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Cart abandonment

Cart Abandonment Email Best Practices & Abandonment Email Templates


Cart abandonment is a familiar issue to retailers in e-commerce.

When shoppers add items to their carts and don’t finalize their purchases retailers lose potential revenue. CPC strategy found it accounts to approximately $18 billion of lost revenue per year.

There are many reasons shoppers abandon their carts, including website difficulties, shipping and return related issues, personal hesitation and more.

Some of these issues can be tackled. You can optimize your customers’ shopping and checkout experience by following the cart abandonment prevention checklist.

However, some issues cannot be tackled. So, you can implement a multi-stage triggered emails campaign to recover the abandoned carts and lost sales.


Effectiveness of Cart Abandonment Emails

This campaign is very effective.

It allows you to retain your customers instead of spending money on acquiring new ones.

It re-engages and interacts with your abandoners, presents them with relevant communication and therefore, builds trust, a relationship and loyalty – which increase the likelihood of future purchases.

The campaign also enables you to discover the reasons behind the customer’s cart abandonment. Knowing the reason allows you to help the individual shopper with the issue as well as to tackle the underlying problem to prevent some future carts from being abandoned.

The campaign is successful in reducing cart abandonment by up to 30% and inducing an average of 18% conversion rate from emails (that can even reach 40%). A Barilliance study found that 1 in 5 shoppers who opened and clicked on a link within a cart abandonment email, made a purchase (19.6%). On top of that, conversions from a cart abandonment email found to have a 14.2% higher average order value than normal purchases (ones directly via the site) (Econsultancy).


Starting a Cart Abandonment Emails Campaign

A prerequisite of the campaign is to have the abandoner’s email address. Since most abandoners abandon sites without providing any details, you could implement some strategies to capture more visitors’ email addresses. Strategies include optimizing the checkout form, using exit intent pop ups and using the triggered email booster feature.


Cart Abandonment Emails Best Practices

So now that we know what cart abandonment emails are, why we should use them and how to capture more emails, we can begin learning how to craft our email campaigns in the most optimal way.

The following will present some of the best practices of cart abandonment emails. In part 1, the best practices will include how to best execute the emails and how to best individualize them.


Best Practices for the Campaign’s Execution

The Ideal Number of Emails:



The Ideal Timing of Emails:

Timing the emails is an important factor in their open rate and effectiveness.

If you send the email too long after cart abandonment occurs, the customer may forget about the items or may lose interest. On the other hand, if you don’t wait long enough, the email may bother the shopper and may be perceived as intrusive.

A Barilliance study of 200 e-commerce sites worldwide has found the optimal timing of each cart abandonment email for maximal conversion rates to be the following:

Email 1 – one hour after cart abandonment

The conversion rate of the first email:

– Sent after one hour = 20.3%

– Sent after 24 hours = 12.2%

The longer you wait past an hour after abandonment, the less fresh and relevant the experience on the site becomes and so the lower the conversion rate becomes.

Email 2 – 24 hours after cart abandonment

The conversion rate of the second email:

– Sent after 24 hours = 17.7%

– Sent after 48+ hours = 7.7%

It is important to note that shoppers tend to shop at the same time of the day.

For this reason, it is optimal to send the second (and third) cart abandonment email at the same time of the day as when the cart abandonment occurred. This way, the customer receives the email when he is likely to be shopping online or be in a ‘shopping mood’.

Email 3 – 72 hours after cart abandonment

The conversion rate of the third email:

– Sent after 72 hours = 18.2%

If you wait too long with the third email it may be so far away from when the cart abandonment occurred, that the customer may not remember they put items in your cart, lost interest or already bought them from competitors.

Surfstitch follows this guideline impeccably.

I abandoned my cart on Surfstitch on March 9th at approximately 3:30pm. The first email from Surfstitch arrived on the same day at 4:09pm. So, the first email was sent in a little less than an hour after the cart abandonment, but it wasn’t sent too quickly either.

