Email Shopping Cart Abandonment – To Leave or Not to Leave

Posted by Dominic Yates on

We all make purchases online these days, whether its clothes, books, toys or holidays, insurance and now even cars! We are now part of the millions of other consumers that trawl the web each day looking for the best deals we can find. However, with all the choice available at our fingertips how do we make final decisions? Sometimes we don’t. We procrastinate, look at similar products and maybe click that final “Buy” button.

In most instances, our desired purchase is now sitting in our virtual shopping carts, sometimes alongside other purchases that we know, we will not follow through on. Typically mine consists of unaffordable tech that I just like dreaming about owning—such as a cinema size TV for my Sydney apartment, drones, and other gizmos and gadgets that I will never use. What happens next is kind of a black hole—did the consumer not check out because they actually got cold feet and backed off? Did their computer crash? Did they go on a lunch break? Did their boss come round the corner? Or are they just serial shoppers that need the purchase fix even if this means not actually buying? We can make assumptions all day long but the long and short of it is that there is a potential sale that is waiting just before the finish line. 

So what happens next? Clever marketers have long seen this as an opportunity to communicate to the consumer about the product still waiting for them by giving them a gentle nudge to complete their purchase. In some instances, even a triggered discount may be offered on the “abandoned” products.

There is no doubt that abandoned cart emails can lead to a strong potential to close. Recent studies have concluded that the average open rates for abandoned cart emails is 45 percent and can achieve a click rate in excess of 10 percent with revenue generation of $2.60 and conversion rates of 1.2 percent vs $0.065 and 0.04 percent for general emails. (Source: Cheetah Digital, 2017 Marketing Report)

The key influencers for these positive engagement metrics is timing and relevancy. Typically an abandoned cart email should be sent to the consumer within six hours of the initial engagement. Leaving it longer can often lead to a negative response as the consumer may have found the product elsewhere or lost interest. The success rate of any abandonment emails starts to dwindle as time passes.

From our research, we can see that typical Australian businesses with order values of $100 to $500 recover four to five percent of their abandoned carts on average. Companies with smaller order values tend to recover a lower percentage of abandoned cart emails, those with basket sizes under $50 tend to capture around three percent of abandons on average.

The average transaction rate for the first abandon cart email is one percent versus 0.04 percent for all general promotional mailings. Creating a series of two or three reminders drives value up. The abandon cart revenue for brands sending multiple abandon cart emails was 44 percent higher than that of those sending a single abandon cart email. (Source: Cheetah Digital, 2017 Marketing Report)

So how can cart abandonment emails work even harder? We can see now that cart abandonment emails that consist of two or three streams can perform incredibly well but then more than four messages will see a distinct engagement drop off due to over communication.

For instance, the initial cart abandonment email can out-perform open rate metrics in excess of 10 percent better than general BAU emails, the second and third can perform similarly and then it will drop off. Be careful of utilizing this functionality too frequently as this will lead to fatigue from the consumer and possible disconnect. This can even lead to damaging the senders previously positive sender reputation score. Click rate metrics follows a very similar pattern to open rates and after the fourth send, we see a distinct disconnect with subscribers.

One of the primary catalysts of a successful cart abandonment trigger is the subject line, enticing the consumer. Subject lines that reminded the consumer that they left something behind tend to perform the strongest with an open rate of approximately 48 percent almost eight percent higher than the average. The most popular subject line from our analysis was “It looks like you left something behind…”

So there you have it, sending abandoned cart emails is a no-brainer. Start cashing in on that potentially lost revenue. One final point, consumers are getting clever to this and you typically will find a lot of consumers that abandon their cart just to see if they are offered a further discount to purchase. Just remember, there is a fine line between giving a consumer a gentle nudge to finish a transaction and pushing them too much that they actually disengage with your brand.


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About Dominic Yates

Dominic is an Email Strategist out of the Return Path Sydney office. He has over 12 years experience in Email Marketing. Prior to Return Path worked at Woolworths for three years managing campaign execution and strategy for the loyalty program.

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