June 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

Bass Pro Shops` e-mail test gives shoppers a second chance to buy

Bass Pro Shops aims for “dramatic increases” in conversions off e-mail in a test that offers shoppers that browse or cart but abandon items the chance to consider them again. The campaign also merchandises similar items at similar price points.

Items that online shoppers either browse or cart and then abandon are closer to being purchased than the other items on a site that don’t receive that attention from the shopper. That’s a central premise of the new e-mail campaign being tested by Bass Pro Shops-the other being that similar items are more likely to be purchased, too.

“Obviously, there was some reason they didn’t buy the items they browsed or abandoned in their cart. There was something about the item that wasn’t exactly right, or they may not have been ready to buy at that point,” says David Seifert, director of direct marketing at Bass Pro, the 73rd largest online retailer, according to the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, with 2004 sales of $104.6 million, as estimated by Internet Retailer. “We are going to offer them items that are as similar as we can get on an automated basis to try to make that sale.”

The e-mails, triggered to go out to individual customers three days after they browse an item or cart but don’t buy it, offer items including those a customer actually considered as well as some that are similar, at similar price points. The campaign will test response to different combinations of offers and language.

“We don’t want to talk someone into buying something radically less expensive than they were looking at in the first place, but we don’t want to show them things that are out of their price range.” Seifert says. “By limiting the price range of what we are showing them, along with items they actually looked at, we are going to provide them with a choice.”

The e-mail templates set up for distribution by vendor CheetahMail will be populated with personalized offers based on customer data pulled from a Coremetrics analytics tool. “Any increase in conversion rate from the e-mails is going to mean it`s successful, but we are expecting some pretty dramatic increases,” says Seifert. At the same time, Bass Pro Shops also is conscious about not overloading customers with marketing e-mail, even with an opt-in list. “When we do send out a personalized e-mail based on a browse/abandon scenario, that customer will be removed from the regular e-mailing that week,” Seifert says.

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