According to research from Statista, the average rate of shopping cart abandonment worldwide is 80%. This means that over two-thirds of visitors to your website have commenced the check-out process by adding items to their shopping cart, intending to buy. Then, they’ve either gotten distracted, headed over to your competitor’s site to check their prices, or decided to give their cart the overnight test before they commit. Next minute, you’ve lost a would-be customer.
Now, that’s a lot of potential revenue being lost for no good reason. Thankfully, you can take steps to bring those customers back to your business with an abandoned cart email series.
In this article, we’ll give you the 101 on abandoned cart emails, share specific tips and examples that will help you drive opens and conversions on your abandoned cart emails, and offer up a few other ways you can recover abandoned carts with omnichannel customer journey marketing.
What is an abandoned cart email?
An abandoned cart email is an automated email sent to customers who almost made a purchase, but decided not to go ahead with it for whatever reason. Reasons may include (but are not limited to) high shipping costs, products being priced too high, technical issues with the website, low buying intentions (i.e., the customer was just browsing), or simply getting distracted and moving on to other things.
Abandoned cart emails are designed to encourage shoppers to complete their transactions. If the shopper has entered their email address during the check-out process (or has logged into their account as a known user), then there is ample opportunity for you to re-engage them by sending an abandoned cart email so they can continue with the check-out process.
Abandoned carts are extremely common, with average cart abandonment rates rising year on year as online shopping has replaced real-life shopping for many people. Think of it like window shopping — online browsers are heading to a range of different stores to find out if there’s something they like better, or to find the same thing cheaper before they make a decision.
Let’s take a look at the stats.
85.65% is the average abandonment rate for mobile users (Barilliance)
Fashion retailers experience an average abandoned cart rate of 88.57% (Statistia)
49% of consumers abandoned their cart because the extra costs (like shipping and taxes) were too high (Statista)
24% of consumers abandoned their cart because the site wanted them to create an account (Statista)
19% abandoned because delivery was too slow (Statista)
17% didn’t trust the site with their credit card information (Statista)
18% felt the checkout process was too long or complicated (Statista)
Cart abandonment emails in retail have an average open rate of 39.07% (SaleCycle)
Cart abandonment emails in the travel sector have an average open rate of up to 46.94% (SaleCycle)
6 ways to improve your abandoned cart emails, plus abandoned cart email examples
Whether you’re setting up an abandoned cart email flow from scratch or improving on a journey you’ve already got, these six tips will help you improve your abandoned cart emails to increase open rates and conversions.
1. Personalize emails with dynamic content
Ever jumped online and popped a few things in your cart, then realized you were supposed to be in a meeting? Four hours later you’re frantically closing your laptop for the day to rush to dinner, and that cart with your items is closed down with the rest of your tabs. The next day? You can hardly remember where you were shopping, much less what you left in your cart. Humans get distracted - especially when they're online. For this reason, your recovery email should be personalized with dynamic content that brings the exact items your browser dropped in their cart directly into the email.
Showing shoppers the forgotten items works because it harnesses the power of personalization — and we know how effective personalized emails are. Not only do personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 65% of email marketers say real-time data in email is either ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’. Additionally, these emails remind people what they’re potentially missing out on if they don’t take action.
In the image below, you’ll see how three different brands in three very different industries have personalized their abandoned cart emails with dynamic content.
2. Experiment with low-pressure calls-to-action
The way you phrase your call-to-action (CTA) in your abandoned cart email will have a significant impact on its effectiveness to convert readers into buyers. Asking your reader to buy from you is probably the highest level of commitment that you can ask them for — and unfortunately, some readers ain’t ready for that level of commitment just yet.
So, instead of using the words “buy” or “pay” in your CTA, it’s a good idea to tone down the level of commitment by rephrasing your CTA to something like “Take another look,” “Review the cart,” or “I’m coming” as skincare brand Go-To has done below.
3. Use scarcity marketing
Urgency and scarcity are commonly used in marketing to drive engagement and boost conversion. Why is it so effective? Because urgent situations motivate customers to act fast while scarcity triggers anxiety, forcing them to act without delay.
When customers receive an abandoned cart email with a limited-time offer, they begin to automatically evaluate if they’re comfortable with letting this opportunity escape from their hot little hands… or if the FOMO factor is too much. And telling customers that they risk missing out on items in their cart, either due to low supply or price increases, compels them to complete the order.
