Marketing - Article | 5-min. read

3 Companies Talk Holiday Shopping, Abandoned Shopping Carts and Programmatic Mail

Abandoned shopping cart rates are a burden for many businesses, especially so during the holidays. In fact, 3 out of 4 shoppers never complete the intended purchase on a site.1 And with the holidays driving a frenzy of online shopping, those rates can be even more problematic.

To combat this problem, companies have turned to a new marketing tool: programmatic mail or, in simpler terms, automated mail triggered by programmatic technology. Programmatic technology monitors users’ digital behaviors to trigger personalized mail that’s sent within 24-48 hours while brands are still top of mind. We spoke to three vendors about the role programmatic mail has played in their clients’ marketing. Read on to hear from executives at Printing for Less, Amazingmail and Amplified Mail.

What is a common holiday concern for the brands you work with?

“We recognize there is always a percentage of people that prefer to shop around and add products to the shopping cart for future orders. We find holiday time intensifies abandoned shopping cart rates because people are purposely window-shopping and holding before making an educated purchase.”
—Devin Smalley, Director of Program Management, Amplified Mail

“Abandoned shopping carts are certainly a concern and big focus for our B2C customers year-round. B2B customers don’t necessarily have abandoned carts but are often concerned with abandoned sales cycles or deals that have suddenly gone cold.”
—Frances McCutchon, Director of Marketing, Printing for Less

“Shopping cart abandonment is a significant issue for our brands. Many employ a cross-channel strategy to address it.”
—Dave Olesen, Executive Vice President, Amazingmail

How do you leverage programmatic mail to target abandoned shopping cart rates and lower them?

“Overall, we work on constant improvements to lower abandoned shopping carts. It can be difficult to accomplish. Our focus continues to be re-engaging potential customers with programmatic direct mail or email to bring them back quickly for a completed shopping cart order. On average, we wait two days before sending an email if the mailpiece is First-Class. Waiting time is longer for standard, marketing-class mailpieces.”
—Devin Smalley, Director of Program Management, Amplified Mail

“Both B2C and B2B businesses combat abandoned shopping carts and sales cycles by triggering direct mail through our company’s customer relationship management system (CRM) and marketing automation platform (MAP) integrations. When the CRM or MAP signals that an item has been left in a cart, programmatic direct mail, or tactile marketing automation as we like to call it, triggers a data-driven direct mailpiece to be sent.

Programmatic direct mail leverages variable fields which populate text and images unique to the receiver. In the abandoned shopping cart case, you could automatically populate the direct mailpiece with an image of the item left in the cart and the person’s name in the copy.”
—Frances McCutchon, Director of Marketing, Printing for Less

Why is programmatic mail an effective medium in this regard for combatting high abandoned shopping cart rates?

“People are growing more and more conditioned to ignore digital messages—and are especially overwhelmed by the quantity of messages during the holidays—so a personalized print piece stands out and gets noticed. Print is inherently more engaging and memorable too, so customers are more likely to follow up and complete a transaction.”
—Frances McCutchon, Director of Marketing, Printing for Less

“We believe programmatic mail is not effective on its own. There are analytics that show segments of our population are impacted by direct mail. We have seen for years that adults 50 and older tend to have higher direct mail response rates than younger age groups. However, recent numbers show us that 25- to 35-year-olds are responding well, specifically when it comes to programmatic mail. Our goal is using direct mail as our primary medium, but it’ essential to integrate additional mediums based on what we know about the consumer.
—Devin Smalley, Director of Program Management, Amplified Mail

“It has been demonstrated by USPS-sponsored neuroscience research that digital and physical advertising are complementary.2 In the case of cart abandonment, buyers hesitate for one reason or another. There is pause and reservation. The use of a physical advertisement has been shown to have “a longer-lasting impact than digital” and may serve to increase confidence in a brand. Moreover, there appears to be a ‘greater subconscious value and desire for products advertised in a physical format.’2
—Dave Olesen, Executive Vice President, Amazingmail

Do you have real-world examples of companies who have succeeded at lowering abandoned shopping carts with programmatic mail?

“We have one customer who focuses on selling blinds and curtains. They use [a marketing automation software] to listen for cancelled consultation appointments and also for people who have not purchased 20 days post-consultation. Those data points trigger personalized postcards that include a limited-time discount offer.

The customer just started with this program, so no hard numbers yet, but it is a great example of how tactile marketing automation helps you to send relevant offers to those who it will impact most. Customers not only automate their direct mail programs and cut out messy spreadsheets, but they can optimize their direct mail spend by letting the data dictate who deserves a printed piece.”
—Frances McCutchon, Director of Marketing, Printing for Less

“Yes, we have seen success using programmatic mail for [an automobile client’s] web portal software business. One of our web portals for the company produces millions of mailpieces on a monthly basis. We measure users and web actions on our portal and make decisions to contact them based on mail templates they look at and other data fed to and from the website.

In another area of the business, we leverage car technology to trigger direct mail. Consumers around the country drive [these] vehicles with connected systems that track vehicle performance. When an alert lamp comes on in a vehicle, our website is notified within minutes. In some cases, this data triggers direct mail to be sent to the consumer with a call to action and offer personalized to the consumer’s dealer and service needs.”
—Devin Smalley, Director of Program Management, Amplified Mail

In Summary

The holidays are a crucial time to convert customers and lower abandoned shopping cart rates. Thanks to the quick turnaround of programmatic mail, companies have been able to move the needle on this important statistic. By sending timely direct mail based on a customer’s digital behavior, you too can help your holiday business with this marketing tool.

1“Three-Quarters of the World’s Shopping Carts Are Abandoned,” Multichannel Merchant, as cited by eMarketer, February 2016.

2“Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response,” Office of Inspector General United States Postal Service, June 15, 2015.

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