How to create an abandoned cart sequence that recovers 30% of lost sales

Learn how to create an abandoned cart sequence that recovers 30% of lost sales

February 15, 2023
How to create an abandoned cart sequence that recovers 30% of lost sales

Recently, I got an ad for low-cal, vegan chocolate as I was doom scrolling on Instagram. I rarely click on ads (for someone in the eCommerce space, I don’t buy stuff often online) but this time, I clicked on it, just for the heck of it. 

I wanted to make a low-value purchase and document my thoughts, you know, to figure out what goes through one’s mind when making a purchase online.

Right from the creative (what made me stop and look), to the website design (wanted to make sure it was a legit website), to the internal conflicts on completing the purchase, and to receiving the product, I made notes of everything that I liked and led me to complete the purchase.

The checkout process part of my notes revealed something every store owner must understand to curb lost sales.

Why people abandon their carts

By understanding the reasons behind cart abandonment and implementing strategies to address them, brands can easily reclaim a significant portion of their lost revenue. Here are a few reasons why people abandon their carts:

  • Unexpected costs like shipping, taxes, etc.
  • No intent to buy
  • Lack of trust
  • Found a better price elsewhere
  • The process was taking long
  • Complex checkout process
  • Preferred payment method was unavailable
  • Website was slow
  • Got distracted
  • They were on mobile and wanted to buy on desktop

Good News. Bad News.

You’ve worked incredibly hard to get customers on your site. You’ve probably spent a tidy sum on ads and emails to get them to click on the Add to Cart button. But then, something happens and shoppers vanish into oblivion; and the money does not hit the bank.

If you’ve faced this, you’re not alone. Close to 70% of eCommerce shoppers who add a product to their carts don’t finish their purchase. 

To put that in perspective, if your store makes $100k/mo, you could technically be making an additional $230k/mo if you could reclaim all those abandoned carts.

The bad news is that you’re losing out on at least 70% of your revenue every day due to cart abandonments. The good news is that you can easily reclaim 25-30% of that revenue.

What is an abandoned cart sequence?

The abandoned cart sequence is a series of automated email or SMS messages (or a combination of multiple channels) sent to customers who have added items to their cart but have not completed the purchase. 

The goal of the sequence is to remind the customer of the items left in their cart and encourage them to complete the purchase. These emails can include additional information about the products, discounts, reviews, and a direct link to the cart to make it easier for the customer to complete their purchase.

Pro tip: Create separate abandoned cart flows for your best sellers

The anatomy of the perfect abandoned cart email

The abandoned cart email has one singular purpose–to encourage shoppers to complete their purchase. It needs to address and assuage concerns and conflicts that caused people to leave the checkout process midway.

So, what components should your abandoned cart email have?

  • Personalized Introduction
  • Remind them there are items in their cart
  • Image and Price of abandoned products
  • Social Proof
  • Risk reversal – money back guarantee, free returns, etc.
  • CTA: One-click checkout 

Personally, I like it if the first email is fairly simple and straightforward, with just the products and CTA. Not even incentives and discounts. 

You can use the laddered discounting technique in future emails to make sure you don’t lose out on your margins unnecessarily. You’ll be surprised to find how many people just got distracted and would buy paying full price.

Creating the perfect abandoned cart sequence

Abandoned cart emails can be particularly tricky because you don’t know why exactly the shopper didn’t complete the purchase; it could be any of the reasons listed above. You need to hit a lot of notes right to encourage action.

The solution to that is fairly simple–send more emails. Don’t just stop with the first email; send at least 4 emails over the course of 7 days.

Use the next emails to address common objections, highlight reviews (before and after case studies), demonstrate how the product works, benefits, and features (if it applies to what you’re selling), and a time-limited incentive. The incentive could be a percentage off discount or free shipping, depending on the order value.

Email 1 (Day 1 - within 1-4 hours) 

A simple reminder to let them know they have left items in their cart. You should ideally send the first email within four hours of them abandoning their cart. 

The email can be simple and straightforward with just a reminder, the products (along with images and prices) and a clear CTA asking them to complete their purchase

Email 2 (Day 1 - after 12 hours) 

Send a follow up email between 12 and 24 hours, reminding them that their cart is about to expire. Add reviews and object common objections in this email.

Pro tip: If cart value qualifies for free shipping, use that in your email. Easy value prop without additional discounts. Higher margin!

Email 3 (Day 2) 

If the shopper has still not made the purchase after 24 hours, it’s time to load the discounts in the cannon. You can get creative here with the incentive–free shipping, 10% discount, or a free gift.

Pro tip: Create conditional branches based on the cart value to create your discounts. If the cart value is less than $100, provide 10% off; if it’s greater than $100, offer free shipping.

Email 4 (Day 4) 

Tell them they have less than 24 hours to use the coupon and the items in their cart might be running out of stock soon. Push the FOMO knob to the max. 

Add before/after case studies if that applies to you. And, reiterate product benefits as icons.

Email 5 (Day 6) 

Send one last email saying that their discount coupon is about to expire. Keep it fairly simple and straightforward and strip it off all bells and whistles. Make this email plain text, so it has maximum deliverability. 

Subject Lines and CTAs for abandoned cart emails

Abandoned cart emails have one of the highest open rates (60%). And, a good subject line is the #1 factor to make your email stand out in the sea of emails, along with the email being contextually relevant.

A good subject line should be attention-grabbing, make the recipient want to open the email, and create a sense of urgency. 

Here are a few subject lines you can use for your abandoned cart emails:

  • Did you leave something behind?
  • Hey [name], you forgot something
  • [Name], your shopping cart has abandonment issues
  • You left items in your cart
  • Pick up where you left off
  • Nice picks! Need any help?
  • Don't let these items slip away
  • Internet problems? Don’t miss out on your cart! 
  • <Product> is still here, but it won't be here forever!
  • Great news! Your cart is still here! With a $5 coupon!
  • Still deciding? Check out some reviews and checkout!

Bonus: We have built a massive collection of subject lines for abandoned cart emails. Check it out and never run out of ideas!

Just like how the subject line plays an important role in someone opening your emails, the CTA decides if they are gonna take action. CTAs should be action-oriented, clear and concise; it clearly shows what the next step is.  

Here are a few calls to action you can use in your emails:

  • Take me to my cart
  • Let’s go shopping
  • Complete my order
  • Claim my items
  • Continue shopping
  • Return to your cart
  • Complete your purchase now
  • Limited time offer: X% off your purchase
  • Order Before It's Gone
  • Buy Now, Limited Stock

Whether you're looking to create a sense of urgency or remind customers of their forgotten items, these subject lines and CTAs are sure to drive results. 


Best practices for your abandoned cart sequence

If you follow what I’ve outlined in the previous sections, you should be able to create killer welcome email sequences. Here are a few tips to take it to the next level:

  • Send the first email within 1 hour of abandonment and the second one before 24 hours
  • Send at least 4 emails
  • Keep your abandoned checkout emails straightforward
  • Personalize the email with the customer's name and the items left in their cart
  • Offer a limited-time discount or special promotion to encourage the customer to complete their purchase
  • Add social proof and reviews to build trust
  • Continuously test your email copy, cadence, incentives, and send times/delays 

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