer service details at the bottom, such as email address, phone number or chat link.

Tip 5: Include other browsed items and recommendations

Since the customers haven’t carted the items they’ve browsed, show the items as though they are in a catalog. And include recommendations. It is possible the shopper abandoned the browse because they didn’t quite see what they were looking for. They still might not see exactly what they were looking for but recommendations could encourage them to keep shopping.

Tip 6: Don’t forget about social proof

Maybe your customer just wasn’t sure if the product was right for them. Social proof is a very effective tactic to help consumers make a purchase decision and feel confident about their choice. We want a sense of how our peers interact with the product we are considering. Highlight product ratings of the browsed products or display how often the product has been viewed or bought within the last 24 hours.

Tip 7: Finish strong with a clear call-to-action

Your call-to-action should link to your checkout process or you should include one call-to-action per product, so it is easy for shoppers to click and return. Consider creating a bit of urgency through with a countdown timer (e.g. for shipping cut-off dates) or language suggesting the items won’t be available forever.

But don’t be too pushy about it.

Tip 8: Test, optimize, repeat


You need to gauge early results before you leave the campaign to run on its own. With so many variables, including timing, subject lines, tone and number of messages, you will want to analyze the performance carefully.

Is your conversion rate lower than expected? Revisit your subject lines and the message to make sure the emails deliver clear and relevant content. Is your unsubscribe rate higher than normal? You could be sending too frequently or your emails may come across as stalkerish. Is revenue lower than you would like despite positive conversion rates? This could mean your campaign is actually doing well, but you aren’t sending enough emails. This last issue is actually pretty common.

Anatomy of a great browse campaign

VioVet Ltd. illustrates a couple of our tips exceptionally well. The pet supply company has invested in providing educational content to pet owners as a way to build brand loyalty.

The company links that content to its browse program. For example, if a visitor was viewing the horse worming page, the email they receive will include VioVet’s ‘A Quick Guide to Horse Worming’. Likewise, browsing dog food will ensure they are sent advice on ‘Choosing the right commercial diet for your dog.’

Within a few months of taking this approach, VioVet was reaping the rewards. The horse worming emails alone generate an additional £1.02 per email sent. Open rates for all our specialist triggered emails are extremely impressive, with prescription medications emails achieving a 48% open rate.

The second tactic that VioVet used was to add a ratings and reviews functionality that integrates with VioVet’s own in-house star rating system, ensuring every product recommendation, cart and browse abandonment email automatically display the latest relevant customer ratings. This has resulted in a 19% increase in click-throughs.

In Part III, we’ll outline how you can use browse data to enhance your website personalization efforts.

Eager to learn more? Check out our “Just browsing - How to turn window shoppers into buyers” eGuide!

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