How To Craft Abandoned Cart Emails That Recover Lost Sales

Abandoned cart emails help online retailers recover lost sales from shoppers who have abandoned their shopping cart before checkout. Learn the strategies and best practices to help you maximize the effectiveness of your abandoned cart emails right from the start.

Abandoned cart emails help online retailers recover lost sales from shoppers who have abandoned their shopping cart before checkout. Cart abandonment happens for a variety of reasons; some shoppers may be in the market for a particular item but may not be fully committed to purchasing at this time, and sometimes, checkout friction caused by unexpected charges, website crashes and bugs, complex checkout flows, and inflexible payment methods can also contribute to abandonment.

According to checkout usability research firm, Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate across online retailers hovers around 70%. But despite advances in checkout UX and ecommerce technology, cart abandonment continues to hold steady. To succeed in 2020 and beyond, online retailers must actively consider strategies to recover their abandoned sales.

In this article, we’ll focus on the following topics:

Let’s get started with some of the basics.

Why abandoned cart emails are important

Focusing on cart abandonment emails can provide many benefits for your online business. The biggest being improving the conversion rate of your online store. In fact, 46% of recipients open abandoned cart emails, 13% click a link inside the email, and of those clicks, more than 35% end up completing a purchase.

Quote from Rus Ackner on cart abandonment emails

There’s still plenty to be gained when customers add items to their shopping cart but don’t complete their purchase. Your business has already identified a customer segment with high purchase intent. Even though these abandoned cart shoppers haven’t finished their transaction, they’ve already signaled they are very interested in your products and now it’s up to your business to convert these shoppers into paying customers.

The dos and don’ts for building highly effective abandoned cart emails

Here are some of the top tips around what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to cart and checkout abandonment email campaigns.

Tip #1: Optimize email copy 

Do: Leverage urgency in your email copy

Urgency inspires action. One way to do this is by injecting scarcity into your messaging. 

Being upfront about  limited inventory or saving a shopper’s cart for a limited time period might motivate shoppers to complete their purchase now instead of putting it off until later and missing out on the opportunity to get their hands on your item.

Don’t: Forget to offer discounts, deals, and promotions

Sometimes all it really takes to get shoppers past the finish line is a little incentive. Consider offering promotions like a 10% off discount code or limited time offer for free shipping to help sweeten the deal. Putting an expiration date on discount and free shipping offers is also another way to gently urge your shoppers to complete their purchase. Some customers might feel even more inclined to act if they know that they might be missing out on a great deal. A good practice is to include this discount/incentive on a second or third reminder email.

Emails with a coupon code had an above-average open rate (44.37%) and click-through rate (10.85%) according to a study by marketing and email automation platform Klayvio.

Saatchi Art abandoned cart email example with discount

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Main takeaway: Online retailers looking to offer a special deal or discount in their abandoned cart email should follow suit. Saatchi Art’s 10% off discount code sits comfortably above the fold making it easy to spot on a mobile or desktop browser. The message is fairly straight forward too, customers are incentivized to complete their purchase to get an extra 10% off.

Tip #2: Drive purchases with a clear Call-To-Action (CTA) 

Do: Use cart regeneration to drive a clear path to purchase. 

You’ve invested considerable effort into designing an abandoned cart email that you’re confident will help convert more abandoned carts. Your emails are being successfully delivered and your emails are also experiencing high open rates, but unfortunately, that’s where things begin to taper off.

Revenue per email is trailing despite an upward-trend in click-through rates for your abandoned cart emails. The culprit? An abandoned cart email call-to-action button that doesn’t drop customers back into their previous checkout session.

When shoppers click on a button like “Return To My Cart” or “Continue Shopping,” the general expectation is that they’d be dropped back into the exact spot they were in before they abandoned their purchase. Without cart and session regeneration, online retailers are subjecting site visitors to a suboptimal customer journey on their site. This journey includes navigating through your website, adding merchandise to their shopping cart, and repopulating billing information before finally completing the purchase.

This is a nightmare for shoppers who are purchasing highly customizable products and have already gone through great lengths to select the right fit and style. Save your customers the hassle of rebuilding their shopping cart and measure the impact on your conversion rate. 

Rejoiner decided to test the impact of cart regeneration on overall conversion rates. From their email blast of roughly 22,000 sends, the control (no cart regeneration) generated 106 conversions compared to 142 conversions for the variant. In this test, the variant with cart regeneration outperformed the control by 33%. 

23AndMe abandoned cart email example with clear CTA

Main takeaway: The strength of 23andMe’s abandoned cart email lies in its minimalist design. The call-to-action button is legible and the fact that there aren’t any additional links or buttons to click really emphasizes the one true CTA on the page, “order today.”

Don’t: Overload copy with multiple CTAs 

Your abandoned cart emails should accomplish one goal – helping customers pick up on their previous shopping experience and help them complete their purchase. Populating your emails with multiple CTAs can cause your email design to look cluttered and confuse your shoppers. This is especially true if your email includes multiple competing CTAs that all trigger a different action.

Sephora abandoned cart email with conflicting CTAs

Main Takeaway: Initially Sephora’s cart recovery email features a clear headline reminding cart abandoners to revisit their Sephora shopping basket. However, the process back to checkout isn’t as streamlined as it appears since the shopping cart is actually hidden behind a login. The addition of the weekly specials and top picks section offers competing goals that distract shoppers from completing their initial purchase.

