Retain customers with abandon cart emails

emails customersWe’ve all been there: you’re shopping online, checking out new products on an eCommerce page and adding items to your cart, only to realize you have no intention of going through with your purchase. Absentmindedly, you click away from the page and continue on with your day.

As minor as this movement may be as a shopper, abandoned carts are a big problem for online retailers, with nearly $4 trillion in merchandise abandoned worldwide in 2015. There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing a customer liked your products enough to consider purchasing, only to give up before clicking “submit.” Why do customers abandon carts, and what can your email marketing strategy do about it?

Why Carts Are Abandoned

The reasons for cart abandonment range from “my phone rang and I forgot to finish checking out,” to “shipping costs were more than I was expecting,” depending on the potential sale and the shopper in question. Unfortunately, there are no metrics designed specifically to track why customers click away, and no real way to ask without developing mind reading abilities. The problem may be unique to your store, like an incredibly cumbersome checkout process, or may be more universal, like the inability to combine promo codes. What you can do, however, is evaluate your site empirically based on common thought processes that affect shoppers.

For example, over 50% of shoppers abandon their carts when they are surprised with extra fees at the checkout, even if they’re due to things like taxes and shipping expenses. The difference between even $49 and $55 can be enough to dissuade a shopper, leading them┬áto close out of your site and move on to something new. Another study found that over 50% of shoppers surveyed also reported simply being unready to buy. Much like window shopping in the real world, many online consumers place items they are considering in their carts to return to at a later time.

An additional study reported that 28% of shoppers were unhappy with shipping expenses, while 23% were displeased with the requirement to register with a site prior to purchasing. Further research cited even more reasons, like concerns about website security, poor payment options, and lack of mobile shopping support. Whether these statistics apply directly to you or not depends wholly on your site and what it offers, but understanding these common reasons makes it much easier to create a plan of attack moving forward.

What You Can Do About It

So a customer abandoned their cart. What now?

Studies show that email is among the best possible ways to attract customers back to purchase abandoned items. In Q1 of 2015, SalesCycle conducted research into the success behind email follow ups for abandoned carts and uncovered some shockingly persuasive statistics.

Nearly one half of abandoned cart emails are opened, indicating that these items were of interest to consumers. In addition, nearly one third of clicks lead to a sale, demonstrating that emails, especially ones with something to offer, can indeed be persuasive. This same study also found that every abandoned cart email generates the equivalent of $8 in revenue, making an investment in an email campaign extremely beneficial for stores seeing sharp drops between product pages and the checkout.

Sending any old email won’t do, however. These techniques are designed to attract reader attention and bring shoppers back to take a second shot at buying what you have to offer.

Send Emails Immediately

It may seem overbearing to hit shoppers with emails as soon as they leave your site, but it’s actually quite effective. In order for attract the most interest, abandoned cart emails should be sent within 24 hours, sooner if possible, while the items are still fresh in a consumer’s mind. Some companies have found one to three hours after abandonment to be the sweet spot: slow enough that a shopper doesn’t feel harassed, but fast enough to ensure a shopper still remembers what was left in his cart. When too many hours or days go by, a customer is less likely to be thinking about the item he abandoned, removing the threat of temptation. For those who simply forgot to purchase, an hour or two is a perfect time frame to go back and buy.

Be Clear and Concise

Many email marketing campaigns are based around creativity and uniqueness, but an abandoned cart email is not the time to practice your puns. The subject line and the body of the email should be very specific, letting a reader know immediately the point you are trying to convey. When your email header and message are too far out there, a busy adult in a hurry may miss the point completely. There’s no reason to be vague or unclear when a convoluted message can cease to accomplish the results you’re hoping for. Using first names can also effectively lure a user back in; a personal touch to an otherwise form email can be the secret to drawing reader attention.

Mention the Product

If a reader can’t remember what he was shopping for, what are the chances he’ll care enough to come back? Many adults lead busy lives, and a reminder of an abandoned cart will be deleted without a second thought if an impression of what exactly was considered is eliminated. Instead of sending a generic “buy now!” email, ensure your message includes the name of the products a customer considered. With a reminder of what he was looking for, a shopper is more likely to remember why he was shopping in the first place. Don’t make the customer connect the dots himself; instead, let him know exactly what he was looking to purchase.

Show the Product

Sometimes, a product name isn’t enough, especially for technical items like printer toner or cell phone models. In addition to providing the name of the product a customer added to his cart, include an image of the item in question. A name can only reveal so much, but an image provides visual detail that may be enough to remind a shopper why he was considering a purchase. A majority of customers are frustrated when they receive marketing material not directly related to their interests, but an image can be a great way to show a consumer just how much you know about him.

Link to the Checkout

Today’s web users like things as simple and straightforward as possible. While it would be nice if all customers were motivated enough to find their way back to your website alone, it’s best to offer some help. By including links to the checkout, the cart, or a way for readers to continue shopping, you can urge email recipients to pick up where they left off by giving them the means to do so. Be sure to make the images included in your email valid links as well; customers may want to go back to revisit the items they were considering purchasing. In essence, the more tools and information you can provide within the body of your emails, the better.

Once Is Not Enough

It’s hard to eat just one potato chip and it’s also hard to win back potential customers with just one email. Many consumers will need multiple emails to truly be convinced that it’s worth coming back to buy, so stopping at one may cost you more than you realize. Most successful companies send three emails to customers who still haven’t acted, between one day and one week after the initial abandonment. In some cases, emails will sweeten the pot with better incentives as time goes on, taking a minor loss on shipping expense or item costs in order to inspire additional sales. When customers don’t respond to your first email, don’t stop there.

Provide Promo Codes

People like to save money when shopping, especially when they were originally put off by an item’s high ticket price. With this logic in mind, including promo codes in cart abandonment emails can be a worthy strategy indeed. With the incentive of a bargain, many customers will be willing to come back even for a small savings, driving revenue at a low cost to you. Promo codes are best included in later emails; savvy shoppers may catch on to the fact that initial emails come with perks, leading to an increase in abandonment for the sake of saving a few dollars.

Offer Shipping Incentives

As studies found, shipping costs are often a strong factor in cart abandonment. In fact, in 2014, a Business Insider study found that higher shipping costs than expected was overwhelmingly the number one reason for abandonment, even if the difference between $4 and $7 for shipping seems small when taken out of context. When surveyed, 93% of customers admitted to liking free shipping over a discount, making shipping savings a compelling motivator. As such, many companies use free shipping as a last resort, in perhaps a second or third follow up email. Using a shipping extension on your ecommerce platform can greatly help in this regard, providing an easy way to manage shipping costs and tasks.

Dealing with shoppers who abandon their full carts may seem like money slipping through your fingers, but with a targeted approach, it’s possible to reclaim a portion of that lost revenue. Emails are easy and affordable, giving you another chance to make a first impression. By putting a strategy behind your email campaign and emphasizing timing, content, imagery, and shopper benefits, it’s easier than ever to convert potential shoppers into current customers. There’s no way to win them all, but with the possibility of sales at a low cost to you, abandoned cart emails may be the most important messages you send this year.