abandoned cart email strategy

How Cart Abandonment Emails Maximize ROI


This post was updated on April 29th, 2020. It was originally published in June, 2016.

Segmenting email lists is an essential part of any email marketing strategy. While strategies often get into the nitty-gritty of how to look at your analytics and break your audience down, there’s one opportunity to segment that should not be overlooked.

If you’re seeing a large number of readers drop off at your shopping cart page, you should know you’re not alone. Plus, you’ve just identified a major opportunity for segmentation success.

The average cart abandonment rate across all industries and devices was 77.13% in 2019.  Break it down by device, and you can see that this rate reaches 85.65% on mobile.

cart abandon by device
source: https://www.barilliance.com/cart-abandonment-rate-statistics/

While this might seem like a daunting statistic, abandoned carts offer a great opportunity to re-engage with your list. This segment of users has shown a high level of interest and intent that you can now capitalize on.

In this blog, we’re going to look into what causes all these abandoned carts in the first place, how impactful these emails can be on your overall strategy, and tips to increase your email ROI with a successful campaign.

Why People Abandon Shopping Carts

What factors stop someone from pulling the trigger on the item they obviously have some interest in buying? This graph from moosend breaks out the most common causes of cart abandonment:

Cart abandonment reasons

As you can see, the #1 reason for abandoning was unforeseen prices. Word to the wise, don’t be sneaky about your pricing. Instead, be upfront from the beginning so people know what to expect.

When you’re building out your abandoned cart series, try shopping your site through the eyes of a new consumer (or do user research with actual consumers) to see which of these sticking points might be causing your cart abandon issues. If it isn’t something you can fix on your site right now, there may be a way of addressing it in your email copy.

The Effectiveness of Cart Abandonment Emails

So, a mass exodus on your shopping cart page is not out of the norm—you’re not alone!

But you are leaving money on the table if you don’t try to retarget those users via email. How much money, you ask? According to Klaviyo, the average ecommerce abandoned cart email earns $5.81 in revenue per recipient. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, here are some more stats on abandoned cart emails from their report:

  • Average Open Rate of 41.18%
  • Average Click Rate of 9.5%
  • Businesses who have an AOV of $100 to $500 recover 4% to 5% of their abandoned carts on average
  • Basket sizes under $50 tend to capture around 3% of abandons on average

We’ll let you do the math for your specific situation, but clearly a successful email campaign here can have a very positive effect on your ROI.

Abandoned Cart Email Strategies

Now that we understand how effective these campaigns can be, let’s check out some different strategies for your campaign and ways to optimize it for increased ROI.

Time is of the Essence

After someone leaves their shopping cart, you have a small window of time to send an abandoned cart campaign.

GetElastic saw that companies who sent their first recovery email within the first 20 minutes saw an increase in conversions by 5.2%. Those that sent the email after 24 hours saw their conversion rate drop by 50%. Want to optimize your send time even further? Check out the image below by Salescycle which shows conversion rate based off of the time the reader abandoned the site:

when to send an abandoned cart email

The clock is ticking (literally) when it comes to the performance of your cart abandonment sends, so make sure you get in front of them in a timely fashion.

Remove Fear

If someone wasn’t quite ready to make a purchase before, they might need a little help getting over the finish line. Before they show what products were left behind in the cart, Kardiel diminishes any hesitations a customer might have by highlighting 4 unique selling points: free shipping, quick availability, a year of potential returns, and the option of interest-free financing. Breaking down the common barriers to purchase sets customers up to feel confident about their purchase.

Kardiel abandoned cart email

Use social proof

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when an individual looks to other people’s actions to determine what decision they should make. According to Search Engine Journal, it is a method of validating a site’s content, messaging, and branding.

“Like with most things, people are also more likely to feel better about buying from a recommended brand.”

In your abandoned cart email, social proof is a huge help. Sure, you could have an incredible offer (product, service, etc.), but you need people singing your praises to convince others. The Dollar Shave Club did a great job of adding testimonials at the bottom while also sticking to their hilarious branding.

