There’s no gentle way to put this, so I’m just going to come out and say it:
Your company is losing a ton of business from nearly-converting prospects due to cart abandonment.
There’s no “maybe” or “potentially” about it, either. No matter which industry your organization operates in, the majority of prospective customers who load up their virtual shopping carts will end up navigating away from your site without actually going through with their intended purchase.
Need proof? Earlier this year, Salecycle found the overall cart abandonment rate across industries to be over 75%. While abandonment rates within the finance and travel sectors reached over 80%, retail and fashion weren’t all that far behind:
To be sure, consumers abandon their virtual shopping carts for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Being unprepared to make a purchase (e.g., needed to compare product and prices to competitor, etc.)
- Discovered a technical or logistical problem with delivery, shipping, checkout, etc.
- Preferred to make actual purchase in person
Of course, the best course of action for companies to take is to address these issues head-on in order to minimize instances of cart abandonment before they occur.
Unfortunately, cart abandonment is going to happen no matter what you do to prepare potential customers for conversion. Yes, you absolutely should do whatever you can to minimize your cart abandonment rate; but you should also have a plan in place for getting those nearly-converted prospects back on track toward making a purchase.
Think about it like this:
Those who have loaded up, but subsequently abandoned, their carts, have proven to be quite interested in your products or services – much more so than any passerby who navigated away from your site without taking any action at all.
That said, rather than simply giving up on these individuals (and focusing instead on generating brand new leads that will have to be nurtured up to this same point all over again), it just makes more sense to engage with your cart abandoners to try and get them to overcome whatever hurdle stood in their way of converting.
Which is where a well-timed, well-designed cart abandonment email comes into play.
We mentioned earlier that there are a number of reasons consumers end up abandoning their virtual shopping carts without making a purchase.
Topping this list of reasons is the simple fact that, for whatever reason, the consumer just wasn’t ready to make a purchase. In fact, more than one-third of consumers provided this answer as their main reason for abandoning a cart at one time or another in the past.
It’s not that they didn’t want to make the purchase, and it’s not that they couldn’t for logistical or technical reasons; they simply weren’t ready to make the purchase yet.
That key word – “yet” – is why it’s so important to develop emails focusing on further nurturing cart abandoners: they may not be ready to make a purchase at the current moment…but they almost certainly will be in due time.
Getting a bit more down and dirty with the facts, correctly-implemented cart abandonment emails are incredibly effective. A study of cart abandonment emails by Moosend found that:
- 45% of the emails were opened
- 21% of emails that were opened earned a click-through
- Of the emails that were clicked-through, half of them led to conversion
Essentially, this means that around four or five of every 100 cart abandoners will end up becoming paying customers. While this might not seem like all that much on paper, extrapolated over thousands of visitors, potential customers, and cart abandoners, it could mean a recovery of hundreds of sales that would otherwise have slipped through your fingers.
With all this in mind, then, let’s dive into what all goes into creating an effective cart abandonment email.
Now that we understand just how effective cart abandonment emails can be, we need to know how to actually go about creating them.
As is the case with any email marketing campaign, your cart abandonment emails need to accomplish a few things:
- Engage your recipients
- Provide value to them
- Get them to take action
Throughout the remainder of this article, we’ll explain how to accomplish these goals using various aspects of your cart abandonment emails.
Let’s dive in.
(One quick note before getting started: Obviously, you’ll need to have a cart abandoner’s email address on file in order to reach out to them in the future. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to collect prospective customers’ contact information well before they even think about making a purchase.)
Before we even get into the actual creation of your cart abandonment emails, it’s important to note that timing is especially critical in terms of re-engaging potential customers before you lose the sale completely.
That said, you should set your initial abandonment email to be sent at most one hour after an individual navigates away from your site. However, you don’t want to send this initial email immediately, as this will come off annoying at best – and creepy at worst.
Realistically, your first email should be sent anywhere from twenty to sixty minutes after an individual has abandoned their cart; this will allow enough time in between their having navigated away from your site for you to know for sure they aren’t coming back anytime soon – but not enough time for them to completely forget that they even visited your site in the first place.
This initial email should focus not on closing a sale, but more so on probing into the reason the individual left – and on showcasing the value of your offer to them.
For example, take a look at this email from Millennial Hotels and Restaurants:
Not only does the email remind the potential customer what they had begun signing up for, but it also provides the option to contact customer service for further assistance.
