Jonathan Saipe

Drift Marketing – Recapture Abandoned Shopping Carts

1 September 2010, Jonathan Saipe

Some research suggests that shopping cart abandonment rates can be as high as 50-60%. And it’s for this reason that marketers and ecommerce analysts are constantly looking at ways of reducing form or cart abandonment. Welcome to the concept of Drift Marketing.

Drift Marketing is essentially a form a re-marketing aimed at lowering form or cart abandonment in order to increase sales and conversion rates.

If a customer is engaged enough to add items to their shopping cart, then a website owner should be able to provide an incentive to those customers that will push them back into the shopping process in order to complete the sale. Well that’s the theory!

The maths speaks for itself

Let’s take a hypothetical set of data over one month:

1000 orders started per month
600 orders completed and 400 carts abandoned
£100 average sale
That’s £60,000 revenue generated per month

If you can recapture 12% of those abandoned orders, the difference is tangible:

48 additi0nal orders started through drift marketing
648 total orders completed per month
£100 average sale
Total monthly revenue is now £64,800

Real Examples

S&S Worldwide – a leading online retailer in arts and crafts, educational supplies, youth sports and physical education equipment – used Silverpop Engage Transact for re-marketing. S&S was able to capture previously lost revenue opportunities to the tune of circa 25%.

The open rate for’s shopping cart abandonment campaign was 48% higher than any previous campaign and the click-through rate 78% higher.

Next Steps?

Normally, drift marketing is carried out by way of a triggered email that is sent to the customer at a designated time period (e.g. 30 minutes) after the cart has been abandoned.

As with any email marketing campaign, the content, design and header of the email will need to be carefully tested and will of course vary according to the vertical, customer segment and product/category.

Content Strategy

Marketers may want to broadcast an email asking the customer if they had an problems checking out and whether there is anything that can improve this process.

Alternatively, an email could be broadcast a day later which could contain saved cart contents as a reminder which could trigger a sale. A good ecommerce platform should have this facility already integrated.

If you have enough margin, you could include a discount code to incentivise a sale, but the danger here is that your customers may realise they can get discounts by abandoning the checkout process.

Legal Issues

Bear in mind, when broadcasting re-marketing emails, you will need to adhere to the right legal framework. In most cases this requires opt-in from the customer, which can be attained within the shopping cart process – before it is abandoned!

To conclude, the positive implications of drift marketing or re-marketing are easily measured in terms of clicks, sales and conversions. The negatives are less tangible as the emails that don’t result in conversions could be perceived either as too invasive and “big brother”, overly aggressive or simply spam.

  • I find this concept invigorating and have already started advocating about it everywhere I interact and more so with my prospects/clients.

    Drift marketing can surely be used to ones advantage keeping in mind the legal complication.

    Thanks again for the insight.


  • I investigated both S&S Worldwide and, and neither appear to get opt-in from the customer. requires an account to be created, but there isn’t an ‘opt in’ box for drift marketing, and it’s not mentioned in the T&C’s either; S&S Worldwide allows checkout without creating an account but requests the email address before the user makes that choice.

    Is this approach usable in the UK? It would be useful to know what the legal angle is for drift marketing over here, and what is doable/not doable.