A Cure for Abandoned Carts: Direct Mail Retargeting


Did you know that only 4% of website visitors convert on average?

MIT found that 86% of people who are interested in a product/service will visit the website first before calling or visiting a brick and mortar location. However, Google Analytics shows that 96% of unique website visitors will leave without taking any action!

One of marketers' biggest frustrations is seeing the low conversion rate of their website. Online behavior indicates visitors have interest and are seeking something you offer, but they're not quite ready to buy for one of many reasons - timing, budget, distractions, or comparison shopping.

To get them to return and convert, here are two common approaches used today:

  1. Try to get their email before they leave. Many sites use a pop-up window that triggers when you are about to leave: "Wait! Sign up for our newsletter and save 10% on your next order." or a similar offer. This allows you to follow up by email and add the person to your database for marketing. This approach still has a low conversion rate.
  2. Follow them around the web with retargeted banner ads. You'll recognize these as the shoes you put in your online shopping cart that start following you around on Facebook, news websites and in ads on your smartphone apps. These are effective, but their reach is decreasing due to use of ad blockers and costs are increasing due to fake bots clicking on ads.

A third option that many people don't know about is direct mail retargeting, where you send an anonymous visitor a targeted direct mail offer, enticing them to come back and convert.

How does it work? A pixel on your website tracks visitors and then their data is matched behind the scenes to an IP address, a device ID for their computer or phone, plus multiple other data points like cookies and apps to create a 95% accurate mailing address for the visitor.

The industry average response rate for digital ad retargeting is 0.5%, while the average response rate for direct mail retargeting is 4%. So direct mail remarketing works 8 times better than digital retargeting ads! Some direct mail campaigns even achieve response rates up to 20% (40 times higher than digital ads!) depending on how compelling of an offer/discount is made.

Here are some example use cases for direct mail retargeting:

  • The holiday shopping season is about to be in full swing. Over 4 trillion dollars of merchandise is left unpurchased in digital shopping carts each year. Online retail stores can use direct mail retargeting to add new subscribers to their catalog mailings or send postcards with discounts to people who leave items in their carts.
  • The end of the year is also a big time for fundraising. Non-profits can add the tracking code to their site to build a list of potential new donors from their website visitors, and use mail to encourage them to make a tax-deductible donation.
  • If you are planning an event and don't have a good mailing list, you can build a list from people who are checking out the event online but don't buy a ticket. A postcard claiming that the event is "almost sold out" is sure to trigger some sales.
  • People spend a lot of time planning and researching their next vacation. Cruise lines, theme parks and hotel brands can use retargeted direct mail with special offers to get travelers to put down a deposit now for a future trip.
  • Direct mail retargeting is perfect for high-end purchases where consumers take a lot of time making their decision. When considering home improvements, new furniture, or buying a car, it usually takes people a while to make up their mind, so following up with a timely direct mail offer is key.

In a USPS commissioned study, retargeted direct mail delivered a 14% decrease in abandoned shopping carts and an 8% increase in average order size. 47% of marketing respondents said retargeted direct mail increased conversion rates and 60% said it increased ROI.

If you want to try direct mail retargeting, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Don't be creepy. Your mailpiece should not read "Hey John, saw you were looking at some new boots on our website last week." You want the recipient to feel like it was a lucky coincidence they are getting a 10% off coupon in the mail for something they were already thinking about buying.
  • Run your website visitor list up against conversions and existing customers. We've all had those annoying web retargeting ads that keep following us after we have already purchased the item being advertised. You can prevent this by running your mail list against a list of customer purchases and taking those out of this mailing and sending them a loyalty offer instead for their next purchase, or offering other items similar to their purchased item.
  • Speed is key. You want to get to them while their need is still fresh and before they convert on your competitor's website. Using First Class postage will ensure your offer reaches them within 1-3 days.
  • Personalize your offer based on pages that a visitor viewed. If you are an insurance provider, send a postcard with a boat picture to those who visited your boat insurance pages, a house picture to those considering home owners insurance, and a car picture for those reviewing car insurance plans. Personalization increases relevance, which in turn increases conversion rates.

Want to learn more? Join us for a free webinar on the topic: "Convert Website Visitors Into Leads and Revenue." We'll explore more about how it works and what kind of results you can expect.

About the author

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Maeghan Nicholson

Maeghan Nicholson

Maeghan is the Director of Marketing at Suttle-Straus. A journalist at heart, she has used her writing skills to develop corporate thought leadership campaigns designed to make business-to-business connections. In her role, she manages all aspects of marketing and advertising, from website updates and content creation to conferences and events.
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Topics: Direct Mail, Technology