Getting the Most Out of Abandoned Shopping Cart Emails

How much difference do abandoned shopping cart emails really make? And, more importantly, do these emails actually help to recover a sale before it’s lost forever? In a study done by Statistia, the reasons for a consumer to abandon a shopping cart range from unforeseen costs to finding a better price, no intent to make a real purchase and even a change of heart. It’s not always as cut and dried as brands would like – sometimes, it all comes down to whether customers were truly primed to proceed to cash-out.

One of the most effective strategies to deal with abandoned online store carts is email marketing designed specifically to save those sales that may otherwise slip away. Before you can craft a solid email to re-engage customers however, it is vital to understand how best to approach abandoned carts. By understanding why carts are left, it will be easier to develop a smart strategy that is aimed at eliminating barriers to conversion.

The Smart Approach to Abandoned Cart Emails

Statistics from the Baymard Institute, a web research company based in the UK, state that 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned. That is a frighteningly high number. To put it another way, that amounts to roughly 67 customers out of 100 that leave before completing a sale. If you are in e-commerce, that number is downright terrifying.


Image: Statista

As we briefly touched on earlier, there are many reasons that a customer will leave their cart before checking out. Statista has a handy graph from 2012 showing typical reasons for carts to be left that is worth a look. These reasons can be quite complex, or relatively simple. Shipping limitations, payment issues, website issues, poor design, poor check-out process, high prices and even a simple case of cold feet can all factor into carts being abandoned. It is useful to consider how the customer arrived on the site in the first place, too. Were they there to look around, or where they intending on buying something? What keywords brought them there? Did they go directly to a specific product or category, or did they browse a large variety of goods before adding items to the cart? A browsing customer is far more likely to abandon a cart than one who is already primed to make a purchase. The good news is that customers can be engaged after leaving. They can even be retargeted further down the line. In fact, many customers will return to a website for a second or third time before making a purchase. How you approach your emails and how you retarget customers will greatly affect whether that sale finally goes to check-out. Some things to keep in mind when retargeting include the following:

  • Timing. When you send out abandoned cart emails is key to whether they hit the mark or not. The average time delay between the customer leaving the cart and the email being sent is nine hours, but a large portion of visitors will purchase within 12 to 24 hours of leaving a website. As these visitors have intent to purchase, this means that you need to get your timing right so that you target them while they are still interested (and before they go to your competitor). Just take care that you do not come across as pushy or annoying however, which brings us to the next point…


Image: Conversion XL

  • Soft Selling vs Hard Selling. The last thing you want to do in your email is be too persistent or aggressive. There’s a really interesting case study by Marketing Sherpa that shows how JetBlue Airways successfully used a softer, less personalised approach to retarget customers who had shown interest in their flight deals without completing check-out. As some customers are wary about being tracked, the airline opted for a triggered email test that gently followed up on abandoned carts without showing customers all of their browsed pages. The test showed a 200% higher conversion rate, indicating that sometimes, a less hard-sell approach can be effective.
  • Email Sequencing. Following on from soft or medium selling, you may want to consider an email sequence rather than a once-off email. Your first email could be a simple email with a subject such as, “Oops – did you have trouble checking out?”. 24 hours after that one, you could send another email offering a discount. A few days later, you could try a higher discount. Look at the common barriers to check-out, and find out how you can use these to lure your customer back to your store. You could also look at your competitors’ offers and aim for a lower price. The trick to successful email sequences lies in being very careful with timing and language. You do not want to go for an aggressive strategy, especially if you plan to be sending a few emails in the space of a week. You also do not want to be sending out too many emails all at once, as this can drive customers away even further.

Image: Shopify

  • Customer Reviews. It can be useful to include reviews from happy customers in your retargeting emails. Choose reviews that are applicable to the products loaded to the customer’s cart, and take care to craft an email that highlights the key USP or benefits of the products. This is also a good way to add in a special discount or coupon, include nice product images and also include information on returns and guarantees. For prospective customers who have left due to being unsure about your store, or needing reassurance, this can be an effective strategy to make them feel at ease.
  • Browsing vs Buying. What about the customers who are not yet fully intent on making a purchase? They can be a little harder to retarget, but not impossible. Remember, some customers prefer to come back to your site a few times before making a final purchase decision. Ways that you can address these customers could include links to your security steps, information on your easy to use payment solutions, testimonials from previous customers and reviews.


Now that you have a little more background on how to approach your retargeting emails, you can get onto creating powerful, effective abandoned cart emails that are designed to help customers return to make that sale.

Looking for more assistance with marketing automation? Contact Grapevine today and let us know how we can help you take your marketing to the next level.


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