CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
A timed series of e-mails generated three times the sales of one-time reminders.
Casual apparel e-retailer LuckyBrand.com says changing its approach to e-mail-based remarketing has helped double the number of conversions the marketing approach generates, resulting in three times the online sales of the previous program.
LuckyBrand.com, a division of Liz Claiborne Inc., No. 340 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, began reviewing its remarketing e-mail program last spring. Retailers typically send cart-abandonment e-mails when a consumer leaves an e-retail site without completing a purchase after placing a product in his cart. Remarketing e-mails typically remind the consumer that he left a product in the cart and encourages him to return to the site to complete his purchase.
Charlie Cole, vice president of online marketing for LuckyBrand.com, says the e-retailer previously used a remarketing program that was programmed to send a single e-mail message to any consumer who left without buying. Regardless of when the consumer had visited and abandoned the site, the e-mail was always sent at the same time late in the day, and the e-mails were sent at the same time to all consumers who abandoned their carts within a 24-hour period. That meant that a consumer who abandoned his cart at 10 p.m. on Wednesday would not receive the follow-up e-mail until about 6 p.m. Thursday, whereas a consumer who abandoned at 5 p.m. Thursday would receive the follow-up e-mail an hour later.
Believing that tailoring e-mail sending times to consumer behavior mattered if LuckyBrand.com wanted to capture more sales, Cole, working with e-mail remarketing consultancy SeeWhy, last spring began testing its existing batch-based remarketing e-mail program against an e-mail series consisting of three messages that are sent based on the time the consumer left the site. The first e-mail arrives in the consumer’s inbox seven minutes after he abandoned his cart. The message includes the consumer’s name and a photo of the product he left in his cart. The second arrives one day and seven minutes later, and the third message arrives seven days and seven minutes later. Cole says e-mails go only to consumers who previously have shared their e-mail addresses with LuckyBrand.com.
“The timing feeds into everything you ever learned in a marketing class,” Cole says. “If I reach a consumer earlier, I have a better chance to convert him.”
LuckyBrand.com tested the performance of its previous remarketing program against the new series program for a month. Cole says the first message in the series generated a 20% lift in revenue compared with the revenue generated by e-mails in the previous program. Cole attributes the better result to the timing of the first message in the series. Cole says the typical open rate for the first e-mail in the series is 45% to 50%. The average open rate for the second e-mail is 40% and the third e-mail is 30%.
“Every metric I have shows me that they are not surprised to get these e-mails, and that they want to get these e-mails,” Cole says. “Open rates and click-through rates jump off the page versus a standard promotional e-mail.” He says the unsubscribe rate on remarketing e-mails is about 10% to 15% that of LuckyBrand.com’s normal promotional e-mails, which he says shows consumers are comfortable receiving the messages.
After LuckyBrand.com completed the month-long test, Cole says the e-retailer decided to go all-in with the series-based approach. He says the three e-mail series drives twice the number of conversions, which has resulted in raising remarketing-generated sales 300%. “The month’s numbers were pretty darn concrete,” he says.