March 23, 2011, 4:37 PM

Vintage Tub & Bath finds abandonment e-mails help its message sink in

The retailer sends three messages within an eight-day window.

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Earlier this year Vintage Tub & Bath Inc., a manufacturer and retailer specializing in vintage home fixtures ranging from claw foot tubs to farmhouse sinks, decided it needed to do something about its cart abandonment rate, which was around 80%.

“Our average order value is high, our items are expensive and people do a lot of shopping before making a purchase, so we know some shoppers are going to abandon their carts,” says Dawn Bobeck, the retailer’s vice president of sales and marketing. “But we decided that anything we could do to decrease that number, even incrementally, would be well worthwhile.”

The retailer worked with e-mail marketing firm Listrak, which had already been running its e-mail campaigns, to engage potential customers who abandoned a cart on Implementation of the program took six weeks and by mid-February it was live.

Listrak’s program sends a consumer who abandoned an item in her cart three messages—one the day after she visited the site and abandoned an item in her cart, another two days after the first message and a third three days after that. That’s because multiple messages make it more likely that a consumer will return to the site, says Ross Kramer, Listrak CEO.

The numbers bear that out. While the retailer’s regular marketing e-mails have an average open rate of 11%, the open rate on the retailer’s first abandonment e-mail is 42%, with a 17% click-through rate. The second e-mail has a 35% open rate, with a 13% click-through rate. And the third has a 25% open rate, with a 10% click-through rate.

The open and click-through rates on the second and third e-mails represent what otherwise might be a missed opportunity if the retailer only sent one reminder e-mail, says Bobeck.

“The stream of e-mails really engages our customers,” she says.

Rather than offer consumers’ discounts to return to the site, Vintage Tub instead features four-star reviews from the site’s BazaarVoice ratings. The e-mail doesn’t feature any reviews if the item doesn’t have a four-star rating.  

That consumer feedback leads consumers to click, says Kramer. For instance, the average conversion rate on the first e-mail that has a review on it is 14%. The same message without a review has an 8% conversion rate.

“We’re offering social proof as to why they should buy a product,” says Bobeck. “That can be very powerful.”

Vintage Tub is No. 412 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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