Dollar Shave Club abandon cart ad

Yep, we realize that little kid didn’t actually give that testimonial, but it sure did make a lasting impression.

Social proof can take many forms. Here are a few more ideas to stir up your creative engine:

  • Website/product ratings and reviews
  • Badges/seals/certifications
  • Number of customers served
  • Testimonials from “industry experts”
  • Positive posts or tweets on social media

As an increasingly social culture, people want to feel validated by knowing that others find value in the product or service they are considering. Ease their minds and create an environment where that decision is even easier to make with a nudge from social proof.

Offer an incentive

As we discussed above, most people abandon their cart because it costs more than they expected. You can remedy this issue by chipping away a bit at the price tag. Outdoor Voices does a great job of this with a simple inbox display and a 20% discount in their abandoned cart email.

SL: Forget Something?
Preheader: Check out with 20% off Outdoor Voices

Outdoor voices abandoned cart email

Include scarcity

The more scarce a product is (or seems to be), the more desirable it becomes. Exclusivity or scarcity can be a very powerful motivating factor when it comes to email conversions and can perform very well in cart abandonment emails.

DoggyLoot does a great job of intertwining scarcity in their copy when they say that your precious pup’s items are almost gone for good.

DoggyLoot abandon cart email

They also do a great job at pulling on heartstrings to drive a purchase completion with copy that says, “Please don’t disappoint your dog. Fetch your items now before it’s too late!” Solid copy and imagery all around.

Have fun with it

Yes, clarity is important, but if it fits into your brand guidelines, being a little playful with this series is a great way to stand out in the inbox.  This subject line from Target keeps things light with a playful tone and great emoji use.

Your cart called. It wants you back.

And this one from prAna up plays with the level of emotion by using a lonely heart pun to comedic effect.

The final step…

After you’ve optimized your cart abandonment email for greater conversions, don’t forget to thoroughly test your email before you hit send. Run your template through Campaign Precheck to make sure it’s accessible, has good deliverability, and is rendering correctly in every inbox, so you don’t miss out on any potential sales.

Simplify the Email QA Process and Deliver Perfection

What’s the best way to run through your pre-send checklist? With Email on Acid’s Campaign Precheck, we’ve simplified the process and set everything up for you. Use it to double-check your content, optimize for deliverability, ensure accessibility, and preview how campaigns look on more than 100 of the most popular clients and devices. All before you hit send!

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Author: Kyle Lapaglia

Author: Kyle Lapaglia

5 thoughts on “How Cart Abandonment Emails Maximize ROI”

  1. Fresh Relevance measures the cart abandonment rate as 60.3% across all sectors – close to Hubspot and significantly different from SalesCycle. I think the difference is because we and Hubspot recognize more multi-device sessions as NOT being abandons – these are where a buyer stops browsing on e,g, a phone and continues on a tablet.

    Abandonment is getting better year-on-year by the way, presumably as marketers take it more seriously.

  2. Hi Mallory,
    Great review of abandoned cart recovery emails! You give great examples for brands to use as inspiration!

    One thing that we’ve discovered that can help supplement abandoned cart campaigns is cart regeneration software. Have you seen a great difference in conversions with campaigns that had this functionality vs. those that didn’t? Here’s an article referencing a case study showing a 34% lift in conversions from email due to cart regeneration http://bluestout.com/blog/wishlists-and-shopping-cart-recovery-ecommerce/#regen

  3. Hi @Jenna,

    I really enjoyed that case study. While I don’t know the difference of conversions that use just a plain ole’ cart abandonment email and one that uses cart regeneration software, I have to assume the latter if more effective. That would be very interesting to find those numbers, though. Since our business model doesn’t sell separate items like a retail store but instead, plans, this would be difficult to test internally. Sorry I couldn’t provide any further information!

  4. As per the current statistics I read in one of the articles the cart abandonment rate in 2016 was 8.32% which was increased by over 9% in 2017. But it gradually decreased by 8.84% in 2018, 8.29% in 2019, and 8.24% in 2020. So the statistics show that the quality of emails is been good in last years. We can expect it to reach below 8% in the coming years.

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