Check out the subject lines and email examples below. Each has a different take on scarcity to encourage purchase now.
Subject lines (left to right): - Low in Stock: the Helle Mardahl item in your wishlist - :NAME:, still interested in the Massdrop x MiTo SA Pulse Custom Keycap Set? - The Artworks You Looked at Are Being Discovered
4. Offer support
According to the Baymard Institute, 28% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts because they thought the check-out process was too long or too complicated. We get it: long and confusing check-out processes are annoying. In particular, unnecessary forms contribute to this frustration and can lead to would-be shoppers tapping out just before they enter their credit card details.
The solution? In addition to minimizing form elements so that you only ask for necessary information, provide a way for customers to talk to you directly about issues they may face when using your website. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times you view (and test) your pages yourself, you still might miss something obvious and live chat provides unprecedented access to see what’s not quite working.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that your abandoned cart email provides information on how customers can contact you beyond live chat if they have a question. Who knows, receiving a simple response to a question could be the key to getting your customer back to the shopping cart.
Whiskey Loot's abandoned cart email does this with a benefits list and a few FAQs. The subject line ‘Your cart is sobering up’ is a great example of bringing your brand personality into every word you write.
5. Provide a personalized discount
Who doesn’t love a discount? We’ve all been in the position where we’ve become a little click-happy, added a bunch of items to our cart, and then realized that, actually, all those items, plus shipment, plus tax, really do add up. Then, like magic, you receive a discount or free shipping code in your abandoned cart email. And there you go. That’s the final push you need to hit the “purchase” button.
With that in mind, consider offering a personalized incentive that is email-exclusive. And consider putting some urgency around it to encourage purchase now, before another distraction comes your customer’s way.
In the example from Ritual below, the brand clearly lays out the benefits of the product, overcomes some of the key barriers to purchase like cancellation (the product is subscription only), AND offers a huge 50% off the customer’s first month. We’re sold.
6. Suggest alternative payment and delivery options
According to research by PPRO, 42% of US consumers stated they would stop a purchase if their favorite payment method wasn’t available. So whether you add PayPal as a payment option to your credit card-only website or give your customers a buy-now-pay-later choice, by adding this somewhere in your abandoned cart email (like D.S. & Durga have done below), you'll increase the chances of reclaiming that lost cart.
A similar strategy would be to provide alternative delivery methods. Why? Customers are time-poor and busy; quite often, they work long hours and aren’t always in a position to be home to accept deliveries. Click and collect is a method that allows shoppers to purchase products online from the comfort of their own home. Once they’ve made the purchase, they can choose to pick up their goodies from a brick-and-mortar store. Liquor retailer Dan Murphy’s provides this option in the following abandoned cart email, allowing shoppers to collect their purchases in-store at no extra charge.
Too many e-commerce businesses let potential revenue fly out the window simply because they don’t send people a friendly reminder that they’ve left something behind. A strong abandoned cart email strategy is crucial if you want your customers to return to your website to complete their unfinished purchases and see your e-commerce metrics grow.
An abandoned cart email flow is essential to reclaiming lost carts. But there are other ways you can improve your customer experience to close more carts in the first place or win back lost revenue.
We will expand on each further, but we can put them into 8 easy to follow categories:
Be upfront about additional costs such as shipping fees
Make the checkout process easy and pain-free
Offer multiple payment options
Ensure your ecommerce website is fast
Have a clear and simple return policy
Offer assurance to your customers e.g. money-back
Use exit-intent pop-ups
1. Be upfront about additional costs
We have all experienced the feeling of shock at checkout when extra costs like shipping and tax are added. This surprises your customers so much in fact that 49% of them will abandon their cart (Statista) for this reason. In many cases, businesses are waiting until the end of the journey to spring this cost onto customers, hence the ‘shock’.
Some ecommerce business owners will argue that they don’t need to offer free shipping or that free shipping is too expensive. That might be true, but the important thing is whether your customers ‘expect’ it, and have you done anything in the journey to communicate transparently about how shipping charges might work. The reality is, customers expect free shipping for larger transactions, and 93% of them will be more likely to buy more from your website if you offer it.
Offering standard free shipping won’t be feasible for every business or for every transaction, particularly if your average basket size is under $50 or you have a lot of customers from around the world. But consider running promotions where you make it available occasionally, such as during a holiday period like the Black Friday weekend, or create certain minimum amounts that either reduce the shipping cost or make a spending threshold eligible for free shipping.
