How to create effective cart abandonment emails

Sep 30, 2021

Published by: Sean McCarthy
Shopping carts in a stall

Cart abandonment is a real issue for most e-commerce stores. With a great email drip, teams can recover lost sales with these abandoned cart email exampled.

As you grow your online store, you’re bound to have all kinds of shoppers troop in. Many of those customers will add goods to their shopping cart but will never complete a purchase.

It’s a major problem for ecommerce store owners. Ecommerce businesses on average have a 75.6% cart abandonment rate. This means lost revenue, lost customers and missed opportunities. But what if you could remind customers about their online shopping cart and get them to convert using discount codes or compelling copy to entice customers to come back?

This article provides an abandoned cart email sequence that can help you track down cart abandoners and recover lost prospects. It takes only a few elements of marketing creativity for ecommerce businesses to start recovering abandoned carts.

What is cart abandonment and why does it occur?

Shopping cart abandonment refers to when customers visit your online store and put items in their shopping cart but do not make a purchase.

This action proves they’re interested in your products. A customer's cart is the clearest indicator of their preferences and is where you can turn potential customers into repeat purchasers—with the right abandoned cart email strategy in place.

Now, as to why they didn’t go on with the purchase? That’s a different ball game entirely.

In all fairness, some visitors are merely window-shopping and are not ready to buy. Others want to “save items in their cart” so they spend less time sifting through products when they return to your site again.

However, the Baymard Institute says those are not the only reasons. Two of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are unexpected (high) shipping costs and the checkout process taking too long.

Your customers might abandon their shopping cart before checkout because of the following reasons:

  • They don’t want to create a user account at checkout

  • Security concerns

  • Hidden upfront payment

  • Zero return policy/money-back guarantee

  • Website crashes

  • Credit card or debit card declined

Not everything on the list would apply to your store. We’ll explore ways to create a successful email sequence to drop your abandonment rates later.

But first, let’s talk a bit about how you can secure your website visitor’s email address in the first place. After all, you can't have an abandoned cart email strategy without email addresses.

How to get email addresses from visitors who abandon their cart

One effective way to capture the email addresses of e-commerce visitors who abandon their shopping carts is to enable a guest checkout option.

This allows customers to make purchases without creating an account, which is often the main reason why they may decide to abandon their shopping cart in the first place.

Another great way to capture the email addresses of e-commerce who abandon their shopping carts is by using polls and surveys on your website. Polls and surveys are a great way to engage with customers, get feedback about products or services, and even collect valuable customer data like email addresses.

By offering incentives such as discounts or coupons for completing a survey, you can encourage more people to participate in the poll or survey which will help you gain access to their contact information.

Additionally, polls and surveys offer insights into what consumers want from your store so that you can make changes accordingly. This not only helps improve customer experience but also increases the chances of them making purchases from your store in the future.

Other strategies to reduce shopping cart abandonment include offering incentives such as discounts and free shipping. Customers love getting a good deal, so providing them with discount codes or free shipping can be quite effective in prompting customers to complete their purchase.

Customers who receive a coupon code (whether in real-time on your site or in an abandoned cart email) are more likely to follow through and make the purchase. Test for yourself to see clear evidence that providing incentives in cart abandonment emails can be an effective tool to get customers to complete their purchases.

Abandoned cart email examples that will recover lost sales

An abandoned cart email is an automated reminder email sent to visitors who do not complete a purchase.

But when should you send abandoned cart emails? Should you bring people directly back to a checkout page and their shopping cart? How can you use subject lines to increase their sense of urgency?

Let's start with a basic three-part abandoned cart email strategy:

Initial email

Follow-up email

Final email

Here’s how to structure a cart abandonment email sequence that converts.

Initial email

Your initial email is simply a shopping cart reminder — keep it at that. The content of the initial email should be straightforward, addressing problems or likely reasons why visitors didn’t make a purchase.

