When Is Big Brother Helpful?
At some time or another, most Internet users — especially those who make purchases online — ask themselves just how much of their personal information is “out there.” Are we coming dangerously close to living with a Big Brother who knows everything about us? It’s a valid concern, but as marketers are aware, the more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them.
Be the Big Brother, not who spies on them, but who looks out for their best interests. One example of a helpful approach to being a Big Brother is Web site re-engagement: sending e-mails to opt-in customers who visit your site but leave without making a purchase.
The proof is in the numbers:
- Typical Web site re-engagement campaigns generate open rates greater than 50 percent, clickthrough rates greater than 35 percent and sales per e-mail four to 10-plus times higher than those generated by standard e-mail programs — including targeted campaigns going to carefully segmented lists. (See the table at the end of this article for an example.)
- Unsubscribe rates, complaint rates through feedback loops and direct-to-company complaint rates aren't significantly different for re-engagement e-mails than for regularly scheduled monthly e-mail campaigns.
Having a way of engaging, and re-engaging, customers with the sole purpose of letting them know ways in which you can meet their needs is essential. Seeing what opt-in customers do while visiting your site, and following up with them via e-mail after they leave, is a powerful tool that, when used respectfully, provides customers with the highest level of service and, ultimately, satisfaction.
Take, for example, a customer who visits your Web site and leaves without making a purchase. Traditionally, companies have only tried to re-engage that customer if he or she placed items in a shopping cart. The method of re-engagement typically used is an in-the-face, intrusive pop-up offer. This is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons: In addition to the intrusiveness of the pop-up, more than 90 percent of Web site visitors never reach the shopping cart stage!
A superior approach is to contact customers who leave your Web site without making a purchase, including those who never started a shopping cart, and offer them the opportunity to return and complete the shopping process. Do this via e-mail, a method of communication they've already opted in to receive from your company. Now that's a great example of Big Brother being there to lend a helping hand.
How Web Site Re-engagement Works
- Tracking pixels and cookies are used to give marketers a way to identify customers returning to their sites.
- If "customer A" has merely visited your site, possibly landing on more than one page, and has subsequently left, the customer receives an e-mail that “thanks the person for visiting the Web site” and reminds that customer of current promotions.
- If "customer B" gets as far as the shopping cart before abandoning it, the marketer may send a more focused message, possibly targeting items that were in the abandoned shopping cart with additional information provided at the specific product level.
- Marketers also may create specialized messages for any particular page(s) on the site that a customer visits, with a specialized message for that page or product explaining the product benefits in greater detail.
The goal is to be sure customers get all the information they need to achieve specific goals pertaining to that visit.
But What About CAN-SPAM?
It’s a nonissue. Web site re-engagement campaigns are only activated for customers who opted in to your e-mail list. In addition, customers always have the opportunity to opt out of Web site re-engagement e-mails separately from regular e-mail campaigns. The entire process is permission-based.
In essence, re-engagement really is Big Brother looking out for your customers’ best interests. Re-engagement enhances customers’ shopping experiences by reminding them of their unfinished business on the site, providing additional product feature information, delivering information on current promotions and enabling them to complete purchases in a timely manner.
Web site re-engagement is also an ideal way to help customers achieve their site visit goals without abusing the customer relationship. That isn’t just an edge; it’s the whole purpose and essence of good promise-based marketing.