Email Marketing: Abandoned Shopping Carts and the Art of Negotiation

Posted by Scott Cohen On November 16, 2011 in story time I 0 Comments

While most marketers understand that emotion is a significant part of the purchasing process, so is the negotiation.  With every purchase there’s a negotiation happening, whether it’s online or offline.

If you receive an email promoting a product you’re interested in buying, you’ll most likely view and probably click through to the site to see more.  Here’s where the real negotiation starts.

In your head you’re already weighing certain pros and cons:  “I really want this… But can I afford it right now?  Is there a better deal out there?  Should I wait till my next paycheck?  But what if the price goes up… or down?”  You may even get to the point of adding the item to the shopping cart, only to abandon the item(s) because at the last minute, you’ve negotiated with yourself to wait.

As the email marketer, here is another opportunity for you to renegotiate with the buyer.  In fact, you are now in direct negotiations with the buyer. They showed interest—enough interest to actually put the item in the basket. So, here comes your decision:

What will you offer them to complete the sale?

If you have a shopping cart abandonment program in place, you may be set up to send the shopper a follow-up email with a targeted offer for a discount on that particular product or a general 10% off deal to help push them over the edge and make the purchase.

At the end of the day, you have some decisions to make. What should your rules be in the abandonment program?:
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  • Do you simply remind them they still have items in their cart?
  • Do you make the offer right away or wait 24 or 48 hours to start the negotiation?
  • What if they’re an identified high-value customer who buys regularly?
  • What if they are a potential new customer and not in your database?
  • Will sending an offer of free 2-day shipping be enough?
  • Should you send an offer for a percentage off? How much should you give?
  • Should you send an offer for a discount only applied to that specific product?
  • Is it a time-sensitive offer – must purchase within 48-hours?
  • Do you send multiple emails if the first isn’t acted upon?

These are all simply examples. Because you don’t know their true intention, you’re essentially going into the negotiation blind. Maybe they just got busy. Maybe they decided to wait until Friday when they get paid.  Maybe they’re hoping to get that item as a present and decided to wait. Maybe you just don’t have a clue.

The decisions you make when setting up a shopping cart abandonment program, in most cases, will need to be tested based on offer type, total dollar amount of the shopping cart, new or existing customer, etc.  Also look at your current abandoned carts and natural returns to purchase.  See what the average time is between abandonment and return to complete the purchase.  That may give you a good idea on your window of opportunity.

Understand this: This is a negotiation. You just have to decide how willing you are to reduce your profit margin to win the deal.  Because tighter profit margins with more sales will still result in an up-tick in revenues.

Start with a conservative approach and test.  Then tweak the offers based on timing, total dollars in cart, existing customer or potential new customer, type of offer, or simply a reminder.

Don’t think you have to offer big discounts and, most importantly, don’t negotiate against yourself.  Test first and find the offer that best returns the most sales for the least amount of discounts.

Cheers and I hope your sales are great this holiday season, Chris

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