What’s Working in Browse and Abandon Campaigns

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

One of the major challenges retailers have with browse and abandon email campaigns is how to avoid being “creepy”. Here are a few different approaches I have come upon recently. How do you think they might work for you?


Over the holidays I received this from PacSun with the subject line “Your recently viewed items” featuring the exact items I had viewed and no related recommendations. The approach with the enthusiastic, “Take Another Look!” did not seem creepy to me at the time, and I was in fact, grateful for the option to conveniently get back to some holiday gift items I had considered but was not sure about previously: 


I recently looked at a number of console tables at Hayneedle and received this email with the subject line “Find everything Console Tables…plus free shipping on most.” The copy “Take a look…hand-picked for you. Interested in Console Tables?” is a little less assuming than “we know you’re looking at console tables,” and the featured tables are actually not any that I recall looking at specifically: 
Even more subtle is this beautifully-designed email from Jambu, which simply acknowledges a site visit and invites me back, with the opportunity to go directly to new arrivals: 

Somewhat Confusing

As with the Hayneedle example above, featuring products that are related to but not exactly the items looked at may seem less “creepy” in certain instances, however, it’s best to provide some sort of context around what you’re merchandising. 
I recently searched for console tables at Overstock, too, and then received this email with the subject line, “Are you still interested in this product?” What I found confusing is that I was not looking for a magazine snack table, don’t recall even browsing this item and certainly didn’t put it in my cart, yet this seems to be a shopping cart abandonment email. What does work, however, is the recommended sales, as the first two categories are ones that I also recently browsed: 
Similarly, while I did not personally receive this email from Williams-Sonoma with the subject line, “Thanks For Your Interest In: Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Collection, Winter Forest,” my colleague who did claims she did not look at this specific item. While I have seen countless Williams-Sonoma messages that are great examples of what to do in email marketing, this one unfortunately serves as an example of what not to do. The colon in the subject line may as well say “(insert name of browsed product here)” and the name of the product is way too specific, in my opinion. In addition, after the obvious miss of thanking the recipient for her interest in a product she hasn’t browsed, recommending “Customers Who Purchased Similar Items Also Purchased” seems somehow vague and inappropriate, and the products themselves seem to have no logical relation.
The same clickstream and transactional data that can be used to provide timely, relevant and helpful messages can, if used incorrectly,be confusing, annoying or even creepy. Serving up the right products at the right time with the right messaging is crucial.


Email Design: Analysis of a Five Day Sale

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Earlier this month Brooks Brothers had a Weekend Clearance Event. The sale ran for five days and each day I received an email promoting the sale. This concept is certainly nothing new in the retail email universe. However, speaking from the design point of view, I think this campaign was well done. Here are few reasons why.

 A Sense of Urgency

The creative includes a calendar which is updated with every send. The current day is circled and the previous days are crossed off. I found this to be an effective and creative way of visually communicating urgency.

 Consistent Design Theme

The same basic design is carried throughout the entire series. A simple change in the message and colors is enough to make each email different while still looking familiar. An added benefit of this is the time for the design process is significantly reduced.

 The Human Touch

Each email has a different headline that’s handwritten. If you study them closely you can see they’re not created with a font. It’s likely someone actually wrote them. The circle and cross offs on the calendar also appear to be handwritten. This gives the email a nice human touch.

Email 1

Subject Line: Clear your schedule: 70% off starts today.

Email 2

Subject Line: Hello Friday…

Email 3

Subject Line: Need weekend plans? Shop and save.

Email 4

Subject Line: Last chance. Save up to 70% online.

Email 5

Subject Line: It’s (almost) history. 70% off ends today.


    Retailers Relying More on Personalization, Less on Discounting

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    We released our sixth annual research report of the email tactics used by the Top 1000 Internet Retailers and were pleasantly surprised by some of the results.
    We found that retailers are sending messages that are more personal. The inclusion of related product recommendations increased 86.25% over 2013.
    We also found that retailers are sending more messages. Not only was there a big increase in the number of remarketing campaigns we received, but we found that 24% of the Top 500 companies send more than 20 emails per month, with 12% sending daily.
    And, most surprisingly, retailers aren’t relying as heavily on discounts to re-engage shoppers.There was a 45% decrease in the number of shopping cart abandonment messages we received that included an offer in the first message.
    What does this all mean? It means that there has been a major shift in the way retailers are communicating with their customers and, if you haven’t kept up with the trends, you could be missing out on a lot of opportunities.


