Abandoned No More: How to Build Abandoned Cart Emails that Shoppers Can’t Resist

Mar 30, 2018

Article ImageToday’s email marketers are constantly being asked to drive more sales, increase revenue, and improve ROI—but they’re seldom given additional resources to achieve these goals. But how can you improve the effectiveness of your email program without a huge outlay of resources? One simple way is to include triggered messages in your repertoire of email campaigns.

Triggered messages are exactly what they sound like—automated emails that are sent in response to a specific behavior or event. They come in many forms, including welcome messages, order and shipping confirmations, birthday emails, feedback messages, and more. In this article, we’ll explore one specific kind of triggered message that can have a direct impact on your bottom line: abandoned cart messages. 

What is an Abandoned Cart Message?

If you’ve ever shopped online, added items to a shopping cart, and then stopped short of actually buying, there’s a good chance you’ve received an abandoned cart message. These triggered campaigns are frequently sent to remind shoppers of items they liked and encourage them to complete the purchase.

According to Return Path’s 2018 Email Marketing Lookbook, abandoned cart messages have a relatively strong read rate (20%), but they’re also frequently ignored by shoppers, as demonstrated by their “deleted without reading” rate of 12%. So it’s not enough just to send an abandoned cart message—you have to make sure it’s worth opening, reading, and acting upon.

How to Build a Great Abandoned Cart Message

We all know that the inbox is a crowded and competitive space. Attention spans are short, so you only have a few seconds to convince subscribers to open your message and act on its contents. Following are some tips to help ensure that your abandoned cart messages are as effective as possible.

Choose the right time to send--Abandoned cart messages should land in the inbox while the item is still fresh in the shopper’s mind. Messages received within an hour or two of the shopping session will be far more effective than those that arrive the next day—so schedule your triggered messages accordingly.

Make your subject line specific and compelling--This is good advice for every email, but it’s especially important for abandoned cart messages. Your subject line needs to grab the shopper’s attention and remind them of the item they were considering. If you’re offering an incentive (more on this below), mention it in the subject line to give them even more reason to open your email.

Include information about the product--This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget. Be sure to feature an image of the product (or products) the shopper left in the cart, so it’s the first thing they see when they open your email. Include product details, pricing, and even reviews from other customers—anything you can do to help make their decision as easy as possible.

Offer incentives and suggest alternatives--Indecision is a major driver of abandoned cart behavior. Shoppers may be undecided on whether to spend the money on a purchase, or whether they really “need” the item. Offering an incentive (like free shipping or a discount) can often sway shoppers in your favor. An abandoned cart message is also a great opportunity to showcase alternative products that may meet the shopper’s needs, including related products, similar items, or “customer favorites.”

Don’t forget to test--Testing is a critical step any time you add a new campaign to your email program. You don’t know what will resonate with audiences until you try, so test as many components of your email as possible—subject line, offer type/amount, creative layout, and timing are just a few of your testing options.

Better yet… avoid abandoned carts altogether--In addition to building an engaging abandoned cart campaign, it might also be useful to take a good look at the customer experience to see if you can determine why carts are being abandoned in the first place. For example, consider the following:

  • Be upfront about shipping costs and time tables. Don’t wait until customers are ready to complete their purchase to tell them about shipping charges and delivery timeframes. Bad news at checkout almost guarantees frequent shopping cart abandonment. Instead, make sure that shipping costs and delivery timeframes—or at least reasonable estimates—are provided directly on the product page.
  • Don’t require customers to create an account before checking out. If shoppers are forced to create an account before they can buy from you, chances are you’ll see a lot of abandoned shopping carts. Instead of requiring an account, allow shoppers to check out as a guest. Once their purchase is complete, offer them the option of creating an account to streamline future purchases. You might also use this as an opportunity to promote the benefits of your email program, as an incentive to create an account.
  • Streamline your checkout process. It’s tempting to include a lot of fields in your checkout form. After all, the more information you have, the better you can serve your customers, right? While that may be true, the checkout form isn’t necessarily the best place to collect that information. Customers want to make their purchase and be on their way, and anything that complicates the process could jeopardize the sale. As you build your checkout form, think carefully about how much you need each piece of information, how you’ll use it, and whether there’s a better way to collect it.

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