Oct 22 2012
Cart abandonment emails are emails sent to customers who begin but do not complete checkout.
Cart abandonment emails are effective. Case studies have proven that setting up a simple cart abandonment email can convert sales that would otherwise be lost at a rate of between 10-30%.
A survey conducted in 2011 found that only 30% of retailers have actually implemented cart abandonment emails – particularly low when you consider that 85% of all carts are abandoned and that, once configured, cart abandonment emails are completely automated.
What should a cart abandonment email look like?
The number on hesitation that I’ve seen for implementing cart abandonment emails is ‘fear of spamming’. This is a legitimate concern and there are certainly times when a customer has decided not to proceed because they no longer want the items in their cart.
There are a raft of other reasons that customers abandon their carts (which make a lot of sense, when you think about it). These include:
- Being forced to signup / login to complete checkout (please don’t do this)
- Unexpected charges (shipping charges)
- Having to leave the computer (their boss walks by!)
- Getting sidetracked by other browsing activity (Facebook, anyone?)
- Internet connection or browser issues (more common than you think)
What copy should I write in a cart abandonment email?
Once you get into the reasons that people abandon carts it becomes a matter of nailing the best copy when communicating with these customers. A/B testing your abandonment emails is the best way to determine what will maximize your profits.
Here is a suggested plain text template that you might like:
Subject: [Site name] Problems checking out?
Hi [Customer’s first name],
Yesterday you started an order at [Site name]. We noticed that you didn’t complete your order and want to do everything we can to help.
You can revisit your cart [http://linktocart.com] and complete your order within minutes. If you have questions that you want answered relating to our checkout process or the products you are interested in, please send us an email via [Email address] or call us any time on [Phone number] – we’re always happy to help.
Please let me know if there is any other way we can help.
Your contact details (phone, email, title)
This is a very basic example but works because it’s courteous and offers help. You’ll note you don’t always need to offer a discount or free shipping to convert customers, though that can work too once you have a better understanding of which customers respond to which email.
I also thought I’d include an example from PotteryBarn.com for a more sophisticated version of the same strategy:
When is the best time to send cart abandonment emails?
There is no silver bullet when it comes to delivery time – each online store or service is different. The best advice we can give is to start with some reasonable hypotheses and test them.
A few rules of thumb:
- Send the first follow-up email around 24 hours later.
- If you can create a sense of urgency then use this to your advantage: for example, if a product is on sale and the sale is about to end, make the most of this fact.
- Sending a series of 2-3 emails can also work well, if you use this approach send them approximately 24 hours, 72 hours and 4 days after the customer abandons their cart.
To test effectively you should do an A/B split test on delivery time and measure the effects against a statistically relevant sample. This calculator can help you determine a statistically relevant sample.
When testing focus on the net profit you make from each experiment in order to come to the most effective conclusion for your business.
Perhaps a series of three emails leads to more unsubscribes but actually converts at a higher rate.
You should also consider how aggressive you want to be and your brand positioning.
If you follow the tips in this article you should be able to implement cart abandonment emails fairly quickly. My advice is to begin with this simple email copy and one email 24 hours after and optimize later – there is no point over-optimizing when you’re not generating any sales yet.
No matter how basic, the results from cart abandonment emails will speak for themselves – setting them up might be the best 2 hours you ever spend ;).
Chris Hexton is one of the guys behind Vero, email remarketing software. He spends his days working with companies to improve their conversions using email. When not working he enjoys reading endless novels on his Kindle and playing his guitar. You can get in touch with him via @chexton on Twitter.