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Top 5 Questions About Abandoned Cart Nurturing: Answered

Aahh cart abandoning. One of the most storied online shopping past times out there, a surefire inductee whenever someone starts the first eCommerce Hall of Fame, and a staple of the digital procurement experience. 

With most ecommerce websites claiming to have a cart abandonment rate of anywhere from 50% to 75% it is clear that abandoning carts is a phenomenon, the act is less of an intentional jilt and more of a lifestyle. Now that companies have created smart tracking and a seamless experience from web to mobile and back, people have become empowered to casually browse online, then return to their shopping trip when convenient.

When I fill a cart on my phone as I lazily scroll through it on a Sunday morning in bed then get distracted and never return to it, it’s not because I decided that I didn’t want to make a purchase, but more because I was never going to make a purchase at that moment in the first place. As more popular online stores release their own shopping apps and optimize their mobile sites, online shopping has become less about the purchasing process and more about the browsing experience. Which means, online shopping carts are being abandoned at rates never before seen.

So, how do ecommerce stores battle back and encourage customers to revisit carts they once thought abandoned? The good news is, hope is not lost! Over the years marketing strategists have found that the answer to this question is a strategic mix of retargeting ads, email marketing, and social media. The leader of the pack, email marketing, is the component that has proven itself to be the most worthy investment.

The Top 5 Abandoned Cart Email Questions + Answers

Before you start drafting an email begging past customers to reconsider their abandoned carts, you should know that there is both an art and a science to crafting the best abandoned cart recovery email campaign. Let’s take a look at the top 5 most common questions about abandoned cart emails to find out how to best optimize your abandoned cart email efforts in the future.

1. How do I retarget abandoned carts?

This first question doubles as a pop quiz to see if you’ve really been paying attention to this post. If you’ve been a good student you’ll recall that there are three ways to retarget abandoned carts: retargeting ads, through social media, and email marketing.

If you have ever abandoned a cart and then an hour later been scrolling through a social platform and seen your abandoned products looking back at you, congratulations! You’ve been on the receiving end of a retargeting ad! On the technical side, retargeting ads are automated cross channel ads that are triggered by your on-site behavior. For example, if you’ve been Googling “bridesmaid dresses” all day and put some in your carts on various sites, don’t be surprised when in a few hours you see those same dresses pop up on your Instagram, Twitter, or as banner ads on Google itself or other sites (Honesty hour: This happened to me when shopping for my friend’s wedding, it worked and I’ve never looked better— thank you retargeting ads!).

While these retargeting tactics do work and are as straightforward as purchasing the necessary software to get the job done, many strategists have found even greater success through running abandoned cart recovery email campaigns as a more cohesive, targeted method.

A typical post-abandonment email flow looks like:

  • A customer leaves your website without making a purchase and abandoning their cart
  • This action triggers the post-abandonment email flow
  • Email #1: Sent on the day of abandonment, this email acts as a gentle reminder to the customer that they still have some items in their cart
  • Email #2: Sent the day after abandonment, this email reminds the customer again of their abandoned products and might include a discount incentive for resuming shopping
  • Email #3: Sent two days after abandonment, this email will notify customers if the products in their cart are running out or only available for a limited time to encourage them to act fast
  • Email #4: Sent one week after abandonment, your last chance to entice customers to return to their carts should be warm and encouraging to continue strengthening your relationship with this customer

2. Do abandoned cart emails work?

Yes! (Can you imagine if that was my entire answer?) 

Many companies have found success through the use of strategic abandoned cart email campaigns. Statistics speak louder than words, so let’s take a look at abandoned cart emails by the numbers:

3. When should I send the first abandoned cart email?

When it comes to enticing customers to revisit their abandoned carts, timing is everything. However, due to the nature of post-abandonment email flows, you’ll get more than one shot at reconnecting with a customer if the timing is off with your first email. But this isn’t an excuse to be unintentional with your email marketing strategy. 

As a general rule, sending the first abandoned cart email within the hour of its abandonment is a good idea. You want to get that first email in front of your customer quickly, before they have time to forget about your brand or talk themselves fully out of making a purchase from you. For example, Pro Direct Soccer US found that when they sent abandoned cart emails 30 minutes after abandonment they saw a 19% uplift in conversions.