    Six Tips to Update Your Cart Recovery Campaigns in 2015

    Friday, January 16, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    Recently Listrak CEO Ross Kramer outlined ways to refresh and optimize your shopping cart abandonment campaigns in a blog post for iMedia Connection
    Now that the busy holiday season has passed and the new year has arrived, it’s a great time to consider refreshing triggered campaigns you may have put into “set and forget” mode in 2014. A great place to start is one of your highest-performing triggered campaigns - shopping cart recovery. We recently compiled some tips on how to make it work even harder:
    1. Send Earlier
    While you may never know why a particular cart is abandoned, it’s important to not to wait too long to reach back. Send the first message within three hours while the shopper is still contemplating the sale. Sometimes a gentle nudge is all that is needed. In 2014, 66.7% of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 and 85.1% of Second 500 companies were sending the first message within 24 hours of the abandoned cart, with 24% of the Top 500 and 30.4% of the second 500 sending within one hour.
    2. Send More Often
    Shopping cart abandonment messages have some of the highest campaign conversion rates, with the average hovering between 20 and 25% for the first message. Adding more messages will simply bring in more sales while using very few resources. In 2014, of the Internet Retailer Top 500 and Second 500 companies that sent abandoned cart emails, 53.2% of the Top 500 and 60.9% of the Second 500 were sending more than one message. More impressively, 7% of the Top 500 and 7.5% of the Second 500 were sending four or more messages – increases of 169.2% and 59.6% over 2013, respectively. Check the conversion rate of each message, and as long as the last message in your series is generating a double digit rate, add another!
    3. Get More Personal
    Nothing shows stronger purchase intent than when a customer adds merchandise to an online cart. It tells you exactly what that customer is looking for at that exact moment. Your shopping cart remarketing messages should not only include images of the item(s) left in the cart to tempt the shopper into completing the purchase, but also ratings and reviews written by customers that purchased and love the item(s), as well as product recommendations based on products similar to the abandoned merchandise and on past purchases.
    You can even take it a step further and create a Shopping Cart Nurturing campaign. This innovative and game-changing campaign combines a standard shopping cart remarketing campaign with an email nurturing campaign offering product recommendations. The nurturing emails include the cart merchandise as recommended products and are deployed on the days during the remarketing campaign when no emails are being sent. For example, if remarketing messages are sent two hours after the abandonment and again four and six days later, nurturing emails are sent on days two, three and five.
    4. Stop Relying on Discounts
    Relevant, timely messages don’t need a discount or special offer to work, and shopping cart recovery campaigns are some of the most relevant and timely messages – especially when personalized with customized product recommendations. There has been a steady decline in discounts offered in shopping cart abandonment campaigns. Only 18.1% of the Top 500 and 16.1% of the Second 500 companies offered a discount in the first remarketing message in 2014 – declining 39.3% and 50.1%, respectively, from 2013. Retailers are withholding offers in the second and third messages of their campaigns as well.
    5. Offer More Buying Options
    Remember, customers are using carts to hold merchandise they’re interested in as they contemplate the sale, so the message in your remarketing campaign should reflect this. If possible, ask customers if they want to purchase the item but pick it up in their local store or tell them that you’ll match other advertised prices. The more buying choices customers have, the more likely they’ll be to reconsider the purchase.
    6. Do a Better Job of Acquiring Email Addresses
    This isn’t a campaign update, but will transform your campaign performance. If you haven’t implemented a modal lightbox acquisition strategy, now is the time to do so. More retailers are using this tactic – 28.9% of the Top 500 (a 25.6% increase over 2013) and 29.5% of the Second 500 (a 77.7% increase over 2013) are currently collecting website visitors’ email addresses this way. The reason is simple – the more email addresses you have, the more customers you can reach back to when they abandon carts. In 2015, don’t just think about growing your list, think about increasing your reachability rate. You’ll be adding the right subscribers to your list and your email ROI will increase dramatically.


