15 Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices

Abandoned cart emails are one of the most productive ways to drive sales for ecommerce brands. Many brands make between $5 and $10 per email sent, without taking into account whether the emails are even read. Here are our 15 best practices to make sure your abandoned cart emails are effective whether you’re an abandoned cart rookie or seasoned veteran.

Just Getting Started

1. Start With One Send Time, Then Experiment
Don’t waste time trying to pick the perfect send time. Send the first email 2 hours after a cart is abandoned and follow up with a second reminder after 24 hours. This timing works well for most brands and, once you’ve established a baseline, you can experiment with shorter or longer send times to see which convert best.

2. Start With Two Emails
Send two abandoned cart emails and collect data on how each converts. Then, you can test adding a third email and measure how it converts and affects your unsubscribe rate. As you add emails, if you’re concerned about overwhelming customers, experiment by only sending those emails to a small percentage of customers.

3. Make the Most of Subject Lines
In your first email, don’t be too pushy — you want to remind customers that they left something in their cart, but you don’t want to pressure them. Subject lines like, “There are still items left in your cart,” can serve as a gentle reminder.

In the second email, creating a sense of urgency can give customers the nudge they need towards buying. You can create urgency by reminding customers their cart is about to expire or products may sell out.

4. Always Include Images for Products
A picture creates an attachment to the item the customer wants. Customers buy products, not words. If you don’t include pictures, customers may not feel like they know what they’d be buying.

5. Focus Attention on the Back to Cart Link
Your most important call to action deserves center stage. Other calls to action shouldn’t steal your customer’s attention. The one caveat to this is if your products are expensive or you know customers often have questions, you may want to have a support or FAQ call to action that’s equally prominent.

Already Sending

6. Consider Different Layouts for Each Email
Be sure to avoid sending identical first and second emails. Visually identical emails can appear to indicate a lack of effort on your part, and you should seize this opportunity to take a different angle in your marketing approach.

Abandoned cart emails are either brand-focused or product-focused. To visually differentiate emails, use a brand focused layout for your first email and use a product focused layout for subsequent emails.

7. Include Related Products or Recommendations

abandoned cart email focused on you might also likeEvery email you send is a marketing opportunity. Adding items to a cart is a strong indication of interest. Showing related or “people who purchased this also bought” products is an opportunity to cross sell or upsell customers when they’re in the buying process.

8. Use First Names and Product Names in Subject Lines and Headers
You can increase open rates by including product names and customer names in your subject lines. Make sure the product names you use aren’t too specific. “Air Jordans Size 12 Black/Gray” is overly personal. If you don’t have a customer’s first name, don’t use “Hey friend” or “Hey there.” Trying to be personal but sounding generic is worse than not personalizing.

9. Offer Incentives in the Last Email
If you use promotions, free shipping or a discount will increase conversion rates. Don’t use discount codes in your first email, instead save them for your last email and for first time customers. You should consider changing the incentive based on the cart size and customer behavior. For example, a VIP customer who has been inactive for months and abandons a cart with a big-ticket item should be treated differently than a customer making a “normal” purchase. If you’re concerned about coupon codes being shared, you should use an email service that can generate unique, single-use codes or rotate coupon codes frequently.

10. Include Item Details

item details inserted in an abandoned cart email sendProviding the important details about items in a customer’s cart will will help reduce friction during the checkout process. This allows customers to review their order in their email rather than waiting until they’re on the checkout page. Price, quantity, size and color, if applicable, are good to include. Don’t go overboard and include SKUs or UPC codes. You don’t need to include details that won’t help customers checkout.

11. Offer Help With a Link to Contact Support or to an FAQ Page

abandoned cart email with a focus on contact us informationSomewhere in your email, you should include your support or sales team’s contact information. If a customer has questions about their purchase, you want to alleviate any uncertainty or anxiety.

Where you put this information in your email depends on the type of product you’re selling. If someone has a big-ticket item in their cart, such as jewelry, you definitely want to give them an outlet to ask questions. For lower priced items, include a link at bottom of the email.

If you offer additional services, like free returns, make this policy explicit to quell any anxiety customers might have about their potential purchase.

Optimizing and Experimenting

12. Branch Your Abandoned Cart Sequence Based on Customer Behavior
Instead of having one sequence of emails, you can create two or more for different types of cart abandonment:

  • For first-time buyers, offer a “new customer” discount to those who have never purchased, but not for repeat customers. However, if someone is a repeat customer and has been inactive for several months, consider offering a discount to win them back.
  • If the cart size is over a certain total, consider offering free shipping or a discount based on the margin of the items in the cart. If the cart contains items that customers may want in bulk, consider offering “buy two, get one free” to encourage customers to increase their cart size.

13. Split Your Checkout Process into Multiple Steps
The sooner in the checkout process you capture a customer’s email address, the better. If you have a one-step checkout page, you’ll have few, if any, actionable abandoned carts. Break up your checkout process into at least two steps, contact information and payment details.

14. Make Your Emails Entertaining
If your brand is laid-back or quirky, be funny in your abandoned cart emails by including animals, hyperbole or memes. If you’re not sure how customers will react, test out an idea on a small percentage of emails first.

Including beautiful or unique photos is also a good way to catch your customers’ attention. Show them something cool that will help your email stand out in a crowded inbox.

15. Test New Ideas Frequently On a Subset of Emails
To increase conversions, think of one new idea a month and test on 10-20% of your abandoned cart emails using A/B testing tools. Most of the last 14 best practices include ideas to test, so plan those out on a calendar and choose a new idea each month to try. How long you need to run your test will depend on how many abandoned cart emails you send each month. If the number is small, increase the test percentage to 30-50%.

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