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Emily Nash

By: Emily Nash on December 9th, 2020

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Retargeting and Cart Capture: How to Convert with a Friendly Reminder

Membership Growth | Adapting new technologies

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It’s been a year of uncertainty and instability, and associations are starting to feel the impact. It’s hard to find leads, it’s hard to convert, and it’s hard to hit growth goals. This means that there’s more pressure than ever on the marketing team. You have to use all your ingenuity to find new ways to engage, recruit, and retain members.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were an easy way to drive growth? What if you could increase revenues by over 10% just by sending some automated emails, or dropping a cookie in the right place?

Well, believe it or not, you can. Marketers sometimes neglect the bottom of the funnel, but this is where you’ll find opportunities that are:

  • Quick wins
  • Low lift
  • High impact
  • Easy to automate

Let’s take a look at how you can maximize conversions at the bottom of the funnel.

Why focus on the bottom of the funnel?
When we’re modeling a sales journey, we generally start at the top of the funnel—the strategies we use to connect with a potential lead. We focus on problems like how to create a message that resonates, or how to place ads in front of the right audience.

But at the bottom of the funnel, you’ll find leads who are already aware and engaged. These are people who may have completed part of a buyer’s journey, or people who’ve interacted with your digital presences. These are warm leads, and you can convert them with the right approach.

Some stats that show the value of bottom-of-the-funnel conversion:

  • 76% of people abandon shopping carts 
  • ..but 11% will come back and complete their purchase if they get a reminder email
  • Click-through rates are 10X higher for retargeted ads than ads displayed to cold leads
  • Visitors from retargeted ads are 43% more likely to convert

And yet, a lot of associations allow these opportunities to slip through their fingers.

When someone interacts with your website, they’re showing an active interest in your offering. That gives you a chance to send them a relevant message, which in turn can lead to a conversion.

There are two main techniques for doing this: retargeting and cart capture.

What is retargeting?
If you shop online, you’ve probably already seen retargeting. When you look at an e-commerce site such as eBay or Amazon, they sometimes drop a cookie on your browser. This cookie is a tiny piece of code with some identifying details about you, including the ID of the products you were considering. When you go elsewhere on the internet, other sites can detect these cookies. They then use this information to serve you retargeted ads.

So, for example, say you look at winter tires on Amazon. You start to wonder if it’s going to snow soon, so you head over to Accuweather.com and check the long-term forecast. While you’re checking the weather, Accuweather detects your Amazon cookie, so it serves you an ad for winter tires. If you click on this ad, you’ll go right back to the winter tires page you were browsing earlier.

Amazon and other companies use this strategy because they know it works. You’re 10 times more likely to respond to a retargeted ad than a generic Amazon ad. Once you click that ad, you’re 43% more likely to make a purchase than someone who’s just browsing.

How does retargeting work for associations?
A retargeting strategy offers many benefits:
  • Allows you to focus on bottom-of-the-funnel visitors with minimal effort
  • Can be used to gather essential data about successful conversion strategies
  • Segments audiences based on minimal data
  • Builds brand awareness and recognition
  • Is automated, so you can set it up and let it run in the background

Best of all, it makes efficient use of your content strategy, turning pageviews into conversions.

Most associations have great content, with white papers, training materials, and industry news. All of this helps to draw in visitors that might become leads.

Some of these visitors behave in a way that suggests that they might be ready to perform an action. For example, suppose a visitor looks at pages about conference pricing or conference event details. In that case, there’s a good chance that they’re interested in attending the next conference.

Using cookies, you can implement a precise retargeting strategy. For example:

  • Visitor to pages about conferences Conference cookie set on their browser → They see ads about the next conference
  • Visitor to pages about certification requirements → Certification cookie set on their browser → They see ads about training programs and certification help
  • Visitor to pages about membership pricing → Membership cookie set on their browser → They see ads about membership benefits and discounts

In each of these cases, you’ve set up a very focused journey for each of these leads, even though you lack any substantial information about them. In spite of that, you know that these ads will have a better response than ads served to cold leads.

