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Abandoned Cart Email: What Is It and How To Retarget Shoppers (Plus 11 Examples)

If you walked into a store, picked out an item, and put it in your shopping cart, only to leave the same cart in the middle of the aisle and start walking towards the door without a word, what might happen?

Well, first of all, you might get some strange looks. But a retail employee might also say something to the tune of, “You forgot something!” or “Are you still interested in this item?”

Shopping online, of course, is a significantly different experience. While you don’t have retail employees who can attempt to solidify the sale before a shopper leaves, there’s another way ecommerce brands can capitalize on a consumer’s strong intent to buy: the abandoned cart automation.

So what exactly is an abandoned cart email, how do you implement an abandoned cart recovery automation, and why should you consider a cart abandonment strategy? Keep reading to find answers for all of your abandoned cart questions, plus a few abandoned cart examples from brands that are doing it right.


Why is shopping cart abandonment a problem for retailers?

In the same way that adding an item to a physical shopping cart in a store signifies a shopper is probably going to make a purchase, adding an item to an online shopping cart is a heavy indication that the consumer is interested in the item. But that sale doesn’t always come to fruition immediately.

In fact, setting up a cart abandonment email can be the difference between making the sale and losing it—whether your shopper decided they forgot to complete their purchase, sought out options from another brand, or just didn’t have their credit card nearby.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few online shopping cart abandonment statistics that may change your mind:

   • The average cart abandonment rate is approximately 70 percent, according to Baymard Institute

   • Even more people abandon their carts when shopping from their phone—mobile devices see an average shopping cart abandonment rate of over 85 percent, according to Barilliance

   • Ecommerce brands may lose up to $18 billion in yearly sales revenue from abandoned carts, according to Forrester Research

Clearly, shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online retailers. But how can an abandoned cart strategy help and do abandoned cart emails work? Great question.

Abandoned cart emails have great conversion rates: people open 45 percent of cart abandonment emails, people click on 21 percent of emails, and 50 percent of the users who click make a purchase, according to Moosend.

All in all, cart abandonment emails have a purchase rate that’s slightly higher than 10 percent.

This means that implementing an abandoned cart email automation can only help you convert more customers who you may have otherwise lost, for whatever reason.

Now that you’re aware of the value of abandoned cart emails, let’s take a closer look at what they are and how to set one up.


So, what is an abandoned cart email?

An abandoned cart email is an email or a series of emails that shoppers receive after they’ve added an item to their online shopping cart without making a purchase—either they left the website without checking out or they haven’t purchased after a certain amount of time. For example, if an item is sitting in a shoppers’ cart for five hours without them making a purchase, you can safely assume they aren’t still actively shopping.

There are a million reasons that shoppers might leave your site after adding an item to their cart and not purchasing. An abandoned cart email reminds them that they were interested in your products and often entices them to purchase with a special offer or through some other strategy (I’ll get to that later).

Most abandoned cart emails are automated, which means that they’re sent to shoppers based on certain triggers that are set up by someone—maybe you as the business owner, an email marketing specialist, or someone else on your team.

Many modern email service providers (ESPs) and even some ecommerce platforms allow you to send cart abandonment automations and will often even have pre-made templates.


How to create an abandoned cart automation

When creating an abandoned cart automation, there are two behaviors you need to be able to track: a shopper starting a checkout and the same shopper completing or not completing their order.

When someone starts a checkout and doesn’t complete their order, that’s when you should send out your abandoned cart email.

Here are a few other things to consider when creating an abandoned cart automation:

   • How many emails will be in your abandoned cart email series? (Klaviyo recommends 2-3)

   • How will you grab attention with your subject line?

   • How long do you want to wait to follow up with your shopper about their abandoned item?

   • What content are you going to include in your abandoned cart emails?

   • How are you going to encourage people to complete checkout—are you simply reminding them of their cart or will you present a special offer?

   • Should you further segment your abandoned cart automations in any way?

