Moving Upstream on Cart Abandonment

After speaking at a conference on the topic of email automation for your online store, I was approached by more than a dozen people with the same question: “If someone abandons their cart, how can the store stay in touch with the shopper?” It’s impossible to contact anonymous visitors—their anonymity means you’ve not yet collected their email addresses and thus you have no way to reach them

After speaking at the WooCommerce Conference on the topic of email automation for your online store, I was approached by more than a dozen people with the same question: If someone abandons their cart, how can the store stay in touch with the shopper?

It’s impossible to contact anonymous visitors—their anonymity means you’ve not yet collected their email addresses and thus you have no way to reach them. Perhaps they were just price shopping or researching. Perhaps they were distracted before completing their purchase. Perhaps they didn’t like your site’s shopping cart experience. Whatever the reason, they’ve slipped away, and you’ve been left with the promise of a sale that’s not yet complete.

According to Business Insider, this is the case with 68 percent of shoppers—those who leave their carts before checking out—and about $4 billion in abandoned carts the world over. The good news is they also estimate up to 62 percent or $2.52 billion is recoverable with automated marketing. Does that mean you simply need to give up hope of reaching those wallets and focus on the known visitors? Well, no. It simply means you need to develop a strategy for teasing away those email addresses. It means you need to move your request upstream.

There are myriad possible tactics of this strategy, but the path you choose depends upon your business, your product and the tools you have for implementing your ideas. No matter which path you choose, be prepared to A/B test like a madwoman until you’ve found the top three triggers and use all three. Don’t settle for just one approach. Meet your potential customers with the sign-up tool of choice—which means giving them options. Let’s look at some ideas. I’m going to call these interrupters, but I’m pretty sure I’ve borrowed the phrase from someone brilliant:

Interrupters can be any sort of dialogue, window, link or button interrupting the user’s shopping excursion and redirecting them to a simple (usually pop-up) form collecting only their email addresses, for instance:

  • Interrupt the product-browsing session with a tool enabling them to upload a photo of a room they are decorating in which they can drag and drop their selected item into place. It doesn’t have to be a perfect UX, just provide them with a rough idea of how the Egyptian vase they added to their cart might look next to their lime-green sofa.
  • After the first product has been added to the cart, interrupt with a message such as, “Wow! That’s a great find! We can save it in your cart for as long as you like. Let’s give your cart a name. Please type your email address.” You could extend this process with a dialogue after each product, displaying different messaging or, go for funny, and provide humorous commentary. Be sure to also provide a checkbox for prevent the message from displaying again.
  • Provide an online calculator allowing them to figure out how much of a product to buy. Let them use the calculator and then offer to save their work using just their email address. You could also offer to email their calculations or illustrations to the address they provide. We used this approach on our personal profiler – they can use the profiler online all day long, but if they would like to print their profiles, we will send the PDFs to their inbox.
  • Offer to send them links to download the installation instructions, case study, or watch a video.
  • Offer to save their cart when they click the browser’s close button.

Be sure you are interrupting your shopper with something of value. Popping up a subscriber window might be a bit annoying on its own, but a subscriber window with an offer of free shipping on the order they are building is going to win some favor.

According to a CouponCabin.com survey, 73 percent of U.S. adults are more likely to shop online where free shipping is offered, and, further, 93 percent of online shoppers said they would spend more if free shipping were offered.

Resist the temptation to interrupt visitors with a long form, or even your regular check out form, or you risk adding to your abandonment rate. Also, be sure to pass the information you collect directly into their account page—don’t make them provide you with their email address again if they continue the checkout process.

Interrupters can easily become annoying, so go slowly and don’t get greedy. You want to be able to capture as many anonymous visitors as possible, but there’s also great potential to drive shoppers away at the same time. It’s a delicate balance, but well worth the effort. Remember, there’s $4 billion dollars out there, and some of that can be yours.