2. Make the checkout process easy
Have you ever tried to buy something online, only to be faced with a long check-out process? Or to be told to register an account before continuing? Not only is this a horribly inefficient process, but it also wastes time and leaves your customers’ money in limbo far longer than it needs to be. In fact, almost a fifth of your customers will simply not bother completing the check-out process if it was too long or complicated.
Review the number of existing form fields and ask yourself if they’re really necessary — if not, they should be removed. Additionally, offering shoppers a one-step or guest checkout option can prevent them from abandoning carts. Consider implementing a quick-order system that allows people to register their payment method for next time.
3. Offer multiple payment options
When designing your ecommerce website, the last thing you want is a disruption to your customers’ seamless (and satisfying) shopping experience. If you only offer one payment option, you’re putting unnecessary obstacles between your customers and your sales.
Every ecommerce website should offer credit card payments as a bare minimum, but remember that not every customer will own a credit card — and even if they do, they may not feel comfortable using it to make their purchase. For this reason, we recommend offering additional payment options such as PayPal as well as mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, especially if you’re targeting a younger audience.
Many e-commerce retailers also offer Afterpay, Klarna, or Paypal Pay-in-4, to allow customers to pay for their purchases over installments. Depending on what kind of business you have, adding cryptocurrencies to the mix may be something to consider, too.
Giving your customers additional payment options may seem like more hassle for you as a business owner. However, you’ll reduce the likelihood that your customers will find another reason to abandon their cart and take their business elsewhere. At the end of the day, you’re eliminating any barriers to purchase.
4. Speed test your e-commerce website
We all have short attention spans. And when you combine that with an increasing number of options available to online shoppers today, it’s easy to see why many visitors aren’t prepared to patiently wait for your website to load when all they want to do is pay.
A slow and buggy website annoys people — so much so that even a one-second delay in load time will cost your ecommerce website up to 7% in conversions. With so many ecommerce websites lagging behind, you need to execute the following if you want to be faster than your competitors:
- Minimizing plugins: the more third-party plugins you have installed, the more resources are required, thus causing a drain on the system; - Enabling cache to ensure visitors to your website have an optimal experience during periods of high volume traffic; and - Using a CDN (content delivery network) if you’re targeting a global audience, to ensure optimal load of your website and delivery of your content.
Begin by running your website through a speed test tool such as Google’s Test My Site to see how it runs on mobile devices. In addition to telling you how fast your website is, this tool will also generate a report with a list of recommended fixes to help you achieve faster load times.
5. Implement a clear and simple return policy
Most people buy online with a strong intent to own the product they’re buying. But if they need to send the item back for whatever reason, they want returns to be fast, easy, and (ideally) free.
If your business has no return policy or fails to clearly communicate its return policy on its website clearly, your customers will abandon their carts. In fact, 62% of customers expect to be able to return an item for a full refund within 30 days.
Whether you offer returns or not, the most important thing is to keep the policy simple and consistent, and clearly communicate exactly what it entails on your website.
6. Reassure customers
The nature of ecommerce means there’s a considerable level of trust involved in the buying process. Your customers cannot see what they’re buying — they only have images to rely on. Customer hesitation and uncertainty are nightmare fuel for businesses looking to close more carts. The more you can do to preemptively overcome potential objections or reassure worried customers, the more likely you are to see completed purchases.
A good way to overcome hesitation in the online purchasing journey is to offer your customers bulletproof money-back guarantees or some other assurance such as trust seals or marks (for example, the PayPal logo and the McAfee seal).
7. Use exit-intent popups
Exit-intent pop-ups reduce shopping cart abandonment and keep your sales on track. They can be installed on any of your ecommerce website pages, including the shopping cart and checkout pages. For example, when someone is looking like they’re about to abandon your cart, you can present them with a discount offer like this:
If you’re an Ortto customer, you can easily set up an exit-intent pop-up, using features like spin the wheel, which incentivizes your visitor to hand over their email address to spin the wheel and get an offer like 10% off, free shipping, or a gift with purchase. If your visitor spins the wheel, but never checks out, you can follow up with an email reminding them of items they’ve left in their cart and the deal they missed out on, enticing them to come back to complete their purchase.
The final word
Your abandoned cart strategy — from preventing abandonment in the first place to establishing exit-intent pop-ups and abandoned cart email journeys — is worth spending time on and continuously optimizing. After all, you’ve already spent time and money generating that visit to your site, you might as well make it count!