    Email Marketing Compliance is Ever Changing

    Friday, January 16, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    The privacy and compliance landscape is ever-changing as lawmakers need to stay ahead of spammers who are at most a security threat and at least annoying and responsible for giving email senders a bad rap. In honor of the eighth annual Data Privacy Day (January 28), following is a reminder of the importance of email compliance:
    The CAN-SPAM Act was signed in 2003, establishing the United States’ first national standards for the sending of commercial email, and making each individual email in violation subject to penalties of up to $16,000. Here are some key components:

    Purchased Email Lists

    Bottom line: It’s not a good idea to purchase or sell email lists. In fact, the Act specifically states you can’t sell email addresses, although you may transfer them to a company hired to help with compliance.
    Unless you have an agreement with another company to co-market in their newsletter or have access to a legitimate opt-in list from an affiliate, only send emails to your own list. While renting lists is not prohibited, legally it can be risky, and ethically, shady. It also typically results in a high rate of unsubscribes and abuse complaints.

    False Header Information

    In email marketing campaigns, the header information, including originating domain name and email address, must be accurate and identify the person or business that initiated the message.

    Misleading or Deceptive Subject Lines

    The Act specifically states that subject lines must not be misleading in any way. Besides, disappointing potential customers is a sure way to lose their business and can lead to the FTC exercising its authority to enforce Section 5 of the FTC Act (Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices).

    Sender's Postal Address

    The sender’s actual postal mailing address must be included in commercial emails. It’s normally seen in the footer and can be your current street address, a USPS-registered P.O. box or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.

    Opt-out Option (Unsubscribe)

    A major requirement of the Act is that recipients be given a way to opt out of or unsubscribe from future emails. It can be a one-click opt-out or more detailed option, such as a preference center listing specific types of communications from which to opt-out. The email must also have a functional return email address or other mechanism clearly and conspicuously displayed a recipient can use to unsubscribe from the mailing list. This address or mechanism must remain functional for 30 days after the email is sent, and any unsubscribe request must be honored within 10 business days.

    Mixing Lists

    What about sending marketing messages to people subscribed only to your blog updates or vice-versa? This is permitted. Keep in mind, however, that compliance regulations apply to any message with commercial content, so your blog or newsletter—if transmitted—is likely subject to opt-out and disclosure requirements, too.
    While it’s legal to mix the content sent to different lists, we recommend email segmentation. For example, don’t send a subscriber to your blog additional offers unless they purchase something and subscribe to your marketing list and vice-verse to ensure you’re honoring the customer’s wishes.
    Also, if your lists are independent and don’t share a suppression list, you can find yourself with increased abuse complaints when they’re not managed correctly. If a recipient unsubscribes from your blog updates, but continues to receive general marketing email (or vice-versa), they might be driven to mark the email as SPAM.
    These regulations apply to email marketing in the US, but what if you have subscribers reading your commercial emails outside of the US, too? Be on the look-out for a follow-up article that addresses the importance of email compliance outside of the United States.


    Email Marketing Compliance Outside of the U.S.

    Friday, January 16, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    Listrak Chief Privacy Officer James Koons followed up his Multichannel Merchant article on CAN-SPAM with another focusing on email outside of the country
    I recently wrote on article on the importance and key features of the US CAN-SPAM act. Crossing international boundaries with email is easy, however, other nations have different – and often stricter – laws.

    Canadian Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)

    Last July, Canada began enforcing CASL, which establishes rules for sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) and prohibits the unauthorized alteration of data during transmission.
    Most importantly, the legislation requires that consent be obtained before sending a commercial email.
    CASL applies to every CEM sent from or accessed by a computer located in Canada, so compliance could be problematic for senders who don’t have an opt-in audit trail.
    CASL and the CAN-SPAM Act differ in several key areas:
    • CAN-SPAM is “opt-out”; CASL is “opt-in”
    • Implied consent under CASL expires in two years; CAN-SPAM has no consent expirations
    • When obtaining consent under CASL, the specific purpose must be provided upfront
    • To be CASL-compliant, in addition to a working unsubscribe mechanism, messages must include a statement that the recipient can withdraw consent at any time
    • An unsubscribe link under the CAN-SPAM Act must function for 30 days after the sending of the message and for 60 days under CASL
    • Under CASL, transactional messages must also include a working unsubscribe mechanism
    And these are just a few things to be aware of. CASL has been called the “world’s toughest anti-SPAM law” both for its scope and associated penalties, so if doing business in Canada, make sure you develop a compliance strategy.