Slapping Lipstick on It Doesn’t Mean It’s Content

Adding a forward-facing camera to a smartphone was truly one of those “tipping point” moments. So it was no surprise when the word “selfie” was proclaimed the “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.” In return, I’d like to nominate the word “content” as the “Marketing Word of the Year.” But unlike the word “selfie,” which can be somewhat self-explanatory, the word “content” seems to be completely misunderstood.

Adding a forward-facing camera to a smartphone was truly one of those “tipping point” moments. Not only does it allow us to take a spur of the moment picture, but it feeds into society’s obsession with “look-at-me-now!” social media. So it was no surprise when the word “selfie” was proclaimed the “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.”

In return, I’d like to nominate the word “content” as the “Marketing Word of the Year.” But unlike the word “selfie,” which can be somewhat self-explanatory, the word “content” seems to be completely misunderstood.

In the strictest sense of the word, content is the subject or topic covered in a book, document, website, blog, video or webinar. And Content Marketing is the new black.

Just a few years ago, you could generate attention with a few media placements and a well-crafted message. But now consumers, especially in the B-to-B space, want more—more insight into how your product/service will make a difference in their business, more case studies that demonstrate how others have leveraged your product/service to increase ROI, more proof of concept.

The trouble is, many B-to-B marketers (and B-to-C for that matter) haven’t figured out what makes good content. And since the content-to-noise ratio is increasing daily, it’s important that marketers get a clear view of what defines great and valuable content, and why.

Since I’ve not been impressed with many attempts at content marketing, I want to share a few “what NOT to do” examples:

  • Content is different from advertisement. Recently, Boston Private Bank Trust Company was running a leaderboard banner ad with a stock image of a family, in front of an American flag, and a huge headline: “Watch our new video >”. Shaking my head at the banality of the message, I went ahead and clicked just to see if maybe the problem was with the packaging of the content. It took me to the home page of their website, where the video dominated my screen. I started to watch and discovered it was merely a 90 second advertisement. Although it was beautifully shot and artfully directed, it only took 12 seconds for the announcer to start talking about the benefits of banking with Boston. Scanning the rest of the home page (very difficult since the top 2/3 were covered with the video and “Look how great we are!” messaging), I didn’t see one case study, whitepaper/POV document on managing wealth that might help me feel, “Hey, I like what these guys are saying; I’d like to talk to someone at Boston about my needs.”
  • Heavily gated content just irritates me. I understand the strategy: Create content, offer it up to your targets, require they “register” before they can get access so you can fill your lead funnel. But, often, landing pages that require so much information are a deterrent to completion. Sometimes, I’ll provide “Mickey Mouse” types of answers, just so I can complete the process and get to the paper. Do you really need me to answer six questions beyond name and email address so you can pre-qualify me and make sure your sales guy isn’t wasting his time following up? Good content marketing strategies look at a longer term contact strategy, not a one-and-done process. If I download the article, then try dripping on me with more emails with more content. If I keep downloading, chances are I might be a solid lead, so reach out to me via email and, if qualifying me by company size or # of employees is critical, then do a little homework. A few clicks of the mouse will probably find that information for you.
  • Understand the difference between whitepapers and case studies. A whitepaper is called a whitepaper for a reason—it’s supposed to be an independent point of view around a topic. Too many whitepapers are either platforms for self-aggrandizement or poorly disguised sales pitches. Well-written whitepapers are informative, insightful and topical. It takes professional writing skill to add nuances that paint your product/service in a positive light—and not as a thump to the head with a frying pan. Case Studies, on the other hand, are an opportunity to let one of your customers formally endorse your brand. They should include the situation/problem and how it was solved, and, if possible, a quote attributed to a name/title at the buyers organization.

Designing your content so it is attractive, easy to read, and a combination of text, graphs and images, is a given. But don’t, for a minute, think you can take your advertising (video or otherwise), market it as content and check the box for content marketing off on your list.

