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How CDW used email to address shopping cart abandonment

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Technology solutions provider CDW sells hardware, software and services to a variety of companies. For many, the sales journey begins online and ends with a salesperson. For others, it starts and ends on CDW's expansive website. Last year, the company, which does not have a persistent cart feature on its site, realized that people were coming to the site, putting products in their cart and abandoning them or asking for quotes without following through. Hoping to capture some of those missed sales, CDW with help from its email service provider ExactTarget started a cart abandonment email campaign, said Arleen Goldberg, senior manager, e-commerce. CDW started sending out a single email 24 hours after an abandonment if the user hadn't made a purchase or asked for a quote. "In the beginning the email was, "You abandoned a cart,' and the email would take them back to the cart," Goldberg said. While the initial results were good, Goldberg said she knew they could do better. So the company planned several improvements. First, CDW tested subject lines and tweaked them accordingly. While the company didn't see a "tremendous" change in click-through rates, she said, it did see a higher overall order value for the carts that were completed. "We think it may be because once you see what's in your cart, you may be prompted to look at other, complementary products," she said. A second, more important change to the program was rolled out in March in the form of a series of emails. The first went out 24 hours after a cart was abandoned. The second went out a day after the first if the original email hadn't been opened. A third email went out a week after the cart was originally abandoned if neither of the other emails were opened. The results of the programs have been strong, Goldberg said. In 2012 the abandoned cart emails saw a 43.0% increase in open rate, a 16.5% increase in click-through rates and a 17.6% increase in seven-day attributable sales, she said. After subject-line testing, there was a 17.9% increase in open rate. More important, the email series resulted in an additional $750,000 in sales between March and October, she said.
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