It’s well established that abandoned carts are a huge problem for eCommerce stores. And it’s equally well established that abandoned cart recovery emails are one of the most effective ways to rescue some of that lost revenue. So you undoubtedly know you should send emails to shoppers who add items to their cart, but never check out. But what should those emails say?

First, it’s important to think of your cart abandonment strategy as a campaign, rather than a single email. If you only send one email to people who leave items in their cart, you’re still leaving money on the table. Some shoppers will return to their carts and checkout after a single email, but many will require more than one nudge to get them back to your site to complete their order.

It’s important to think of your cart abandonment strategy as a campaign, rather than a single email Click To Tweet

We recommend sending three emails: One email 60 minutes after cart abandonment, one email the next day, and one email the day after that.

Some experts recommend being more aggressive with your campaign. Ezra Firestone, a digital marketer for eCommerce brands, recommends a minimum of five emails a day for five days.

Truthfully, it depends on your customer and products. If your customers buy from you several times per month, bombarding them with emails is a poor technique. But if you sell a product people only buy once in their lifetime, it can’t hurt to send a few more emails. If they grow annoyed due to your email frequency, well, they were never a customer anyway. (Make sure you give them a clear way to opt-out of receiving additional emails at every step, though–angry non-customers can do more damage than just not ordering, such as leaving negative reviews or marking your emails as spam.)

Many of the most successful email campaigns we see used by Jilt customers involve three emails, so that’s how we suggest you structure your campaign. (As always, feel free to experiment with new ideas!)

Free download: Our favorite examples of great abandoned cart emails

Email #1: A gentle reminder (60 minutes post-abandonment)

The purpose of your first email is to simply remind the customer that they forgot to complete their purchase. Maybe they thought adding items to their cart was sufficient. Maybe they became distracted by something else. Maybe they ran into a technical issue. Whatever the reason, they failed to finish the checkout process.

Resist the temptation to throw a discount at the customer at this point. While “costs too high” is the top reason people abandon their carts, there are several other reasons we should weed out first before you give away a freebie.

Your first email should be about reminding the customer their cart exists (in case they simply forgot about it), and also invite them to start a conversation. This gives you an opportunity to save the sale.

Massdrop does an excellent job with their first abandoned cart email. They remind you there’s something in your cart, show you a few pictures to re-entice you, and provide a clear call-to-action to return to the checkout process.

Abandoned cart email campaign

This email from Ugmonk is simple but powerful. They encourage customers to reply to the company founder’s personal email address with questions and concerns. Even the subject line is powerful: “Offering you my personal email.” Sometimes a simple, non-image laden works best.

Abandoned cart email campaign

In any case, the bottom line is that your first email should accomplish three main things:

  • Let the customer their cart is waiting.
  • Give them an opportunity to engage with you.
  • Remind them what they were trying to buy.

Email #2: A conversion push (1 day post-abandonment)

Like we said, costs are the biggest reason people abandon their carts, but we aren’t talking about the regular costs of your products. People don’t like unexpected costs.

Unexpected costs are the biggest reason people abandon their carts Click To Tweet

Most eCommerce stores (including yours, probably) display the price of products on category and product pages. Your customers know how much things cost before they click “Add to cart,” so discovering unexpected costs at checkout can be jarring. No one likes a bait-and-switch.

Fortunately, 54 percent of shoppers say they’ll purchase abandoned products if those products are offered at a lower price. This is why your second email is the best time to offer a discount.

There are a few reasons we advise waiting until the second email to send a discount.

First, you could train your customers to intentionally abandon their carts to receive a discount an hour later. It won’t take long for word to get around that waiting 60 minutes can get them free shipping or a flat percentage off their purchase.

Second, if the problem revolves around the purchasing workflow (perhaps they couldn’t find the checkout button or the payment form was confusing), you have time to work those out before taking a hit to your margin.

Third, over-discounting can devalue your brand. If you give out too many discounts, customers become accustomed to discounts. As your sales fall, you’ll be tempted to give even bigger discounts. Smile.io calls this the “death spiral of discounting.”

Over discounting can devalue your brand Click To Tweet

Abandoned cart email campaign

In most cases, the only unexpected costs that shock people are shipping fees. Sometimes they aren’t aware there’s a shipping fee at all; other times, they know there’s a cost, but didn’t expect it to be so high. In either case, a great way to offer a discount is to waive or discount shipping.