Chicago With a Purpose: Wrapping up the DMA2013 Session Picks

With apology, I want to say that this blog is a little about me—what topics I’m interested in, and sharing a little bit of this knowledge (or lack of knowledge) with blog readers. In the process, I’m hopeful you’re doing the same bit of pre-conference research—because it is this forethought and planning, beyond the engagements and booth visits on the Exhibit Hall floor, which make for a truly informative DMA13 conference

With apology, I want to say that this blog is a little about me—what topics I’m interested in, and sharing a little bit of this knowledge (or lack of knowledge) with blog readers. In the process, I’m hopeful you’re doing the same bit of pre-conference research—because it is this forethought and planning, beyond the engagements and booth visits on the Exhibit Hall floor, which make for a truly informative DMA13 conference

With the Direct Marketing Association Annual Conference starting literally at the end of this week, I’m still at it here lining up MyDMA2013 schedule with sessions I’d like to attend—admittedly doing some double-booking because of the great, comprehensive content on offer.

Yes clients and professional colleagues are on hand, and I’ll be sitting in on some of their sessions—but my guideposts for session picks are simply the subjects to which I welcome new learning, new updates and state-of-the-art in data-driven marketing such as it is. That’s why “The DMA” is always a conference attendance “must.”

A few weeks back, I cataloged some of first-impression session and events picks here: http://targetmarketing.adweek.com/blog/creeping-up-fast-dma13-making-plans-chicago

I’m hopeful our paths will cross in Chicago as I add 10+1 to the session wish list here…

  1. Who drives client relationships and customer engagement today? Advertising. “Mad Men + Data Specialists: When Two Worlds Collide,” Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
  2. Follow the money (and media) trail… “Outlook 2014: Data Driven Marketing in an Omnichannel World,” with The Winterberry Group’s Bruce Biegel, darnnit, also Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
  3. And trending too, “B2B Trends in 2014” with SAP’s Jerry Nichols, B-to-B magazine’s Chris Hosford and leading biz marketing consultant Pam Ansley Evans: Monday, Oct. 14, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  4. “The Big Data Ecosystem: Informing Effective Marketing Campaigns,” with Time Warner Cable—curses, also yet again, Tuesday, Oct.15, 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. This is really a parochial pick, since my apartment building is now allowing RCN to enter my building—and I’m curious to see (finally) if TWC will give me a better deal on pricing its services.
  5. Multichannel (yet digital) ROI—too bad we don’t have offline here, too, but it has some client-side folks, “No BS, Strictly ROI: Definitive Case Study Panel on Successful Multichannel Digital Marketing” with Intercontinental Hotels Group, Travel Impressions, Equifax and FedEx, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
  6. Pinterest + Email = Customer Engagement, with Sony and (disclosure, former client) The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks—now here’s a social media case study that taps Pinterest users, first I’ve seen in a venue that I’ve attended, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  7. “Creative Masterclass” with “THE” Herschell Gordon Lewis, and it won’t be a horror film classic (one of Herschell’s other talents), but I know it will be entertaining, focusing as it will on word choices and testing with minimal waste. Afterall, we all should test and choose our words carefully, on Monday, Oct. 14, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  8. “USPS Goes Mobile: Direct Mail Integration with Mobile Technology”—hey this is a postal-focused blog, and USPS is offering postage discounts here, so there is money to be made/saved: Monday, Oct. 14, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  9. Evaluating marketing service providers—”Why You Must Look at Least Three: Solutions Showdown.” Yes Bernice Grossman—database marketing extraordinaire—has lined up Neolane, SDL and IBM to help us evaluate and compare leading trigger-marketing vendors, on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2 p.m. to3 p.m
  10. The elusive attribution question gets answered, at least by Petco: “Power-Up: How Petco Uses IBM Marketing to Drive Attribution.” OK, this is an IBM-sponsored track on real-time and automated marketing, but I know many brands struggle with attribution assignment in multichannel and omnichannel environments, so I’d like to hear this case study, Monday, Oct. 14, oh well also 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  11. AND a BONUS: Speaking of real-time marketing, my editor Thorin McGee at Target Marketing, is moderating his own panel on “Real-Time Marketing: Tools and Techniques to Own the Moment,” on Wednesday, 10 am – 10:45 am. Do I get extra credit for mentioning this one? Afterall, this blog post was a bit behind his deadline—though I’m hopeful it will be posted on time!

