Don’t put up with those abandoned trolleys

Don’t put up with those abandoned trolleys

There’s greater scope than ever for effective remarketing in today’s omnichannel world. But in order to prevent sales getting away, marketers must develop re-engagement strategies built on data and behavioural insight, explains Rob Gray.

It’s a good job there’s no physical manifestation of abandoned digital shopping carts – otherwise all our canals and rivers would be clogged from the sheer number of dumped trolleys. But while environmentalists can breathe a sigh of relief, uncompleted online purchases cause major headaches for marketers.

We’ve all done it when shopping on the internet: lined up some items to buy, then not followed through on the transaction. Perhaps something more pressing arose to distract us, perhaps we decided we needed more time to make price comparisons or conduct deeper research into product attributes and performance. At moments like this, we are ‘the ones that got away’. And with so much competition out there, we may also be the ones who never come back.

A growing number of businesses are developing remarketing strategies designed to re-engage with customers who previously showed an interest in making a purchase but for whatever reason got cold feet. For example, by using cookies to track the prospect’s online journey and serving a tailored ad to them on a different website, or sending a precisely targeted email related to their on-site behaviour.

But in today’s complicated omnichannel world, with its array of customer touchpoints, remarketing presents significant challenges. Although for marketers who get it right there’s huge potential.

“Retailers face a major challenge to build a single view of the customer due to the dynamic nature of customers’ shopping journey across various channels,” says Accenture Digital senior manager Anthony Levesanos, an expert in marketing optimisation. “Therefore, they are missing a great opportunity to provide relevant products, prices, offers, service and an overall seamless shopping experience that drives positive bottom line results by winning customer loyalty and trust.

“It is expected by today’s savvy customers for retailers to have presence across channels; if not, your trustworthiness is at risk. Retailers as a priority should decide how their analytics, operating model, strategy and technology should adapt by putting the customer at the centre, capturing customer needs real time and customising their offering at a local and personal level.”

Google has a suite of remarketing options, from dynamic ads showing specific products that past visitors took an interest in to solutions geared specifically towards smartphone users. For instance, this includes showing ads to people who have used your mobile app or mobile website when they use other apps or mobile websites. As well as the inevitable SEO ads connected to follow-up product searches, Google offers ‘video remarketing’ – showing ads to people who, for example, have interacted with your YouTube content as they continue their online journey.

Yet it remains tough to crack remarketing. According to Deloitte Consulting, 95 per cent of visitors to a website leave without converting; 40 per cent of prospects lose interest within seven days, and 98 per cent of website visitors are anonymous. This last fact underlines the scale of the challenge.

In its recently released report – Making it Work: Mastering Remarketing in an Omnichannel World  Neustar warns marketers there can be a downside to remarketing. Getting it wrong leads to advertising that is not personally relevant to the customer, which they may find annoying or even alienating. Examples include: irrelevant ads that follow you round the internet; ads still being displayed after you have bought the product you wanted; ads targeted at someone else, like your spouse or child; and brands treating you as a different person on different channels.

The latter is commonplace, because identifying customers as they move between channels is hard. According to Deloitte, most marketers can identify only 40 per cent of their customers and high-value prospects across channels.

Clearly, identity data and analytics are crucial and becoming ever more so. As the Neustar report says: “Without identity, remarketing is simplistic. It retargets a consumer who has simply shown intent to purchase a product, such as configuring a luxury car on an automotive manufacturer’s website.

“With identity, remarketing is sophisticated. It verifies the consumer’s identity, based on email address for example, and targets efforts only to high-value prospects who meet certain criteria, such as household income requirements.”

It’s sensible to try and turn any abandonment to your advantage, perhaps by instantly flashing up some sort of incentive. For example, the customer could be offered a 10% discount in return for supplying their email address. Clearly, combining data capture with promotional activity in this way has several advantages. If the prospect supplies contact details but does not immediately make a purchase, email communication can be used to remarket in a compelling way – displaying the product appealingly, providing detailed background or specification information, or links to credible customer or third party reviews, or indeed further promotional offers.

A shrewdly constructed remarketing strategy will also hinge on insight into customer behaviour and psychology. If, for the sake of argument, abandonment occurs at the point when shipping costs are shown, the customer could be offered free postage and packing in lieu of a discount on the product price.

Abandonment due to shipping costs is a big issue. According to UK research by NetSuite, having to pay for delivery is the leading cause of abandonment (cited by 52% of shoppers). This came ahead of: “I couldn’t inspect the product online”; “too many steps in the purchasing process”; and “having to register my personal details”.

Understanding and overcoming these barriers to purchase is fundamental to successful remarketing. Marketers aren’t omniscient, but increasingly they are expected to be omnichannel-savvy.

Rob Gray CPL Freelance Writer
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