cart abandonment campaigns

Do Publishers Need Cart Abandonment Campaigns?

How cart abandonment campaigns are helping news publishers improve conversion rates.

“Can we help with your order?” It’s a simple subject line, attached to a simple automated email, but it has been shown to lead to a major increase in subscription rates for news publishers.

Cart abandonment campaigns have become commonplace among e-commerce retailers, but in the world of news publishing, they’re still fairly rare. Only the largest news publishers, including The New York Times, run cart abandonment campaigns with regularity. The email campaigns are designed to capture readers who start the process of subscribing, or purchasing other online products, but exit the checkout process before completing their transactions.

According to a survey conducted by the customer engagement platform Iterable, 80% of brands achieve a 40% conversion rate when they send automated emails to people who have abandoned their online shopping carts. However, among news publishers, just 13% of the 30 news outlets surveyed by Iterable have cart abandonment programs in place. Among publications with subscription programs, that number was slightly better, at 24%. However, smaller, independent news publishers tend to be less likely to run cart abandonment campaigns, and they could be missing out on subscription sales as a result.

How Cart Abandonment Campaigns Work

The cart abandonment campaigns run by news publishers work very similarly to the cart abandonment campaigns run by e-commerce businesses. When a reader adds an item to his or her cart—for example, a subscription or membership package—and then abandons or leaves the website without completing the transaction, the publisher sends an automated email that’s designed to entice the reader to complete the transaction.

Any news publisher can start a cart abandonment campaign, but the strategy has the most benefit for publishers with subscription or membership programs. Sending a follow-up email is a provably effective strategy for bringing people back to the website and getting them to complete the checkout process.

Broadly speaking, nearly half of follow-up emails for abandoned carts are opened. Of those that are opened, approximately 20% of customers click to return to their cart, and 10% complete the transaction.

A few sample subject lines that publishers can use when they send automated cart abandonment emails include:

  • Can we help with your order?
  • Did you forget something?
  • Subscribe NOW to receive 15% off!
  • Hurry! Your subscription discount is about to expire.

A/B testing can be useful to help determine which email subject lines are most effective. Once you’ve determined the top two or three most effective subject lines, you can hone in on a cart abandonment strategy that will generate the greatest ROI.

Optimizing the Checkout Flow

Cart abandonment campaigns can help bring readers back to your website to complete the checkout process as they purchase subscriptions or membership packages, but do you know what’s causing readers to fall out of the purchasing funnel in the first place?

Through A/B testing, you might discover the reason why readers are leaving your website without subscribing or registering for an account. Maybe the price is too high, maybe the subscription period is too long, or maybe you’re asking too many questions during the registration process. The email subject lines that readers respond to most frequently can offer hints at what’s going wrong in your checkout process.

Paying attention to where readers drop out of the purchasing funnel can also give you some insights. For example, if the majority of people are clicking away from your website when they’re shown the pricing packages, then pricing could be your issue. If readers are clicking away on the registration page, then your registration form might be too long. Every extra step that you add to the checkout process increases friction, and the more friction there is, the greater the chances a reader will exit your website without becoming a subscriber.

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism has done a nice job of describing the optimal checkout flow for digital publishers in this article.

Cart Abandonment Plugins for WordPress

Setting up cart abandonment campaigns doesn’t need to be difficult. For publishers who use WordPress, the process is especially straightforward. That’s because WordPress offers a number of plugins designed for this use. A few popular cart abandonment plugins for WordPress websites include:

Want to learn more about optimizing your subscription programs to maximize revenue? Get in touch with our team of digital publishing experts here at Web Publisher PRO.