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Don’t leave me: how to recover abandoned carts

7 min read
by Alena Parfisenko
Cart abandonment is one of the bigger problems for online stores as it drops revenue significantly. If a person was interested enough to browse the items, pick some of them, add them to their cart, and then just left — it clearly signals that something’s off with your checkout process.
What can it be? And what’s more important — how do you get the customers to come back and complete the purchase?
In this article, we disclose the main reasons for cart abandonment and the numbers behind it as well as the most efficient way to return your customers.

Let’s run the numbers

Online stores lose gigantic amounts of money because of abandoned carts: the average cart abandonment rate in the US is 70% according to the Baymard Institute research. What draws attention is that there’s a clear distinction between device types. It appears that the bigger the screen of a device, the more likely people are to complete their purchase
The smaller the screen of a device, the more likely its user abandons their cart. Somehow.
In the same study, the researchers from Baymard Institute found that almost 60% of abandoned carts were left because the visitors were “just browsing” from the start. However, we can’t do anything about these people after they’ve already quit the website, so let’s leave them out of the equation for now.
The green area is where our focus lies — it’s crucial to make it as small as possible.
As for the other 40% of carts, the main reasons for abandonment are unexpected or high additional costs (48%), having to create an account to proceed with the checkout (24%), slow delivery (22%), long or complicated check-out process (17%), and no up-front total cost indication (16%). All these things you can influence to prevent further cart abandonment.
But what if you just want to return the customers who already abandoned their carts? How can you make them come back and complete the purchase?
The best solution is both obvious and elegant: emails. Abandoned cart emails.

The most crucial tool

Abandoned cart emails are an easy and efficient way to bring your lost customers back. They are a reminder: Hey, you left some cool stuff in the cart — wanna check it out? This simple follow-up gets the most important people you need to focus on: the ones who already started the checkout process.
Why are they so important? Well, this is simple.
No other audience segment is this close to completing a purchase. These people have already visited your website; they browsed the items, picked and added some to the cart. They’ve shown you they have needs your store can take care of — now, that’s how you know you almost have them. You have to do just one thing — bring them back.
The good news is, abandoned cart emails can recover around 10% of your lost revenue. According to a recent study by Barilliance, if you send 1,000 follow-up emails reminding your customers about their carts, 82 of them will actually come back and proceed with the purchase. This is the average number, of course: you can do better and crank it up higher.

This piece of pie may not look like a lot, but check out the numbers below —

they’re much more convincing.

Let’s try to apply the statistics and average numbers — and you’ll see the enormous impact of abandoned cart emails on your revenue.
For example, your online store makes $10,000 a month without using abandoned cart emails. Now imagine you have the most average abandoned cart email sequence.
Considering you lose 70% of carts and recover 8.2% of them, you can make back around $1,900 a month — or just under $23,000 a year. This is more than two months of your work added!

What you need to know

There are some major guidelines for creating abandoned cart emails — we broke them down into categories for your convenience. Let’s review them step by step.

First, there are two strategies for abandoned cart emails

  • 1
    Singular email
    You can get the job done by sending one email per abandoned cart, but then everything has to be on point: the timing, the design, the interactive block with the added items, etc. By highlighting the products your customer added to their cart, you personalize the email and remind them what they liked. It’s an efficient engagement method.
  • 2
    Email sequence
    An email sequence takes a different approach: you send out a few emails over several days, reminding your customers about their carts. During the sequence, you usually want to give away some bonuses: for example, you can offer a free shipment or a discount on everything in their cart. This entices people to come back.

Second, when writing a subject line, focus on two aspects

  • 1
    Abandoned cart emails’ subject lines are supposed to hurry people up to immediately open the email and read it. Scarcity is a great tool: use words like abandon, miss, hurry, forget, save, etc. Also, laughs and smiles work wonders — if you make your customers chuckle at the subject line, consider they already opened the email.
  • 2
    While laughs and chuckles are good, don’t let them carry you too far away: the recipient has to understand what the email is about. There’s no need to be tricky about this — you’re here to grab your customers’ attention and remind them about their abandoned cart, plain and simple. Keep the subject line clear — even the law thinks you should.

Third, keep it timed — the exact timing depends on which strategy you chose

  • 1
    If you’re only sending one email, your timing has to be immaculate. Studies showed that abandoned cart emails sent one hour after a customer left the website to have higher conversion rates. So set your triggered emails on a 60-minute delay and be ready to harvest the revenue!
  • 2
    For email sequences the 60-minute rule applies as well, but then you have more emails to send. In such a scenario, the most optimal timing is one hour, then one day, then three days. The last email is where you provide some form of an incentive like a discount: it makes sense to do so three days in to return those otherwise not-interested customers.

Fourth, the email body can also vary — in two ways, as do all things in this list

  • 1
    You can go for a helpful reminder type of email — minimalistic, almost shy, and polite. This type is not daring; its purpose is to both remind and show the customer that you’re there to help them. This type obviously stands out in the world of flashy images and animations, though it’s not the most obvious choice for a fashion brand.
  • 2
    Alternatively, you could create flashy emails and showcase your brand and your items as brightly as possible. Be bold, be colorful, be outstanding — and let the design and the copy engage your customers with their beauty. That’s the more likely approach for a fashion brand, and it works — but you need to stand out.

Great examples

Madewell goes for a smart pick-up line, a large product image, and a clear CTA. And it works!

Timberland wastes no time: they take the chance to show you some other items similar to what you already added. Now you like what you see, and you’re back.

Bonobos abandoned cart email — both bold and minimalistic. And a special discount code to top it all off — how can one resist?

Huckberry slams it to your face: SHIPPING IS FREE. And since additional fees are the #1 reason for abandoned carts, they nail it.

ThreadUp knows a thing or two about humor. The moment the make you smile, you’re likely already back on their website.

Ghurka’s here to teach every marketer how to do simple yet efficient personalization. Take notes — these guys know what’s up.

Don’t abandon us…

Abandoned carts can lose you a large chunk of revenue, but you can also win some of it back by setting up a triggered email system. Abandoned cart emails have proved to recover around 10% of lost revenue, and considering how simple of a tool they are, there’s absolutely no reason not to implement them.
As with everything in marketing, keep experimenting. Run A/B tests to see which subject lines and templates work better, try out new ideas, and remember: they may have abandoned you, but it’s up to you to show them they want to come back. You’re the best, obviously — let them notice it, too.

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