5 Customer Behaviors and What They Mean for Retailers’ Email Programs
I’ve received more than 30 retailer emails today alone … and it’s not even lunch time. These emails range from basic blasts with varying degrees of relevance to me to more personalized abandoned cart reminders and follow-ups on items I’ve interacted with.
It might seem that I’m reviewing these with a particularly critical eye, but today’s consumers are just as discerning. They’re also vocal. They tell retailers what they want with the basic actions they take online.
Judging by these emails, only some retailers are listening. The more likely explanation, however, is that all retailers are listening, but most don’t know what to do with the insights they gain.
So what are consumers saying and how are retailers responding? This was one of the questions Bluecore set out to answer in its 2018 Retail Email Benchmark Report, which identified retail email trends across 350 million emails sent by more than 400 retailers.
Here are five common customer behaviors and what they mean for retailers:
- They abandon carts without buying. Shoppers’ habit of leaving products in their carts is the most ubiquitous and telling behavior of all. But frequency is only one reason cart abandonment emails remain so prevalent. Another is that they reach customers with a high likelihood of completing a transaction, as evidenced by the high 2 percent conversion rate of cart abandonment emails.
- They browse without buying. Shoppers don’t only abandon carts, they abandon products and searches, too. These two behaviors are very revealing, as they hint at active interest in something specific, rather than passive interest in nothing in particular. Retailers that respond to this activity by emailing shoppers who view but don’t cart items see an average of $65 in revenue for every $100 generated by the highly lucrative cart abandonment email.
- They go through periods of inactivity. When customers deviate from their own unique buying cadences, retailers must pay attention and respond. Failing to contact these “at risk” shoppers could cost retailers up to 25 percent of their potential annual revenue. On the flip side, re-engaging these customers with relevant recommendations and offers presents enormous opportunity. For one apparel retailer, targeting at-risk customers with emails about changes to products (e.g., price decreases, back-in-stock alerts) in which they demonstrated interest in the past year brought in $270,000 in attributed revenue over six months.
- They’re quick to open emails after a purchase; they’re also quick to unsubscribe. The two behaviors that most elude retailers are the rates at which customers open and unsubscribe from post-purchase emails. Of all the emails analyzed in this report, post-purchase emails received the highest open rate (40 percent), but also the highest unsubscribe rate (0.4 percent) and lowest conversion rate (0.4 percent) of all triggered email types. Something is amiss here, and it’s likely a lack of relevance. Say, for instance, a customer buys a surfboard. If the retailer follows up with an email displaying other surfboards, the retailer has made itself irrelevant. However, if the retailer follows up with a recommendation for, say, board wax, it’s suddenly back in the game. Long-story short, irrelevant emails can wipe that dewy “post-purchase glow” off an otherwise satisfied customer.
- They respond to product price decreases. Sometimes customers are complex, but when it comes to price, they’re pretty basic. More than one in 10 customers clicked through to a brand’s website after receiving an email about price decreases on products they’ve displayed interest in. While discounts don’t always influence customer action, integrating product information into the email system and updating customers who are likely to be interested about decreased pricing is a lucrative tactic.
The bottom line? Retailers have an opportunity to use the information that customers share through their actions to create a more relevant experience. And the data says it all, as emails personalized to customers’ actions and demonstrated product interests see a clickthrough rate 100 percent to 200 percent higher than generic messages, while conversion rates range from double to 10 times as high as “batch and blast” emails.
Jared Blank is the senior vice president of marketing and insights at Bluecore, a high-growth marketing technology company.
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