    International Considerations

    Anti-SPAM laws in Europe fall under one European Union directive, which in theory, would make email marketers in all EU countries subject to the same expectations. In practice, however, the 2002 EU Directive set guidelines, but each member state has had to enact its own unique laws for electronic communications.
    Taking an opt-in stance on commercial email communications, the Directive stipulates that prior explicit consent is required before sending a commercial electronic message (including email, SMS, voice, fax and other electronic forms of messaging) and that an opt-out option must be clear and conspicuous.
    While not an all-inclusive list, here are some other key notable items for sending commercial email campaigns to global recipients:
    • Opt-in is required for remarketing (shopping cart abandonment) messages sent to the EU. Again, the Directive is implemented by each member state independently, so you’ll want to check individual country laws for details.
    • The “Send-To-A-Friend” function is not legal in Germany.
    • In Russia, there are federal laws pertaining to advertising and to personal data, both to protect Internet users from SPAM. Both clearly indicate that sending bulk mail is only allowed with the recipient’s consent, adhering to the opt-in principle.
    • Private rights of action are available in a number of jurisdictions, including the UK, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Germany and France. Starting in 2017, in Canada CASL will permit any private party to bring an action not only for compensation for losses suffered and expenses incurred, but also for statutory penalties of up to $1 million per day.
    • When sending to recipients in China, either the word “AD” for English language emails or the Chinese word for “advertisement” is required in the subject line.
    • Australia’s 2003 Spam Act not only applies to email, but also to SMS and MMS messages of a commercial nature. There are three basic steps to follow to ensure compliancy with the act – Consent, Identification and Unsubscribe.
    Compliance with email marketing laws ensures that your emails are welcome and legal, but also provides a host of other benefits, including higher open and other engagement rates. If you make unsubscribing easy, the recipients that remain are those who really enjoy reading your emails and engaging with your brand and who have a positive sentiment towards your brand, which ultimately leads to more sales and referrals.
    James Koons is Chief Privacy Officer of Listrak


    Retailers Get Less Promotional and More Personal

    Thursday, January 15, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    Today (1/15/15), Internet Retailer released its exclusive report on the findings of our soon-to-be released research study. Be on the lookout for the link to the full study next week. 
    By Don Davis, Editor in Chief 
    Fewer top online retailers are offering discounts in e-mails, while more actively encourage e-mail sign-ups on their sites.
    Retailers tweaked their e-mail marketing programs in important ways in 2014, seeking to win sales more through personalized offers and less with discounts, according to a study by e-mail marketing firm Listrak. They also got more aggressive in seeking to persuade web site visitors to sign up for their e-mail lists, but are missing opportunities to connect with mobile shoppers, Listrak says.
    Listrak studied the e-mail campaigns of the top 1,000 retailers in North America by online sales, those ranked in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and in the Second 500 Guide, which ranks retailers ranked Nos. 501-1000. A report on the study by Megan Ouellet, director of content marketing at Listrak, will be released next week.
    The study found that 22.2% more of the Top 500 retailers sent personalized e-mails in 2014 than in 2013 and 7.5% more among the Second 500. Listrak also noted that more retailers including product recommendations in e-mail, “increasing the level of personalization and engagement.” Among Top 500 retailers, 22.2% used product recommendations in remarketing campaigns, for example to shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts, an increase of 85% over 2013; 7.5% of Second 500 retailers recommended products in e-mail remarketing campaigns, up 87.5% over the prior year.
    But retailers were not relying as much on discounts to woo shoppers: there was a 45% decrease in discount offers in retailers’ first remarketing message, Listrak says.
    While 77.7% of the Top 500 retailers display ratings and reviews on their web sites, only 5.8% put them into e-mails in 2014. Still, that was an increase of 70.5% over 2013. 55% of Second 500 retailers show ratings and reviews and 6.2% used them in e-mail campaigns, an increase of 31.9%.
    The report points to Best Buy Co. Inc., No. 15 in the Top 500, as a retailer sending effective remarketing e-mails to shoppers who left items in carts, without offering explicit discounts. In the first message Best Buy offers to match a lower price, and later asks if the customer is ready to complete the purchase. Both e-mails include ratings and reviews on the products in the cart and recommendations of related items.
    The study also shows that retailers are reaching out more quickly to consumers who abandon shopping carts. Among Top 500 retailers, 66.7% sent an e-mail within 24 hours of the shopper leaving the site, an increase of 1.4% over 2013, and 76.9% within 48 hours, up 4.3%. For Second 500 retailers, 85.1% reached out via e-mail within 24 hours, up 5.9%, and 87.8% within 48 hours, an increase of 5.4%.
    The percentage that offer discounts increases from the first to the second to the third remarketing e-mails retailers send to these shoppers, but fewer of those e-mails offered a lower price in 2014 than in 2013. Among Top 500 retailers only 18.1% offered a discount in the first e-mail, down 39.3% from 2013; 39.5% in the second e-mail, down 22.2%; and 48.8% in the third message, a decline of 38.8%. For Second 500 retailers the figures were: 16.1% offering a discount in the first e-mail, a decrease of 50.1%; 56.1% in the second e-mail, down 11.4%; and 69.6% in the third e-mail, down 9.6%. In the fourth follow-up e-mail 41.6% of Top 500 retailers and 58% of Second 500 retailers offered a discount in 2014, according to the report, which did not provide comparable 2013 figures for the fourth e-mail in the sequence.
    Retailers on average only have the e-mail addresses of 29% of web site visitors, and Top 1000 retailers are taking added steps to collect those valuable e-mail addresses, often through on-screen pop-ups (also called “modal lightboxes”) that encourage a shopper to sign up. Listrak found 28.9% of Top 500 retailers using this technique in 2014, an increase of 25.6% from 2013. For Second retailers, it was 29.5% asking for the e-mail address in an on-screen overlay, up 77.7%. For Top 500 retailers, 46.5% offered no discount or offer—such as free shipping or entry into a contest—as an incentive to sign up for e-mail, but that was true of only 31% of Second 500 retailers.
    Listrak says many retailers are missing out on opportunities to present their e-mails effectively to the growing number of consumers reading e-mails on smartphones and tablets. Only 16.5% of Top 500 retailers had a responsive  web site—one that adapts to the size of the screen the consumer is using—and only 6.4% offered responsive e-mails that would be easy to read on the smaller screens of smartphones. For Second 500 retailers it was 16.5% with a responsive web site and 3.8% with responsive e-mails.
    That’s a missed opportunity, Listrak says, because applying responsive design techniques to e-mail increases the open rates 9% and click-through rates 113%.
    Listrak provides e-mail marketing services to 61 of the Top 1000 e-retailers in North America, 15 in the Top 500 and 46 in the Second 500.


