Whether you’re new to ecommerce, or you’re an old hand at it, you’ve certainly come up against one particularly annoying statistic: almost 70 percent of your website visitors who fill a cart will abandon it before they get through checkout.

“Cart abandonment” happens for a host of reasons that vary from surprise shipping costs (a very common reason for cart abandonment) to something boiling over on the stove.

But cart abandonment emails (A.K.A. retargeting emails) can help. If you get them just right, it’s possible to reclaim anywhere from 10-20% of those distracted customers so they come back to complete their purchase. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Tone and Timing: Send Emails Quickly and Be Supportive

Timing is crucial with abandonment emails. Research shows that the most successful retargeting emails fall between immediately after the customer leaves your website and up to (but no later than) 30 minutes afterward. This timing brings back the most shoppers to complete their purchases because your products are still on their minds.

Tone is just as important as timing. The trick is to use language that assumes something went wrong on your end that prevented the customer from completing their purchase.

This subtle, yet apologetic tone, coupled with an offer of technical assistance, often brings shoppers back as well. It conveys the message that customer service is your top priority—and 88 percent of shoppers make purchasing decisions based on customer service alone, so make yours fabulous.

2. Try a Browse Abandonment Email to Capture More Purchases

If cart abandonment emails bring back shoppers who filled a shopping cart, browse abandonment emails can bring back shoppers who were just browsing and left before they put anything into the shopping cart.

They were interested enough to linger, but you may not know why they left. It’s worth a sales increase of between 3-7% to reach higher up into this part of the funnel to encourage these shoppers to go all the way through checkout, particularly if you’re also using cart abandonment emails to recover the other 10-20%. Every bit helps!

3. Every Recovery Campaign Should Include These 3 Things...

The most effective cart and browse abandonment emails both have an optimized mixture of the following three items.

  • Images of products left in their cart, or product & category pages a shopper spent the most time looking at. If you are targeting browse abandoners, add star ratings and selected short raves from happy customers to bolster the “social proof” needed to push the shopper through to checkout. For cart abandoners, be sure to include specifics like color, size, style, etc. You don’t need to mention price, however—they can come back to their cart to remember that detail.
  • Some way to contact you, either by phone, email, livechat or even a line to text message. Give them every way possible to get answers to the questions that kept them from completing their purchase the first time.
  • Product recommendations that make sense. A product recommendation engine can help you automatically select the most relevant products, including images of other applicable products the customer may have browsed while on your website.

4. Use the Carrot of Incentive and the Stick of Scarcity

About 25% of shoppers who abandon their carts say that surprise shipping costs made them jump away. Customers hate shipping cost surprises, and it’s often a deal breaker for them.

So first of all, try to structure your whole purchasing process so there are no surprises. Then, for your cart abandonment email, include one or more of the following enticing incentives (carrots):

  • Free or discounted shipping
  • A discount code if they come back to purchase within a given amount of time
  • A coupon or some other incentive

Back your selected carrots up with a little "scarcity" (the stick) and it will spur many more customers to complete the purchase. This is called the loss aversion approach and it plays on the internal psychology we all have that losing something is worse than winning something new.

To do this in a cart abandonment email, you can:

  • Mention prominently that inventory on the product in their cart is limited and going fast!
  • Put an expiration date (with a countdown clock) on their discount code.

5. Let Them Go and They May Return

While it may seem counterintuitive, make sure the customer knows they can unsubscribe from your emails at any time. There’s nothing more off-putting to a customer than feeling pestered to distraction about something that they, for whatever reason, lost interest in.

Let them know they have control over their email situation with you and they may come back with a better attitude and shop with you later on.

Whatever your ecommerce situation, don’t just let shoppers abandon carts or your website without following up with them! With CartStack, you can automatically monitor your entire site for emails, capture them in real time, and send both cart & browse abandonment campaigns to your highest-intent customers to regain 30% or more of lost sales.

Brett Thoreson

CartStack CEO
Brett is the founder and CEO of CartStack, a lost-order recovery solution for ecommerce businesses. Through CartStack, he and his team aim to change the way online companies recover revenue. To see an entire sample email campaign, find out what your CartStack ROI would be, or just learn more about CartStack's solution, visit CartStack.com.
Brett is the founder and CEO of CartStack, a lost-order recovery solution for ecommerce businesses. Through CartStack, he and his team aim to change the way online companies recover revenue. To see an entire sample email campaign, find out what your CartStack ROI would be, or just learn more about CartStack's solution, visit CartStack.com.