How do your abandoned cart email practices compare?

by Kristyn Wallace
20 March 2017
How do your abandoned cart email practices compare?
Retailers without a cart abandonment re-engagement scheme are missing a trick. Here’s what the top Aussie retailers do.

According to Google, the typical cart abandonment rate is between 60% and 80%. That is a big opportunity for online retailers – an opportunity that many overlook.

Let’s be clear, not everyone that abandons a cart had intentions to complete their transaction. However, there is a proportion who may still purchase with a bit of encouragement.

The purpose of the cart abandonment email is to remind the shopper that they’ve left something behind, and prompt them to make a purchase. Many online retailers currently overlook this useful tool, and by doing so are abandoning potential revenue. 

A gentle reminder, after all, can capture revenue that may have otherwise been lost.

Abandoned Cart or Abandoned Revenue? Our research

Salmat tested 20 of Australia’s most visited online fashion retailers by registering for an account, subscribing to all emails, and then doing some shopping – it’s a hard life. At the payment page (sadly, for the author), the cart was abandoned. 

Only 30% of the online retailers tested by Salmat sent a cart abandonment email. 

Really? Yes, really.

In this article we will explore what we can learn from retailers that do have cart abandonment email strategies in place.

Email marketing and fashion

How long did we wait?

Our shopping was done in the late afternoon, between 4:30pm and 6pm. Here’s how long the most visited retailers, who did send an abandonment email, waited before contacting us:

boohoo.com - email #1: 1 hour , email #2: 24 hours
Country Road - email #1: 1 day (morning)
Portmans -  email #1 30 minutes, email #2: 2 days (morning)
Rivers - email #1: 30 minutes, email #2: 24 hours, email #3: 48 hours
Rockmans - email #1: 6 hours
Witchery - email #1: 1 day (morning)

As we can see, almost every retailer is doing something different. Many have their abandoned cart emails triggered directly from an e-commerce platform, like Magento. Some retailers only send one AC email, while others are using a series. Salmat has observed that with our clients that use a series of three AC emails, the third AC email often performs better than the first two as a revenue generator.

Testing takes the guess work out of email marketing strategy and is a smart way to decide what works best for your brand and your bottom line, when it comes to timing your abandoned cart emails. Your marketing services company can perform tests for you, so that you’ve got real data behind your decisions. Salmat has done this for clients like Converse, Sass & Bide and Jurlique.

What should a cart abandonment email campaign look like?

Generating an open is objective #1 

As with all types of marketing emails, the from name and sending domain, or subdomain, should be clearly identifiable. So, if a shopper filled a basket at Country Road, the “from name” should include the name of the brand (e.g. Country Road, or Country Road Customer Service). Additionally, the sending domain should include the brand name. 

The subject line is the first call to action in any email. It should prompt the reader to open the email. Here are a few examples of cart abandonment subject lines:

Subject lines

  • Don't miss out! Your basket expires soon
  • FIRSTNAME, don't miss out.
  • Did you leave something behind?
  • Don't miss out on the item(s) saved in your bag!
  • Your Online Cart is ready to go!
  • Oops! You left something behind!

If you chose to create an abandonment series (usually 2 or 3 emails), you will likely want to change your subject line for the next email(s). What is important here is to create a sense of urgency, as illustrated by these examples:

Alternative subject lines

  • Time’s running out on your 40% discount!
  • Don’t let these items get away
  • A friendly reminder!
  • Today’s the last day…

Again, an informed way to make a decision on what to include in your cart abandonment subject line is a test. An A/B split test is an easy way to compare subject lines to determine what works best. 

What about the content?

Once the email is opened, you need to ensure that it renders on all devices. According to the IBM 2016 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, 50% of emails opened in Australia are opened on a mobile device. Can your email be opened, read and interacted with on a smartphone or a tablet ? 

In the abandoned cart emails we’ve looked at, nearly everybody (Rivers excluded) showed the contents of the cart to the us, so we could view what we had chosen. 

Rockmans, Portmans and boohoo.com all allowed customers  to click through from the email directly to the cart and complete their purchase.

Email marketing platforms like dotmailer allow marketers to send sophisticated emails which show the content of the items their customers left behind all with drag&drop tools without the need to do any HTML coding.

Oops! You left something behind!

Portmans offer

Portmans shows customers what they have left in the shopping cart.

boohoo.com, who keep the same format as their welcome email, was the only brand that included images other than the cart contents. Their abandonment series contains a hero lookbook-style image:

What happened?
Boohoo uses banner images to draw readers in to their emails,

In terms of copy, the retailers Salmat has looked at have tended to keep things very succinct and on-brand. 

Boohoo maintain their tone of voice throughout the whole email

boohoo.com keeps on-brand with their language, while covering all the bases.

They’ve drawn attention to the abandoned cart, given details on how to get help, provided details on how to keep shopping, plus they have included a little salesy nudge (call to action, or ’CTA’).

What about the offer?

While we’ve seen a discount voucher used in other abandoned cart series before, out of the popular Aussie fashion websites we’ve researched, boohoo.com was the only retailer to offer a discount in their abandoned cart series. 

To discount or not to discount? We could write much more on this topic. 

Pros and cons of discounting

  • One pro: a discount can help generate a first purchase, which is what you need to create a loyal customer.
  • One con: a discount can actually incentivise a shopper to abandon the cart if they are aware that this is a common tactic in abandonment campaigns.

Our opinion is that a discount should only be used if the shopper has never purchased before. However, retailers should always make efforts to reward loyal customers in other ways.

Relax. We still got you.
Codes are a popular way to get shoppers over the line.

All of the emails that we looked at included a minimum of one call to action, in the form of a button that says something like “Complete My Order”. This button will link the shopper back to their cart, where they can finish their transaction. This is the point of the email, so the CTA button should feature prominently.

You may also be interested in ...

Product recommendations are another useful way to direct shoppers back to the website. It may be that they need a bit of guidance, so it doesn’t hurt to provide some recommendations at the end of the email. 

Magento is one e-commerce platform that offers an out-of the box solution to provide personalised recommendations, based on the cart contents, or you can choose to recommend popular items instead. You’ve got nothing to lose by doing this. 

You might also be interested in

'You might also be interested in' is a tool pioneered by Amazon.

Why wouldn’t you?

For many of Salmat’s e-commerce clients, abandoned cart email campaigns convert at an average of 20%, which is a fantastic result! 

If you’ve optimised your cart abandonment email campaigns, you could be seeing results like this. 

It is important to ensure that your email campaigns are smart and are backed by testing and good data. If 60% to 80% of carts are abandoned, it seems wasteful not to try to recapture some of that abandoned revenue.

Interested in finding out more about our email services? Click here or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Kristyn Wallace
Account Manager

After finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Canada, Kristyn began her career in the IT industry, working in sales and account management. As part of the Digital Client Engagement team at Salmat, her focus is on understanding her clients’ needs and delivering results across digital channels.

More articles by Kristyn Wallace