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How to monetize wish lists

Wish lists are one of the few instances in ecommerce when customers tell you exactly what they want—but don't yet have—from your store. This demonstrated interest presents a highly-valuable opportunity to make a sale and fulfill a customer need, but it is often underutilized as a marketing tool. Here are 6 ways to turn wish lists into conversions, create brand evangelists, and increase average order value in the process:

1. Send price-drop alerts: One reason an item might be languishing in someone's wish list rather than moving over to the shopping cart is because the product's price tag is just out of reach. When a product goes on sale or its price is dropped for any reason, send a customized notification to any customer with this item on their wish list - the lowered price might be enough to tilt the buyer toward conversion. Even if price wasn't the main factor that delayed the sale, it puts the product back on their radar and further incentivizes a purchase.

2. Warn them when stock is running low: For customers on the fence about a purchase, sense of urgency is often the missing ingredient to generate a sale. This is especially useful for customers who planned to purchase and then promptly forgot.

3. Remind them of what they want: Internal banner ads are an easy way to remind returning customers of their wish lists--which often go forgotten. Other touch points for reminders include bundling and cross-selling when customers go to purchase other items. For customers who don't return, utilize your email newsletter to feature categories or products that customers have added to their wish lists. These gentle reminders tell your customer that you can still help them fulfill a need - without turning to a competitor.

4. Incentivize sharing: When a customer shares a wish list, two things happen: the odds increase that some product on the wish list will actually be purchased (either by the original customer or the person the wish list was shared with) and the wish list creator is effectively broadcasting your brand to other people in his or her network. Both of those things outcomes are good news for your online store. To encourage more sharing, consider a marketing campaign that incentivizes customers to share their wish list. For example, "win a gift card by sharing your wish list at least 5 people!" To get the most out of this opportunity, make sure that social media and email sharing options are prominently displayed on-site.

5. Connect over birthdays and holidays: If you know your customers' birthdays or birth month, send a special note offering 10 percent off anything on their wish lists. Alternatively, encourage t hem to share the list with their family and friends—and include a special promotion code to extend savings to the present-buyer as well. You don't have to limit this targeted TLC to birthdays: take advantage by creating campaigns that encourage wish list sharing around everything from Father's Day to Thanksgiving.

6. Spotlight popular wish list items: Create a list of the most popular products on people's wish lists and share it across social media and email. You can make this type of content more engaging by asking customers to vote for which item they'd choose. As an added bonus, by monitoring which products receive the most click-throughs, you can gain valuable insight into the items that are worth promoting on other channels as well.

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