Convert, keep, grow – How customer lifecycle marketing can help you build relationships that last

However gorgeous a website is, and however tantalizing its products are, the vast majority of visitors won’t even get as far as putting something in their cart

There are few firm statistics about the proportion of unconverted browsers, but Fresh Relevance’s 2014 data put it at a staggering 88%. That’s a lot of missed opportunities, if you let them get away scot free.

But, as with people who fill a cart but fail to check out, there are some easy, tried and tested ways to turn a show of interest into a sale. Much of what I’ve written in a previous blog about converting cart abandoners into customers also holds true for browsers, but there are some subtle differences in the way you should approach this group.

Here are the top five things you should think about when you’re planning a browser email campaign:
1- Choose your recipients carefully

If you email everyone who looks at a product on your website, you’re likely to end up with more unsubscribes than sales, and a PR headache to boot. So set some parameters for who to include – such as people who look at an item more than once, or people who have used the search function to find a specific product – and make sure you stick to them. Leave the rest be.

2- Take care with your tone

In my view, customer emails should never go in with a hard sell – but in the case of browsers, that’s truer than ever. These customers haven’t shown any real commitment to your brand or a particular product on this visit; they may simply have been whiling away their lunch hour window shopping. So they might be a bit disconcerted if you suddenly start pushing your products at them.
Instead, take a relaxed, customer-focused approach, such as thanking them for their interest and asking if you can help them in any way, or gently letting them know that you’ve saved the items they were looking at.

3- Encourage, enhance, entice

As with emails to cart abandoners, an important part of encouraging browsers to buy is to show them what they’re missing. So you should always include images of whatever they were looking at, and present them beautifully. You could also tempt them with other products in the same range, or complementary items (such as the shoes or jewellery that turn a dress into an outfit).

Depending on their position in your customer lifecycle, and whether their value to you justifies the investment, you could also consider including special offers or discounts. For example, if you want to win back a lapsed, high-value customer, it might be worth you offering a discount if they spend a certain amount; if you want to encourage a first purchase from an inactive subscriber, free delivery might help.

4- Make the next steps simple

Having already lost them once before they got to the checkout, you don’t want to lose them again. So your email should guide them through the buying process as quickly and easily as possible. A simple example is to make sure you include a clear call to action next to each product you feature, gently phrased, such as ‘Take another look’.
Of course, some customers may no longer be interested in the original product – for example, if they’ve already found and bought it elsewhere – so you should also include a clear link back to your website, to facilitate further browsing.

5- Test, test, test

If you’ve read any of my other blogs on the subject of CLM, you’ll know by now that I’m obsessed with testing; and browser emails are no exception. There are so many different factors you could test with this audience – timing, cross-selling, type and value of incentives … the list goes on. So put your splits in place, analyse what works and refine your strategy accordingly. And repeat.

To wrap it all up, here are five 5 second tips that are worth thinking about:

  • Have a comms plan in place to make sure your browser and cart abandonment emails don’t crossover.
  • Demonstrate your desire to be helpful by including links to a customer service centre or online chat.
  • Think about including your navigation bar to make it easy for customers who want to browse further before buying.
  • Check that your email is optimised for mobile and other devices.
  • Make sure you’ve thanked them for their interest so far.

You can read more about CLM in general, including cart abandonment emails, in our Convert, keep, grow e-book. And look out for my next CLM blog, which will fill you in on how to turn browsers into buyers.