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5 Cart Abandonment Email Best Practices

by Brett Thoreson

It’s a frustrating fact of ecommerce: 7 of 10 customers who toss product into a shopping cart are likely to walk away without completing the purchase. Instead of just letting those potential customers go, a well-conceived, well-timed cart abandonment email can reclaim an impressive percentage of those distracted shoppers. If you follow these cart abandonment email best practices, you could complete the purchases of anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of those abandoned carts.

1. Be Quick and Supportive

CartStack’s research shows that cart abandonment emails sent no later than 20 minutes after the shopper abandons the cart are opened 3 times more often than emails that come after that narrow time window. It’s crucial to reach out immediately after a shopper leaves, while your product is still freshly in mind.

Additionally, you need to use the right tone in this immediate, post abandonment email. This email should ask if a technical problem prevented them from checking out and offer any support they need to complete the purchase. Use their first name and include a phone number they can call for help. This slightly self-deprecating tone shows excellent customer service, subtly hinting that maybe it was something on your end that prevented checkout and not that their soup just boiled over.

2. Send Browse Abandonment Emails Too

Browse abandonment emails reach shoppers higher up in the sales funnel than cart abandonment emails. They target website window shoppers who didn’t actually fill a cart. They’re interested—to what extent, you may not know. But reaching out to these shoppers with a browse abandonment email, can boost sales anywhere from 3 to 7 percent. Using both cart abandonment and browse abandonment emails can spike those sales numbers higher.

3. Include Pages Visited, Cart Items and Product Recommendations

Both browse abandonment and cart abandonment email invitations need three specific items in them, and you can use a session replay feature like CartStack’s screen recordings of a shopper’s entire visit to your website to mine this data and use it wisely:

For a browse abandonment email, use an image of a product the shopper spent the most time looking at and entice them to come back and buy it. Include some “social proof” of the product's desirability with star ratings and selected clips from happy customer reviews of the item.

For cart abandonment emails, include an image of products they left in their shopping cart, with descriptions like size, color, etc. Be careful about price (they can come back to the cart for that), but do A/B testing to find out what works best with your shoppers. Again, include positive reviews for social proof, be quick about it and follow the advice in tip 1 about being supportive.

Include a line of product recommendations that intrinsically go along with the product they put into their cart—use a “product recommendation engine” to base these suggestions on other pages your shopper may have visited on your site.

4. Use Incentives and Inject Scarcity

Almost a quarter of cart abandonments come from shipping cost surprises at checkout. Customers hate them! So, in your email, definitely offer either free or discounted shipping if they come back to purchase now. (Also, do what you can to eliminate any shipping surprises from your checkout process.) Consider offering special discount codes or coupons for the product to sweeten their deal as well.

Also, one of the best loss aversion tactics ever is to give the shopper the impression that there is a very limited inventory of the product they put in their cart, and that this might be the last chance they have to get it. That moves a lot of people to complete the purchase. Scarcity can double your abandoned cart conversions! Placing an expiration on the discount code helps as well.

5. Don’t be a Boor: Let them Unsubscribe

Less obvious, but still important is giving your shopper a way to duck out of cart abandonment emails if they really don’t want them. An easy-to-find unsubscribe button is an essential part of your cart abandonment email best practice list. It’s not always easy to know why a shopper’s interest turned cold, but if you keep pestering them when they don’t want to be pestered, they’re going to label everything you send them “spam” and won’t likely shop with you in the future. Give them the power to say no, and maybe someday they’ll come back and say yes through other outreach means.

Author Bio:

Brett Thoreson is the founder and CEO of CartStack, a lost-order recovery software for ecommerce businesses that brings shoppers back to the site with conversion focused emails. Through CartStack, he and his team aim to change the way online companies recover revenue.

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