Abandoned carts are concrete proof that a visitor was on your ecommerce site and then left without making a purchase. And abandoned carts can easily confound the ecommerce professional. There are two questions every ecommerce pro must ask in regards to abandoned carts: 1) Why did the customer abandon their cart without purchasing; and 2) What can be done to get them to come back to the site to finish the purchase?

Today we are going to look at a real-life instance of abandoned cart remarketing and how effective it was. First, a little back story.

I’ve recently gotten into art journaling. Being a mosaic artist when I’m not blogging about ecommerce, I had a lot to learn and lots of supplies to acquire. Enter shopping online! (The crowd goes wild!) Anyway, I got a promotional email from Utrecht.com offering a flat percentage off my order and free shipping. Of course, I headed out to their site to compare prices to the other online and physical bricks-and-mortar stores I use and to get a sense of whether the offer would be worth it.

I selected my favorite brand of fluid acrylic in my favorite color and put it in the shopping cart along with a whole bunch of other items that I knew I couldn’t pass up if the price was right. When I applied the coupon, I quickly realized that the promotional email was something of a bait and switch—it offered a flat 15% off plus free shipping if you spent a certain amount but only on regularly priced items. Unfortunately, nearly every item I put in my cart was on sale (as well as most of the site) so what appeared to be a good deal in the promo email turned out to be spending a lot of money for nearly non-existent savings. (This made me quite cranky, although that is a blog post for a different day.)

With my question of whether or not to order from the site answered, I abandoned the cart and went about my day. A couple of hours passed and I received the following email from Utrecht.com:

Effective E Commerce Retargeting Abandoned Cart Email 40 Percent Off resized 600

While I was a little surprised by the reminder—I didn’t put in any identifying information while I was on their site, but quickly realized that I clicked on an email they sent me which allowed them to retarget me when I bailed on the products in my cart—their email didn’t compel me to buy. The reality is that I had already decided that their prices were higher than the other sources I used and that the coupon they offered didn’t apply. I deleted the email and went on with my day, not giving it much thought. (Also, side note: The cart on the Utrecht site only saved the first item that I put in my cart even though I had well over $80 worth of stuff in there, which I found to be odd.)

Approximately 24 hours later, I received a second follow up email. This offer had a little more weight behind it:

Effective E Commerce Retargeting Abandoned Cart Email

By offering me a substantial discount on my highest priced product, Utrecht is hoping to entice me into going back to the site. I have to admit, I haven’t gone back because I want to see if the offer will get any better (Sorry Utrecht!) and also because the consumer in me is a little miffed by the bait-and-switch promotional email tactics they used to get me to the site in the first place. It will be interesting to see if they come up with another offer and when it will arrive. I will keep you posted.

So, here’s the break down of the email remarketing technique used by Utrecht.com:

The first email Utrecht sent me only a few hours after I abandoned my cart was the “reminder email.” It assumes that something external pulled me away from my computer and that is why I didn’t complete the sale. (a.k.a: The just-in-case-the-phone-rang-and-you-got-distracted email. Or the sorry-your-computer-crashed-thought-we-should-remind-you-that-you-were-about-to-buy-acrylic-paint email.) Had I simply gotten distracted, I might have headed back to complete the purchase at this point.

The second email I received 24-hours after I abandoned the cart is the retargeting email. It acknowledges that my cart abandonment was deliberate. How does it do that? Simple—it offers me a sizable discount in an effort to get me to reengage. Utrecht’s offer of 40% off the highest price item in my cart is good—but isn’t enough to get me to engage again. It also makes me wonder if there is a flat rate discount code off of the entire cart coming my way soon as it doesn’t seem that Utrecht has pulled out the “big guns” yet.

In many instances, email retargeting works quite well. The key is to make sure to make an offer that your customer can’t refuse as quickly as possible because the further they get from their abandoned cart, the less likely they are to reengage.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce website, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.