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How to target anonymous shoppers online

By Raechel Lavelle

Across the online retail environment, 69 per cent of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned during the checkout process – costing retailers millions in lost purchases and missed re-marketing and loyalty opportunities.

To decrease levels of cart abandonment among online customers, retailers deploy various marketing strategies to re-engage with shoppers and invite them back to apps or websites to complete the checkout process.

Emails and retargeting ads, on Facebook or elsewhere, can be highly effective at lowering cart abandonment rates – especially when partnered with smart promotional tactics such as discounts, free shipping offers, or most notably personalised content.

A whopping 40 per cent of consumers buy more from retailers who personalise the shopping experience across channels.

But personalisation requires knowing the person who is shopping. It takes a wealth of high-quality data about a known customer’s brand interactions across all digital touchpoints, including website, mobile site and app, to understand his or her preferences and habits.

Often, too few of a retailer’s site visitors convert into known customers. Even the most digitally savvy retailers face challenges around acquiring and utilising data about anonymous visitors: the individual shoppers who browse as guests or who visit a website, mobile site, or mobile app without supplying any identifying information.

Anonymous users who add items to their carts as guests, only to abandon those carts later, are hard to lure back into the buying cycle; typically, retailers do not have e-mail addresses to send personalised offers based on past activity.

Some anonymous users simply browse or search for items but do not go any further, and they are no small issue: According to VentureBeat research, between 57-98 per cent of a brand’s audience is likely anonymous.

Aware of the value of anonymous visitors to their income, brands invest heavily in acquiring and reacquiring anonymous visitors who either do not convert initially, do not sign up for email, or do not download an app. Re-targeted Facebook ads, as well as other digital ad re-marketing tactics, are a couple of the expensive efforts many retailers undertake.

With a smarter digital messaging strategy, however, brands can more easily connect to their anonymous users and turn them into known, engaged customers. The top functionality for doing so: web notifications sent through the web browser.

Personalising messages to anonymous users

Web notifications are a strategic, non-aggressive way to directly message anonymous visitors and encourage or invite them to engage more with retail brands. Unlike other social or newsletter calls-to-action, web notification does not require site visitors to register, supply their email addresses, or otherwise submit personal data.

Rather, web notifications via websites or the mobile web are spurred by a soft opt-in approach. Following a page visit, basket add, or other interaction with a brand, the visitor can be prompted with a context-specific request to opt-in to promotions via a simple “yes” or “no” click.

As such, web notifications enable retailers to reach anonymous users with offers just like their regular email-supplying customers, but with up to 10 times higher click-through rates than email (up to 40 per cent, according to OtherLevels’ research).

Over time, that can significantly lower both retailers’ acquisition costs and cart abandonment rates, especially since web notifications let brands reach anonymous users via the web browser even after they leave a retailer’s site or app – a perfect target for “come back” offers.

But web notification functionality alone is not enough to drive outcomes. Increasingly, the only way to engage an end user is to hit all three tiers of personalisation with each communication: The right message, on the right channel, at the right time.

That’s why data is so critical. Data-informed digital messaging can help brands execute highly sophisticated techniques designed to help brands re-engage with their cart-abandoning users. With a deep understanding of a retailers’ online marketing goals, brands can answer such questions as:

  • When is the best time to send a checkout reminder notification to each segment of the user base?
  • How does the timing of opt-in impact the effectiveness of the cart-abandonment campaign?
  • Which messaging tactics, tonalities, and pieces of content work best on various devices?
  • How does browsing behaviour determine the likely success of an abandoned cart program? (For example, does product category play a role?

Buoyed by their adoption of the “right message, right channel, right time” philosophy, retailers can attract high-value customers, reduce cart abandonment rates, and ultimately, boost revenues.

Raechel Lavelle is the director of strategic marketing and sales at OtherLevels, a multi-channel messaging platform.

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