In 2019, it’s as easy as ever to launch your own eCommerce store. Realistically, all you need is a computer, an internet connection and a semblance of an idea.
In 2019, it’s also near damn impossible to distinguish yourself from every other eCommerce store out there. Every product & service has hundreds of competitors yelling “PICK ME” to all those browsing Google.
As eCommerce store owners, we have many different tools available to help convince potential customers to pick our product or service - one of them is the abandoned cart email.
Knowing how to craft a good abandoned cart email today is as important as ever. All your competitors are likely sending abandoned cart emails to the same ‘potential customer pool’ as you. So what may have been enough to differentiate your emails a few years back when email automation was in its infancy isn’t going to cut it today.
So... what actually makes a good abandoned cart email? What copy, images, and segmentation makes the difference between an abandoned cart and a recovered cart? Well, we've done the research and hard work so you don’t have to. We spoke with several Metorik customers who have unique abandoned cart email designs and strategies to find out what is working well for them.
Let’s jump in!
What is an abandoned cart email?
I don’t want to harp on about this too long, but I thought it was important to quickly cover this for any readers who are new to eCommerce.
So what is an abandoned cart email? In short, it’s an automatic email that is sent to a user that created a shopping cart on your website but never completed their purchase. The abandoned cart email that is sent to the user usually contains a list of the items they added to their cart, and a URL to recover their cart. The flow would normally look something like this:
- User lands on your website and browses for items.
- User adds items to cart.
- User clicks checkout on cart and begins to fill in their details.
- In the middle of filling out their details, for some reason or other, the user closes the browser window and doesn’t complete purchase.
- The abandoned cart software will save all the details that the user entered. And if the user entered their email address, an abandoned cart recovery email will be sent x hours later. This is normally 1 hour after they abandoned the cart.
- Hopefully, the user opens the email, clicks the recovery link and then completes the purchase. If this doesn’t happen, another email fires normally a day later. Sometimes this email will contain a coupon code as well.
Most abandoned cart software will allow you to customize:
- The criteria that needs to be met for an email to fire. So for example, only send when a certain product is added to the cart.
- The time delay between the customer abandoning the cart and the abandoned cart email being sent.
- How many abandoned cart emails are sent to the customer.
- The contents and design of each email.
Ok, so with the basics out of the way, let’s look at some things you should consider when creating an abandoned cart email.
Don’t rely on one marketing channel
Think about any successful brand… Apple, Google, Tesla. What do they have in common? Well, when it comes to marketing, they are communicating to their customers through multiple touchpoints and mediums: Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, organic content, email campaigns, billboards, events and even television/radio ads. Why do they do this? It’s because they understand two fundamental marketing concepts:
1. Multiple touchpoints lead to a higher conversion rate
If a potential customer interacts with your brand for the first time, there is an extremely low chance that they will end up actually purchasing. Brian Peters from Buffer pointed out this chart from Statista that shows an average online shopping conversion rate of ~3% in 2018:
However, after that first initial touchpoint, if that customer was to interact with your brand again, there is a much higher chance of them completing the purchase this time. This is because this time round they will already be familiar with your brand.
2. Marketing channels decay over time
Marketing platforms inevitably suffer from decay. Just think about eating a block of chocolate as an example. That first bite is going to taste amazing, and so will that second bite. But as you continue to eat more and more, the satisfaction you get from each individual bite will continue to decrease, until you have eaten so much that you actually feel sick.
The same can be said for marketing.
The first time you see an ad on Facebook for a certain brand, you might be intrigued and click through to their website. But as you continue to see the same ad on the same platform, the chance of you clicking through will continue to diminish.
And the same goes for organic content on search engines.
As content marketing agency Animalz points out, over time your traffic from organic content will start to decay - so it’s important to always be creating new and interesting content or refreshing old content.
It's important to remember that just because you are getting x amount of traffic from one channel at the moment, doesn't mean you'll get x amount of traffic from that same channel in the future.
So what does this have to do with abandoned cart emails?
An abandoned cart email is another form of marketing, just like all the other mediums we discussed above. And it should, therefore, be treated in the same light. It shouldn't be used as your only sales/marketing channel, but in tandem with all the other marketing tools you have available. Remember, multiple touchpoints lead to higher conversion rates.
And similarly, just because your abandoned cart emails are converting customers now, doesn’t mean it will continue to work at the same rate in the future. While they can be very powerful, with a high conversion rate, they can also be extremely annoying. There is a fine line between the email converting a customer, and pushing them away because it feels like you are pestering them. As the French philosopher Voltaire once said - “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Strong copy and on-brand design
An abandoned cart email is another touchpoint for you to communicate with your customers. Use it as an opportunity to convey your brand’s message and continue to build trust and rapport.