In this case, email scheduling is crucial. You’ll want to send an email within a few hours of cart abandonment for maximum conversions. This allows you to catch customers while they’re still searching for your product before they consider making a purchase from other, similar brands.

Homage Initial Email Example

Source: Really Good Emails

Like Homage, focus on getting the customer to open your email using a personalized or snappy subject line such as “Seal the Deal”. Sometimes, this initial email is enough reminder for a customer to get to purchase completion.

Other times, you may need to give a second nudge with another email about abandoned carts to recover lost sales.

Follow-up email

The second email should be sent 12 to 48 hours after the initial email. In the follow-up email, you can offer the visitor a discount or an offer of free shipping.

Ensure you personalize this email by including items left in their cart. You can also address your customers or visitors by name if you have these details.

Here’s some abandoned cart email template inspiration from Dote:

Source: Helloendless

Dote’s abandoned cart email is short, simple and full of humor. Even without a discount code to recover lost customers, it passes across the message in a way that is likely to drive conversion.

Final email

As we’ve pointed out, you should only send the final email when the first two emails in the sequence did not work. This particular email is very critical, as it is your last chance to recover potential sales.

In the final email, you can send your customers an email offering to help with their orders like Nordstrom.

Communicating this help starts with great subject lines referencing their shopping cart and any known conversion blockers like price or unexpected shipping costs.

Cart abandonment final email Nordstrom

Nordstrom uses a gentle nudge reminder to get customers to complete their purchases. So you don’t come off as spammy, send the final email two to three days after the second email.

That spreads the entire cart abandonment email sequence over one week.

Developing a successful cart abandonment sequence

Abandoned carts have the potential to land you more sales. However, the key to landing these sales depends on the timing and relevance of your cart abandonment emails. It’s best to set up a sequence of emails.

Don’t overdo it, though.

Sending more than three might harm your conversion rate.

According to Experian statistics, using three emails in your cart abandonment email sequence increases your revenue by 56%. That is six percent more revenue than if you use just two emails.

The emails in your cart abandonment sequence must be relevant to the customer and incentivize them to complete a purchase.

Let’s look at some elements in the abandoned cart email examples you can include in your email to recover lost revenue from cart abandoners.

1. Utilize social proof

Sometimes customers may dump their carts because they are nervous about your product’s quality or the company’s legitimacy. Use social proof such as testimonials or public reviews on other sites like Trustpilot to improve the shopping experience and demonstrate credibility.

Dollar Shave Club uses social proof in this example:

Source: Pinterest

Social proof is a powerful technique to enhance customer trust and engagement in an abandoned cart email. It works by leveraging the opinions of others to influence a person's decision-making process.

Providing evidence that other customers have enjoyed using your product or service helps build confidence in the mind of the customer and encourages them to complete the purchase.

It simply shows the quality and credibility of your brand using evidence gotten from social customer interactions to compel visitors to make payments.

2. Discounts and free shipping incentives

Eighty-eight percent of shoppers actively search for a good deal. So, take advantage of this and close a sale.

You’re likely to get six out of ten visitors to complete a purchase they didn’t intend to make with a discount. You can offer a discount to customers who leave their purchase part-way like Cali Fabrics.

Source: BigCommerce

Cali Fabrics also threw in a free return incentive within 30 days to sweeten the deal.

Another way you can provide a discount is to offer a percentage discount on product bundles left in a cart and free shipping to those who passed a certain spend threshold.

You need to decide if this is the right approach for your business, though. Some regular customers will take advantage of your offer by adding goods to their shopping cart and only completing the purchase when they receive the discount offer.

3. Urgency and scarcity

We hinted at scarcity and urgency when discussing how to structure your final email. Everyone hates to miss out on a deal. So utilize this motivator when drafting your abandoned cart email to drive conversions.

See how the makeup brand, Sephora, does it:

Source: Sephora Pinterest

By using urgency and scarcity, Sephora can urge customers to hurry or lose out on a deal. Use a similar strategy for your email sequences and watch customers treat them with a sense of urgency.

