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3 Bulletproof Ways to Structure Your Next Cart Abandonment Email Campaign

Hey! This is a guest post by the wonderful Carl Sednaoui, Director of Marketing, MailCharts. Thanks, Carl!

This coming holiday season is going to be a festival of shopping cart abandonment. With abandonment rates holding steady at around 75%, a lot of virtual carts will be clogging your online shopping aisles.

As an ecommerce merchant, your biggest challenge is persuading your customers to come back and buy the merchandise they left behind. I have both bad and good news about that prospect.

The bad news: You can't stop customers from abandoning carts because they don't always see it as abandonment.

Especially during the holiday shopping season, customers treat their carts like shopping lists or layaway departments. They'll find something they like, park it in a cart, then shop around for a better deal.  

The good news: Abandoned cart drip strategies can persuade these wandering customers to return and go through the checkout.

In this post, I'll share three ways you can structure your cart abandonment emails to recapture the most carts with the smallest hits to your bottom line, along with hand-picked email examples from MailCharts.

Don’t miss out: Want to learn more about cart abandonment and how to use Drip to set up your program? Sign up for Drip's next webinar, How to Give Your Customers an Experience Amazon Can't. Also, check out this detailed blog post: The Best 3 Ecommerce Email Marketing Automation Workflows in 2018.

3 Cart Abandonment Drips to Send More Carts Through the Checkout

Let's dive into three different cart abandonment campaigns that are all super effective and super doable by ecommerce companies of any size.

#1: Use a discount to lure bargain-hunters back.

This is one of the most popular ways to bring customers back to finish checking out. As I said before, many customers will put an item in a cart, then go hunting for a better deal. Offering them something to sweeten the purchase can be just the ticket you need.

Online mattress manufacturer Leesa sends its cart abandoners a series of emails over 11 days that combine an immediate discount with emails that address potential objections. You'll see a few emails from this abandonment journey below.

Day 1 (after abandonment)

Subject line: Come back for a good night's sleep

Preheader: BUY NOW & SAVE $125 OFF A MATTRESS USING PROMO CODE BELOW DURING CHECKOUT

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/748957c5-2478-66ac-476c-b5beb4b31ea0

A screenshot of a cell phone

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This email includes a code for what appears to be a standard discount — $125 off a mattress, plus a free pillow valued at $75. This email has five great things going for it and is about as close as you'll get to a best-practice abandoned cart reminder:

  • It goes out soon after the customer abandons the cart. Many brands wait days to send a cart reminder. In today's highly competitive markets, that's just too long.

  • It shows the exact product the customer picked out.

  • It links directly to the customer's cart. The more hurdles you can take out of your customer's path to checking out, the more carts you'll redeem.

  • It asks about potential glitches in the checkout process or questions the customer might have, e.g., “Problems at checkout?” and “Still looking?” Buying a mattress isn't an everyday inexpensive process. Making it easy for customers to get answers while they make up their minds is a great angle to take.

  • The subject line is a great ice-breaker, avoiding the usual "You left something in your cart" route.

This email is a great introduction to the brand. Although it's the only one in the series with personalized product info, it sets up the customer for a good experience with the follow-up emails.

Day 3

Subject line: Leesa, a mattress redesigned

Preheader: Better Sleep Starts with the Leesa Mattress

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/3332d0cc-b575-a12c-6da7-41179cd91d26

 

A screenshot of a social media post

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This email uses persuasive tactics that emphasize product and brand values, the company mission and reassurances in case the purchase doesn't work out.

Also, the call to action ("Shop the Mattress") is prominent throughout. This email works really well on both mobile and desktop.)

Email 3: Sent on Day 9

Subject line: Can't make up your mind?

Preheader: Better Sleep Starts with the Leesa Mattress

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/c80a52ca-af67-fc60-0086-1ac511082667

 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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This email focuses on social proof to persuade people who didn't bite on either the discount or the value shared in previous emails.

