When we first launched our remarketing service in 2009, Randy Stross wrote a piece about email remarketing in The New York Times suggesting that while remarketing might be a great idea for ecommerce websites, it’s not a great idea for consumers. He likened emails following up on abandoned shopping carts to a salesman chasing you down the street if you didn’t buy from his store.
There are major differences, of course. We’ve long argued that remarketing emails, when done well, not only drive conversions but also build brand trust.
They can deliver great service and provide customers with the confidence to return to buy—either online, by phone or in store. If Randy was right and customers universally resented the intrusion, then these emails wouldn’t work.
In aiming to answer the question more substantively, I turned to data, and specifically email marketing benchmarks.
The key metrics to look at to determine whether customers like or loathe remarketing emails are:
(1) the recovery rate
(2) the open rate
(3) the clickthrough rate
(4) the unsubscribe rate
Frankly, the evidence is overwhelming: Remarketing, when done well, is appreciated by customers. Here’s the evidence:
(1) The recovery rate
The recovery rate is the percentage of visitors that abandon shopping carts, and remarketed visitors that then return and purchase following remarketing. At SeeWhy, we measure recovery rates across all our customers, and currently the average is 20 percent.
From this we can observe mass changes in customer behaviour, as customers have become conditioned to wait for promotional offers. Comscore reports that Free Shipping has grown significantly in the last month, peaking at 55.1% of all online purchases, up significantly on last year (45.6%).
Customers behave differently
Unlike the wild swings in shopping cart abandonment rate of all visitors, when we segmented out identified visitors (registered, logged in, opted-in, or have previously logged in and/or purchased) we found that they are much less likely to change their behaviour over this period.
Connecting the dots, this suggests that anonymous visitors, who are most likely to be new customers, are inherently more new ‘deal oriented,’ and as a group these new customers deferred purchases pending the roll out of promotional offers.
This is a significant finding, which if validated, suggests three things:
(1) Customers behave differently from visitors: Existing customers and visitors that have registered on an ecommerce website are much less likely to be swayed by promotions than first time customers. Or it could be that they don’t need to research, relying instead on emailed offers from ecommerce sites they know to trigger their seasonal purchases.
(2) The importance of getting a registration is once again reinforced. Creating an account, or signing up for a newsletter shows a degree of brand interest, and gives you the ability to build familiarity and brand trust through email and social media marketing
(3) Reduce shopping cart abandonment: You should be able reduce your abandonment rate by getting a greater proportion of your traffic on your website to identify themselves through some form or opt-in / sign up / registration, and using this to market to them. (…)
On July 27, SeeWhy conducted an online poll among 221 eMarketers. The results reveal some potential shifts in focus over the next 12 months: shopping cart recovery, reducing landing page clutter, link building, and transactional email all emerge as top priorities.
The poll also looked in detail at four key areas of conversion to determine their priorities. The four areas examined were as follows:
• Landing page optimization
• Email marketing
• Web conversion/shopping cart recovery techniques
Each respondent was allowed to pick only one response in each category, forcing them to choose their top priority.
Marketers plan to focus on link building as their top priority in the next 12 months, with 42 percent stating that it is their top SEO focus. Changes to website pages to ensure they are more SEO friendly were the highest priority for 22 percent, while 21 percent plan to focus on social media integration. Site-based optimization (such as sitemaps and navigation) was the main focus for only 15 percent. There are two notable conclusions that you draw about these findings:
1) Marketers have taken on board the changes made over recent months by Google to prioritize quality and diversity of links in search results over the content itself.
2) Social media integration is unexpectedly high. While social media is hot for marketers, in SEO terms this is really cutting edge stuff, and it signals that marketers have recognized the importance of social media in driving traffic. In particular, Facebook’s social plugins, including the easy to implement ‘Like’ button, are beginning to be viewed as a simple ‘social SEO toolkit.’
Website and Landing Page Optimization
Marketers are taking the ‘less is more’ philosophy to heart when it comes to landing page optimization. Just over half (51 percent) stated that reducing clutter was their top priority, recognizing that landing pages have been added to gradually over time at the expense of simplicity and simple, strong calls to action. (…)
‘Have we conditioned most customers to the point that they expect discounts and won’t buy without one?’
This is a great question, and it’s worth considering in more depth. Recent research shows that coupon redemption is at an all time high, and at the same time, Ben Bernanke warns that the economic recovery is fragile and taxes will inevitably have to rise. It’s no wonder that customers are nervous and cautious. (…)
Last year, 154 million people in the U.S. made online purchases amounting to $155.2 billion in sales, or approximately $1000 each, according to recent Forrester research. But these are just the ones that made it through the process: ever since the very first online purchase in 1979, significantly more people abandoned shopping carts than complete their purchases. (…)
Examples of a real-dollar Return on Investment (ROI) from social media marketing programs are rare. Unfortunately for most ecommerce teams, having hundreds of thousands of fans often doesn’t translate into revenue.
For your CEO and CFO to take social media campaigns seriously, you need to be able to demonstrate a direct measurable impact that either reduces costs (say in reduced customer service heads) or increases sales. At the moment, most social campaigns are doing neither.