The problem is a common one: a shopper arrives on your website and browses your products, they see something they like, they add it to their basket …
… and then they disappear, never to return.
The phenomenon of cart abandonment is one you will be well aware of if you operate an online store.
In fact, 68.81% of shopping carts are abandoned online.
It happens because:
But while you won't know why they abandoned their carts, you can definitely do something about it.
This is where the cart abandonment email comes in.
What Are Cart Abandonment Emails?
A cart abandonment email is an email that you automatically send out to shoppers who have abandoned their carts.
As long as you already have their email address, you can wait a few hours or a day and then send them a reminder that their item is still waiting for them. That way you encourage them to head back to your store and complete the purchase.
Sending such an email makes good sense:
At the same time, you can use it to build trust and increase engagement with your audience.
So how can you increase the odds of success? Here are eight crafty tactics for fine-tuning your cart-abandonment emails.
1. Use a Friendly – Even Cheeky – Tone
The tone you use is a big consideration, and it depends to a large extent on your brand image.
Many businesses use a fun, friendly and even cheeky tone for their cart abandonment emails.
You can do the same.
A subject line like 'What happened?' or 'Where did it go wrong?' could intrigue the recipient, encouraging them to open the email while reinforcing your fun and friendly brand image.
Then again, you might prefer to stick to something more conservative. 'You have an item in your basket' clearly explains why the email is being sent and may prove to be more effective.
It depends on your branding, but that shouldn't stop you experimenting with different styles to find out what works best for you.
2. Personalise the Subject Line
You could also use the recipient's name in the subject line if you have the data, and this can help to get your email noticed.
Personalisation can be a powerful technique – not just for cart abandonment emails but for other types of emails as well.
And you can go beyond using the shopper's name: for example, add the details of the product to the subject line to remind them about their purchase before they even open the email.
You could even use both. E.g. 'Jon, you've left your iPhone 7 behind.'
3. Display an Image of the Item
Visuals work well in emails. Think of all those people opening their emails on their smartphones – the text is too small, they're just getting off the train, and they might not even bother reading the details.
Even if they do read the email, the product name alone might not be enough to remind them of their forgotten purchase. Or it might be similar to another item they were looking at in another store.
An image provides them with a clear and unmistakable reminder about their abandoned purchase.
Alongside the image, include the name of the item, a short description and the price. Provide them with all the details they need, but make the image prominent
Don't make the mistake of thinking that they will immediately remember their product. They may have been shopping at multiple online stores and saving dozens of similar products in their baskets.
Your aim is to avoid confusion and make it clear what you are asking of them.
4. Make It Incredibly Easy to Take Action
Next up, make it easy for recipients to take action. You want to reduce friction as much as possible to encourage them to return to your store, so don't make it more difficult than it needs to be.
Use a clear call to action to do this.
The call to action is a big part of any email – and any piece of sales writing. In your cart abandonment email, the CTA should simply ask the recipient to click on a link to take them back to complete their purchase.
It could be a button instead. In fact, a button is often better because it stands out from the surrounding copy and it's easy to click with a thumb on a mobile screen.
'Complete Your Order Here is a good starting point for the copy, but don't be afraid to experiment.
5. Use Urgency
Urgency is one of my favourite sales copy tips for any type of sales material. I know it works – because it works on me too.
I can still remember shopping on Amazon before I started writing sales copy and seeing regular warnings that only ‘X’ number of items remained in stock.
It worked. I clicked. On multiple occasions.
I'm not suggesting you lie about the amount of items you have in stock. If the item is nearly out of stock, then by all means mention this too, but there are other ways you can add a sense of urgency.
One of the simplest is to state that the item will remain in the basket for a set amount of time – perhaps 24 hours or less.
Another is to provide a small discount for a short period of time, which we'll look at next.
6. Give a Discount
Everyone loves a discount. If you can throw in a 10% discount for the item that the shopper has abandoned, there's even more chance that they will go on to complete their purchase.
As discussed, we don't know why they did not buy the item in the first place. It could be that they are considering another similar item somewhere else. But whatever the reason, if they are still thinking about buying it but they haven't quite made up their mind, a discount could swing their decision.
Make sure the offer is only available for a limited amount of time. Give them 24 hours or so, and that way they will have to act quickly.
The only issue with this is that you don't want to use the technique all the time, otherwise shoppers could catch onto your tactic and deliberately wait for your email.
7. Throw In Some Social Proof
Social proof is something I've discussed at length in previous blogs. It involves using the words of other people – often previous customers – to convince new customers to purchase from you.
If you have built up some reviews, you may already use them on your product pages or on a dedicated section of your site. But there is no reason why you shouldn't throw one or two into your cart abandonment emails.
These can have the same effect by reassuring recipients that you are a trusted company with a good reputation, giving them confidence in your business.
It's definitely worth testing at any rate.
8. Keep It Short and Sweet
This should not be a long email. You really just want to get to the point using as few words as possible.
You can achieve the right tone and style – and convince recipients to complete their purchase – without much copy. So stick to the essential information and don't make it too long.
One More Thing … Test
As always, test all of the above. These are just guidelines for best practices, and they can all make an impact on your CTR and sales. But nothing is set in stone.
So test your emails. Try different subject lines, test how long you wait before sending the email, send more than one email, add a discount in some emails and not in others, see what difference adding a product image makes, write a longer version of the email.
Test whichever elements you want to. You may find that something different works for your emails, but you will never know until you try it.