The second and third emails arrived on the two consecutive days, March 10th and March 11th. Both emails arrived promptly at 3:37pm – the same time I was shopping on their site.  


The Ideal Rules of Stopping Emails:

Yes, sometimes not sending cart abandonment emails can work in your favor.


Customers opt out

You must allow your customers to opt-out of your cart abandonment emails via a link in each email you send.  If the shopper has decided to opt out you must respect that choice and cease from sending cart abandonment emails.

Conversion during the cart abandonment campaign

If your customer has completed the purchase before you’ve sent all three emails, congratulations – the campaign worked!

Is there still a reason for you to send cart abandonment emails to this consumer? Of course not.

Do some companies still do? Unfortunately yes.

If you continue to send cart abandonment emails after the customer has converted, your messages are irrelevant and outdated. If your customer sees this, their experience will be degraded, lowering the brand’s perceived value.

This is a small but important detail in your campaign. So, ensure your triggered emails are set to stop once the customer has converted.

Previously converted customers

Some of your abandoners may be shoppers who have recently converted.

For example, you may have a consumer who converted a day ago but wanted to research more items today, so she put some in her cart and then left the site.

Is it useful to send her a cart abandonment email? Not really.

Since she made a purchase, we can assume that she already got what she wanted, so sending her more messages would be futile. It may be irritating for this customer to receive so many emails from the company and can perceive the company as ‘desperate’.

For this reason, you should set your triggered emails so that cart abandonment emails are not sent to abandoners who have converted x days ago – our guideline is 4 days.

After 4 days we can assume that they might have added new items they could use a reminder for. It’s a good balance between not being too close or too far away.


Some customers know that if they abandon their cart they might get an email from you offering a discount.

So they don’t complete the purchase on purpose until they receive a discount.

Since these are most often ‘willing’ customers, if they realize they would not receive a discount, most of them would complete the purchase anyways. Therefore, you should prevent them from receiving a discount to stop this behavior of ‘abusing the system’ and to stop continuously selling items at discounts.

Set your triggered emails so that if the abandoner received a discount the last time they made a purchase, this time they won’t.


Best Practices for Individualizing the Emails

Be Responsive to Cross-Device Hopping:

Nowadays, shoppers have a cross-device hopping behavior, which refers to the use of different devices throughout one shopping journey.

A Barilliance study examining this behavior found that approximately 1 in 3 shoppers who started their shopping session on a smartphone or tablet and converted via a cart abandonment email, converted on a different device (30% and 34% respectively).

Retailers must adapt to this behavior.

A customer may click through a cart abandonment email on a different device than the original shopping session. It may lead to an empty shopping cart page (the session didn’t transfer) because of a different session cookie. If this happens, the customer can get frustrated and have a disrupted shopping experience.

To tackle this issue, you must implement a Cross Device recognition technology, that recognizes and presents the original shopping session and items abandoned on any device the email is opened on. This creates a seamless experience and can lead to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, you must have responsive emails’ templates and design, so that the customer is able to properly open and view the cart abandonment email regardless on which device it is opened on.


Continually Test and Optimize the Emails:

You must remember that e-commerce strategies are never ‘one size fits all’ and these best practices are not set in stone.

Yes, the best practice is to send your first email in an hour. But maybe your customers are more reactive to emails sent within 40 minutes? And yes, the CTA should be in an urgency-inducing color, but maybe your customers are more attracted to calm-inducing colors?

Your customers are unique and may respond to slightly different things, depending on your brand’s personality, the industry you operate in and their demographics and values.

So, these best practices are good guidelines for you to start with.

Once you begin, continually monitor your performance and analyze your emails’ effectiveness using A/B testing to optimize your emails.


Learn what the best practices for the emails’ content are to optimize your emails and their conversions, in Cart Abandonment Email Best Practices & Samples – Part 2.


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