Additionally, in order to send out an abandoned cart email, you need to collect the shopper’s email address. In the case that they’re a first-time shopper and you don’t already have a customer profile, I suggest setting up either a pop-up or embedded form to collect email addresses.

From there, it’ll be easy for you to automatically follow up with these shoppers if they happen to leave your store without purchasing the items in their cart.


Abandoned shopping cart emails: 5 effective strategies and best practices

So how do you win back a shopper who added your product to your cart and then left your site without clicking that confirm purchase button?

There are a few abandoned cart recovery email strategies you can use to entice consumers to come back. But it’s also important it’s to understand why people abandon carts in the first place. While some of these issues may be more of an indication of on-site user experience, they can inform your abandoned cart strategy and how you choose to tempt shoppers back to your site, too.

You can see from Baymard Institute’s research that half of the respondents claim that the top reason they abandon their carts is that extra costs like shipping and taxes are too high.

Additionally, in the same study, Baymard Institute found that over 58 percent of US online shoppers have abandoned a cart because they were just browsing and/or not ready to buy.

Here are a few ways your email marketing strategy can alleviate some customer concerns that prevent them from completing checkout:

1. Present a simple reminder

Sometimes shoppers just aren’t quite ready to make a purchase when they add the item to their cart, ss Baymard Institute’s data shows. But giving them a little nudge can remind them of how great your product is and often entice them to make the purchase.

This email from sustainable activewear brand Girlfriend is perfectly simple and to the point—it features the products I added to my cart, an image for each separate product, and a call-to-action (CTA) that links back to the product page.

This serves as a great reminder of the leggings I’ve already shown interest in, and it makes it easy and convenient to go back to the website to complete my purchase with a click of my mouse.

2. Offer a discount

Perhaps the most popular way to reel shoppers back in if they’re on the fence about buying is to offer a discount for a certain dollar amount or percentage off their first purchase.

The email from superfood health and beauty brand Golde does just that by offering customers 15 percent off their first purchase. It also includes some other abandoned cart best practices by including the abandoned item with a link back to the product page, as well as some related products.

3. Offer free shipping

As you may have noticed in the research above, a lot of the time shoppers don’t go through with checkout due to shipping costs—which means sometimes converting them to customers can be as easy as offering free shipping.

This also has the added benefit of not cheapening your brand, if that’s something you’re worried about with offering a discount on your products in your abandoned cart email.

Men’s outdoor apparel and gear brand Huckberry is a great example of how you can expertly offer free shipping in your abandoned cart strategy. This offer combined with the sense of urgency they instill is a winning combo that’s sure to encourage shoppers to complete their checkout.

4. Show related products

One thing to consider with your abandoned cart strategy is that it’s possible that, even if someone added an item to their cart, they’re not totally sold on that item in particular. This presents a great opportunity to introduce shoppers to more products they may not have found on your site yet.

A few ways to do this are by promoting your best sellers or similar products, or by making product recommendations based on the item a shopper added to their cart.

Houseplant delivery brand The Sill does a great job of suggesting other products in their cart abandonment email, which can inspire shoppers to consider items they might not have even known existed.

5. Include social proof

You have to earn the trust of shoppers who might not be familiar with your brand yet. What better way to do that than by including ratings and reviews of the product they have their eyes on?

That’s why another great way to convert potential buyers is with social proof. Social proof can influence consumers to purchase by using customer testimonials to communicate the value of your products and create fear of missing out (FOMO) with window shoppers.

You can see this strategy in action with Kim Kardashian West’s shapewear brand SKIMS’s cart abandonment email, which includes both a star rating a customer testimonial.

If the shopper had any doubt about the quality or value of the product they were considering, these peer reviews are sure to alleviate any worries.

6. Integrate your loyalty program

As previously discussed, sometimes shoppers are just browsing or not ready to buy, even if they add something to their cart.

But if you don’t want to offer a discount or free shipping, there’s another way you can convince customers to pull the trigger with their next purchase—by using loyalty points they’ve accumulated.

