Shopping Cart Abandonment: A crucial role of email marketing

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Shopping Cart Abandonment

Email is not just all about sending your weekly email campaigns to customers. It can also play a big role in improving conversions on your website too.

One major benefit to retailers, is the ability to send emails to those who abandon their baskets, reminding them to come back to the site and complete their purchase. This is a crucial role of email marketing, with an average of 68% of baskets being abandoned (Baymard, 2014). A well crafted cart recovery campaign can bring up to 20% of recipients back to complete the purchase. Our recent case study for James Villa Holidays highlighted the importance of a cart recovery programme, providing James Villa Holidays with an average 5.7% sales uplift.

This makes it a huge opportunity for email marketers to implement for not a huge amount of effort. So where do you start when implementing cart recovery for the first time, well here is a quick guide and some useful tips:

1) Choose a vendor or work with your ESP

There are a wide range of options which you may consider – your e-commerce platform might have a tool available, although these usually lack sophistication and therefore reduce the number of baskets that are won back. You could choose one of many 3rd party providers, however this often leads to difficulty in managing opt-outs and integration with your existing email programme. Or you could work with your ESP if they have a solution for Cart Recovery.

For more information on choosing the right solution for you, read our Cart Recovery solution guide.

2) Decide upon the messaging and timing

Carts can go cold very quickly after abandoning. For best results we always recommend sending the first email within an hour of them leaving your site, a follow-up the next day and ideally a final email a couple of days after that.

Always include the products they abandoned in the email, with a link back to their basket. Many E-Commerce platforms provide a deep link to the basket, so even if they click on your email from a different device to which they started shopping, they will be presented with their basket which aids conversion.

Some practitioners would suggest including recommendations at this point but personally, I disagree. Adding items to a basket shows clear intent they are interested in those items and adding more products only leads to more confusion, clutter and ultimately in-action.

As an intro to your message there are various different ways of phrasing this. You could go for a ‘Did you need our help?’, an informative ‘We’ve saved your basket’ or even try an urgency based message around items selling fast. Yet sometimes a simple, ‘Did you forget something’ works well.

3) Discounts or no discounts?

The big debate is do you incentivise customers with a discount to complete their purchase? We have seen mixed results and it varies from brand to brand. However, I would never recommend the first cart abandonment email includes a discount. Try testing discounts versus non-discounts to find the right solution for you.

4) Business Rules

There are a number of rules worth thinking about when you set up your cart abandonment programme, including:

– Should I exclude cart abandoners from the email newsletter temporarily?
– Should I suppress people who received a previous stream of cart recovery emails in the last 30 days?

5) Reporting

With traditional email marketing most reporting identifies if the subscriber clicked and then went on to purchase. However for cart recovery this is flawed for two reasons.

Firstly just receiving the email will act as a spur for returning to the site, and many will not click on the link you have provided. Secondly, some customers would have come back anyway, but might click on your email link.

A better approach is too look at how many people were sent the email, and how many of those returned to complete their purchase within a few days. If you want to make sure you are not over-counting the role of cart recovery, keep a small percentage of customers back from receiving the emails and then measure the return rate of these versus those getting the email. The difference is the true uplift of cart recovery.

Once you are up and running you are almost certain to be overjoyed with the results. The temptation then might be to sit back and reap the rewards – but this would be wrong. With such a successful email you should find it very easy to get uplifts with a series of tests of timing, messaging, incentives and creative tweaks.

To find out how we can assist with your shopping cart abandonment strategy, get in touch with one of our experts today.


About James Lucas

Former Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter UK Ltd, a leading provider of email marketing software and solutions.