Pair it with an email countdown timer discount or one-time-use coupon, and you’re golden.

4. Imagery

Images, like all forms of visuals, appeal to people’s senses. If you want to grab a prospective customer’s attention, use images of the product to remind them why they’d put it in their cart initially.

Notice how Asos used imagery in this abandoned cart email?

Make sure to sell the best qualities of your product to the customer. You can also prompt action using reviews (social proof) that other buyers or users left on it.

5. A compelling call to action (CTA)

You should be specific and concise with telling your customers what you want them to do. In this case, that involves using a compelling call to action in your cart abandonment emails.

Avoid flowery phrases or words, and go straight to the point with instructions like “Continue Shopping” or “Proceed to Checkout.”

Feel free to personalize variations of your CTA based on what customers left in their cart to increase conversion rates.

6. Captivating email signature

captivating email signature is a perfect opportunity to give your email recipients the final push to act when you send abandoned cart emails.

Your signature needs to act as the TL;DR (Too long, Didn't Read) version of your email. It needs to include the best of your social proofs, an attractive coupon code or discount code, or perhaps another incentive for the shopper to complete their purchase.

Many people tend to scroll down to the bottom of the email even without reading the message—and a well-written email signature could nudge these shoppers to convert.

How to nail the subject line

When it comes to direct-to-consumer marketing, one of the most important elements of success is an effective subject line. The subject line of your email can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. It’s essential that you get it right if you want to maximize your open rate and drive conversions.

And when it comes to an e-commerce abandoned cart email template, the subject line is one of the most important elements in ensuring a successful campaign.

An effective subject line can be the difference between an email that gets opened and read or one that quickly ends up in a customer's trash folder. Crafting an engaging and persuasive subject line requires careful consideration, as your customers are likely to receive many similar emails from other businesses competing for their attention. To stand out among the competition, you need to find ways to make your subject line relevant and appealing to your target audience while also conveying a sense of urgency.

Obviously, your specific business case will determine if your subject line will offer free shipping, highlight a new product or comment directly on abandoned items.

But here are some subject line idea starters, in this case for a company selling rugs:

1. Don't Let Your Dream Rug Slip Away - Shop Now!

2. Get Ready For a Home Makeover with Our Stylish Rugs!

3. Transform Your Space - Shop Our Luxurious Rugs Now!

4. Last Chance to Score the Rug of Your Dreams

5. Give Any Room an Instant Refresh with a Rug Upgrade

6. Spruce Up for Spring: Find the Perfect Rug Here!

7. Time Is Running Out: Get the Right Rug Before It's Too Late

8. Soften That Floor and Save Big – Check Out Our Sale on Rugs Today!

9. Add Some Color To Your Home With Our Unique & Amazing Rugs

10. Have You Seen What We Have in Store? Come Check Out Our Selection of Rugs Now!

Want to grade your subject line? Try this awesome free subject line tester from CoSchedule.

Bottom line

Targeting abandoned shopping carts to encourage visitors to complete their purchase is a powerful strategy. Even though you may not know exactly why shoppers abandon their cart, sending a follow up message with a clear call to action will almost always increase sales.

By sending a personalized abandoned cart email template to customers who have left items in their online shopping cart, businesses can capture potential sales that may have been lost otherwise. Cart abandonment emails can also help create a stronger bond of loyalty between the customer and the company

However, when it comes to cart abandonment email sequences, there's the magic number.

Send prospective customers a series of three emails over a space of a few days. Appeal to them with discounts, coupons, and shipping incentives to revive their interest. While it’s great to offer customers these freebies, make them value those more by creating a sense of urgency around them.

Remember, you want to close the sale quickly.

You may not get it right the first time, and it’s okay. Determine why customers are abandoning their carts using a survey, act accordingly with the tips above, and you’re on your way to recovering lost sales. We hope these abandoned cart email examples and help you encourage customers to complete their purchase time and time again.

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