While many of these abandoned cart strategies are ideal for the acquisition of first-time purchasers, this is a great retention strategy you can implement with current customers who abandon an item if your brand has a loyalty program built out.

This is exactly how Hylete thinks about their abandoned cart messaging, which reminds customers of the number of loyalty points they have with the brand and encourages them to shop with their points.


Examples of abandoned cart emails

In addition to showing you some foundational abandoned cart strategies and tactics, I also wanted to share a few other examples of brands that are doing an exceptional job with their recovery emails.

Here are five abandoned cart email examples and what makes them so successful:

Only Curls brings a human touch

Curly haircare brand Only Curls combines the core abandoned shopping cart email best practices and strategies mentioned above (a reminder with a CTA, related products, and social proof) with a personal touch from the founder, which makes this email seem like it’s coming from a human even though it’s automated as part of their abandoned cart series.

Instead of feeling like a one-way message, it feels more like a conversation where customers are encouraged to respond. For anyone who still may be thinking about their purchase, this note invites shoppers to reach out to the team if they have any questions or even if they’re just looking for haircare advice for their curls.

Providing resources for customer support and questions like Only Curls does is another highly effective way to get shoppers to reconsider their purchase and get them re-engaged with your brand after they leave your site.

Whiskey Loot brings new ideas

This example from whisky subscription brand Whisky Loot is really unique and deviates from the “typical” abandoned cart email, which works really well for the brand.

Instead of trying to convince shoppers to buy with an offer, they focus on communicating the value of their products through this clever infographic that provides various ideas of things you can do with your Whisky Loot box.

Some are more realistic than others (I’m not sure if I’m going to buy 3,207 bottles for a whisky bath), but that just adds to the charm.

Plus, including an FAQ at the bottom of the email is a great way for the brand to alleviate common purchase barriers by getting ahead of frequent questions shoppers ask.

IL MAKIAGE brings  personalization

The more personal you can make any automation, the better, which is why beauty brand IL MAKIAGE’s abandoned cart recovery strategy works wonders.

When you go to their website, IL MAKIAGE allows you to find your foundation shade in 90 seconds with their POWERMATCH quiz—and they make sure to collect your email at the end. But if, after taking this quiz and adding the foundation to your cart, you abandon your cart, the brand uses your product match in their cart recovery email. Genius.

And as another value add, the brand lets you try the product risk-free for 14 days, so shoppers have absolutely no reason not to place an order and try their perfect match foundation.

Sunday Citizen brings UGC

Home goods brand Sunday Citizen knows that puppy dog eyes are always a high-converting element to add to any abandoned cart recovery email, which is why they keep this cute Frenchie front and center.

But that’s not all. Implementing user-generated content (UGC) in your abandoned cart emails is a great way to show shoppers how your customers use your products.

Sunday Citizen’s use of UGC does a great job of helping potential customers envision items from the brand throughout their homes by including recent pictures from their Instagram feed.

The Bali Market brings quippy copy

Turkish bath towel brand The Bali Market inserts their sense of humor into their abandoned cart emails, which is always a winning strategy.

This plain text email, which is the third in their abandoned cart series, is sent from the perspective of the shopper’s old towel and it’s sure to make the recipient laugh.  At the same time, it communicates the value of the brand’s products—and likely resonates with the fact that the shopper is probably about ready for some fresh new towels in their life.

This unique approach to the abandoned cart email is sure to catch people’s attention, intrigue them, and entice them into taking another look at the brand’s products.


Abandoned cart recovery: The key to a better follow up with your customers

Some shoppers will add an item to their cart with no intent to eventually complete their purchase whether they found another option they like better or just decide they don’t need the product at the moment. But for many, that’s not necessarily the case.

There are plenty of distractions when people are browsing online, so if there’s a chance to win shoppers back with a simple follow-up email, why wouldn’t you?

Having an abandoned cart recovery strategy is the best way to recover potentially lost revenue and ensure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Plus, they make your life easier. Allow marketing automation to do the heavy lifting for you with your abandoned cart emails so you can focus on growing your business and watch your revenue soar.

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