    Shoppers Want Marketing E-mails Tailored to their Preferences

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

    Last week (January 8, 2015), Zak Stambor, managing editor of Internet Retailer, reported the results of our recent Harris Poll
    80% of consumers say they like it when brands’ e-mails recommend products based on their previous purchases.
    Shoppers want retailers to target them with personalized marketing messages, particularly in e-mails, according to a new online survey by Harris Poll sponsored by digital marketing technology and services provider Listrak.
    The survey of 2,042 U.S. consumers 18 and older finds:
    • 80% of consumers like when retailers’ e-mails recommend products based on their previous purchases.
    • 71% like when retailers e-mail them based on items they’ve viewed online but not purchased.
    • 69% like retargeting ads that show them an item they’ve recently viewed on a merchant’s site.
    • 67% like product recommendations on  retailers’ sites.
    “These numbers are an incredible testament to the effectiveness of using purchase and browsing behavior data in predictive algorithms to present shoppers with timely, relevant products that they have the highest propensity to buy,” says Listrak CEO Ross Kramer.
    Tailoring a marketing e-mail can help a retailer’s e-mail stand out from the flood of messages consumers receive in their inboxes, he says. 44% of those who open and read retailers’ promotional e-mails say they receive five or more e-mails per week from retailers and 21% say they receive nine or more per week.
    A number of shoppers say that’s too many e-mails; 21% of shoppers say they don’t want to receive more than five e-mails a week from a particular retailer.
    But Kramer says that context is important to consider when marketers send consumers e-mails pointing to results from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, which heavily leveraged e-mail marketing. When the campaign increased the number of messages it sent, the number of donations increased. While the volume increase also led more consumers to unsubscribe from the e-mail list, the tradeoff was worth it, he says.
    Subscribers’ willingness to receive more e-mails corresponds to the messages’ relevance to them, he adds. And 81% of shoppers say they want promotional e-mails to highlight items that are on sale. That’s more than double the percentage who say they want those messages to organize items by price (40%), showcase new products (39%) or highly rated items (38%).