Huckberry’s email is extremely focused. The company knows shipping costs are a concern for its customers, so it works to make the shipping offer absolutely clear.

Abandoned cart email campaign

Framebridge‘s abandoned cart email jumps straight into their discount.

Abandoned cart email campaign

If your margins can’t absorb a discount or free shipping, a similar way to entice people back to their carts is to offer a shipping upgrade. While lack of expedited shipping options isn’t as big a motivator for people to buy as free or low-cost shipping, it is still an oft-cited reason for cart abandonment. A coupon for a free upgrade from standard to two-day shipping can bring shoppers back to checkout.

Email #3: One more attempt (2 days post-abandonment)

Your final email is one more opportunity to convert the shopper into a customer.
If you think your customers are motivated by discounts, offer it again in the final email.

Otherwise, try one of these tactics:

1. Create urgency

Urgency is a tool to encourage customers to make faster purchasing decisions by adding an element of time to their decision-making process.

For instance, if the customer purchased from your gifts category, your email might say “The holidays are almost here. Don’t forget to finish your shopping!”

Gilt adds a touch of urgency by reminding shoppers their cart will empty soon.

Abandoned cart email campaign

2. Create scarcity

Scarcity is a kind of urgency that encourages customers to buy before they lose the opportunity. In one study, people valued products higher when there were fewer of them available.

The most common way to create a sense of scarcity is to remind the customer that products are limited. You might say “We have a limited stock,” or “We expect to sell out by tomorrow.”

The most common way to create a sense of scarcity is to remind the customer that products are limited. Click To Tweet

Note: Scarcity typically only works in the final email. You can seem disingenuous if you tell customers products are limited and then try to push it on them again.

Boom by Cindy Joseph uses scarcity well. They remind you they’ve saved your items for a while already (what a nice favor!), but they can’t do it for long because stocks are running low.

Abandoned cart email campaign

3. Try to resolve a specific problem

If you have a hunch why your shoppers abandon their carts, but it doesn’t relate to price, use the third email to address that specific pain point. For example, if your shipping policy is unavoidably confusing, use this email to clear things up or invite them to talk to you for more information about shipping.

4. Social proof

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others indicate the proper behavior. That is, we tend to think if a lot of people do something, it must be right. This phenomenon is driven by the assumption that other people have more or better information.

You can include social proof in your abandoned cart recovery emails by…

  • Quoting a celebrity or influencer
  • Quoting an expert or specialist
  • Displaying testimonials from other customers
  • Displaying statistics/data of other people’s behavior (for example, “30,000 people bought this”)
  • Showing product ratings or reviews
  • Attaching logos of media outlets that have talked about your or famous brands you carry

5. Product recommendations

If a customer chooses to add items to their cart, it means they trust your company at least a little. The probably intended to buy at the time, but they decided not to buy those items. You still may be able to sell them something.

So it can’t hurt to place a few recommended products in the email. Just make sure to personalize these recommendations so they’re similar to the shopper’s abandoned items.

We’ve given you a few tactics to use in your final email, but some of them can also be applied to your first and second messages. For instance, you might add a testimonial from a customer just beneath the discount in your second email.

But don’t use them all in the same message! Don’t try to cram a discount, an invitation to contact support, related products, and a bunch of social proof into the same message. You’ll just create a long, complex email that no one will read.

Final words of advice

If you display the price of your shopper’s abandoned cart in their email, always make sure to use the total price. Click To Tweet

Remember: Unexpected costs are the top reason people abandon their carts in the first place, so show all totals with taxes and shipping included. This will improve your conversion rate.

Finally, don’t forget to write smart subject lines. You can use some of the techniques we mentioned earlier to craft subject lines. For example, you might use urgency in a subject line like, “Complete your purchase before these shoes go out of style.” Or you might emphasize your discount with a subject line like, “Forget something? Get it fast with free shipping.”

Check out these great abandoned cart emails as inspiration for your campaigns.

We think this three-email format is the best for most eCommerce stores, which is why it is part of Jilt’s built-in best practices. But you may prefer a different approach. Experiment with new ideas, measure your conversions, and implement the abandoned cart email campaign that’s best for your store.

About the Author Max Rice

Max is our co-founder and CEO at Jilt. He focuses on ensuring our app and integration plugins are top-notch while also working with merchants to get the most out of Jilt.

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