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Email marketing: How Ascena Retail Group fixed its abandoned cart problem

How big of a problem is the "abandoned cart?" Big — and getting bigger: in the second quarter of 2013, some 75 percent of shoppers filled their online carts and then bolted before checkout which, according to SaleCycle. Separately, Forrester Research calculates that retailers now lose about $31 billion a year in revenues from abandoned carts.

Why do shoppers leave? The No. 1 reason is high shipping and handling costs, according to Forrester. Other contributing factors include consumers who decide they're not ready to click "Buy Now" or go visit other sites to compare prices. Companies big and small are addressing the problem, with varying degrees of success. American Airlines, for instance, has seen conversion rates increase 400 percent following an email campaign to lure travelers into reserving a flight they previously searched.

Another company, that has vastly improved its abandoned shopping carts rates is Ascena Retail Group, a $4.5 billion a year company that owns Lane Bryant and Catherines. As part of a broader effort to orchestrate individual interactions across the customer journey, Ascena's abandoned cart program generated 275 percent lift in email open rates and a whopping 450 percent increase in click-through-rates.

How did they do it?

By using the Responsys Interact Marketing Cloud, Ascena Retail was able to:

  • Deliver tailored messaging to customers: Ascena implemented an email retargeting program that delivered tailored messages to customers who had abandoned their shopping cart, featuring the product that they had left behind.
  • Continue the conversation: By leveraging Adobe’s recommendation engine (which integrates with Responsys) to send customers emails featuring images of other products that they may like, Ascena was able to continue the conversation with the customer and even motivate the customer to purchase.
  • Request customer feedback: After a purchase, Ascena then sent customers a request to rate and review the product they had purchased. By doing this Ascena has seen their customer reviews increase by 150 percent. This program also led to an unexpected bonus: a number of customers who returned to the site to write a review also made an additional purchase — turning a feedback channel into an additional revenue channel.

The BIG results

Ascena's results were off the charts. By using recommendation data, the abandoned cart campaign caused a 275 percent lift in email open rates and a whopping 450 percent increase in click-through-rates. Ascena saw a 240 percent higher conversion rate for customers as well as a 600 percent increase in revenue per email delivered.

Fixing their abandoned cart program was just one piece of Ascena's digital marketing overhaul. By individualizing their email marketing content based on customer data, Ascena saw a 70 percent increase in unique email open rates, a 55 percent increase in click through rates as well as 225 percent lift in overall conversion rates.

Says Marc Schweid, Online Marketing Manager at Ascena: “Now, we’re delivering individualized experiences based on customer interactions, such as clicking on a link in an email message, browsing items on our website or shopping in one of our brick and mortar stores. We are seeing incredible value from showing our customers that we understand who they are, what they like and what they buy.”

Hear more from Marc in this New School Marketer spotlight video:

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