Day 11

Subject line: Your questions answered

Preheader: Better Sleep Starts With the Leesa Mattress

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/91f2dc95-a35a-b08c-d794-edfe7d681ece

 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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This final email in the series is totally service-oriented. It answers frequently asked questions, using plain language (not heavily sales-oriented) and amps up the personal connection by featuring a mini-bio of the company's head of customer experience. It doesn't have an obvious CTA, but the email itself is clickable.

Here’s an overall view of this email journey (courtesy of MailCharts):

 



#2: Send a reminder, then offer a discount.

Everybody loves discounts. But they can eat away at your profit. If you operate on a razor-thin margin, try starting out with just a gentle nudge, then following up with a discount if the customer hasn't budged.

Try testing different setups to find out what percentage of your customers will come back with just a reminder, how many will jump at the discount, and how long you should wait before  sending that follow-up email with the discount.

Kate Spade sends a two-email cart abandonment series, beginning with a standard reminder in the first email and following up with a discount along with strongly persuasive language.

Day 1

Sender: Kate Spade New York

Subject line: psst...forgot something?

Preheader: we saved the items you recently left in your cart. tempted to take another look? view cart

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/1176059c-4183-2880-334b-63b7d81c608c

 

This email goes out shortly after the customer leaves the site with merchandise still in their cart. It mentions a simple offer (free shipping and returns) aimed at reducing a potential concerns.

The tone of the email is service-oriented, emphasizing 24/7 assistance, and it also includes the product photo and a direct link to the customer's cart.

Day 2

Subject line: enjoy 15% off that special something in your shopping cart

Preheader: our treat to you, to treat yourself.

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/1013cf6d-c222-9985-9afa-fddb0b88fbec



A screenshot of a cell phone

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This email takes a more aggressive – but still fun! – approach to bring the customer back.

"You're so close!" and "Let's check out!" are more encouragingly on-brand and the 15% discount might be enough to seal the deal.

#3: Use persuasion instead of a discount.

The other problem with discounts, besides reducing your profit per sale, is that customers can learn to wait for the discount before they come back to finish checking out. You'll want to test this approach before going all in in on it, but if you can pull it off, your CFO will love you forever.

If you choose the no-discount route, you have to ramp up your products' value, your customer service and support, and stress the benefits of buying from your brand rather than someone else's.

The Leesa emails referenced above show how to sell the benefits and service of making a major online purchase, but you don't need quite as much detail for products that don't take as much consideration. The Nike emails below will show you how.

Day 1

Sender: Nike

Subject line: Looks like you forgot something

Preheader: Get fast, free shipping with your NikePlus membership

URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/96331eed-3330-15b8-64cd-1c2265de8b29

 

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Nike sent this email about 24 hours after abandonment. The animation at the top (click the email to view it in MailCharts) captures attention and emphasizes the benefit ("fast, free shipping) that members of the loyalty program NikePlus receive, while the email uses comparison shopping and cross-selling (the "You may also like" section) to appeal to shoppers having doubts or second thoughts.

The customer-service approach is secondary in this initial email but is still a focus in the bottom half of the message.

Day 2 

Sender: Nike

Subject line: Get it before it's gone

Preheader: Get fast, free shipping with your NikePlus membership

URL:  https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/f1c78a17-5d87-810d-bb13-bbf57df0d93c

 

A picture containing cat

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This second and last message ramps up the urgency with the subject line ("Get it before it's gone") and the "Why wait?" headline inside the message. It also switches out the cross-selling product suggestions but still keeps them relevant to the product in the cart.

Start Recapturing Carts Pronto

All three of these cart abandonment tactics demonstrate the power of structuring your cart abandonment program as a drip series instead of a single email. Each email in your series can have a specific purpose and allows your strategy to evolve as the email campaign runs its course.

Testing is key, too. As with the Leesa emails, you might also find that customers who don't bite right away with a discount have other issues on their minds. They might need questions answered and doubt removed before they can act.

Timing, content, discount/no discount are all factors to test and tweak as your campaign progresses. And remember to continue monitoring after you roll out your cart abandonment email program to see when and where to make those tweaks.

 


Carl Sednaoui is the director of marketing for MailCharts. If you'd like to learn more about MailCharts — and how we take the hassle out of email marketing planning and research — visit our website or drop us a note. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or walk you through a demo of our app.

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