What is shopping cart capture?
E-commerce shopping carts work a lot like regular shopping carts, with one big difference. In a grocery store, people don’t often simply abandon their cart and walk away.

Online shopping cart abandonment happens a lot. People click Add to Cart, but they never complete the purchase. Over three-quarters (76%) of active shopping carts end in abandonment. For all industries, this represents a significant opportunity.

When a customer puts an item in their shopping cart, they express a very clear purchasing interest. So why didn’t they complete the transaction? It could be any number of reasons, like they got cold feet or they found a better price elsewhere. It’s also possible that they got distracted by a phone call or Twitter, and they forgot to click Confirm.

How do you get them to complete the transaction? Send them a friendly nudge. Usually, this is a short sequence of emails that will say, “Hey there, you forgot your shopping cart. Do you want to complete your purchase?” Many people will ignore these reminders. But around 11% will go back and finish their transaction.

How does shopping cart capture work for associations?
Associations use the shopping cart model for all kinds of things, such as membership signups, conference registration, and premium programming.

Unfortunately, associations also have a high rate of shopping cart abandonment. This is because associations tend to have quite long forms that you have to complete when buying—think of the length of a new member application, for example.

The longer the form, the higher the dropout rate. But if people dropped out of the process because they didn’t have time to complete the form, it should be easy to nudge them to completion.

Shopping cart capture is ideal for associations then, who see benefits like:

  • Capture quick-win revenue to help reach association growth targets
  • Create a sense of urgency that encourages leads to complete their purchase
  • Gather vital intel on why and when people decide not to commit to a purchase

The process for shopping cart capture looks like this:

  1. Someone adds something to their cart, but they fail to complete the purchase.
  2. They’re added to a specific audience segment: Abandoned Cart.
  3. Abandoned Cart users receive a reminder series via the email automation platform.
  4. The user comes back to the website and completes their purchase.
  5. Alternatively, if the user ignores the reminders, they’re removed from the Abandoned Cart segment. The association places the user back at the top of the sales funnel.

It’s a high-reward/low-effort marketing tactic. For example, imagine you sell an e-learning course for $500. Now, say 100 people place the course in their shopping cart but don’t complete the purchase. Using the strategy above, you can convince 11 of them to come back and buy the course, which would generate $5,500.

Retargeting and shopping cart capture in real life
These marketing tactics have been successfully adopted by associations and for-profit organizations alike. Associations can use these techniques to drive:
  • Membership signups
  • Event registrations
  • Certification applications
  • Donations
  • Publications
  • eLearning courses

We’ve seen plenty of successful examples of associations using these tactics. Recently, the American Trucking Association (ATA) worked on a shopping cart abandonment project with HighRoad Solutions. Within the first 30 days, the ATA had already generated $1,500 in captured shopping carts.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) has also worked with HighRoad Solutions on implementing a retargeting strategy. With a tiny advertising budget of less than $100, they earned over 7,000 impressions, with a click-through rate of 1%.

These strategies are quick wins, but you do need the right infrastructure in place. You’ll need:

  • Email automation for messaging sequences
  • Marketing automation for buyer journey management
  • Tracking cookies so you can follow users to other sites
  • A sophisticated e-commerce system that generates data about user transactions
  • Full system integration so each part of your stack can talk to each other

With the right marketing tech stack in place, you’ll be able to implement an association marketing strategy that delivers long-term goals as well as quick wins. 

Access the full on-demand webinar
Want to hear more about retargeting and cart capture. View our on-demand webinar and/or book time with us continue the conversation.
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About Emily Nash

With a unique background in start-ups-to-studios, and consulting-to-corporate settings, Emily specializes in solving for unknowns, pioneering new services, and collaborating with marketers and strategists. In her community, she served on the board of American Institute for Graphic Arts as their Communications Director to help promote networking and mentorship opportunities for area designers and creatives. She’s also a co-producer for Rethink Association, a podcast for associations.