4 Ways to Screw Up Abandoned Cart Messages

Apr 21, 2012 12:02 AM  By

Eighty-seven percent of brands are missing out on a huge revenue opportunity by not sending post-abandonment emails. Considering various studies reporting cart abandonment rates over 70%, it is shocking that so many brands are not employing some type of marketing effort to recoup lost revenue. Bottom line: shoppers are abandoning their carts and marketers are abandoning some serious dollars.


If you are part of the 87%, first things first – start sending abandoned cart emails. Abandonment rates are high, but so are conversion rates from post-abandonment emails, so you are missing a sizable opportunity by not sending them. Here are four things you will want to avoid when launching your post-abandonment email program:

Let the machine do the talking
The biggest challenge to launching a post-abandonment series will probably be coordinating the data needed to trigger the message and populate relevant data. Though this can be seen as a hurdle, this is typically a one-time process and you will quickly recover any costs once the program is up and running. Considering a lot of the upfront work is data related, this could lead to a decreased focus on the content of the email itself.

Avoid sending a plain text email. Use an HTML template that is similar to your standard promotional emails, but use the body of the message to visually echo the look and feel of the cart. Avoid including information that seems overly technical or machine generated like long SKU numbers or unnecessary order or customer identifiers. Include elements such as a photo of the product, price, shopping costs, payment options, and quantity.

Tardy for the party
Cart abandonment rates have increased in recent years and a major contributor could be that consumers are now trained to comparison shop and search for coupon codes. Your customers are also shopping across various devices and at different locations. A cart could be abandoned by someone shopping at the office and later revisited on a tablet when the shopper is at home. You could lose the sale if you wait too long to send your post-abandonment email. A shopper could have found a better deal or forgotten that they had even carted. Waiting more than 24 hours to send your abandoned cart email could mean the shopper is less engaged and less likely to complete their purchase.

Take a one-and-done approach
Only 38% of brands who sent a post-abandonment email sent more than one message. I’m not recommending that every abandoner should receive multiple messages but a multi-message series can be extremely effective when carefully planned. Strengthen a post-abandonment series with a second message notifying the shopper when his or her cart will expire. The second message could also include an incentive or discount to complete the purchase. Follow up approaches like these can lead to closing the sale. Make sure you limit the recipients of the second message to those who, at a minimum, opened the previous message to avoid the perception that you’re nagging the shopper.

Leave the door open
Savvy shoppers may abandon their carts and wait to see if they get a coupon to complete their order. If you are offering an incentive, make sure you have set parameters that do not allow serial abandoners to receive an offer each time. This can be achieved by either limiting shoppers to receive an abandonment incentive every few months or by having repeat abandoners receive a message without an incentive that is more of a customer service reminder.

Jim Davidson is manager of marketing research for Bronto Software.