Tip #3: Hack your open rates 

Do: Optimize Email Preheader

Email marketers tend to advocate that email subject lines are responsible for doing all the heavy lifting but that might not be true. Email preheaders play an equally important role in helping to prop up your open rates.

Preheaders play an important role in the following ways:

  • They play the role of a brief summary or a description of the email content
  • They highlight the most important information stored in the email
  • They expand the subject line
  • Most importantly, they drag users’ attention and encourage them to open an email

Don’t: Forget to personalize your email subject lines

When it comes to email optimization, personalization is one of the first recommendations on the top of the list. Basic personalization can be as simple as including the shopper’s first name in the subject line of your abandoned cart emails or featuring the name of an item that was abandoned during the checkout process.

Regardless of which strategy you choose to implement, the underlying principle is the same, crafting subject lines that are relevant to shoppers is one effective way to grab their attention and get them to engage with your email.

Even subject lines that simply reminded cart abandoners that they had left or forgetting an item at checkout boast a higher open rate than those that didn’t, 47.67% vs. 41.18% respectively, according to a BigCommerce study.

Here are some examples of subject lines to test in your next abandoned cart email sequence: 

  • Your [Store_Name] basket is ready for checkout.
  • Don’t miss out! Your cart is expiring soon!
  • Ready to complete your purchase, [Name]?
  • [Name], Did you leave something behind? 
  • [Name] – Still interested in [Product_Y]?

Don’t: Rely on only one just cart abandonment email 

The rule of three also applies to cart abandonment emails!

Set up your first cart abandonment email to fire 30 minutes after a shopper has abandoned their shopping cart. Email number two can be sent 24 hours post abandonment and finally, email number three can be sent 3 days or 36 hours post abandonment. 

Note: There is a fine line between urging the customer to complete a purchase vs overwhelming the customer with too many emails.

Online businesses must remember that cart abandonment emails are another touchpoint with potential customers and should treat these interactions with care. This means prioritizing the customer service experience in each email to continue to win new customers, nurture existing relationships, and uncover valuable product insights.

Tip #4: Design with mobile usability in mind 

Do: Implement a responsive email design

Today’s shoppers are engaging with their favorite brands across multiple platforms and devices. A shopper might browse your inventory on desktop, add a couple of items to her shopping cart and return a few hours later to complete her purchase on mobile. Designing responsive emails helps ensure that you’re always able to serve the right messaging and enticing cart abandoners to repurchase regardless of what device they’re browsing from.

Don’t: Forget about optimizing for mobile

To make the most of your abandoned cart emails, your online business should focus on more than just readability across different screen sizes. Remember to design your emails with mobile browsing behaviors in mind. This might include adding additional copy of your abandoned cart CTA at the end of your email to save mobile shoppers the hassle of scrolling to the top of the page to checkout.

Examples of revenue-recovering cart abandonment emails

Need some more inspiration for crafting high performing abandoned cart emails?  Here are a few examples of high performing cart recovery emails that help encourage shoppers to complete their purchase.

Example #1: Under Armour Abandoned Cart Email 

Under Armor cart abandonment email campaign example

CTA: Return to your Cart 

Additional Opportunities to Sell: Gear recommended for you 

From Line: UnderArmour 

Subject Line: Your cart is loaded & ready to go 

Incentive: Free shipping on next order 

Image Included: Display the user’s configuration

Headline Copy: This gear’s ready to go

Main Takeaway: Right off the bat, the simplicity of UA’s cart abandonment email really shines. The prominent hero image highlights the pair of trainers the shopper browsed before. Under Armour’s Return to Your Cart CTA sets the expectation that users will be dropped back into the same spot they were in the checkout process before they abandoned their purchase. 

Lastly, the product recommendation near the footer offers two advantages for online retailers. In instances where a shopper does not decide to move forward with the original abandoned merchandise, online retailers can still salvage the purchase with a similarly priced item. And for shoppers who are already in a purchasing mood, recommending similar products may help boost average order value. 

Example #2: Winc Wine Club

Winc wine club abandoned cart email example

CTA: Let’s Do This | I’m Ready For Wine

From Line:

Subject Line: Your cart is loaded & ready to go

Incentive: $20 off the first order

Image included: Selection of wine bottles

Headline Copy: You accidentally left some amazing wine in your cart. No biggie.

Main Takeaway: The responsive and mobile-optimized design of Winc’s email helps differentiate it as one of the better cart recovery emails out there. The vertical orientation of the content aligns with the scrolling behavior exhibited by most smartphone users. Shoppers who have made it to the end of the email are greeted with another call-to-action they can click to get back into their shopping cart.

Abandoned cart emails are just the tip of the conversion optimization iceberg

As more shoppers look to complete their purchase on the web, shopping cart abandonment will continue to be an issue that riddles online retailers. But that doesn’t mean your revenue and sales potential need to be held back by cart abandonment. Given how impactful abandoned cart emails can be, businesses can stand to benefit greatly from including them in their playbook of conversion rate optimization strategies. 

And once your online business feels like you’ve nailed the recipe for stellar abandoned cart, the next logical step is to focus on optimizing the checkout flow so you can avoid losing the shoppers you’ve worked so hard to engage with. Don’t let an outdated checkout process hold your revenue potential hostage. Bolt’s checkout is optimized to help online retailers capture more sales by streamlining the entire checkout process for shoppers visiting your site. 

Interested in learning more about how Bolt is helping online retailers improve the checkout experience and boost their conversion rate? Click here to view our list of case studies.