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Car Rental Marketing: How an Online Car Rental Company Increased Bookings by 270%
This case study reveals how one of our customers, online rent a car service: Vehicle-Rent.com, increased online bookings by 270%.
If you’re a online booking-based business (hotel, ticketing, car rental, airline) or online retailer, pay attention as the learnings from this case study will also apply to your business.
How Vehicle Rent Battles High Cart Abandonment Rates in the Travel Industry
Vehicle Rent has one core goal for their customers, and that’s to: make rentals simple.
They are the fastest way to find a reliable car hire service in more than 75 countries, at more than 4,500 different locations, from most of the leading international car rental brands.
They work with Alamo, Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Buchbinder and many more, offering a multi-language friendly customer support team that can help you with your booking 24/7/365.
What Did Vehicle Rent Do to Increase Online Bookings?
Iztok Franko is Chief Marketing Officer of the fastest growing global online rent-a-car platform. And in order to keep that momentum going, Iztok knew he had to tackle one issue that was losing them customers every day: cart abandonment.
“The travel industry has one of the highest shopping cart abandonment rates as travelers compare many travel websites before the final booking. Many of Vehicle Rent’s website visitors compare their offers against competition on travel comparison sites like Skyscanner and Kayak. Over half of the people that begin the checkout process are not booking a car rental, which means lost revenue for us.” – Iztok Franko
Most people would see this as a big problem. Vehicle Rent saw it as a big opportunity.
Increase Online Bookings with Abandoned Cart Emails
Over the last 12 months, Vehicle Rent’s new shopping cart abandonment process increased bookings by 270%.
As the Vehicle Rent brand grew stronger, their traffic numbers continued to climb. However, they weren’t converting as many first time visitors as they would have liked to.
Vehicle Rent solved this problem by signing up to Rejoiner, giving their marketing team access to additional resources, including:
- An engineering team member to help with integration of the software and their checkout cart
- A designer to help create a high converting email campaign
- A copywriter to craft words that sell
- An email coder that knows how to code emails so that they open perfectly on all different types of mail clients and devices
- An email marketing specialist that implemented our data-driven abandoned cart email strategy.
“We didn’t have in-house resources to take our email automation and shopping cart abandonment process to a higher level. This is why we partnered with Rejoiner who shared our ecommerce vision and provided us with a full-service solution to upgrade our email program in less than one month.” – Iztok Franko
How did the team at Rejoiner actually help Vehicle Rent recover bookings they were losing due to cart abandonment?
Let’s take a look…
The Abandoned Cart Campaign Vehicle Rent Used to Increase Online Bookings by 270%
The first step to having a successful abandoned cart campaign is sending a customer service reminder email within 30 minutes of the cart being abandoned.
We’ve seen data from thousands of campaigns, and the email that recoups the most amount of revenue is the one that is sent within 30 minutes.
In Vehicle Rent’s case, it’s very important that they are sending their first email within 30 minutes, post abandon.
Why? Due to the competitive nature of the car rental business, people tend to look at multiple options to find the best deal.
“Car rental is a very competitive business with a high look to book ratio (the percentage of people who visit a travel website compared to those who actually make a purchase). People compare offers on various comparison sites, online broker sites and car rental suppliers before they commit to the final booking.” – Iztok Franko
If someone is on Vehicle Rent’s website, they could have multiple competitor sites open, giving them the chance to get distracted and abandon the checkout flow. That’s why it’s important to get them straight back to the site to complete the booking process.
Here’s the first email they sent…
Here Are a Few Key Insights for Email 1
1 – They personalize the subject line by inserting the persons name:
They were able to do this by capturing a name and email address on the first page of the checkout process.
Step Two of Vehicle Rent’s Checkout Process
This micro commitment strategy (ie. not asking for credit card details / address / etc.) until after we capture the name and email of someone, allows Vehicle Rent to identify more visitors with an email address.
The best thing you to capture more emails in the checkout flow (and increase conversions) is to ask for less information up front.
If the person decides to abandoned the booking process, we have their email and what car rental they’re interested in so we can follow up with them accordingly.
Side note: If they enter their email into the email address field but don’t click through to the next stage of the checkout process, Rejoiner has a special feature (pre-submit tracking), which automatically captures their email address even if they don’t click through.
