New Year is the Time to Give Abandoned Cart Emails a Makeover

When was the last time you updated your abandoned cart reminder email? I mean really overhauled that sucker? It’s probably been a while, right? While a fresh coat of paint – updated images, footer and a solid QA check – is fine, it’s time for you to truly revisit your abandoned cart reminder strategy.

We all know that shopping cart abandonment rates continue to increase but do you know why your customers are abandoning the cart? Let me rephrase that, do you know what your customers are leaving in the cart?

Things were pretty simple back in the olden days (anything more than a year old qualifies as the olden days in the world of digital marketing), when technology was bulkier and consumers were starting to buy online more often. We assumed shoppers “abandoned” the purchase path because of sticker shock, site issues, security concerns, changing their mind, shipping costs, etc. There were tons of industry lists reporting the reasons why consumers “abandoned” their shopping carts. These causes for abandonment gave marketers the information they needed to improve the online shopping experience and develop more effective abandoned cart reminders emails guiding shoppers back on the path to purchase.

So, what has changed? There will always be a group of shoppers who will abandon shopping carts for the “greatest hits” reasons listed above, but overall today’s consumers are keenly aware that doing so is not terminal.

Shoppers know that they can leave the cart and come back. Many also know that you will remind them about their carts and maybe, just maybe, you will give them an incentive to complete their order.

A study from Bronto and Magento found that 90 percent of Frequent Shoppers (buying online daily or at least once per week) and 83 percent of Occasional Shoppers (buying online at least once per month) will use the shopping cart to save items to buy later. Nearly half of all online shoppers (47 percent) expect to receive a reminder email after they leave their carts. One-in-three consumers say they are likely to complete their order after they receive an abandoned cart reminder email. In the mind of today’s consumer, the cart has become more “shopping in progress” than “checkout process.”

Abandoned cart reminder emails were once like the roadside billboard touting “Come back and see us” while the consumer drove out of town. They weren’t expecting to see it but the billboard message will likely have an influence on a small percentage of drivers, resulting in return visits. Now that shopper behaviors and expectations have evolved, your abandoned cart reminder emails need more than a static reminder like a roadside billboard.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to trash everything and start from scratch, especially if there are elements of your current abandoned cart reminder emails that are working. Perhaps you currently show the products that were in the cart or show no products but instead feature a friendly customer service themed reminder. You’re getting great results from these approaches. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But definitely rethink the overall dynamic of the email to better connect with today’s consumer who intentionally leaves the cart with the intention of returning.

Rather than informing the shopper that their cart will expire soon, which can interrupt the shopping experience and potentially increase abandonment, reinforce their quest for the perfect purchase with a one-to-one dialogue, using messages that assure shoppers you are keeping items in their cart for them to revisit when they’re ready for checkout. It’s also a good practice to include information about alternative ways to complete their order (phone, in-store pickup).

Marketers must remember it’s important to speak to the shopper — don’t focus solely on marketing to them and closing the sale. An abandoned cart reminder is an excellent opportunity to use your brand’s voice to remind the shopper why they should buy from your brand. I’ve seen abandoned cart reminders with copy like, “You left some items in your cart. Maybe you plan to break out the tablet later while you are watching TV. No problem. Your cart is waiting for you when you are ready.” This copy is fun, informs the shopper they can shop on their tablet, and gives them a cue to do so later.

Incorporating data that you have about the shopper to make the email even more relevant is another winning tactic that also refreshes your abandoned cart messages. Many retailers trigger the same abandoned cart email (or series of emails) to anyone who abandons. This “set it and forget it” approach may seem easier to implement, but often results in less engaging emails and sales that aren’t recovered.

Include a first-purchase discount for shoppers who have never purchased from you. Show loyalty point information and how the carted items will add to their account. Limit incentives for repeat abandoners but reward them with a specific order for being highly engaged on your site. Vary additional messages in an abandoned cart series based on the shopper’s interaction with the first email. Punch-up subject lines for non-openers, use more compelling calls to action for non-clickers, and introduce an incentive for those who clicked through but still did not purchase.

Start the new year off right, by giving one of your hardest working emails a makeover. Your shoppers and your bottom line will be happy you did.

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