The NRF reported that overall holiday sales increased 3% to $626.1 billion last year and non-store holiday sales grew 9% to $105 billion. Even though about 83% of holiday revenue still comes from brick-and-mortar retail locations, there is no mistaking that digital sales from eCommerce sites and mobile devices are continuing to gain market share.

To break it down further, comScore reported that customers spent $56 billion online from desktop computers from Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 2015 – a 6% increase from 2014. During that same time period $12.7 billion in holiday sales came from smartphones and tablets – a 59% increase from 2014. Mobile accounted for 18% of all online commerce, compared to 13% in 2014.

Online and mobile holiday sales are expected to grow at a similar pace this year. Remember, customers don’t care what channel they’re in – they expect a seamless experience as they move from your store to their mobile devices to your site. Consumers have become the Point-of-Sale so you need to be available where, when and how they shop.

Easy Cross-Device Identification
If you use your email data, it is easy to identify shoppers as they interact across multiple devices. For example – a customer who downloads your app on her mobile device and creates an account while shopping in-store later opens the eReceipt you sent on her tablet and she browses your site. You now know that the phone and tablet belong to the same shopper.

The next day, she opens a browse abandonment email on her laptop at home, clicks through and makes an additional purchase. You can now tie the data from that computer to her account.

Seven days later, she opens a post purchase loyalty message on her work computer. You now have a 360-degree view of that shopper – tying all of her activities on the different devices to a single account.

This is particularly important for the 2016 holiday shopping season as digital shopping continues to grow. In 2015, 54% of traffic to retail eCommerce sites came from mobile devices and the ability to identify customers whether they are on their desktop, laptop or mobile device and use the data effectively will help provide the seamless shopping experience customers expect.

Emails Cross-Channel Impact
Some important stats from the 2015 holiday season:

  • Retail email volume rose 36.4% on the peak holiday shopping days and 25% overall during the holiday season.
  • 90% of retail email campaigns during the 2015 holiday season included an offer, with free shipping being the most common offer.
  • Email drove 22.1% of all online transactions during the 2015 holiday season. Direct mail was close behind at 19.4%.
  • Email also drives in-store sales. Digital interactions influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores and shoppers that are active in multiple channels are three times as valuable as shoppers who only shop in a single channel.
  • Over half of all emails were opened on mobile devices during the holiday season, per Litmus. Mobile received 39% of unique clicks, with 9% from tablets and 61% from desktops.

Source: Litmus

It is evident that email drives site traffic and conversions. But some campaigns work better than others. This holiday season, stand out in the overcrowded inbox by personalizing your messages based on each shopper’s browse behavior and purchase history.

Browse Abandonment Compared to Shopping Cart Abandonment
Browse abandonment campaigns have a number of advantages over shopping cart abandonment messages:

  • Expanded reach – you can automatically send timely and relevant messages to a larger audience
  • New revenue stream – average 7.8% conversion rate and average 2% higher AOV than all other email campaigns
  • Customer acquisition - 63% of conversions are from first-time buyers

If you’re already running a shopping cart abandonment campaign, you can expect those messages to make up about 64% of the revenue from your remarketing campaigns with browse abandonment making up 36% of the total remarketing revenue. Browse abandonment can bring in 8% of total email revenue while shopping cart abandonment accounts for 14% of total revenue. Adding browse abandonment messages will give you a nice revenue boost.

Best Practices for Browse Abandonment
If you currently aren’t running a browse abandonment campaign, now is the time to add it into your email mix. If you’re already running a shopping cart abandonment campaign, adding browse abandonment is quick and easy and we’ve seen retailers move from implementation to ROI within 30 days.

It’s important to note that if you feel like these campaigns aren’t for you, it’s time to take another look. While the first versions of these messages were unexpected and came across as a little creepy, many updates and optimizations have been made over the years. Customers now not only expect to receive these messages; they actually use them as shopping tools – which is evident from the statistics above.

When you’re ready to get started, follow these best practices to get the highest return on investment.

Get the Timing Right
The timing of your browse abandonment messages – especially if you only send one – will make or break the campaign. The image below shows the cadence of a browse abandonment series compared to the same retailer’s cart abandonment series. The first browse message is sent one hour after abandonment, with a second message going out one day later and the final message going out three days after that if no action is taken by the customer. The cart abandonment messages go out two hours after abandonment, two days later, five days later and then two weeks later they make a final attempt.

Choose Content Carefully
Think about the content and what message you want customers to read. You can be direct, like Crayola and Bentley, or a little more subtle like Carbon 38.

Also, another question that we hear a lot is whether or not to include prices in these messages. You can see that Crayola and Carbon 38 to have prices but Bentley does not. The goal of these messages is to get customers back to your site to shop. You don’t want them to make purchase decisions in the inbox. If the price gets them to click, then use it. But if not, don’t.

One of the greatest things about browse abandonment campaigns is that you can highlight full price merchandise and you don’t have to offer any discounts. The goal of these messages is to get shoppers back onsite shopping and to help them discover new products. Save your discounts for other messages – they aren’t needed here.

With that in mind, consider whether or not you want to include prices in these messages. If the price will help encourage shoppers to return to your site to continue shopping, add them along with images of the browsed merchandise. For higher priced items, it could be best to leave them out of the message. Test to find what works for your shoppers.

Also consider adding product ratings and reviews to show shoppers what other customers thought about the merchandise. Shoppers tend to trust other customers more than retailers and the addition of ratings and reviews can help increase clicks and conversions.

Recommend Additional Products
Browse abandonment messages are great for product discovery so deliver a great shopping experience by including personal product recommendations. Show merchandise that is in the same category, sub-category and price point as the merchandise that was browsed onsite.

A best practice is to only show six to eight additional products. Again, the goal is to get shoppers interested enough to return to your site. You don’t want them to make decisions in the inbox or show them so many products that they see everything without having to return to your site.

Send a Series
Just like a shopping cart abandonment series, browse abandonment works better when you send more than one email.

We like the nurture approach that giggle uses. Standard browse abandonment messages are sent to shoppers the same day as the customer was shopping onsite, with additional messages going out three and six days later if no action is taken. However, giggle enhances these campaigns with emails that look like traditional promotional messages on days two, three and five. These messages feature the browsed item but it looks like it could be a coincidence rather than intentional.

Showing shoppers the items they viewed online and using a combination of a direct and indirect remarketing approach works.

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