As someone who enjoys shopping online, I’m all but too familiar the default abandoned cart email copy and design that is included with abandoned cart email software. Just think about it, if you were creating a new page for your website, you would take the time to write specific on-brand copy and create a design that reflects your brand's message. So why not do the same for your cart emails?
Take a look at this 'stock' abandoned cart email:
The email ticks all the boxes functionally, but it doesn’t convey anything about the brand, or offer me a compelling reason to complete my purchase. Chances are that your customers are browsing multiple different stores at once and are receiving abandoned cart emails from all of them. Make yours stand out.
One of our customers, Scout Books, has perfectly designed their abandoned cart email to reflect their branding. Scout Books help their customers easily create notebooks with their own custom designs.
When a customer initially lands on their website, Scout Books makes sure the customer will remember them with beautiful images and a memorable yellow colour:
If the customer ends up abandoning their cart, they receive this abandoned cart email 1 day later:
Now compare that email to the stock standard one I showed you before - chalk and cheese.
There are a number of reasons why I think this abandoned cart email is great:
- The use of the exact same colours and branding of the website will ensure that the customer will have no problems recalling who Scout Books is.
- The copy is playful and not too serious.
- The copy is customer and product-focused. It doesn’t only prompt them to complete their purchase, which most emails do.
- It also sweetens the deal by offering a discount and free shipping.
Recently I spoke in-depth with Scout Books’ co-founder Austin Whipple, where we discussed how they are using Metorik in all aspects of their business. You can check out that customer story here.
Different emails for carts with different values
Most stores have a similar abandoned cart sequence. It goes a little something like this:
- The first email is sent 1 hour after the cart was abandoned.
- The second is email sent 1 day after the cart was abandoned.
- The third email is sent 2-3 days after the cart was abandoned. Often this is the email that contains a coupon code.
And it’s no coincidence that most stores use this sequence - it has proven that it works.
But why stop there? Instead of just using time as a way to trigger certain emails, why not add another filter.
We have a customer that is doing exactly this. Woodland Boutique sells florals, greenery & supplies for wreathmakers.
We spoke with founder Michele about the design and thinking behind her abandoned cart email sequence. They have a similar sequence to the one I described above, however, on the 3rd email, things get a little interesting.
Rather than just sending out the 3rd email 48 hours after the customer abandons their cart, a different email is sent depending on the value of the cart.
One email is sent if the total spent is less than $75:
And the other, if the total spent is greater than $75:
So what’s so special about this? Well as I mentioned above, the third email is the one that normally includes some sort of coupon code to incentivise the customer to complete the purchase. Using the total spent filter, Woodland Boutique is able to incentivise lower/higher spending customers differently.
So let’s take a look at the email that customers who spent less than $75 receive:
“I already offer my customers free shipping on orders over $75. I chose to segment my abandoned carts using this $75 as the threshold. If a cart total is less than $75, the message they receive is a reminder that if their cart reaches $75, they will automatically get free shipping.”
What about customers who already have spent over $75? Well, this is where the other abandoned cart email comes in:
“For those that have already crossed the $75 threshold, I instead offer a $10 off coupon if their cart is over $100. That gives them a little incentive to get their total up even more, and it doesn't add a whole lot to what it costs me to ship their order, so my margins are preserved.”
The brilliance of these 2 emails is that:
- Customers who have spent under $75, are incentivised to spend over the $75 to get free shipping.
- Customers who have spent over $75, are incentivised to spend at least $100 to be able to use their $10 coupon code.
Different emails for carts with different products
Let’s turn our attention back to Scout Books - because the email I showed you before is just one of their abandoned cart emails. That email was for their custom-designed Scout Books. They also offer an entire range of notebooks they have designed themselves:
While their custom and pre-designed notebooks are similar - at the end of the day, it wouldn’t make sense to send the same abandoned cart email for both products.
Customers who abandoned a cart containing 10 pack pre-designed notebooks (rather than a custom notebook) will be greeted with this email:
As you can see, the content of this email specifically relates to the 10-pack notebook. And yes, that’s a GIF.
Why this is a great strategy:
- Both abandoned cart emails are able to convey different messages about each product. Having only one generic abandoned cart email for all types of products would dilute the overall message and brand.
- Scout Books can offer a different incentive to customers based on which products they have added to their cart. In one case they are offering $25 + free shipping. In the other case, they are offering a $10 discount if a customer purchases more than one 10 pack.
My goal today was to give you some easy but unique ways to improve your abandoned cart emails. To recap:
- Don’t rely solely on abandoned carts. Remember they are only one of the many tools you have at your eCommerce fingertips.
- Strengthen your message with on-brand copy and design. An abandoned cart email that reflects the overall brand of your website will be more memorable and result in a higher conversion rate.
- Create different emails for carts of different values. This way you can incentivise each customer differently.
- Create different emails for carts containing different products. Send a strong message about each product, rather than sending one boring and diluted message.