For e-commerce SMEs, the threat of abandoned carts looms large on a daily basis. Customers are hard earned and the estimated average 69.23% abandon rate means that around £18bn is lost in sales every year.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Not only are there tactics you employ to prevent customers leaving their shopping carts in the first place, but a well-timed email is proven to achieve a conversion rate of up to 5%, going a long way towards recouping that lost custom.
Prevention is better than cure
Before working on the perfect abandon cart email, it’s worth understanding why people tend to leave their shopping carts in the first instance. According to Statista, the most common reasons for people abandoning their cart are:
- Unexpected shipping costs – 25%
- Having to create a new user account – 22%
- Conducting research to buy later – 17%
- Concerns about payment security- 15%
- Long and confusing checkout – 9%
- Couldn’t find coupon code – 8%
- No express shipping available – 4%
From an overcomplicated checkout process to problems with payment, there are many and varied reasons for customers abandoning their cart, but if you take control of your shop, you might be able to reduce this number significantly.
- Simplify your checkout – keep the number of steps to a minimum, ideally no more than 3 clicks from product page to checkout completion; and keep the number of form fields to a minimum. Think carefully about what information you need from your customer and cut out any unnecessary fields.
- Be upfront about costs – Customers often abandon their carts when they come across unexpected fees such as shipping or postage and packaging. To avoid surprising your customers, be upfront about all the extra costs, perhaps including a link to this information from within the product page.
- Don’t make it mandatory to register an account – Customers who are short on time don’t necessarily want to bother registering an account. Making it mandatory risks them giving up on their shopping cart altogether. Instead, offer a “shop as a guest” option, which will get you their email address, but won’t require an exhaustive process from time-poor
- Give several payment options – to avoid people ditching the checkout because they can’t pay, offer several options. Make sure your checkout is secure and demonstrate it on your checkout pages.
- Optimise your site for mobile – with mobile abandon rates being higher than desktop and tablet at 85.65%, it’s argued that the smaller the screen, the higher the chance of drop off. One way to stave off this pitfall is simply to ensure your site – and particularly your checkout process – is mobile optimised.
Of course, you cannot account for every single abandoned cart. Sometimes people just change their minds, and there’s not much you can do about that. The trick is to try and prevent them from disappearing in the first place, and then to prompt them with an email:
Constructing the perfect email
1. Craft a compelling subject line
The first thing they’ll see in their inbox is the subject line, and so this is your chance to grab their attention and be immediately persuasive. It should give a sense of urgency to encourage customers to make a quick action.
However, according to omnisend, it’s important to keep the subject line short and sweet, and include offers, as these turn out the best click-through rates. The top subject lines and their respective open rates, according to their research, were:
- “15% off purchase” – 48% open rate
- “Cart left”- 45% open rate
- “£x off cart” – 44.5% open rate
Ideally, if you have the recipient’s name, the email should be personalised but, if not, it should at least be personable. And the “from” field should also be friendly, “The team at Next” rather than just “Next”.
2. Create a strong message
The contents of your email should get straight to the point. Your heading should be bold, reminding people that they’ve abandoned their shopping cart. The body content that follows should instruct people what they need to do to complete their order, with a strong, unambiguous call-to-action.
3. Use images of the abandoned product(s)
Statista has estimated that around 17% of those who abandoned their carts do so because they were window shopping – comparing products and prices and doing basic research.
For these customers, a visual reminder of what they’re missing out on is no bad thing. The product image should also be accompanied by the size and colour already chosen by the customer. Make the image forefront in the email so it really leaps out at the customer.
4. “Deep” personalisation
To go the extra mile to retrieve lost customers, AI can be used. It’s pretty easy to personalise the “to” and “from” fields in your emails, but you can go further and mine for behavioural data to tailor the email more specifically.
Your customer’s browsing history and reason for cart abandonment will help you to send them recommendations for other similar products, not just the item they’ve abandoned. Who knows, with this extra touch you could end up with them completing not just the purchase they’ve abandoned but adding more items to their shopping cart too!
For more detail about how to personalise your customer journey, read one of our earlier articles here.
5. Offer customer support
Many reasons for your customer abandoning their checkout – issues with the checkout process, card processing problems, queries over shipping costs – can be ironed out with a bit of friendly customer support.
Make it clear how your customer can get in touch, whether by email or phone. Here, White Stuff offer a number of ways of getting in touch with their customer services and dot them across the email:
6. Get them back on site asap
Your call-to-action is arguably the most important element of your email. After all, the main objective of your message is to get them back to your website as soon as possible.
The wording of your call-to-action should be simple: “Buy it now” or “Complete your order”, and the colour should contrast with the rest of the email so that it really pops out.
The call-to-action should ideally link straight through to their basket, not to the product page or your website homepage. You want to get them as far down the purchasing journey as possible here and reduce any chance of them disappearing again.
7. Get your timing and sequencing right
Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing, but this is particularly true when dealing with a hesitant customer. But one email isn’t enough either. A couple of attempts at recouping a dropped customer is a perfectly unintrusive tactic, but might make the difference between being overlooked and abandoned altogether.
Theories differ about the number of emails you should send as well as their timing. But it’s standard to send the first email as soon after the cart was abandoned as possible. Omnisend suggests there should be 3 emails in total, sent in relatively quick succession:
Be careful to tailor the tone and content of each of your emails to suit where your customer is in their decision-making journey. For example:
Send: within an hour of cart abandoned.
Tone: Apologetic and helpful.
Content: Acknowledge your customer’s cart was abandoned, offer help and link to customer services phone number and/or email, and direct customer back to their shopping cart with a big call-to-action.
Send: 12 hours after 1st email.
Tone: More marketing-focused, with a sense of urgency.
Content: Offer incentives, deductions, shipping discounts, whilst directing customer back to cart with big call-to-action.
Not always necessary, and risks you getting blacklisted by the customer, but worth A/B testing their conversion rates.
Send: 24-48 hours after 2nd email.
Tone: A high sense of urgency.
Content: Increased incentives and discounts and include a time limit to your offer.
Abandoned carts cause companies a significant number of missed sales every day. Whilst it would be impossible to avoid all cases, there are many ways in which uncompleted checkouts can be saved. With an extra effort in ensuring your checkout is as user-friendly as possible, you can avoid customers slipping through the cracks and ditching their shopping carts.
But for those who inevitably do leave before making their purchase, it’s not too late. With these simple steps you can coax people back to their carts and recover sales, and you might even find they make further purchases. With a potential 5% conversion rate in abandon cart emails, this can make the difference of hundreds, if not thousands of extra pounds in your bank account each year.