Introduction to Cart Abandonment Email

Stop close-to-buying customers from slipping through the net

It’s the online marketer’s nightmare. A potential customer has made it to your website though a sea of competitors. They’ve had a good look round, and homed in on a few products; they’ve even added them to their cart. High fives all round, it’s a sale…

oh hang on a minute, where did they go?

wheredidtheygoBut there’s no need to panic. They may have gone, but not necessarily for good – and there are some tried and tested ways to get them back. Here are the top five things to think about if you’re planning an email campaign to cart abandoners:

1- Check your purchasing process

Sometimes, even if customers really want a product, they can be put off by the purchasing process. For example, if you force new customers to go through a lengthy registration process, or you keep quiet about high taxes or delivery costs until the last minute, this can trigger a change of heart at the checkout.

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If you identify something that might be causing cart abandonment, you can address it within the email – like offering discounted delivery, for example. But don’t stop there; you should also use the insight to refine your purchasing process, so it won’t be a barrier going forwards.

2- Show them what they’re missing

The best way to encourage someone to want something is to show them what they’re missing. So make sure you include images of any products the customer had put in their cart, and consider including product reviews or ratings to help seal the deal.


Depending on how many products they had selected, you could also try and catch their eye with other similar products that they might have missed the first time round. Or consider showcasing complementary products that might tip them into making a purchase, particularly if they’re near the free delivery threshold. But whatever you do, make it look and feel enticing; you’re essentially trying to woo them back.

3- Make it easy

As the customer has already gone to the trouble of putting their chosen products into their cart, getting to the checkout should be a one-click process. So make sure you give them a clear visual call to action, such as a ‘Checkout now’ or ‘Take me to my cart’ button.

And have a think about whether there’s anything else you can mention that would encourage them to make a decision. For example, if you offer free returns, this is a good time to shout about it; if they’re confident that they can send unwanted items back cost-free, they’re more likely to give them a try.

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4- Make it worth their while

If the value of the cart or the customer merits it, you might also want to offer an incentive to complete the sale. For example, you could waive your delivery charge, or offer a discount if they buy within the next 24 hours.


But if the maths don’t allow you to offer a financial sweetener, there are other ways to encourage them to buy. Letting them know how many of a chosen product are left in stock, or setting a deadline by which their cart expires, could also be a compelling incentive.

5- Test, test, test

Most of what I’ve written about here applies to most sectors; techniques like these have been tried and tested by marketers all over the world. But as always, your customers are your customers, and no one knows them better than you do.

So don’t just take my word for it; use your customer insights to decide what might work and then do some testing to find out if you’re right. Even if you are, keep refining and testing, refining and testing – there’s always something new to learn.

To wrap it all up, here are five 5 second tips that are worth thinking about:

  • Address the recipient by name, with a warm and friendly tone.
  • Optimise the subject line – for example, by naming the product or giving a cart expiry deadline.
  • Include a link back to your website, so they can continue browsing if they’ve lost interest in their original selections.
  • Consider offering different incentives to different customer segments, such as a bigger discount to a high-value lapsed customer.
  • Make sure you’ve thanked them for their interest so far.
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You can read more about CLM in general, including cart abandonment emails, in our Convert, keep, grow e-book. And look out for my next CLM blog, which will fill you in on how to turn browsers into buyers.