Here’s another example from Hertz, which provides extra information regarding the company’s competitive pricing model:
Now, depending on what happens after you send the first email, you may have to send a follow-up soon after. If the customer didn’t open the first one at all, you’ll want to send this second email 24 hours after you sent the initial one. If they opened the first email – but didn’t end up converting – you’ll want to send the follow-up 24 hours after they opened it.
In either case, this follow-up email should instil a sense of urgency in the recipient by providing a time-limited warning, offer or incentive.
Now, this secondary email can simply be a reminder that the individual’s cart is full – but that your system will soon reset it completely (or that the products within the cart will soon be unavailable).
Here’s how Mango does it:
And here’s an example from Asos:
You’ll notice, in both examples, the loud and clear message: “Complete your purchase while the items you want are still in stock.” Whether or not the items in question really are limited in number, the recipient will hopefully take this email as a sign that they need to act quickly.
Finally, you might decide to send a third email to your cart abandoners if they’ve remained inactive or unresponsive for 48 hours. This third email definitely isn’t mandatory, and should be used with caution (that is, you might run the risk of being reported as spam if your recipients are truly put off by your emails). Perhaps the best course of action, here, would be to send a third email only to those who have opened either of the previous ones (and sparing those who have ignored both of them).
At any rate, this third email should provide a rather hefty incentive as a sort of last-ditch effort to get your cart abandoners to convert before they fade away.
Here, Wolf & Badger not only provide a discount on the customer’s purchase, but free shipping, as well:
Kurt Geiger, on the other hand, provides a major discount:
While you, of course, won’t be making near as much profit on the transaction should any of your abandoners decide to use such an incentive to their advantage, you’ll have attained two goals, here:
For one thing, you’ll have generated at least some profit that you otherwise wouldn’t have. More importantly, though, you’ll have gotten a potential defector back on the hook – and will hopefully be able to keep them onboard for some time to come.
Okay, to be sure:
Every email you send out should match your company’s brand and overall “feel.”
Still, it’s worth reinforcing this notion, as it will essentially dictate your approach to everything we’ll discuss throughout the rest of this article.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at a couple examples.
First, let’s look at an abandoned cart email that’s…well…a bit lacking in terms of branding:
While the subject line and copy (which we’ll discuss momentarily) of this email are pretty strong, the “plainness” of the whole thing almost renders these other strong points null and void.
Without any images or thematic aspects to the email, the recipient is forced to (ugh) read in order to figure out the actual purpose of the email. While this might sound a bit ridiculous, it’s important to keep in mind that the recipient of an abandoned cart email isn’t all that interested in the first place – and a plain ol’ email like this probably isn’t going to re-engage them all that well.
On the other hand, check out this example from Chubbies:
In this example, everything about the email – the subject line, the body copy, and the imagery and theme – makes it abundantly clear: this email is from Chubbies, and it’s in reference to the individual’s recent on-site experience.
Another way to go about matching your abandoned cart emails to your brand is to replicate your site’s appearance within your emails, as Hayneedle does here:
Again, for those who had recently visited Hayneedle’s main site, this email’s branded appearance will be immediately recognizable.
(However, going this route can be hit-or-miss, as providing too many options for your cart abandoners can distract them from doing what you really want them to do: complete their originally-intended purchase.)
At any rate, the point is that your cart abandonment emails should match the theme and branding of your other emails and marketing content in order for your target customers to see them as an actual part of your brand’s experience. Otherwise, these emails will be seen as an afterthought – and won’t be nearly as effective in re-engaging your cart abandoners.
As we alluded to above, if the subject line of your abandoned cart emails don’t immediately grab your recipient’s attention, they’re simply going to ignore it and move on with their life.
While there are a variety of ways you can approach the creation of the subject line of these emails, you’ll always want to be sure to include at least one of the following:
- A personalized greeting
- A clear declaration of the purpose of the email
- A clear declaration of the value of the email
As far as the “angle” to take when creating your email’s subject line, you have a number of options. Again, though: be sure that your approach matches the overall feel of your brand – a discrepancy here will almost certainly cause your email to go unread.
One option is to focus on the actual products the cart abandoner left in their virtual shopping cart:
In addition to reminding the individual of the exact item they left in their cart, this subject line provides that sense of urgency we spoke about earlier, prompting the customer to take action sooner than later to avoid missing out.
Another option at your disposal is to align your subject line copy with your brand, as Doggyloot does here:
Going along with this less-than-serious motiff, you could also call out your cart abandoners in a fun, tongue-in-cheek manner:
A quick note about the above: If you choose to go this route, you want to be sure your customers share this same sense of humor. That is, you don’t want what was supposed to be a humorous subject line to come off as accusatory or insulting.
