May 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Best targeting practices

(Page 2 of 2)

2 – Know your customer

Nancy Miller, vice president of Internet development and strategic projects for Woodcraft Supply LLC, says the e-retailer of woodcrafting tools and supplies personalizes remarketing e-mails less overtly than Icon and holds back from sending multiple remarketing e-mails for fear they may overwhelm consumers. Woodcraft also uses retargeted display ads but keeps them generic because the company's primary customer demographic—male professionals, age 45-65 with woodworking as their hobby—are more likely than consumers more comfortable with the web to react negatively to having their browsing behavior fed back to them when they're visiting another web site. "I could show them the last products they viewed in a display ad on the New York Times, but our customers would not like that," Miller says. "I'm just afraid to be too Big Brother on them."

Instead, Woodcraft takes a service tone in cart abandonment e-mails, which are sent about six hours after the customer abandons his cart and include photos and prices of up to three products left behind. The e-mail message thanks the customer for visiting and reads: "We saw that you recently left some cool stuff in your cart. As a service to our visitors, we like to send a copy of your cart for your records."

Miller says the e-mails drive a conversion rate that is 618% greater than the retailer's non-targeted e-mail campaigns. The e-mail repeats 10 days later. Woodcraft works with Smarter Remarketer for its cart abandonment e-mail campaigns.

3 – Hit send, repeat, an e-retailer of cleaning supplies for office and residential customers, uses a series of four e-mails to complete its cart abandonment program, all with a service focus. The messages include the e-retailer's toll-free number, product images and prices, and take a questioning tone that encourages interaction, says Scott Deveney of "Messages ask: Did you get sidetracked? Did something go wrong? If you have a question, give us a call or hit us up on live chat," he says.

"I want consumers who abandon their carts to call customer service. [Our customer service representatives] will get to the heart of whatever caused the consumer to leave and close the deal," Deveney says. The retailer works with Listrak for its campaign. Customer service agents ask callers for their e-mail address and can then immediately tap into that customer's cart to answer questions.

It's important to put these contact methods in remarketing e-mails because they reassure consumers of the quality of the brand and service the e-retailer provides, says Charles Nicholls, founder and chief strategy officer of SeeWhy. "They may never phone, but they keep the e-mails because they know there is someone there if they have a problem," he says.

In March, the conversion rate for the first e-mail in's series, which went out three hours after the cart was abandoned, was nearly 30%. The second message followed 24 hours later and reminded consumers that prices can change quickly in the bulk cleaning supply market; it produced a conversion rate of 29%. A third e-mail, sent four days later, offered a 10% off discount, which converted at 16%; and a fourth e-mail, which reinforced the discount and emphasized that the cart was about to expire, converted at 22%. That e-mail was sent 24 hours after the third e-mail.

4 – Extend the data

Even if a consumer doesn't respond to a cart abandonment e-mail or retargeted display ad, that doesn't mean online merchants should discard that browsing data. Merchants can strategically apply that data in the future, says Chris Reighley, director of e-commerce for Totes Isotoner Corp., a manufacturer and e-retailer of accessories and umbrellas.

Reighley says he recently began feeding browsing data and data about how consumers responded to retargeted ads and cart abandonment e-mails into his customer relationship marketing database. That made it possible to segment consumers in a more detailed way and to serve up more relevant marketing messages at a later date. For example, a consumer who browsed for women's Isotoner gloves in November might see a retargeted display ad in April featuring a fashionable floral umbrella from Totes.

It takes time to build the awareness that drives consumers to a site, and marketers have to come at consumers in different ways to sustain the interaction, Reighley says. "If I am spending money to acquire a customer and I don't, that's a miss. If I spend a little delivering a second touch point and I do acquire the customer, that makes that first investment so much more valuable," he says. "If I can get even a small percentage of them back, I've made my whole marketing program that much more effective. That's good stuff."


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