4. What should I include in an abandoned cart email?

Depending on your overall marketing goals— outside of the primary goal of recovering abandoned carts— there are a variety of things that you can include in your abandoned cart emails. For example, if you are looking to also increase Instagram interactions you’ll include prominent links to social in these emails as well. Or if you are trying to boost subscribers to your company blog, you will include a CTA to sign up in the email. 

What I’m trying to say is, what you include in your abandoned cart emails is entirely up to you BUT should be an intentional decision. This isn’t the place for frivolous design and taking big tonal swings. Instead, approach abandoned cart emails gently. The idea isn’t to overload them or design them to do more heavy lifting than they are capable of, but to include just enough elements to successfully prompt recipients to engage with the email.

Some elements to include in your abandoned cart emails are:

  • Your logo and branding, so there’s no question in the customer’s mind as to who the email is from.
  • An image and description of the items that have been abandoned.
  • A sense of urgency if any of the items in the abandoned cart are close to selling out, but remember that false urgency is a no-go and may turn customers off to your brand if they spot the behavior.
  • Clear, colorful CTAs to entice shoppers to engage with your brand in a variety of ways.
  • Fun and creative subject lines! (Hot Tip: Subject lines that remind the abandoner that they “left something behind” perform the best with an open rate of 47.67%, almost 4% higher than the average.)
  • Personalized elements such as referring to the shopper by name.
  • Links to your social accounts, blog, or newsletter so customers can easily connect with your brand on a deeper level.
  • Depending on which email in your flow you are sending, you may want to offer a discount for customers returning to abandoned carts— however, be warned that if you start to offer discounts in a lot of your emails then your customers may begin to expect them.
  • Additional info that your customers may need like product details, product availability, shipping details and how to qualify for free shipping, and customer service contact info to mitigate any potential post purchase dissonance.

5. How many abandoned cart emails should I send?

As outlined in the example email flow above, a typical abandoned cart email campaign involves sending four emails. Of course, the goal is for customers to return to their carts after receiving the first email, but sometimes that is not the reality. Instead, you’ll get four chances to call your customers back to their cart. Let’s break down the emails once more, in greater detail to get to the bottom of why four is the magic number using data from Klaviyo’s abandoned cart benchmark report that analyzed over 9 million abandoned cart emails.

Email #1

Sent soon after abandonment. With an open rate of 62.94%, a click through rate of 14.53%, and revenue per recipient of $10.75 (according to Klaviyo data) this first email is often the best performing. The success of the first abandoned cart email is likely credited to its timeliness, the longer you wait to send an abandoned cart email means the longer your customer has to forget why they filled their cart in the first place. However, just because this first email performed so well doesn’t mean you should stop there.

Email #2

Sent 24 hours after abandonment. With an open rate of 48.65%, a click through rate of 11.83%, and revenue per recipient of $8.28 the second email in your flow will also likely be your second most successful. With consistently high and above the industry average for marketing emails returns in the big three categories, it’s plain to see that one abandoned cart email alone isn’t enough to pull in the complete returns that you’d like to see.

Email #3

Sent 48 hours after abandonment. With an open rate of 46.11%, a click through rate of 10.69%, and revenue per recipient of $5.52 it’s clear that the third email in your flow is the third most successful (do you see a pattern here?). Some companies stop here, under the assumption that no customer needs more than three reminders of their abandoned cart. But the numbers say otherwise. With such a slowly decreasing open and click through rate, it’s clear that these emails later in your flow are still doing some pretty heavy lifting and succeeding at engaging with any straggling customers who do need that extra push to convince them to revisit their cart.

Email #4

Sent one week after abandonment. With an open rate of 46.59%, a click through rate of 10.49%, and revenue per recipient of $4.29 the fourth email in your flow is sure to show the least returns. However, you’ll notice that these returns are still above the industry average. This 4th email will likely be your last chance to entice customers to revisit their carts. After lucky #4 open and click through rates drop drastically and continuing the flow is a less effective form of email marketing than other efforts.

The key to effective abandoned cart recovery is to stay true to your brand voice and craft your abandoned cart recovery emails with intention. If you stick to your brand and your strategy you’ll have customers running back (virtually, of course) to their carts in no time. For more abandoned cart recovery email inspiration, here are 11 Clever Abandoned Cart Email Templates + Examples.