See you in Chicago!

Inside a Successful Online Video Campaign

It’s not often that we get to share the inside story about a successful online video marketing campaign. Today we take you step-by-step through a case study where an online video marketing push has been credited with turning around sales. It’s a multimedia effort, inclusive of email marketing and social media that

It’s not often that we get to share the inside story about a successful online video marketing campaign. Today we take you step-by-step through a case study where an online video marketing push has been credited with turning around sales. It’s a multimedia effort, inclusive of email marketing and social media that pushed viewers to a special web page with a series of videos that allowed commenting on the web page with a Facebook plug-in.

It’s a fun case study showcasing what we did for a performing arts organization. It lifted ticket sales from a significant gap to surpassing budget only a couple of weeks after the video campaign was introduced. The online video campaign also had an unexpected effect on the organization, which is explained in today’s video presentation.

Please share with us your comments, below, about how you’ve used online video, and how it has impacted your organization, or a client’s.

P.S. We’ll go deeper into the cross-media integration of today’s case study tomorrow during a webinar tomorrow named Cross-Media Case Studies: Multi-Step Direct Mail, Email & Mobile Campaigns that Worked. We hope you’ll tune in.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

Marketing Best Practices, Grateful Dead Style

OK, I admit it. For a short time in my youth, I could have been considered a “dead head.” Granted, I only attended about 10 “shows,” but I did have a Grateful Dead bumper sticker on my car and wore quite a bit of tie-dye.

OK, I admit it. For a short time in my youth, I could have been considered a “dead head.” Granted, I only attended about 10 “shows,” but I did have a Grateful Dead bumper sticker on my car and wore quite a bit of tie-dye.

That’s why the press release promoting the new book, “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead,” by David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author; and Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, caught my attention this week.

The release read: “Long before the terms ‘inbound marketing’ and ‘social media’ were coined, the Grateful Dead were using these strategies to become one of the most successful bands of all time.”

So true. The Grateful Dead never did much marketing or advertising, but everyone knew them and their music.

It continued: “They made a series of difficult and often unpopular decisions in order to differentiate themselves from their competition by providing the highest quality service to their fans, not just a product.”

I’m sure they pissed off quite a few music publishers by allowing fans to tape their own shows, but they knew that the music was what the fans wanted — and they delivered.

“The Grateful Dead can be considered one giant case study in doing social media marketing right,” said Halligan in the release. “Not only did they pioneer the freemium business model by allowing concert attendees to tape the show, but also encouraged their fans to build a community, and kept them informed via their newsletters.”

“Each chapter presents and analyzes a marketing concept practiced by the Dead and a real-world example of that concept in action today,” according to the release. Specific topics include:

  • Rethink traditional industry assumptions. Rather than focus on record albums as a primary revenue source (with touring to support album sales), the Dead created a business model focused on touring.
  • Turn your customers into evangelists. Unlike nearly every other band, the Grateful Dead not only encouraged concertgoers to record their live shows, they actually established “taper sections” where fans’ equipment could be set up for the best sound quality. The broad exposure led to millions of new fans and sold tickets to the live shows.
  • Bypass accepted channels and go direct. The Grateful Dead created a mailing list in the early 1970s where they announced tours to fans first. Later, they established their own ticketing office, providing the most loyal fans with the best seats in the house.
  • Build a huge, loyal following. The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, a destination where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience.

I never thought about the Grateful Dead as a social media case study before, but it makes sense. Can’t wait to read the book! Now if I can only find my old T-shirt …