In the last column I provided ten sure-fire ways to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate. For this column, I am adding a strategy to help you recover sales after an abandoned shopping cart, plus explain how to build your customers' experience after the sale is completed.
Over the past year, I have been working with an e-commerce client to build up their sales volume, and to create a powerful customer experience that influences frequent, repeat orders. One effective strategy I recently implemented involved sending a personalized email to each abandoned shopper within 48 hours after leaving the cart, without purchasing. In addition to a customer friendly message clearly explaining the email's purpose, the email lists the products previously added to the shopper's cart. Most shopping cart technology provides this type of functionality, but always test it on yourself first, before using it with your customers.
Most importantly, a postscript within the email asks for the abandoned shopper's assistance with completing a brief, two question survey. It takes less than 30 seconds to answer. The purpose of the survey is clearly explained, specifically asks for feedback on how to improve the buying experience, and why he or she abandoned the shopping cart. The survey presents an open ended and a multiple choice question, with seven options, based on common abandonment factors. There are many inexpensive, yet still sophisticated surveying web applications on the market, but in this particular case I used ConstantContact.com's new ListenUp! surveying tool.
Since the abandoned cart strategy was launched, the client has captured over 37 percent of potentially lost sales, which added an additional seven percent in revenue. However, this is only one successful way to recover shopping cart abandons. Another way that is potentially more expensive, yet equally successful, involves using a third party provider like SecondBite.com to email or call abandoned shoppers. Some of these third party providers may work on a pay for performance basis, which is beneficial to your bank account.
Depending on your web business, repeat sales may or may not be a realistic objective. Selling a consumable product like coffee, or products like apparel or technology, may lend well to seeking repeat buyers. More considered purchases, especially large business to business capital expenditures, are frequently once in a very long time repeat buys. But remember that buyers have friends and associates. Human beings tend to trust their friends' and associates' opinions when making purchasing decisions. Therefore, even though your web business may not be seeking a repeat purchase from a previous buyer, you should be seeking to nurture an enthusiastic previous buyer to refer new buyers!
Consulting powerhouse, Bain and Company stated, "Our studies show that a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company's profitability by 75 percent." Therefore, whether your business model supports repeat purchases or not, retaining the hearts of your customers generates greater profitability, even if gained only through reduced acquisition costs from referrals.
In this regard, after the sale is completed, your work begins with implementing customer retention strategies to motivate word of mouth referrals and/or generate repeat orders. One effective strategy to accomplish these objectives is to offer a brief survey on the Thank You page directly following a completed order or within the email receipt. Both of these channels, the Thank You page, and an email receipt, are very effective tools for initiating the customer retention process, because buyers pay close attention to them.
You can use an incentive for completing the survey, such as a discount on the next order, a referral commission for referring a new customer, or an accessory like a free pair of socks to go with their recently purchased running shoes. Be careful to connect the reward type and quality to the desired behavior, and keep in mind the power of the reciprocity rule. According to Robert B. Cialdini in his book, The Psychology of Influence, the reciprocity, "rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us." Besides leveraging this natural human inclination, people also love a good offer.
Another strategy involves presenting a coupon code or printable coupon on the Thank You page, for use on his or her next purchase. Communicating a customer friendly message with the purpose of thanking the buyer for their business helps to add to an already great buying experience, or take the fatigue off a less than positive buying experience.
It may help to add a live chat feature and customer support contacts, like phone and email, to the Thank You page and email receipt, to provide a channel for customer feedback. It is better to know when a bad buying experience occurs, in order to remedy it quickly, than to have a negative experience simmer in the buyer's mind. Businesses should not rely on reactive customer service to make a bad event turn good. Proactively managing a poor customer experience quickly on the Thank You page, or immediately following the purchase, reduces customer frustration, while increasing the odds of retention.
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