This feature helps increase the amount of revenue you’re able to recover, by simply allowing you to follow up with more people.
2 – They extend the subject line with Preheader text
The preheader section allows you to extend your subject line.
In this case, we’ve added additional urgency to the preheader section which can help drive people to open the email right away.
People don’t want their plans ruined, so this copy emphasises that they should act fast and open the email now.
3 – Personalization of email content makes it super relevant to the reader (and convert higher)
The headline of the first email:
… is a clear reminder to the reader about their car hire in the city they told us they would be visiting.
A picture of the car they chose, the pick-up location they gave us and the cost to hire is dynamically inserted into the abandoned cart email creative.
Abandonment email example from Australia
This makes it very clear and leads them to the next logical step. To click that big bold CTA…
You’ll notice two call to action (CTA) buttons in the first email:
- One below the main headline section, were they use a great risk reversal line: Free Cancellation up to 24 hours prior to pick-up.
- The other CTA is below the image of the car they showed an interest in booking.
With session regeneration, if someone clicks the CTA button they will be taken back to the booking site and their car booking will be waiting for them. This creates a frictionless checkout process which helps increase the amount of bookings Vehicle Rent can recover.
Now onto email 2, take a look…
Here Are a Few Key Insights for Email 2
1 – They personalize the subject line with the location a customer is looking to pick-up their car
Triggered emails are known to have higher open rates than normal email newsletters. Personalizing your subject lines with additional information beyond someone’s first name is a great way to increase your open rate.
In email two, Vehicle Rent use the following subject line:
Your vehicle is waiting in <
The email stats in their Rejoiner account show that making this email relevant to the prospect can help attract their attention in a clutter inbox.
As you can see below, their open rate is still at a strong 49%.
And you’ll notice that the click-through rate (CTR) is still above 14%.
Mailchimp shows average CTR’s ranging from 1.25% – 5.13%. Vehicle Rent is achieving a CTR almost 3x higher than the highest point of that range.
2 – The second email looks pretty much the same… So why send it?
What’s the point of sending an email that looks almost the same as the first…
If you look at the second email sent ‘1 Day’ post abandon…
You’ll notice it recovered a little under 1,000 bookings using a similar looking email with a different subject line.
This is why we recommend sending more than one email.
The second email acts as a reminder for:
- People who opened the first but did not complete their booking at that time
- Someone who did not see the first email (remember, only 50% opened the first one)
Doing Business in Multiple Countries, and in Multiple Languages… Now What?
A common use case with online businesses is that they deal with customers that speak a language other than English.
“Doing a truly global online travel ecommerce business is extremely challenging. Each new market and language adds a new layer of complexity to the existing business. This is why a flexible email automation service that allows various versions based on the language and location is a must for successful automation campaigns.” – Iztok Franko
Vehicle Rent have customers in…
This creates a bit of an issue, as the campaigns you’ve seen above won’t convert well if people can’t read them and they’re in a different currency.
So here’s what we did…
Cart abandonment campaigns created for multiple languages inside the Rejoiner app.
- We translated the English version of this campaign into every language we needed (Polskie, Español, Português, Italiano, and more)
- We used the Rejoiner segment builder to target people that had chosen a specific language in the checkout process
- We QA’d each campaign to ensure the right email with the correct language was being delivered
The common phrase is ‘the right message to the right person at the right time’. This takes it one step further with ‘the right message in the right language…’
This is a time consuming process, but it’s definitely worth it from a conversion standpoint.
On top of this, we also needed to ensure the correct currency was being displayed in each email campaign. Rejoiner makes this easy as the currency is tied to the geo-segmentation filter for each country.
A Final Word from Iztok, CMO of Vehicle Rent
“Shopping cart abandonment campaigns are big opportunity for online travel companies. Implementing an email automation service that supported our fast growth plans was one of the key elements in our ecommerce strategy.
Not only did this service allow us to recover more abandoned bookings, by running various experiments together with the Rejoiner team, it allowed us to experiment, learn and understand our customers even better.
Based on the success we had with the shopping cart abandonment campaigns, we already added new post-booking upsell campaigns email automation campaigns which will support our further growth. Rejoiner services enabled us to react quickly without major investments.” – Iztok Franko
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