shopping cart abandonment email flow

How to create an effective cart abandonment email sequence

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 e-commerce store owners. The average e-commerce store has a 75.6% cart abandonment rate.

cart abandonment rates by industry

Source: SalesCycle

This article will look at why your cart abandonment rates are high and how to recover potential sales through email sequences.

What is cart abandonment and why does it occur?

Shopping cart abandonment refers to when customers visit your online store, put items in their cart but do not make a purchase. This action proves they’re interested in your products. 

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. These aside, your customers might leave 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.

How to get your abandoning user’s email

There are many ways you can recover an abandoned user’s email address.

You can create different pop-ups, for example. Host a game or offer a discount and make your popup appear on your checkout page just because. 

Or organize fun polls your visitors won’t be able to resist just before they leave. There are tools such as Lucky Orange that can make those polls appear just at the right place at the right time.  

The idea is to provide enough value that your website visitors won’t hesitate to give away something as personal as their email address before they leave. As to what value that is, well, the sky’s the limit!

The components of a cart abandonment email sequence

An abandoned cart email is an automated reminder email sent to visitors who do not complete a purchase. Typically, a cart abandonment email sequence has three emails. Abandoned cart emails increase your chances of recovering a potential sale by 63%.

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

Initial email

Your initial email is simply a 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. See this example of a cart abandonment email by Homage:

initial cart abandonment email

Source: Really Good Emails

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

Other times, you may need to give a second nudge with a follow-up email.

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 a cart abandonment email inspiration from Dote.

Dote cart abandonment email

Source: Helloendless

Dote’s abandoned cart email is short, simple and full of humor. Even without a discount, 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. Check out the example below:

Nordstrom cart abandonment email final message example

Source: ConvertCart

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 of the elements you can include in your email to increase your conversion rate.

1. Utilize social proof

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

Dollar Shave Club uses social proof in this example:

Dollar Shave Club social proof cart abandonment example

Source: Pinterest

Notice how they’re able to inspire trust in this abandoned cart email? That’s how social proof works. It simply shows the quality and credibility of your brand using evidence gotten from social customer interactions to compel visitors to make payment. 

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.

cart abandonment discount email cali fabrics

Source: Big Commerce

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.

Sephora cart abandonment urgency example

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?

Asos cart abandonment imagery example

Source: Asos Pinterest

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.

Bottom line

Cart abandonment emails are powerful remarketing tools you should use in your email marketing strategy. 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 few days. Appeal to them with discounts, coupons, and free 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.


Author Bio
David Campbell, Ramp Ventures

David Campbell is a digital marketing specialist at Ramp Ventures. He helps manage the content marketing team at Right Inbox. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling and trying to learn Spanish.

David Campbell Ramp Ventures

Cover photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash