How to avoid cart abandonment

Performance marketing may have done all the hard work to attract customers and bring them to the point of purchase, but here’s how to get them over the line.

John Lamphiere, RVP EMEA at ActiveCampaign, reveals how three automated emails could rescue the revenue lost from cart abandonment… 

According to Statista, in March 2020 just over 88% of online orders were abandoned. And with Forrester estimating that this costs companies $18billion a year, it can be incredibly frustrating for established enterprises, as well as small businesses. Carts are abandoned for numerous reasons, but email automation can reduce the risk and rescue that revenue.

When a web visitor adds something to the cart, it’s signalling their interest, but lots of things can go wrong before checkout. These include distractions, comparison shopping, changing their mind, or barriers to checkout - such as a slow site causing them to bounce.

While some reasons make basket recovery harder, our own data during Black Friday 2020 showed that email automation helped recapture a higher proportion of revenue that would otherwise have been lost. In fact, while consumers abandoned 112% more carts during the holidays in 2019 – revenue recovered from abandoned carts climbed to 593% compared to 2019.

While one email might help businesses recover lost sales, sending multiple follow-ups and experimentation is more impactful. Businesses could change the timing of follow-up emails, use social proof, try different product imagery, or offer coupon codes.   

Step One: The golden hour

The best time to follow-up with potential customers who have abandoned their cart is within the first hour. As the first email within a series, businesses should avoid sharing all promotions at once. Keep it simple by having a simple reminder, product shots and a single call to action.

Loss aversion is a great tactic to use in an initial abandoned cart email. For example, a headline might read something like ‘Almost yours… limited stock so don’t miss your chance to buy.’ Or a B2B business might list out the benefits of using their service that a customer will lose if they don’t complete their purchase.

Step Two: The 24-hour window

If the first email did the trick, then the email automation can end there. If not, the next action is to follow-up the next day. First attempts fail for numerous reasons and should be considered with follow-up messaging. For example, if customers failed to open the first email, consider re-sending with a different subject line.

If the email was opened, but didn’t convert, experiment with new messaging. Some winning tactics include using social proof such as testimonials, highlighting a different benefit, or offering a guarantee.

For example, Dollar Shave Club highlights the benefits alongside a product shot and gives a refund guarantee in its follow-up emails. Social proof and a refund guarantee can move a customer from doubt to purchase.

Step Three: The final farewell

When it comes to email automation for abandoned carts, three is the magic number. It offers businesses a final chance to persuade a few days later. It should however be the final reminder to avoid causing annoyance or being marked as spam. This is also the best time to try coupons, but they should be used sparingly to avoid training consumers to expect a discount by abandoning their cart. Loss aversion can also work here by including a time limit on the coupon.

To summarise, experiment with messaging, use social proof and loss aversion, test follow-ups one hour and 24 hours later and don’t send more than three emails. Once a customer recovers an abandoned cart, their data can also be used to strategically target them with upsells and relevant offers. Ignoring cart recovery tactics means missing out on revenue.


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