If you choose to offer an incentive to your cart abandoners, you’ll want to reflect this offer in your subject line. You might choose to do so in a more “mysterious” manner, as HelloNomad had done in our previous example:
Or you might choose to be a bit more clear, as Bonobos is here:
Finally, if the goal of your abandoned cart email (aside from re-engaging your potential customers) is to offer support, you’ll want to make this clear in your email’s subject line:
Again, no matter which route you choose to go, you need to be sure that your abandoned cart email’s subject line:
- Explains exactly what the individual has to gain by engaging with the email
- Aligns with your brand’s overall feel
As we said earlier, roughly 50% of abandoned cart emails get opened – which means that 50% don’t. Needless to say, you want to be sure your emails fall under the first category.
Again, this definitely applies to all emails you send your customers and/or leads, but it’s important to discuss what engaging and actionable copy looks like when applied to abandoned cart emails.
First things first, the bulk of your email’s body should be focused on putting the recipient back into the mindset they were in when they initially added items to their virtual shopping cart. Typically, this involves referring back to the recipient’s “recent” experience with your brand:
Or, you may choose to go the more apologetic and empathetic route:
Again, you want to be sure your email’s body copy matches up with that of your subject line – and also the overall feel of your brand.
Now, regarding the “actionable” part of your email’s body, there are typically three options for a call-to-action for abandoned cart emails.
One option is to bring recipients back to their cart:
Or, you might allow recipients to immediately head toward the checkout page:
Finally, as we discussed earlier, you might provide the option for recipients to continue shopping on your site (with their previously-added items still in their cart):
Now, this last option probably shouldn’t be your go-to. Remember: you want your abandoners to complete their purchase, not continue browsing around your site. Still, if you’ve tested each option and find this method works best to re-engage cart abandoners, more power to you.
As you’ve seen in the examples we’ve used throughout this article, along with strong, engaging copy, you also want to include in your abandoned cart emails information relating to the items your customer had been thinking of purchasing during their last browsing session.
As you’ll recall, the main reason consumers abandon their virtual shopping carts is because they weren’t ready to go through with their purchase. With this in mind, you want to use your abandoned cart emails as a way to provide information about the product(s) in question:
In the example above, FatFace does more than simply inform the customer that they “still have items in their cart”: the email tells recipients exactly what these items are, how many they added to their cart, and how much their overall order will cost.
Also worth noting in the above example (and in many of the other ones we’ve used so far) is the inclusion of a “makeshift” virtual cart within the actual email. Again, these brands go beyond simply providing a link to their actual website, and simply bring their potential customer’s shopping cart right to their email inbox. In doing so, these companies create a “path of least resistance,” allowing recipients to pick up right where they left off during their initial shopping session.
To reiterate one last time:
The typical cart abandoner leaves a site without making a purchase because they needed to dig a little deeper to ensure they end up making the right decision.
That said, it may be beneficial for you to include product reviews and/or suggestions for similar products within your abandoned cart emails.
Here’s a (rather humorous) example from Casper:
Birchbox goes a bit further, including product reviews and similar product suggestions within the brand’s abandoned cart emails:
Including product reviews within your abandoned cart emails is, of course, done as a way to provide social proof that the product in question is seen as useful and valuable by others. Simply put, for those who are “on the fence” about making a specific purchase, such social proof may be just what they need to get them to convert.
Providing product suggestions within your abandoned cart emails is a bit more nuanced, for lack of a better term.
On the one hand, the case may be that an individual didn’t go through with a given purchase because they were looking for more value before “pulling the trigger.” In such instances, you may be able to use your abandoned cart emails as a way to cross-sell your customers.
For example, if an individual had left a specific shirt in their cart, you might suggest a variety of pants that complete the outfit. In this example, customers that didn’t go through with their purchase due to not having a good pair of pants to match the shirt might now end up purchasing even more than they originally anticipated.
On the other hand, as we mentioned earlier, providing additional options may distract your customers from going through with their initial purchase – which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
The takeaway, here, is:
If you believe product suggestions might help spur your cart abandoners toward conversion, test your theory out for a short period of time. If it works, you may have found a new way of not only winning back cart abandoners, but also of improving your average order value from these individuals, as well.
While we’ve provided a number of suggestions for how to go about creating abandoned cart emails, your first order of business before creating these emails is to determine why your customers are leaving in the first place.
Start by discovering why customers left without making a purchase. This enables you to improve based on feedback, not guesswork.