Commerce-Enabled Email Sends Conversions Sky-High

E-commerce sites everywhere know how tough it is to persuade individuals to complete the final steps of the purchasing process. Abandoned shopping carts, consumers’ distrust of merchandise they can’t touch, and other issues get in the way of selling goods online.

Well, ICE.com, an online jewelry retailer, recently took a new approach to guiding customers toward purchase. And in doing so, the company saw conversions increase more than 500 percent.

Purchasing Made Easy

ICE.com has been conducting email marketing campaigns for some time now. It has built up a database of more than 700,000 names, largely through sweepstakes campaigns, and the company sends out thousands of email messages to its database each month.

But back in February it tried something new. Working with Cybuy, a company that offers digital marketing products, and CheetahMail, an email marketing company, ICE.com created a special commerce-enabled email message.

The HTML message featured two products: sapphire-and-diamond earrings in white gold and a charm bracelet in sterling silver. Recipients were presented with incentives such as a discount and free shipping; the message also included links back to the ICE.com Web site and explained how to unsubscribe from the database.

What made this offer unique was that within the message were two “Buy Now” buttons. Rather than forcing recipients to click on a link that would take them back to a landing page on the ICE.com Web site to complete the transaction, the message allowed users to conduct the transaction entirely within the email message — with just three clicks.

Pinny Gniwisch, executive vice president of marketing for ICE.com, said his company was skeptical at first. He said the company wasn’t convinced that customers would go through the checkout process without going to the site first.

The Making of a True Believer

His skepticism was unfounded.

ICE.com took a large sample of the database (more than 100,000 names) and split it into roughly two equal parts. One group received the commerce-enabled email pop-up. The other group received a message that had the same offer but was not commerce-enabled (the “non-Cybuy version”); recipients had to click back to the Web site.

The result? ICE.com saw about a 550 percent increase in conversion rate over the standard message. In other words, more than five times as many people who received the Cybuy version took advantage of the offer, compared with those who received the non-Cybuy version.

There was another interesting piece of data tracked as well. Both messages carried links (in the form of the company logo) back to the ICE.com site. There was an increase in conversion rate here, too. Those who clicked on the ICE.com link in the commerce-enabled message were 133 percent more likely to buy than those who clicked on the link in the non-Cybuy version.

“It showed us that when you’re dealing with an online purchase, impulse is important,” Gniwisch said. “Once you bring [consumers] to the site, they start surfing, and it can be a problem from the merchandiser’s perspective. Too much is not always good.”

But a fivefold increase in conversion? Now that’s a good thing.

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